Natural disasters can be jarring events for individuals and communities as a whole. The last thing you want to worry about during or in the aftermath of a natural disaster is taxes.

Thankfully, the IRS usually provides an automatic tax extension for those impacted by a natural disaster. In this post, we will cover everything you need to know about how to file an extension following a natural disaster and why you might want to.

Automatic Extension for Disaster Relief

If you live in an area impacted by a serious natural disaster, chances are that you'll receive an automatic extension of time to submit your tax return. The automatic extension due date varies based on when the disaster occurred and the area you live in.

The IRS will send out a notice identifying the areas receiving the automatic extension. Businesses and individuals who live and pay taxes in the affected areas will automatically receive an extension to the due date noted on the IRS notice.

Paying Taxes Following an Automatic Extension

Unlike when you file for an extension using Form 4868, an automatic extension as a result of a natural disaster usually means additional time to pay your taxes as well. In the notice the IRS issues informing taxpayers of the automatic extension, they will also state if there is an extension to pay taxes and when the new deadline is.

The extension to pay taxes usually includes estimated tax payments as well. Therefore, you may not need to continue making quarterly payments if you live in an area impacted by a natural disaster.

person looking at a disaster

Why Do People Impacted by a Natural Disaster Get an Extension?

If you've never been impacted by a natural disaster, you may be wondering why those living in a natural disaster area get extra time to file. While a natural disaster can be emotionally traumatizing, it can also be financially devastating.

Natural disasters can destroy homes and businesses and impact local economies for months. All of these massive changes can have a significant impact on your tax return. Therefore, taxpayers living in affected areas may need extra time to assess the impacts of a natural disaster in order to accurately file their taxes.

Can I Request a Second Extension?

If you've been given an automatic extension to file your taxes following a natural disaster but still need additional time to file your taxes, you are able to request an additional extension. However, how to request an additional extension varies based on when you file your extension.

  • Filing Your Second Extension Online: If you want to file your extension online, you'll still need to file for an extension no later than the tax filing deadline for that year.
  • Filing Your Second Extension by Mail: If you want to wait until the extended deadline to request an additional extension, you'll need to file Form 4868 by mail. can help you do so by creating a printable Form 4868 for you to print and mail.

In either case, the extension is only good for six months from the initial filing deadline. Therefore, unless you receive a notice that puts your extended due date past October 15th, you'll need to file your extended tax return by then, regardless of whether you received an automatic extension.

2024 Natural Disaster Extensions

Taxpayers should check the IRS disaster relief page for updates if they believe they may have been impacted by a natural disaster warranting an automatic extension.

Some of the natural disasters that have occurred, resulting in extra time for victims to make tax payments in 2023, include:

  • Hawaii wildfires
  • Vermont flooding
  • Mississippi severe storms and tornadoes
  • California winter storms
  • Alabama and Georgia storms

Can I Take Advantage of an Automatic Extension if I live Outside of the Impacted Area?

If you live outside of the impacted area, then you are not eligible for an automatic extension. However, you can appeal to the IRS to also receive the extension if:

  • You use a tax professional whose business is located in the disaster area.
  • Your tax records are stored or located in the disaster area.
  • The documentation you need to prepare your tax return is coming from a business located in the disaster area.

What If I Receive a Notice that My Return Was Late, but I live in a Disaster Area?

While you should receive an automatic extension to submit your tax return if you live in a disaster area, the IRS does make mistakes.

If you receive a notice that your tax return is late, don't ignore it! You can call the IRS at the number listed on the notice to explain why you qualify for the automatic extension.

If you want to avoid any risk of receiving a late filing notice, file for an extension by April 15th. While it usually isn't necessary if you're impacted by a natural disaster, it does help take away any doubt that you'll have extra time to file your return. Get started filing your extension today!

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