Need more time? How to file for tax return extension
Procrastinators rejoice: tax day is a bit later this year and if you still can’t make that, there’s still time to file for an extension.
The IRS traditionally requires that taxes be filed each year on April 15, but because that falls on Emancipation Day this year, the deadline was extended to April 18. And taxpayers in Maine and Massachusetts, where Patriots’ Day is observed on the 18th, have until the 19th to file.
If that’s still not enough time, the IRS makes it fairly easy to get an extension. So if you are running a bit late this year, here are a few things to know:
Don’t panic: Seriously. Taxpayers who need more time to complete their return can easily request an automatic six-month extension from the IRS.
Don’t get too excited, though: An extension provides more time to file a tax return, but no extra time to pay what you owe.
Free file: The IRS says the fastest and easiest option is through the “Free File” link on its website at IRS.gov. Anyone, regardless of income, can use this free service to electronically request an extension by completing Form 4868. This gives taxpayers until Oct. 17 to file a return. To get the extension, taxpayers must estimate their tax liability and pay any amount due.
Electronic payment: Another option is to make an electronic payment, such as through IRS Direct Pay, and select Form 4868 to indicate it is for an extension. Payments can also be made through the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, or paying by credit or debit card online or by phone.
Tax preparer: Taxpayers can also request an extension through a paid tax preparer or buy using tax-preparation software. They can also fill out a paper version of Form 4868, which can be downloaded at IRS.gov.
Automatic extension: Some taxpayers get more time to file returns without having to ask for an extension. This includes taxpayers who live and work abroad, military on duty outside the U.S., those serving in combat zones and people in areas affected by natural disasters.
Whatever method you chose, the IRS reminds taxpayers to file their return even if they cannot pay the full amount. By filing either a regular return or requesting an extension, they will avoid the late-filing penalty, which can be 10 times as costly as the penalty for not paying.
Taxpayers who pay as much as they can by the due date can also reduce the overall amount that would be subject to penalty and interest charges. If you cannot make your payment, contact the IRS about setting up a repayment plan.