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It seems to me that in recent years, unless my memory is wrong, that filing an extension was not necessary; that they got rid of that necessity. That one could pay by April 15 but file later (October?) without filing an extension.
Is this true?

It's basically true if, and only if, you have all of your tax liability paid by April 15. If you goof and find you owe additional tax when you complete your return, a valid extension will avoid the late filing penalty. You'll still be subject to the late payment penalty.

Document match audits (CP 2000 notices) occur on a rolling basis as the source documents are processed. These used to begin about a year after the return due date, but recently I've been seeing some notices as early as mid-summer. "True" audits (the kind where you have to provide documentation for items which aren't reported on third-party documents, aren't selected until after the majority of returns are processed. With more than 250 million personal and business income tax returns filed each year, the IRS uses a tightly guarded formula to identify the returns which have the greatest potential for additional tax recovery. These audits typically begin in the second and third year of the audit window.

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