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When You Need More Time: Extension Form 4868

March 31, 2016

There are less than three weeks remaining in the 2016 tax-filing season. Taxpayers that cannot file their tax return by the April 18 deadline or are missing tax forms can obtain an automatic six-month extension to file. Most taxpayers can get an extension without providing a reason to the IRS. After obtaining an extension, the new return filing deadline is October 17, 2016.

After filing for an extension, you receive an extension automatically if the IRS does not contact you. If they do reach out, it might be because your request was declined. An extension to file cannot be obtained after April 18, 2016.

How to Apply

Individual taxpayers can use Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to file for an extension. The three ways to file for an extension are:

  1. Use IRS Free File to efile your Form 4868 for free.
  2. Send the paper form to the IRS.
  3. Pay all or part of your estimated tax and indicate that the payment is for an extension using Direct Pay, the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFPTS), or credit or debit card.

When requesting a filing extension, businesses and corporations can use Form 7004, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File Certain Business Income Tax, Information, and Other Returns.

When obtaining an extension of time to pay taxes, businesses and corporations may use Form 1138, Extension of Time for Payment of Taxes by a Corporation Expecting a Net Operating Loss Carryback.

Paying Taxes

An extension to file only applies to a tax return. It does not extend the time to pay taxes. Therefore, taxpayers with an extension are still required to pay their tax liability before April 18.

If certain forms are missing or you do not have sufficient information to accurately determine your tax liability, you may make an estimate and pay at least 90% of your tax liability for 2015. The IRS charges penalties and interest on unpaid taxes after the due date. Interest is compounded every day. Remember, it is preferable to pay more in taxes and receive a refund than to face penalties and interest for paying less.

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