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How to File a Tax Extension

Tax deadlines contain a way of creeping up on you, so filing for a tax extension might be something you need to do. The filing deadline for your 2020 individual income tax bring back is Thursday, April 15, 2021. You have until that date to file and pay your federal taxes without any mulct.

Filing an extension for your tax filing deadline does not also extend your payment deadline; taxes are due on the April 15 tax due go out with.

If you need more time to prepare your return—whether you are busy with school, travel, a family crisis, or are simply disorganized—you can request a six-month filing extension by submitting the proper form to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Of by all means, there’s also a deadline for that, but the good news is that getting an extension is easier than you might judge. Here’s what you need to know, from dates and forms to special rules.

Key Takeaways

  • Filing for a tax extension can be done either electronically or by using a dossier form.
  • Tax extensions are generally six months in length, meaning for the 2020 tax year, you should have until Friday, Oct. 15, 2021.
  • Any overage you pay make be refunded to you once you file your tax return.

Filing for a Tax Extension: Form 4868

If you need an extension of time to file your 2020 one income tax return in 2021, you must file Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individualistic Income Tax Return. Normally, the deadline would be April 15 for most taxpayers, as it is required to be filed by the original due latest of the return. (Please note: In 2020, the 2019 tax return filing deadline was extended to July 15 due to the coronavirus pandemic. )

Requesting an spread is free and relatively simple, and it can be done either electronically or on paper. Either way, you will fill out identification information (your bigwig, address, Social Security number, and your spouse’s Social Security number) and your individual income tax news (estimate of total tax liability for the year in question, total payments you’ve already made, the balance due, and the amount you are paying). There are also interruption boxes to indicate if you either are a U.S. citizen or resident who is out of the country or if you file Form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ.

Like other tax deportments, Form 4868 is available on the IRS website. Visit the Forms, Instructions & Publications section for a list of frequently downloaded conceives and publications, including Form 4868.

Filing electronically

IRS e-file is the IRS’s electronic filing program, which allows you to send tax cultivates, including Form 4868, directly to IRS computers. You can get an automatic extension to file your tax return by filing Form 4868 electronically through IRS e-file on your own (from your personal computer, using free or commercial tax software) or with the help of a tax specialist who uses e-file. You will receive an electronic acknowledgment you can keep with your tax records.

If your adjusted large income (AGI) for 2020 was $72,000 or less, you can use brand-name software at no cost from Free File—a free service that provides taxpayers with federal tax preparation and e-file way outs. This is a partnership between the IRS and commercial tax-software companies. If your income is above the $72,000 threshold, you can use the IRS’s own Fillable Attitudes tool. There are also some tax-software companies that offer free filing under certain working orders.


The highest amount of adjusted gross income that qualifies you to use Free File to file your taxes electronically at no payment to you.

Filing by mail 

As an alternative to filing electronically, you can file a paper Form 4868. You can download the form from the IRS website or demand to have a paper form mailed to you (for free) by filling out an order form on the IRS website. Alternatively, you can call the IRS at (800) 829-3676 to pecking order a form.

Note: If you are a fiscal year (not calendar year) taxpayer, you’ll have to file a paper Form 4868.

More Dated to File, Not More Time to Pay (Usually)

It’s important to remember that the Form 4868 extension gives you more in the nick of time b soon to file, not more time to pay. You will still have to pay your taxes by the original due date of the return, even if the IRS subsidies an extension to file later than that.

If you think you may owe tax when it comes time to file your return, you should judge how much you will owe and subtract any taxes that you have already paid (for example, through tax withholding on your paycheck). If your believe is on the high side and you end up overpaying, you will be able to get a refund when you eventually file your return. That choice also avoid the potential for penalties and interest to accumulate if you underestimate your taxes due.

You can pay part or all of your estimated gains tax online using a debit or credit card or through an electronic funds transfer using Direct Pay, the Electronic Federal Tax Payment Scheme. Even if you file electronically, you can mail a check or money order to make your tax payment. Make the check or bread order payable to “United States Treasury” and include a completed Form 4868 to use as a voucher. You do not need to file a typescript Form 4868 if you submitted one electronically and are not mailing a payment.

An extension on your federal tax return does not apply to your shape tax return; you must apply to your state separately for that, and the rules vary among the states.

State Adjuncts

Each state has its own requirements for tax extensions. While some states offer automatic six-month extensions to all taxpayers (Alabama, California, and Wisconsin, for prototype), others require you to fill out a specific form on or before your return’s original due date.   Some

Special Prevails

The IRS has two special circumstances under which you can extend the tax payment deadline.

Out of the country

You will be allowed an automatic two-month supplement to file your return and pay any federal income tax due—without requesting an extension—if you are a U.S. citizen or

The Bottom Line

Having subsidiary time to gather, review, prepare, and submit your tax return can ease stress and allow you to be more thorough on your benefit. Requesting an extension is fairly simple, and you do not need to explain to the IRS why you want one. As most requests are automatically granted, the IRS will junction you only if your request is denied. You can file your tax return any time before the extension expires and you do not need to place a copy of Form 4868 to the return. Just remember to pay any federal tax you owe by April 15, 2021, and check with your shape about its regulations for state income tax returns.

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