Your Takeaways:

  • Filing a tax extension is a great way to extend your filing deadline if you need extra time to collect tax documents or prepare your tax return.

  • Filing a tax extension online is the most efficient way to submit a tax extension to the IRS.

  • Filing a tax extension typically gives you until October 15th to file your tax return, but you’ll still need to pay your taxes by April 15th.

Tax season can be a stressful time, especially if you're not quite ready to file your return by the deadline. Fortunately, the IRS provides an option to ease the pressure: filing a tax extension. 

Keep reading to get answers to Frequently Asked Questions about tax extensions.

How Long is the Extension For?

Filing for a tax extension will give you an additional 6 months to file your tax return.

What Happens if I Miss the Original Filing Deadline and Don’t File for an Extension?

If you miss the original filing deadline and don't file an extension, the IRS will charge you a failure-to-file penalty, which is 5% of the tax owed for each month your tax return remains outstanding (capped at 25%).

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What Form Do I Use to File for an Extension?

For federal taxes, you will need to fill out and submit Form 4868 to get a tax extension. You can mail in the form, or submit it online for faster processing times and proof of submission.

Do I Need a Reason for Requesting an Extension?

No, the IRS does not require you to provide a specific reason for requesting an extension. It is your right to request one, and the IRS generally grants it automatically, provided you file the request on time.

What Information Do I Need to Include in My Extension Request?

When completing your extension request, be sure to provide accurate information. You will typically need to include:

  • Your name

  • Your Social Security number (or Employer Identification Number for businesses)

  • Your address

  • Estimate of your total tax liability

  • The amount you’ve already paid (if any)

  • The balance due

  • The amount you’re paying with the extension

Can I File a Joint Tax Extension?

If you plan on filing a joint tax return, it’s best to file for a tax extension jointly as well.

The additional information you’ll need when filing a joint tax extension includes:

  • Your spouse’s social security number

  • The total tax liability and payments for both you and your spouse

It’s important to note that whoever’s name is listed first when filing your tax extension should also be listed first when submitting your tax return.

How Do I Know If My Extension Request Has Been Approved?

If you e-file your extension request, you should receive an electronic confirmation that your request was received and approved. If you mail a paper form, it’s a good practice to send it via certified mail or with tracking to have proof of submission.

Can My Extension Request Be Denied?

The IRS does reject tax extensions occasionally. The most common reasons a tax extension is rejected includes:

  • Form entry errors like a misspelling, switched numbers, or other typical typos.

  • Inaccurate information like using an old last name or an old address.

If your extension request is rejected, you’ll receive an e-mail or letter from the IRS informing you of the issues.

The best way to ensure that your extension is approved is by using an e-filing service that helps check your form for errors before submitting it to the IRS.

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Do I Still Need to Pay My Taxes If I Get an Extension?

Yes, you are still required to estimate and pay any taxes you owe by the original tax filing deadline. Failing to do so may result in penalties and interest charges, even if you file for an extension. The extension only pertains to the filing deadline, not the payment deadline.

How Do I Estimate My Tax Liability?

Unfortunately, you aren’t able to submit a tax extension without having a good estimate of your tax liability for that given year. 

The easiest way to estimate your taxes is by using your previous year’s tax return. If your income hasn’t changed significantly and you haven’t had any major life changes (i.e., marriage, purchasing property, etc.), then you can generally use your previous year’s tax payment for your current year's estimate. 

If your income has changed significantly, you'll want to take that into account when estimating your tax liability for the current year.

What If I Can’t Pay My Taxes When Filing an Extension?

If you can’t afford to pay your taxes when filing for an extension, there are several options available to you. These include:

  • Installment Agreement – You pay the IRS in predetermined installments over a set period of time.

  • Offer in Compromise – Negotiate with the IRS to reduce your payment to something that you can afford to pay.

  • Currently Not Collectible Status – If you’ve fallen on hard times and cannot pay your taxes, the IRS will put you in a Currently Not Collectible (CNC) status. This delays collection attempts, but you may still have to pay your taxes at a later date.

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Will Filing for an Extension Trigger an Audit?

No, filing for an extension does not increase your chances of being audited. Audits are typically initiated for specific reasons, such as discrepancies in your tax return, rather than the act of requesting an extension.

Do Tax Extensions Apply to State Taxes?

Tax extensions granted by the IRS pertain only to federal income taxes. If you have state income tax obligations, you’ll need to check your state’s specific rules and requirements for obtaining an extension. Many states offer extensions that align with the federal extension period, but it’s essential to confirm with your state’s tax agency.


Filing a tax extension can provide much-needed relief if you’re unable to meet the original tax filing deadline.

Remember that while an extension gives you more time to file your return, it does not delay the requirement to pay any taxes you owe by the original due date.

If you need more time to file, get started filing your extension today.

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