ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Filing a Tax Extension: How to Do It, How Much Time Does It Buy You, Penalties for Late Payment & More

Updated on April 15, 2010

Information to Help Late Tax Filers

If you’re like a lot of Americans, April 15th rolls around all too soon. The good news is, you can file an extension – which will give you anywhere from four to six additional months to file your taxes. Before you jump for joy though, following are some things you should know about filing a tax extension (isn’t this always the case with the good ole IRS).

Filing an Extension DOES NOT mean you have more time to pay

An extension is really just time allotted for you to get your recordkeeping in order. It does not mean you get an extension of time to pay. You should send in an estimated payment (or an exact payment if you know how much you owe) with your extension form.

Penalties and Interest Start Accruing on April 16th

Penalties and interest on any amounts owed start accruing on April 16th (yes, the day after tax day) EVEN IF you don’t file your taxes until months later.

So, if you think you’re going to owe, send in as much of payment as you can on the amount you think you’re going to owe.

Tip for Estimating Taxes Owed: Look at last year’s return. If your income hasn’t changed dramatically, send in what you owed last year (or a little more to be on the safe side). Otherwise, you could find yourself owing thousands, like Pamela Anderson and a host of other celebrities who owe back taxes.

Why You Should File as Soon After April 15th As You Can

I file as soon as possible after April 15th, for the following two reasons:

(i) Owing Taxes: I usually owe, so I don’t like to take too much of a hit with penalties and interest, in case I underestimated how much I owe. As a freelancer, my income does change dramatically from year to year. Hence, underestimating how much I owe can cost me big if I wait to file four months from April 15th, instead of a couple of weeks from this date.

(ii) Peace of Mind: While I rarely make the April 15th deadline for filing, I try not to let it drag out for too long because it’s weighs on me. So I get it out of the way as soon after this date as I can (you’d think I’d learn and get it in on time, right?).

I’m getting there; I’m getting there! But, I digress.

Penalties and Interest Can Be Quite Steep: Exactly how steep? As much as 25%. Ouch! Following is how it’s explained on the IRS's site:

The penalty is usually 5% of the amount due for each month or part of a month your return is late. The maximum penalty is 25%. If your return is more than 60 days late, the minimum penalty is $135 or the balance of the tax due on your return (emphasis added), whichever is smaller.

Which Form to Use to File a Tax Extension

It’s Form 4868, The Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. This form is used to extend the following tax returns:

  • Form 1040
  • Form 1040A
  • Form 1040EZ
  • Form 1040NR
  • Form 1040NR-EZ

Payment Methods Accepted: The IRS offers a variety of ways to pay your tax bill. You can pay via:

Electronic Withdrawal: This can be from your checking or savings or savings account.

Credit or Debit Card: To pay your tax bill by credit or debit card, you have to call a toll-free number, or you can do it online. Note: Fees may apply.

Check or Money Order: It should be made out to the “United States Treasury,” NOT the IRS (although I’m sure in the past I’ve sent a check addressed like this and it was cashed. But, try to follow the guidelines.

NOTE: Cash is never accepted.

Learn How to File a Tax Extension

Learn everything you need to know about how to file a tax extension. It’s quick and easy to do so; it’s only one form with just a few questions. As I know the procedure, it usually takes me less than a minute to fill it out and slip it in the envelope to be mailed.

Filing a tax extension gives you the extra time you need to get your tax house in order so next year, you can file on time (note to self).

Post Office Extended Hours on Tax Day

You should know that in most jurisdictions, post offices stay open late on tax day. When I lived in New York City, it was open until midnight. So even if youre reading this at 7 or 8 in the evening on tax day, you may still have time to get your extension postmarked for today.

Are You a Freelance Writer or Other Type of Independent Contractor?

Get some info that that can help you in Freelance Writers: Tax Advice from a Professional.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • thevoice profile image


      8 years ago from carthage ill

      terrific informative hub work great thanks


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)