If you are not able to file your return by the due date, you generally can get an automatic 6-month extension of time to file. To get this automatic extension, you must file Form 4868 (PDF). Or, you can file Form 4868 electronically (e-file), using your personal computer, or through a tax professional. You do not have to explain why you are asking for the extension. You will be contacted only if your request is denied. For more information about filing electronically, see the form instructions.
The form must show your properly estimated tax liability based on the information available to you.
CAUTION! You may not be eligible. You cannot use the automatic 6-month extension of time to file if:
- You want the IRS to figure your tax, or
- You are under a court order to file by the regular due date
When To File
Generally, you must request the 6-month extension by the regular due date for your return.
Previous 2-Month Extension
If you are unable to file your return within the automatic 2-month extension period, you may be able to get an additional 4-month extension of time to file your return, for a total of 6 months. The automatic 2-month and the 6-month extension start at the same time. You do not have to request the 6-month extension until the new due date allowed by the first extension, but the total combined extension will still only be 6 months from the regular due date.
Time To Pay Not Extended
A 6-month extension of time to file is not an extension of time to pay. You must make an accurate estimate of your tax and send any necessary payment with your Form 4868 or pay the tax due by credit card. If you find you cannot pay the full amount due with Form 4868, you can still get the extension. You will owe interest on the unpaid amount.
You also may be charged a penalty for paying the tax late unless you have reasonable cause for not paying your tax when due. Interest and penalties are assessed (charged) from the original due date of your return.