Tax Form 4868 Instructions

Elizabeth Rosen
by Elizabeth Rosen, Contributor

Struggling to fill out IRS Tax Form 4868? Here are some helpful instructions that will make the process easier. If all of the  tax jargon is still too confusing, remember that you can always take the easy route and e-file Tax Form 4868 online in just minutes.

Part I: Identification

Line 1
Enter your name(s) and address. If you plan to file a joint tax return, include both spouses' names in the order in which they will appear on joint tax return.

If you would like notices regarding your tax extension to be sent to you at an address other than your own, enter that address in Part I. If you want correspondences sent to an agent who is acting for you, include the agent's name (as well as your own) and the agent's address in Part I.

If you changed your name after you filed your last tax return (because of marriage, divorce, or other reasons) be sure to report this to the Social Security Administration (SSA) before filing Tax Form 4868. Doing this will help prevent delays in processing your tax extension request.

If you changed your mailing address after you filed your last tax return, you should use Tax Form 8822 (Change of Address) to notify the IRS of that change. Simply showing a new address on Form 4868 will not update your records. You can obtain IRS tax forms by calling 1(800)TAX-FORM or by visiting the IRS website and downloading the forms online.

Lines 2 and 3
If you plan to file a joint tax return, on Line 2 enter the Social Security Number (SSN) that will appear first on your return. On Line 3, enter the other Social Security Number that will be shown on your joint return.

Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) for Aliens: If you are a nonresident or resident alien and you do not have a Social Security Number (and are not eligible to get one), you must apply for an ITIN. Although an ITIN is not required to file Tax Form 4868, you will need one to file your income tax return. For details on how to apply for an ITIN, see IRS Tax Form W-7 and its instructions. It will take approximately 8-10 weeks for the IRS to notify you of your ITIN. If you already have an ITIN, enter it on the tax form wherever your Social Security Number is requested. If you are currently applying for an ITIN with Form W-7, write “ITIN TO BE REQUESTED” on the tax form wherever your Social Security Number is requested.

Note: An ITIN is for tax purposes only. It does not entitle you to Social Security Benefits, nor does it change your employment or immigration status under United States law.

Part II: Individual Income Tax

Keep in mind that you can round-off cents to whole dollar amounts on Tax Form 4868. However, if you do round-off to whole dollars, you must round all amounts on the form. To round, drop amounts under 50 cents, and increase amounts from 50 to 99 cents to the next dollar. (For example, $1.39 would become $1, and $2.50 would become $3). If you have to add two or more numbers together to figure the amount to enter on a line, include cents when adding the amounts, and round off only the total.

Line 4 ― Estimate of Total Tax Liability for 2010
Enter the total income tax liability that you expect to report on your tax return. This amount will appear on one of the following forms (depending on which tax return you file):

  • Tax Form 1040, Line 60
  • Tax Form 1040A, Line 37
  • Tax Form 1040EZ, Line 11
  • Tax Form 1040NR, Line 59
  • Tax Form 1040NR-EZ, Line 17
  • Tax Form 1040-PR, Line 5
  • Tax Form 1040-SS, Line 5

If you expect this amount to be zero, enter -0-. Bear in mind, you want to make your estimate as accurate as you can with the information you have. If the IRS later finds that your estimate was not reasonable, your tax extension will be considered null and void.

Line 5—Total 2010 Payments
Enter on Line 5 the total payments that you expect to report on your income tax return. This amount will appear on one of the following forms (depending on with tax return you file):

  • Tax Form 1040, Line 72 (excluding Line 68)
  • Tax Form 1040A, Line 44
  • Tax Form 1040EZ, Line 10
  • Tax Form 1040NR, Line 68 (excluding Line 63)
  • Tax Form 1040NR-EZ, Line 21
  • Tax Form 1040-PR, Line 10
  • Tax Form 1040-SS, Line 10

Note: For Forms 1040A, 1040EZ, 1040NR-EZ, 1040-PR, and 1040SS, do not include on Line 5 the amount you are paying with this Tax Form 4868.

Line 6 ― Balance Due
Subtract Line 5 from Line 4 and enter the result here. If Line 5 is more than Line 4, enter -0-.

Line 7 ― Amount You Are Paying
If you find that you cannot pay the amount shown on Line 6, you can still get a tax extension. However, you should try to pay as much as you can in order to limit the amount of interest you will owe. Additionally, you may be charged a late payment penalty (usually ½ of 1%) on the tax not paid by the original due date of your return.

Line 8 ― Taxpayers Who Are Out of the Country
If you are out of the country on the regular due date of your tax return, check the box on Line 8. For the IRS’ definition of “out of the country,” see the Instructions for Form 4868.

Line 9 ― Taxpayers Who File Form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ
If you did not receive wages subject to withholding tax and your return is due June 15, 2011, check the box on Line 9.


5 Steps for Completing Form 4868

It is easier to get a tax extension than many people believe. Once you know how to do it, you will be able to file for an extension anytime it is necessary. While it is not a good idea to rely on filing extensions every year, you never know when you are going to need a little bit extra time to file your tax return.

Before we go any further, it is important to remember this one important detail: a tax extension only gives you more time to file your return. It does not give you more time to pay any taxes that you might owe. Your payment must still be submitted by the original due date of your tax return (typically April 15th).

If you need a tax extension, the following five steps will help you:

1. Determine whether or not you are going to owe more taxes

If you are due a tax refund, the filing process is much less stressful because you don’t have to request extra time. On the other hand, if you owe additional money you will need to file a tax extension while also arranging to make a payment.

2. Obtain a copy of IRS Tax Form 4868 (Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return)

This one-page form will help you get a six month automatic extension to file your taxes. You can call the IRS to request this form or print it out online. If you are working with a tax professional, they can supply you with a tax extension form as well as any others that you may need.

3. File Tax Form 4868 with the IRS

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 due date, which is April 15. Note that Form 4868 can be filed electronically or by paper mail.

4. Pay all or part of the income tax that you owe

It would be in your best interest to pay in full, but sometimes this is not possible. Again, you are not buying yourself more time to pay your taxes when you file for a tax extension. The longer you wait to pay, the more you will owe in late fees.

5. File your tax return by the new due date

Now that you have filed for a tax extension, your new deadline is October 15th of the same tax year. While six extra months may seem like a long time, you still shouldn’t want to wait until the last moment to file.

The IRS makes it easy to get a tax extension and does not require information on why you need more time to file. If you are interested in requesting an extension, the above steps can help guide you.