Extension filers can still get tax help before Oct. 15 deadline

IR-2018-198, October 10, 2018

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers who filed extensions that electronic filing and other options for help with taxes are still available before the Oct. 15 deadline. Taxpayers who did not request an extension and have yet to file a 2017 tax return can generally avoid additional penalties and interest by filing the return as soon as possible and paying any balance due. 

It is still possible to e-file for the 2017 tax year. The IRS urges all taxpayers to choose the speed and convenience of e-filing. This is an ideal option as it is fast, accurate and secure. The IRS verifies the receipt of an e-filed return and those who choose to file electronically make fewer mistakes. Of the 147.3 million returns received by the IRS through August of this year, about 88 percent — or 130 million — were e-filed.

Individuals who purchase their own tax software can e-file, and most paid tax preparers are now required to file their clients’ returns electronically.

All taxpayers can use IRS Free File. This program offers two options:  Brand-name software, offered by the IRS’s commercial partners to individuals and families with incomes of $66,000 or less; or online fillable forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms available for any income level.

The fastest and easiest way to get a refund is to e-file and use direct deposit. More than eight out of 10 taxpayers who receive refunds choose direct deposit. Individuals can choose to deposit their refunds into as many as three accounts. See Form 8888, Allocation of Refund (Including Savings Bond Purchases), for details.

The IRS encourages taxpayers to carefully check their tax return before they file. Individuals may overlook certain credits, deductions or allowable expenses they qualify for such as:

  • The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a benefit for low- and moderate-income workers and families. The EITC Assistant on IRS.gov can help taxpayers determine if they’re eligible;
  • The Savers Credit for low- and moderate-income workers who contributed to a retirement plan, such as an IRA or 401(k). Individuals will need Form 8880, Credit for Qualified Retirement Savings Contributions, to claim the credit; and
  • The American Opportunity Tax Credit, claimed on Form 8863, Education Credits (American Opportunity and Lifetime Learning Credits), and other educational tax benefits for parents and college students. 
  •  Other taxpayers, such as members of the military and some other groups serving in a combat zone, are allowed more time to file. Typically, these individuals have until 180 days after they leave the combat zone to both file returns and pay any taxes due. 

Also, those taxpayers who have a valid extension and are in (or affected by) a federally-declared disaster area may be allowed more time to file. Currently, taxpayers impacted by Hurricane Florence are among those who qualify for this relief. See the disaster relief page on IRS.gov for details.

Taxpayers with extensions should file their tax returns by Oct. 15 and, if they owe, pay as much as possible to reduce interest and penalties. IRS Direct Pay allows individuals to securely pay from their checking or savings accounts. 

Taxpayers can also pay by debit or credit card. While the IRS does not charge a fee for this service, the payment processer will. Other payment options include the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (enrollment is required) and Electronic Funds Withdrawal which is available when e-filing. Taxpayers can also pay what they owe using the IRS2Go mobile app. Taxpayers will find information about all IRS payment options at IRS.gov/payments.

Individual taxpayers can go to IRS.gov/account and login to view their balance, payment history, pay their taxes and access tax records through Get Transcript. Before setting up an account, taxpayers should review Secure Access: How to Register for Certain Online Self-Help Tools to make sure they have the information needed to verify their identities.