How to File a Tax Extension Online
Your Step-by-Step Guide
Need more time to complete your tax return?
The IRS gives taxpayers the option to request an extension, which gives you six additional months to file your tax return. You can request this extra time by filing for an extension with the IRS.
This guide will walk you through the steps to request more time if filing an extension is right for you.
Please note: This does NOT change the deadline for tax payments. If you owe the IRS money, you must submit payment by the April 15 deadline. But it can help you avoid racking up fees and interest charges.
File an Income Tax Extension Online: It’s Free and Easy
Filing an extension can be beneficial because it gives you additional time to properly file your return. In most cases, extensions are granted automatically when you apply. The form is short and easy to fill out.
It’s also free to file an extension. Simply fill out Form 4868 (PDF link). You can print it out and send in yourself, or you can apply for an extension right here on our site. Click the button below to get started. Or keep reading to learn more about the reasons it might make sense to file an extension.
Filing for a Tax Extension ?
Consider these first:
Don’t Worry! Ask for More Time if You Need It and Avoid Tax Mistakes
Whatever your reason for requesting an extension, don’t worry about asking for more time if you need it. The IRS does not need an explanation, and most extensions are granted automatically. If a life event interferes with your ability to file, simply fill out the form and request an extension to get some extra time.
Preparing your tax return in a hurry can lead to mistakes, which will only result in more problems down the line.
Remember: An Extension Does Not Change IRS Payment Deadlines
This is extremely important: filing an extension will NOT change the deadline for tax payments. You’re requesting extra time to submit your return, not extra time to pay.
It’s a common misconception among taxpayers that filing for an extension gives you more time to pay. This is not the case. Any money you owe the IRS must be paid by the deadline, regardless of when you file your income tax return.
We’ll say it again, because it bears repeating. Any tax liability is due by April 15th, no matter what. The extension simply gives you additional time to submit your return. If you have an unpaid balance, it will begin to accrue interest and penalties.
IRS Penalties Are Higher if You Don’t File by April 15
No matter the situation, it’s better to file an extension than let the deadline pass by. You’re going to pay fines no matter what, and the penalties are higher if you don’t file anything at all.
If you filed an extension on time, the IRS charges a penalty of 0.5% of the amount owed for each month it remains unpaid. However, if you don’t file a return or apply for an extension by April 15th, you will be penalized 5% of the unpaid balance for every month that you don’t pay.
That’s 10 times more!
While there is a chance the IRS will waive these fees if your excuse is deemed reasonable, it’s unlikely. Better not to risk it. If you cannot pay, file an extension anyway. This will reduce the overall fees you pay. Applying for an extension will give you until October 15th to file your income tax return, and also pay any balance owed.
Failure to do so will result in a 5% penalty per month, with a maximum fine of 25%.
Depending on how much you owe, this could be a significant fine.
If you don’t have all the paperwork needed to file your return, or if there’s some other reason you can’t meet the deadline, we can help. File for an extension right here with us.
Reasons You May Want to File an Extension
While the IRS will not deny your right to file for an extension, it’s important to make sure you have a valid reason before you do. The best thing is to file your tax returns on time, but that’s not always possible.
Here are four reasons you might need to request an extension.
1. You Simply Need More Time
Tax season brings a lot of stress for most people, and sometimes you have something going on that takes priority.
If you can’t spare the time to get your taxes together, and you know that you’re not going to owe money, go ahead and give yourself the extra six months.
Having additional time will relieve stress, and it will also help you take advantage of all the tax benefits available to you. With more time, you’re more likely to accurately file your return. That means no mistakes!
2. You’re Waiting on Forms
Another legitimate reason to file an extension is because you’re waiting on paperwork that is needed to file. Incomplete, inaccurate, or missing documentation is a common cause for people to file an extension.
For example, freelancers cannot calculate their tax obligations until they’ve received a 1099 form from each of their clients. Or employees may lose track of their W-2, and must request another copy from their employer. In both cases, it’s not possible to file an income tax return without the necessary documentation, so filing an extension is the best option.
3. You’re Out of Town
Although it’s possible to file your taxes electronically, many taxpayers prefer to submit hard copies of their tax forms. If that’s the case, and you’re traveling for work or another reason, you can file an extension in case you’re not back in town by the April deadline.
If you’re one of the lucky taxpayers who chooses to spend winter in a warmer climate, file for an extension if you’re not going to be home during the month of April. Just be sure not to miss any deadlines, as you could be penalized.
4. You Have a Busy Schedule
Let’s face it – everyone is busy, and sometimes your schedule gets in the way.
It’s not uncommon for people to run out of time when it comes to filing taxes. You think you have plenty of time, and the next thing you know it’s April 10th.
Tax preparers are busy, too, especially when tax season rolls around. As a result, they may advise clients to file for an extension if they show up with documents a few days before the deadline. It’s always a good idea to file an extension just in case in this situation.
You may not need it, but it’s good to have a backup plan.
The Process to Apply for an Extension is Simple
Apply for an Income Tax Extension to Get Additional Time to File
To get started, select the Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return (Form 4868). We make the application process quick and easy, giving you additional time to gather the necessary documents and properly file your return.
If you cannot pay the balance owed, you will incur penalties. But you should still file an extension, because the consequences are much worse if you don’t. For every month that goes unpaid – with a few exceptions – you will be penalized 0.5% of the due amount.
The IRS has different payment options if you cannot pay your taxes. But FIRST, file a tax extension.
Here's What You Can Do
If You Can’t Pay Your Taxes
What to Do if You Cannot Pay Your Tax Bill on Time
If you are unable to pay, instead of not filing, you should seek other measures.
You have a few options:
- Estimate how much you owe. There are online tax estimators you can use to help you with this. Getting an idea of what/will not be due gives taxpayers some extra time to get a hold of the money.
- Apply for an extension. There is a short extension available if you need extra time to pay. It’s about 60 to 120 days, and you’ll still have to pay interest and penalties, but at a lower rate.
- Request a payment plan. The IRS offers installment agreements to taxpayers who can’t pay their taxes when they are due. This is a great avenue to explore if you want to avoid the harsh consequences of not paying the IRS.
- Pay with a credit card or loan. The final option you might consider is paying your tax with a credit card or a loan. In some cases, you’ll end up paying less in interest than you would racking up IRS fees. But be sure to do the math first.
These are the most common alternatives to consider if you cannot make the payment due to the IRS on time.
Do your best to pay by the deadline, but failing that you can at least try to avoid some of the worst penalties and fees.
File an Extension Online
Minimize Damage: Request an Income Tax Extension Online Today
When it comes down to it, there’s really no way to avoid paying taxes. But the options above can help you meet your tax obligations with minimal damage.
Ignoring it will only result in accrued interest, so you’ll end up paying much more than you would have if you dealt with the issue on time.
Things happen, and life can get hectic at times. If you are unprepared for this upcoming tax season and need a little bit more time, we can help. Apply for an extension today, right here on our site.
You may not need until October, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.