Sure, some people tend to wait until the last minute to file taxes. But needing more time can happen for several reasons, such as running into a serious life event or missing key documents.
Regardless of the reason why you need it, it's important to know that you have a right to an automatic 6-month extension on filing your federal taxes. In this post, we'll address five commonly asked questions about the process.
How do you get an extension on filing federal taxes?
There are several ways to get a filing extension. For individual income tax, one is to print out and mail Form 4868 to the IRS. Another is to use free e-filing software.
It is also possible to get an extension by making an electronic payment on your estimated tax due and indicating it is for an extension.
How long does an extension last?
An automatic extension lasts for six months. For a tax-filing deadline of April 15, it therefore gives you until October 15.
Does an extension affect the obligation to pay?
An extension does not remove the need to pay by the filing deadline. You'll have to estimate what you owe. And if you underestimate and pay less than 85 percent of what you owe, you will face a substantial tax penalty for underpayment.
What if you are abroad at filing time?
Special rules apply to taxpayers who are living outside the U.S. If you are U.S. citizen or resident alien who is living and working outside the U.S. and Puerto Rico, you automatically get an extra two months to file your taxes without filing an extension.
In other words, you have until June 15 rather than April 15 this year. If you need more time beyond June 15, you can file an additional extension until June 15.
What if you need a payment plan?
Maintaining your eligibility for a payment plan if you can't pay all your taxes right away is one of the main benefits of getting an extension.
We wrote about this at some length in a previous post on extensions and payment plans.