Requesting a Tax Extension

Elizabeth Rosen
by Elizabeth Rosen, Contributor

Each year, millions of U.S. taxpayers file for a tax extension with the IRS. Filing for a tax extension doesn’t mean you have more time to pay your taxes, it simply means you are given more time to get your paperwork together and file your actual income tax return.

There are a number of reasons people choose to file for a tax extension. Whether you are extremely busy with school, dealing with a personal or family situation, or just cannot gather your supporting tax documents in time, an extension can help relieve some of the stress that typically arises around tax season.

A tax extension, approved by the IRS, will give you an additional 6 months to file your return. This moves your filing deadline from the usual April 15th due date to October 15th of that year.

Having an additional 180 days to gather, review, prepare and submit your return can help you to be more thorough. You may also be able to take advantage of certain tax deductions or tax credits that might have been overlooked.

To request a tax extension, fill out Tax Form 4868 (Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return) and submit it to the IRS by the original filing deadline (typically April 15th). Keep in mind that you must also send payment for any taxes due.

Tax Form 4868

Need more time to file? File an IRS tax extension and you get 6 extra months to file your income tax return, with no penalties whatsoever.

An IRS tax extension allows you to put-off tax day for 6 additional months. The IRS will gladly give you this extra time to file, even if you owe taxes. As long as you file your tax extension on or before the original filing deadline (usually April 15th) and then file your return by October 15th, you will not be penalized for late filing.

It’s important to note that filing a tax extension is not a free pass to ignore your taxes due. Rather, it’s an agreement with the IRS that you will file your tax return within the six extra months you’ve been granted. Once you file the extension, it’s recommended that you take the proper steps to file your actual return. Once October 15th rolls around, there is absolutely no delaying your taxes any further.

Also remember this: a tax extension only gives you more time to file, not more time to pay. If you owe taxes, you must still send your payment to the IRS by the original due date of your return (usually April 15th). Keep this in mind when you are filing for a tax extension using IRS Tax Form 4868 (Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return), because you must report any balance due in Part II of that form. Your payment should be submitted with your 4868 Tax Form ― otherwise, you will be charged interest on any amount that not paid by the original deadline.

IRS Form 4868 is the Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Income Tax Return.

If you are not able to file your federal individual income tax return by the due date, you may be able to get an automatic 6-month extension of time to file. To do so, you must file Tax Form 4868 by the original due date for filing your tax return (April 18th for the 2011 tax season).

Form 4868 is a tax extension for individuals reporting their income to the IRS. This includes all taxpayers who file 1040s, contractors who file 1099s, as well as single member LLCs and Schedule C Sole Proprietors. Filing an  individual tax extension will extend your tax deadline to October for the following tax returns:
•    Tax Form 1040
•    Tax Form 1040A
•    Tax Form 1040EZ
•    Tax Form 1040NR
•    Tax Form 1040NR-EZ

It’s important to note that submitting Form 4868 does not extend the time for payment of tax, which is still owed by the original due date of your return. You will need to give an estimate of your tax due when filing for a tax extension ― and you can pay none, all, or part of your estimated income tax due using a credit card or checking/savings account.