Here’s how taxpayers can get an extension of time to file their tax return


IRS Tax Tip 2020-38, March 18, 2020

If taxpayers need more time to prepare their federal tax return, there's plenty of help on This page provides information on how to get an automatic six-month extension of time to file.

Taxpayers should remember a few important things.

  • An extension of time to file a return is not an extension of time to pay.
  • Taxpayers should pay any taxes they owe by the April 15 deadline to avoid possible penalties and interest.
  • The extension request must be filed electronically or postmarked no later than April 15, 2020.

Here are a few ways taxpayers can file for an extension.

  • File Extension Form 4868 electronically. Taxpayers, or their preparers, can use IRS Free File to e-file a free extension request. The form is available on and through tax software packages. The IRS must receive an electronically filed extension request by 11:59 p.m., Wednesday, April 15, 2020.
  • Electronic payment options. The IRS will automatically process an extension of time to file when taxpayers pay all or part of their tax due and indicate that the payment is for an extension using Direct Pay, the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, or a credit or debit card. This way taxpayers won't have to file form 4868 and will receive a confirmation number for their records.
  • Mail Form 4868. Taxpayers can request an extension using the Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return by mailing the form to the address in the instructions.  

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 They may also file Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request. The IRS will work with taxpayers who can't make payments.

Taxpayers must request the automatic extension by the due date for their return. They can file their return any time before the six-month extension period ends on October 15, 2020. The taxpayer enters any payment they made related to the extension of time to file on Schedule 3 Form 1040 or 1040-SR, line 10.

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