How you Can get a Personal Tax Extension

The tax deadline this year, for the majority of people, specifies that tax returns must be e-filed or postmarked by April 18th. If you do not comply, the IRS will penalize you by charging a penalty of 5% on the amount owed.  The penalty is charged each month that your return is not filed. Furthermore, additional interest and fees are also charged for taxes not paid in full, on time. 

If there are reasons that you cannot file your return on time, you can apply to the IRS for a 6-month extension.  You do not have to give them an explanation, just file your request and hopefully, it will be granted. Doing so will extend the deadline for filing your tax return till October 17, 2017.

What Forms Do You Need?

You need to file Form 4868 (Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S Individual Income Tax Return) with the IRS to get an automatic extension. It can be done electronically or through paper mail. Filing via paper will result in you getting notified by the IRS only if your extension is rejected; whereas with electronic filing, you get a confirmation email from the IRS once your extension is approved.

For the purpose of identification, the IRS will ask for your Social Security Number (SSN) and your spouse’s, if married and filing jointly, on Form 4868. In order to determine if you will owe any tax by April 18, the IRS will ask you to provide an estimate of your total tax liability of the year and the amount of taxes you have already paid.

What Is the Deadline to File an Extension?

An extension is only given if the application is filed on or before the tax return deadline, which for most individuals is April 18. Extensions filed by paper mail must be postmarked by the deadline while those done electronically must be submitted by midnight on April 18 to the IRS.

As the personal tax extension extends the deadline until October 17, your tax return can be filed anytime time before that date, even before April 18. Many people only file for extensions as precautionary measures. In some cases, though it is worth noting, very rare circumstances, the IRS will issue extensions that go beyond 6 months in length.

Does an Extension Give You More Time to Pay?

A tax filing extension should not be mistaken with an extension to pay your taxes on time. Penalties are charged for late payments on tax liabilities. Nothing less than 90% of your tax liability should be paid by April 18 to avoid a late payment penalty, though interest charges are applied to any outstanding balance. If the IRS granted you an extension, you will not be charged late fees for filing your return any time before the new deadline. If you fail to pay your taxes however by the deadline, you will be penalized for this. 

Tax payments can be made with your extension in the case that you owe tax. For electronic extensions, tax payments can be made electronically, directly to the IRS. For paper mail extensions, however, payments can be made by including a check with your Form 4868. Although not mandatory, it is recommended to pay your due tax along with your extension. You can include your check in the same envelope, but do not attach it to your form.

Always remember to report the tax payment that you made with your request for an extension under the “Payments” section of your return (Line 70 of Form 1040) while filing your tax return.

Tax Extensions for Special Circumstances

An automatic two-month extension is granted if you happen to be out of the country on April 18 that will extend the deadline until June 15 without you having to file Form 4868.

To get an additional four-month extension, though, you have to file Form 4868 and apply for an extension by June 15.

Exceptional regard is made for U.S. Armed Forces stationed overseas in an active duty combat zone. IRS Publication 3 (Armed Forces Tax Guide) should be referred to for more details.