Information You Can Find in Our Forms:
How to File for a Federal Income Tax Extension
During tax season, many Americans eagerly anticipate a tax refund. Others, however, may need to pay the taxes they owe. The deadline to file a federal income tax return occurs in mid-April each year. If you owe the IRS, you must pay by this deadline to avoid penalties.
However, if you need more time to prepare your tax return, you can request a tax extension. Tax extensions push the date you will need to file a return out by six months. You can request an extension for any reason, including for family emergencies, travel, school, or just because you aren’t ready.
Information You Can Find in Our Forms:
Keep reading to learn what you need to know about tax extensions, including how to apply for an extension.
What is the Deadline for Requesting a Tax Extension?
If you need to request a tax extension, you must do so by the date that your tax return is due. Tax day generally occurs on or around April 15th each year; however, if that date falls on a weekend or holiday, the due date falls on the next weekday.
In some cases, states may apply automatic extensions for state taxes, such as in the event of a disaster. It’s important to plan ahead of time if you intend to file for an extension. This is not something you want to do at the last minute, because you likely won’t have time to fix any potential errors.
Does a Tax Extension Give Me More Time to Pay Taxes?
The short answer is: no.
Tax extensions only provide you with extra time to file your income tax return, not to pay any owed taxes. If you owe money to the IRS, you’ll receive a tax bill that is due on tax day of that year.
How Much Does it Cost to File for a Tax Extension?
Requesting a tax extension is free. However, if you simply ignore the due date for your income tax return, you’ll likely get hit with penalties. If you need more time to file your return, it’s important to apply for a tax extension to avoid incurring any penalties.
What Information Will I Need to Provide to File a Tax Extension?
While filing for a tax extension is simple, there are certain pieces of information you’ll need to submit when you file your request. You’ll need to provide the following information:
- Your name
- Your Social Security number (SSN)
- Your address
- Your spouse’s name and Social Security number (SSN), if applicable
- Your individual tax income information, including your estimated tax liability and any payments you have made toward your taxes
- Your citizenship status
How to File for a Tax Extension Online
You can file for a federal income tax return extension online through the IRS electronic filing program. This program allows you to submit tax forms, including Form 4868 – Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, directly with the IRS. This form is used by the IRS to grant extensions to those who qualify.
Alternatively, you can use tax software or hire a tax professional to help you apply for a tax extension. Once you have successfully filed your request, you’ll receive an email confirmation.
How to File for a Tax Extension by Mail
The IRS permits you to mail a completed Form 4868 to file your request for an extension. You can obtain your paper form by printing the form online or by contacting the IRS directly to have them mail it to you. Additionally, you may be able to request form 4868 at your local library or post office.
Filing for State Income Tax Extensions
Filing for a federal income tax extension does not automatically grant you a state extension. However, you do not need to request an extension if you live in one of the few states that do not require you to pay state income tax. These states are:
- New Hampshire
- South Dakota
Additionally, a few states automatically apply tax extensions to all taxpayers. Those states include:
If your state does impose income taxes and does not automatically apply an extension, you will need to file a request in your state. Generally, you can use professional tax preparers or professional tax preparation software to request a state tax extension.
Alternatively, you can contact your state’s tax agency to request a form for the extension. You may also be able to file for an extension on the state tax authority’s website, depending on where you live.
How Do I Know if my Federal Income Tax Extension Request is Approved?
After the IRS has received your completed extension request form, you’ll receive a confirmation email within 24 hours. However, if you file a tax extension request by mail, you may not receive a confirmation, and may need to call the IRS to check the status of your request.
Can a Tax Extension Request be Rejected?
Yes – tax extension requests can be rejected, but they are usually only rejected for minor errors. For example, your extension request may be rejected if you misspelled or failed to provide necessary information.
If this is the case, the IRS or state tax authority may give you a few more days to file the form again to fix any errors. Additionally, your request may be rejected if the IRS disagrees with your tax estimates.
Do I qualify to File a Tax Extension and Return for Free?
It’s free to file a federal income tax extension with the IRS, regardless of your income. However, you may also be able to use the IRS Free File program or another professional tax preparation software to file your extension request and federal income tax return for free.
Many brand-name tax prep software offers free filing if your adjusted gross income (AGI) does not exceed a specific figure. To use the IRS Free File for the 2021 tax year, your income must be at or below $73,000.
What if You’re Outside of the Country?
If you are outside of the country, but you need to file a federal income tax return, you may be given an automatic two month federal tax extension if you meet all of the following criteria:
- You are a U.S. citizen or resident alien
- You are living outside of the U.S. and Puerto Rico, but you work or operate a business in the U.S. or Puerto Rico or you are on duty outside of Puerto Rico or the U.S. for naval or military services
If you are outside of the country, you will need to attach a statement to your tax return. This statement must explain why you qualified for an extension. However, like any other tax extension filing, you are still responsible for paying your owed taxes before the tax due date, even if you’re granted an extension.