Filing Taxes Late? Request an Income Tax Filing Extension

by Michael on Mar 18, 2013 · 3 comments

Photo of 1040 Tax Form with a Pen and Calculator

Taxes are due four weeks from today. You should thus have plenty of time to get things pulled together before the deadline.

But if you don’t make it, all is not lost. You can always request an income tax filing extension.

Yes, that’s right. A filing extension. In case you weren’t aware, the IRS automatically grants a six month income tax filing extension to anyone who asks. Here’s the scoop…

To request an extension, you need to fill out IRS Form 4868. The form is less than a quarter page long and shouldn’t take more than about two minutes to fill out once you’ve gathered all the necessary information.

As for what information is required, they just need your name, address and social security number. Oh, and an estimate of your tax liability and the goal amount that you’ve already paid in.

And therein lies the rub… While you can easily get a filing extension, you still have to pay the amount that’s due no later than the April 15th filing deadline. Otherwise, you’ll face penalties.

In other words, you still need to (more or less) do your taxes in advance of the deadline. Bummer, huh? But don’t let this scare you off.

After all, the late filing penalty is typically higher than the penalty for late payment. You should thus go ahead and request the extension (assuming you can’t file) before the deadline and then sort things out as quickly as possible.

Once you’ve requested the extension, you’ll have until October 15th to prepare and file your return — but keep in mind that underpayment penalties will continue to accrue until payment is made.

Credit for any payments submitted with Form 4868 can be claimed on the appropriate line of your return:

  • Form 1040, line 68
  • Form 1040A, line 41
  • Form 1040EZ, line 9
  • Form 1040NR, line 64
  • Form 1040NR-EZ, line 21
  • Form 1040-PR, line 10
  • Form 1040-SS, line 10

Oh, and don’t forget to request a state income tax filing extension while you’re at it. The form linked above only covers the federal filing requirement.

Details vary from state-to-state. To get info on requesting a filing extension in your state, just Google something like:

<yourstatename> income tax filing extension

Good luck!


1 Kurt @ Money Counselor March 18, 2013 at 11:53 am

I have a friend who routinely files for the automatic extension every year. And he’s still rushing to the post office before closing time on Oct 15!

2 Michael March 18, 2013 at 11:59 am

Yeah, it’s funny how time can get away from you once you take the extension. Six months seems like a lot of time but, once you put it on the back burner, October sneaks up on you.

3 Steven J Fromm March 21, 2013 at 9:07 am

Good advice as no one should ever pay the failure to file penalty. This penalty can be up to 25% of the amount due. However, calculating the amount of money to pay with the extension almost requires completing the return so why not just file the return if you are that close. It is often a good idea to hedge and estimate your tax liability a little more than you think in case you miss something. Then your penalty is less. Run the numbers and then add cushion to it.

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