What to Know Before You File a Tax Extension

How to File an Extension

Filing your tax returns by the April 15 deadline can feel overwhelming. After all, there are so many steps you need to take before filing – gather all relevant forms, select a filing method, choose deductions, and everything else in between.

The good news is that if you need more time to prepare, the IRS does allow you to apply for more time to file your tax return using IRS Form 4868 – and it’s easy to do online for free. If approved, you’ll have six more months to file, moving your tax deadline to October 15. Here’s how to file an extension.

What to Know Before You File a Tax Extension

Before proceeding with the extension request, keep these key points in mind:

  • You must file your extension request on or before the regular tax filing deadline – April 15. If you’ve missed the deadline, scroll to the bottom of this article to learn how to get back into compliance.

  • A tax extension provides additional time to file your tax returns, but not to pay any tax owed. You must estimate and pay any amounts due by April 15 to avoid failure-to-pay penalties.

  • If you live in a designated disaster area, you may qualify to automatically receive an extension without having to apply.

When taxpayers fill out our Tax Relief Survey, they are able to see if they qualify for the IRS Fresh Start Program and begin their journey toward tax resolution in minutes.

The IRS now has more flexibility when analyzing a taxpayer’s ability to pay back taxes. This makes the IRS Fresh Start Program available to a larger group of taxpayers. If you have been denied access to the program in the past, you may still qualify for relief today.

Thanks to a recent expansion of the Fresh Start Program, access to Installment Agreements and Offers in Compromise is now streamlined. An Offer in Compromise (OIC), allows taxpayers to settle their debt for less than the full amount.

Take this 60-Second Quiz to See if You Qualify for the IRS Fresh Start Program.

Filing Your Tax Extension: Step-by-Step Guide

Regardless of your income level, you can use an IRS Free File partner to request an extension at no cost. Follow these simple steps to file your extension:

  1. Select a Free File partner to use. These are online tax software programs approved by the IRS for do-it-yourself filing. Research your options to find the best fit.

  2. Click "Start Free Tax Extension" and create a free account with your chosen partner.

  3. Provide your basic information following the prompts. This may take a few steps.

  4. Confirm your filing status.

  5. Answer questions about your sources of income during the previous tax year.

  6. Upload your income reporting forms such as W-2s, 1099s, or both.

  7. Select either standard or itemized deductions.

  8. Answer a few questions about tax credit eligibility and select any credits you qualify for.

  9. Answer any additional miscellaneous questions.

  10. Click on “File Extension.” The program should estimate the amount of tax you owe.

  11. Pay the estimated amount and complete your tax extension.

After you submit, you should receive an electronic confirmation that the IRS has accepted your tax extension request – be sure to keep this for your records.

What To Do if You Missed the Tax Extension Deadline

If you didn't file your tax return or request an extension by April 15, don't panic – getting back into compliance is straightforward.

The good news is that getting back into compliance with the IRS is easy – you just need to file your tax returns and pay any tax owed. The bad news is that the IRS will assess failure-to-file and failure-to-pay penalties every month until you file and pay. To minimize these costs, get started as soon as possible.

If you need help with your unfiled tax returns, contact a trusted tax professional who can advise you on how to get back into compliance. If you’ve avoided filing your tax returns for two years or more, take a moment to complete our brief survey to determine if you may qualify for IRS relief programs that could help resolve your tax debt.

It's important to note that checking your eligibility for the IRS Fresh Start Program is 100% FREE, and investing a few minutes could help you save THOUSANDS.

Get Compliant - Start the Process Today

The bottom line is this: there's simply no good reason to skip filing your taxes. The risks are far too great. If you're worried about owing money to the IRS, work with a tax professional to explore your options for setting up a payment plan or negotiating a settlement. But don't make the mistake of ignoring your tax obligations entirely - it's just not worth it.

Ready to get your taxes filed the right way? 

Take a moment to complete our Tax Relief Survey and see if you qualify for assistance in resolving any outstanding tax debts. Don't let failure to file your taxes derail your financial future - get the help you need today.

Take the Quiz

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