Getting a Tax Extension

There are times that no matter how hard you try to make it, there will be some delays in filing your tax return. Fortunately, there is a way to get an automatic time extension to file your returns to the IRS. The time for paper works and filing the returns may be extended, but not the time to pay for any tax that you owe.

Estimating Tax Due

Since payment of the tax due cannot be extended without incurring interest, you must first determine how much you owe in taxes by the deadline. Note that there is also a penalty due if you pay less than 90% of what you actually owe.

Automatic Tax Extension by Filing or Making Payment

There are two ways that you can get an automatic 6-month extension to file your returns through:

Using IRS e-file (electronic filing); or

Filing a paper form

E-filing Options

For e-filing, you can use Form 4868 or the Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. Use the second part, or Part II of the form if you think that you owe taxes. Remember that if you file electronically, or e-filing do not duplicate by sending a separate paper form.

You can also pay your taxes and get the extension by using your credit card through the phone or over the internet to pay the estimate of your tax due.

If you want to file your extension application through mail, use Form 4868 and mail it to the address in the form. You can also make a payment along with the form by issuing a check or money order payable to the “United States Treasury,” and write your SSN and contact numbers at the back and “(the year you’re paying for) Form 4868).

When to File Your Return

The request for extension should be filed on or before the due date for your taxes, and this will allow you to file your tax return within six months, or before the end of the extension period.

Enter any payment you made related to the extension of time to file on Form 1040, line 69. If you file Form 1040EZ or Form 1040A, include that payment in your total payments on Form 1040EZ, line 9, or Form 1040A, line 43. Also enter “Form 4868” and the amount paid in the space to the left of line 9 or line 43.

You can file your tax return any time before or on April 15, or the following business day in case the 15th falls on a weekend or a holiday. Contact the toll-free number 1-888-796-1074. The IRS system will generate a confirmation number as verification of the receipt of your extension. Include this confirmation number on your copy of Form 4868.

If you file for extension through the phone or the internet, you also have the option to pay the estimated tax by authorizing an electronic funds transfer from your bank account. You need the bank routing number and your own account number for this. You will also have to provide the adjusted gross income from your federal income tax return from the previous year for verification of your identity.

In addition to the option of paying using your bank account, you can also choose to pay using your credit card. Contact a service provider, and the processor will take care of the payment for a certain fee. There are also instructions regarding this along with Form 4868.

However, if your return is complete but you are not able to pay the amount of tax due, you don’t request for a tax extension. The request is only for the filing of the return and not the payment of tax due. You will receive a notice from the IRS for the balance due.

For those U.S. Citizens, resident aliens and members of the armed forces whose main place of business or duty is outside the US, special rules apply. See Publication 54, Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad, and Publication 3, Armed Forces’ Tax Guide.

IRS page on filing a federal tax extension

IRS File Form 4868 – automatic extension for individual taxpayers

IRS Tax Tip

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