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How to File a Tax Return Extension with the IRS

Updated on June 30, 2010

In the United States it is mandatory for most people to file a tax return.  I have never had a problem filing my return by the April 15th deadline.  We always seem to get a refund and I want my money back as soon as possible.  There are many people however, that need an extension past April 15th in order to get their taxes filed properly.  Good news!  The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows most people to file a tax extension (Form 4868) allowing you six extra months to file your taxes.

There are many reasons why a person might need an extension.  You could be waiting on additional paperwork needed in order to file.  Maybe your tax preparer is swamped and can't get to your return.  There could be major life changes going on that prevent you from filing.  Whatever the reason, generally the IRS will allow an extension to October 15th. 

If you think that you will owe money for your taxes for the year you are filing, then you need to properly estimate how much you will owe and pay that estimate at the time you file for an extension.  You cannot delay paying your taxes by filing an extension. You also have to file the extension before midnight on April 15th in order for it to be valid.  If you do not estimate properly and owe more money than you thought, you will have to pay interest on this money when you do file your return.  You will also be charged a late payment penalty for every month you are late in paying.  This is good incentive to get your taxes filed on time, or as soon as possible.

You can file a tax extension electronically through the IRS website, or use a tax software program.  You can also file a paper return and mail it in by April 15th.  You can also make your payments online as well.  When it comes to the IRS I have found that things move much quicker when done electronically rather than through the postal service.

There are some special situations that change the basic rules of an extension.  If you are living out of the country then you are allowed two extra months to file your return without requesting an extension.  This means your due date is June 15th.  If you are out of the country and you need to file an extension, your extension is only good for four months rather than six.  Check the IRS website for more information regarding this.

If you can't file your taxes by April 15th please do not just ignore them thinking you will get to them soon.  Go ahead and file an extension and have it on record with the IRS that you need more time.  This is like erring on the side of caution.  You do not want to mess with the IRS, so follow the rules and file an extension if you need one. 


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    • dusy7969 profile image


      7 years ago from San Diego, California

      Nice Hub.I read this hub.You tell the good advice and I appreciate for this hub.So thanks a lot for this sharing and provide the nice tips.

    • profile image

      Mark Randall 

      8 years ago

      This is a very informative hub. Taxes can be very complicated and it is always nice to have more helpful information to help with the process. Even though many people do not believe it, the IRS usually does try to work with you rather than against you. Great hub!

    • Apepperson profile image


      8 years ago from Texas

      Thanks for this excellent advice. I never knew this is how it was done!

    • bayoulady profile image


      8 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA

      Nice job, and an important subject. I once had to file an extension , and I was scared to death. Twas a piece of cake, and they set up monthly payments. Whew!

    • gaoxing1st profile image


      8 years ago

      It'S so good.Benefit a lot

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      thank you

    • 2besure profile image

      Pamela Lipscomb 

      8 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      Good to know my hubby always puts it off until it is late.

    • Angelique Loux profile image

      Angelique Loux 

      8 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks for the advice. Great Hub! :)

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      It was very kind of you to write this hub to help people.


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