Don’t Have Time To Finish Your Tax Return? Here’s How To File An Extension

Image courtesy of Adam Fagen

Thanks to the holidays, Americans got a few extra days this year to file their tax returns. But even with the later deadline, you might still be lacking free time to finish your return. In that case, you should request an extension for filing (which does not extend the deadline for paying your taxes).

An extension would give you until Oct. 16 to file your federal return. The extension application itself is pretty simple: Fill in your info and estimate how much you expect to owe for the year.

Taxpayers can file the application for free online via any of the IRS’s Free File partners. Just go to the Free File page on and pick the software appropriate for your income level. The extension application is free to file regardless of your income, but only those earning under $64,000 will be able to use Free File to finish their return after the deadline.

You can also file the application — Form 4868 — by mail, but you’ll need to get that postmarked in the mail today.


The extension only pushes back the deadline for you to file your completed annual tax return. If you owe the IRS money and don’t make the payment by today’s deadline, you may be assessed penalties and interest for any outstanding

Payments can be made IRS Direct Pay, the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, or by paying with a credit or debit card — but it has to happen today to make sure your extension is granted and to minimize penalties.


The IRS says you should still file by the deadline to avoid the failure-to-file penalty, which is “generally 5% per month and can be as much of 25% of the unpaid tax. The penalty for returns filed more than 60 days late can be $205 or 100% of the unpaid tax.”

So the best thing is to file and make immediate arrangements with the IRS to enter into some sort of payment plan.

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