The April 15 tax deadline is approaching. What happens if you can’t get your taxes done by the due date? If you need more time, you can get an automatic six-month extension from the IRS. You don’t have to explain why you’re asking for more time. Here are five important things to know about filing an extension:
1. File on time even if you can’t pay. If you complete your tax return but can’t pay the taxes you owe, do not request an extension. Instead, file your return on time and pay as much as you can. That way you will avoid the late filing penalty, which is higher than the penalty for not paying all of the taxes you owe on time. Plus, you do have payment options. Apply for a payment plan using the Online Payment Agreement tool on IRS.gov. You can also file Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request, with your tax return. If you are unable to make payments because of a financial hardship, the IRS will work with you.
2. Extra time to file is not extra time to pay. An extension to file will give you six more months to file your taxes, until Oct. 15. It does not give you extra time to pay your taxes. You still must estimate and pay what you owe by April 15. You will be charged interest on any amount not paid by the deadline. You may also owe a penalty for not paying on time.
3. Use IRS Free File to request an extension. You can use IRS Free File to e-file your extension request. Free File is only available through the IRS.gov website. You must e-file the request by midnight on April 15. If you e-file your extension request, the IRS will acknowledge receipt. You also can return to Free File any time by Oct. 15 to prepare and e-file your tax return for free.
4. Use Form 4868. You can also request an extension by mailing a Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. You must submit this form to the IRS by April 15. Form 4868 is available on IRS.gov.
You don’t need to submit a paper Form 4868 if you make a payment using an IRS electronic payment option. The IRS will automatically process your extension when you pay electronically. You can pay online or by phone.
5. Electronic funds withdrawal. If you e-file an extension request, you can also pay any balance due by authorizing an electronic funds withdrawal from your checking or savings account. To do this you will need your bank routing and account numbers.