Your Takeaways:

  • You can get a 6-month extension to file your federal taxes by submitting Form 4868, moving the deadline from April 15th to October 15th.
  • Filing an extension gives you more time to file your return, but does not extend the deadline to pay any taxes owed, which is still April 15th.
  • Military members serving overseas and people living in disaster areas may qualify for automatic filing extensions beyond the standard 6 months.
  • Most states grant an automatic state tax filing extension if you get a federal extension, but some require submitting a separate state extension form.

If you're one of those people who chronically procrastinates or just hates dealing with taxes, then a tax extension may be your new best friend! Why worry about filing your taxes in April when you can wait to deal with them in October?

Filing a tax extension can give you extra time to file your taxes and potentially get a larger tax refund. In this article, we’ll show you how to file an extension to avoid pesky penalties and late fees.

What is a Tax Extension?

A tax extension allows you to request additional time to file your federal taxes. The extension gives you six additional months to file your taxes, moving the initial filing deadline from April 15th to October 15th.

You must file an extension no later than the tax filing deadline, which is typically April 15th, or the next business day if the 15th falls on a weekend or federal holiday.

IRS Extension Form 4868

What Do I Need to File a Tax Extension?

Filing a tax extension is easy. In fact, you can file an extension online using our preset form, which will then compile your information onto the required Form 4868. In order to complete the form, you'll need a few pieces of information, including:

  • Personal information (address, social, legal name, etc.)

  • An estimate of your total tax liability for the year you’re filing for

  • Any estimated tax payments that you've already made for that year

If you want more information on what you'll need to file an extension, check out our File Tax Extension Guide.

Can a Tax Extension Request be Denied?

Yes, a tax extension request can be denied; however, it's relatively uncommon. The most typical reason for an extension to be denied is due to errors on the form or providing out-of-date information.

tax extension filing software can help ensure that all of your information is accurate.

Do I Still Have to Pay My Taxes if I File an Extension?

Filing a tax extension gives you extra time to file your taxes, but it does not give you extra time to pay your taxes. If you owe taxes, then you’ll need to pay them at the same time you file your tax extension (generally April 15th).

Failing to pay your taxes by the due date may result in you being assessed a late-payment penalty, which is 0.5% of the taxes owed each month your taxes go unpaid, maxing out at 25%.

The good news is that filing for an extension does help you avoid the failure-to-file penalty, which is assessed at 5% of your taxes owed each month and maxes out at 25%.

If you don't owe any money in taxes, then the IRS will not charge you any late fees or penalties. However, it's still a good idea to file an extension just in case you miscalculated or overlooked something.

Tax Extension pros and cons

Why Should I File a Tax Extension?

If filing an extension does not delay the requirement for paying taxes, why should you file for an extension? Well, aside from helping you avoid the failure-to-file penalty, filing an extension could end up saving you a lot of money.

If you haven't been able to collect all the information needed to file your tax return or haven't had the time to research and identify all potential tax breaks by the deadline, it's best to file an extension. Missing a tax break or submitting an inaccurate tax return could cost you thousands in penalties.

Tax Extensions for Citizens and Resident Aliens Living Abroad

There are some situations where you can qualify for an automatic extension of time to file your taxes without needing to file Form 4868. One qualifying automatic extension is for those living abroad.

If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien whose primary residence is abroad, you are automatically given a two-month extension (until June 15th) to file your taxes. However, any owed taxes must still be paid by April 15th.

If an additional 2 months isn't enough time, you can still file for an extension to get an additional 6 months until October 15th.

Automatic Tax Extensions for Overseas Military Members

Members of the military who are serving overseas can also qualify for an automatic extension. There are two different categories of automatic extensions for members of the armed forces including:

  • Stationed outside of the U.S. or Puerto Rico: Military members serving abroad are granted an automatic two-month extension to file their taxes and must do so by June 15th. Any owed taxes must still be paid by April 15th. 

  • Serving in a combat zone or contingency operation: If you’re serving in a combat zone or a contingency operation, the deadline to file AND to pay your taxes is extended by 180 days from the date you leave the eligible area, or it is no longer considered a combat zone or contingency operation. You can also receive an extension if you are hospitalized as a result of these situations.

If you have questions about how these situations work or if you qualify, the IRS website provides an extensive guide for active duty personnel.

Tax Extensions for Disaster Areas

If you live in an area that has recently been impacted by a disaster, then you may qualify for an automatic extension. 

Visit the IRS Disaster Situations page to see if you live in an area that qualifies for an automatic extension.

Do I Need to File a State Tax Extension?

The majority of states give you an automatic extension on your state tax filing when you are approved for a federal tax extension. However, some states require you to file an additional state-specific extension if you owe state tax. Contact your state tax office to verify their requirements and request an extension form.

How to File Your Tax Extension

Ready to file your tax extension and get more time to file your taxes? File your extension with IRS Extension today!

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