Penalties are one of the biggest factors a financially distressed taxpayer faces on a tax bill. The Fresh Start Penalty Relief Initiative gives eligible taxpayers a six-month extension to fully pay 2011 taxes. Interest still applies on the 2011 taxes from April 17, 2012 until the tax is paid, but you won’t face failure-to-pay penalties if you pay your tax, interest and any other penalties in full by Oct. 15, 2012.

The penalty relief is available to two categories of taxpayers:

* Wage earners who have been unemployed at least 30 consecutive days during 2011 or in 2012 up to the April 17, 2012 tax filing deadline.

* Self-employed individuals who experienced a 25 percent or greater reduction in business income in 2011 due to the economy.

To qualify for this penalty relief, your adjusted gross income must not exceed $200,000 if married filing jointly or $100,000 if your filing status is single, married filing separately, head of household, or qualifying widower. Your 2011 balance due can not exceed $50,000.

Taxpayers who qualify need to complete a new Form 1127A to request the 2011 penalty relief.