How to File a Tax Extension – Get More Time for Filing Your Returns

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This is a person who needs to file a tax extension.

If you need more time to file your tax return, you may want to get a tax extension. As the name suggests, it gives you more time to prepare your income tax returns. After all, it can be complicated to find out your federal tax return.

Note that a tax extension won’t move the deadline for your payment submission. This means you will have to pay your estimated income tax to avoid a late payment penalty. Let’s take a closer look at how you can file a tax extension.

We will start right away with the steps to filing a tax return so that you can do so as soon as possible. Next, I will explain why you must pay your tax bill on time. Later, we will discuss sending your payments and applying for a tax refund.

How do I request a tax extension for my tax return?

This is a white box with the word "TAXES" that's on a pile of dollar bills

The fastest way to do this is by filing your tax return electronically. The IRS lets taxpayers e-file using its Free File System. It contains most of the features that a taxpayer needs.

You will have to meet certain requirements before you can use it. That’s why certain companies offer various computer programs to help with income tax return filing.

You may choose one that provides an option for IRS tax extension requests. Some people still prefer to send their IRS tax return forms via mail despite these online tools.

If you’re one of these folks, follow these steps to file a tax extension without using e-filing tools:

  1. Open this IRS webpage titled, “About Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.”
  2. Look for the Current Revision section. You’ll find the link to the latest version below that.
  3. This will open a PDF version of IRS Form 4868. You fill it out using your computer’s internet browser. Click each section and fill in the information. You may also do this on your smartphone, especially if a PDF reader is installed.
  4. Print the tax form and send it to the IRS address for your state.

Income taxes work differently for individuals and businesses. For example, the former may have to follow special rules if they serve in a combat zone or live outside the US.

That’s why the IRS provides an option for each type of tax liability. You may find each type of IRS extension form by clicking on this IRS webpage.

Read More: What Happens If You Don’t Pay Taxes?

What are the benefits of filing an extension?

The most immediate advantage to extending your tax filing deadline is that you get until October 15 to file your taxes. You may even enjoy this benefit every tax year.

IRS Free File lets you set an automatic tax-filing extension. This means you won’t have to keep requesting this feature every tax year.

You may only get the automatic extension if you pay the estimated amount due on your tax return. This means more time for tax preparation.

It can be a hassle because you will have to gather various information. Then, you’ll need to crunch the numbers to determine the amount of taxes owed.

This is even tougher if you’re filing federal taxes for your business. No wonder they just ask for help from tax professionals! If not, tax preparation software could be a good choice.

Since it gives you more time to file taxes, this could help you avoid a late filing penalty. Still, remember that a tax extension only applies for filing, not paying.

Why you should pay taxes on time

This is a calculator, a tax form, and a calendar.

Failure to submit your payment on time will prompt the Internal Revenue Service will send you a letter. It will tell you the amount of money you owe and the date when you must pay.

This due date often comes 21 calendar days after the IRS gives you the notice. If you owe taxes of up to $100,000 or more, the agency may shorten that period to ten calendar days.

Fail to pay by that new deadline, and the IRS will give you a Failure to Pay Penalty. This costs 0.5% of the monthly taxes you didn’t submit on time.

If you don’t pay after the due date, you will have to pay 0.5% of the partial month. Continue to ignore tax submission for ten days more, and the penalty will become 1%.

The IRS charges interest on penalties, meaning the amount of money you pay for it can pile up. The Failure to Pay Penalty can increase as much as 25%!

Eventually, the agency may even place a lien against your property. This allows the IRS to sell your possessions to cover all your unpaid taxes, penalties, and interest.

This won’t damage your credit score, but the IRS might consider that you’re intentionally not paying taxes. That’s when it could put Internal Revenue Code Section 7201 into effect.

You may receive up to five years in prison because of this. Moreover, you will have to pay $250,000. This is why you should submit your tax payments on time.

How to send a tax payment

This is a person using a computer to file a tax extension.

The IRS provides several options for paying taxes in full or in installments. Let’s take a look at each one:

  • Cash payment – You may submit these via participating retail partners. Visit IRS.gov/paywithcash for more information.
  • Direct Pay – Submit your payments directly from a savings or checking account for free.
  • Electronic Funds Withdrawal – Use your bank account to pay when you e-file your tax forms.
  • Debit or credit cards – Submit payments for taxes via credit or debit card online. You may also do this via phone or mobile device.
  • Installment agreement – You may only make monthly payments if you’ve first filed the required tax returns. Use the Online Payment Agreement tool to apply.

How to get a tax refund

Did you know that the IRS may return some of your payments? You could be due for a tax refund if the following conditions apply to you:

  • You have too much income tax withheld
  • Your last payment submission went above the estimated taxes
  • Your business has carry-backs on net operating losses
  • You have business credit adjustments or capital losses

You can simply file for a tax refund via your e-filing software. On the other hand, you may send a written request to the IRS. Of course, doing this electronically is much faster than snail mail.

Final thoughts

You can file an extension for filing taxes but not for paying them. Again, make sure you send your payments on time to avoid hassles and penalties.

If you have trouble filing taxes, you may want to get better tax software. In turn, you won’t have to crunch the numbers yourself. This means less time filing with fewer chances for errors.

For best results, try asking for help from a tax professional. Their services cost more than tax prep programs, but a tax pro can deliver better results.