Facts about Filing for an Extension

IRS Tax Tip 2018-59, April 17, 2018

This year’s tax-filing deadline is today. Taxpayers needing more time to file their taxes can get an automatic six-month extension from the IRS.

There are a few different ways taxpayers can file for an extension.

  • IRS Free File. While taxpayers can use IRS Free File to prepare and e-file their taxes for free, they can also use it to e-file a free extension request. Midnight on April 17 is the deadline for the IRS to receive an e-filed extension request. Taxpayers can access Free File to prepare and e-file their return through October 17.

  • Form 4868. Taxpayers can request an extension using the Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. The deadline for mailing the form to the IRS is April 17.

  • Electronic Payment Options. The IRS will automatically process an extension of time to file when taxpayers pay all or part of their taxes electronically by April 17. They don’t need to file a paper or electronic Form 4868 when making a payment with IRS Direct Pay, the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System or with a debit or credit card. When paying one of these ways, taxpayers will select Form 4868 as the payment type. Taxpayers should print out a confirmation as proof of payment and keep it with their records.

Here are a couple things for people filing an extension to remember:

  • More Time to File is Not More Time to Pay. An extension to file gives taxpayers more time to file their return, but not more time to pay their taxes. Taxpayers should estimate and pay any owed taxes by April 17 to avoid a late-filing penalty. To avoid penalties and interest, they should pay the full amount owed by the April due date.

  • The IRS Can Help. The IRS offers payment options for taxpayers who can’t pay all the tax they owe. In most cases, they can apply for an installment agreement with the Online Payment Agreement application on IRS.gov. They may also file Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request. The IRS will work with taxpayers who can’t make payments because of financial hardship.

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