If you need more time to gather your documents or prepare your tax return, you can file for an extension. Here are the most important things know:
- The extension provides you with an additional 6 months to file your tax return. The usual deadline for an individual tax return is April 15th and the usual due date for an extended tax return is October 15th. Both due dates are subject to change if the 15th falls on a weekend or on a federal holiday. For example, if the 15th is on a Saturday the deadline will be the 17th.
- While the extension provides additional time to file your return, any tax due should be paid by the April deadline. The extension prevents the late filing penalty, but it does not stop the late payment penalty and interest. That penalty is 0.5% per month of the unpaid tax up to a maximum of 25%. You should estimate the tax you’ll owe as accurately as possible and pay that amount by the April deadline.
- State extension requirements may differ from the IRS. Make sure you know what your state requires and that you file any required forms for your state extension. Most states simply accept the federal extension or grant automatic extensions to all taxpayers to the October extended deadline.
- Federal extensions and many state extensions can be filed electronically through FreeTaxUSA. Then we’ll help you file your taxes to help you meet the extension deadline. Federal extensions can also be filed through the mail using Form 4868.
- If the extension needs to be mailed, use certified mail with a return receipt. This will provide you with documentation that the extension was mailed on time, and that it was received by the IRS and any states that you mailed an extension.
- If there’s a refund expected on a tax return, you’re not required to file an extension. It may be a good idea to file the extension to keep yourself covered from penalties if the estimated refund is not correct.
We recommend filing an extension when you don’t have all of your expected tax documents or information by the original April filing date. There’s no evidence to suggest that extending your return creates any undue risk of an audit. It’s always ideal to file your return correctly the first time you file your return instead of needing to file amended returns to correct errors or omitted items.
If you have additional questions about filing extensions, you can get more information here at the IRS website or by talking to one of our Support Professionals.