- Personal Finance
How to File a Tax Return Extension with the IRS
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.