Not Ready to File by May 17?

For the second year in a row, the income tax filing deadline is delayed. This year, the filing due date for the IRS and most states is May 17th instead of the “normal” April 15th. Despite the delay, the tax deadline can sneak up on you. If you’re in a panic because you haven’t started gathering your tax documents, you can probably relax. 

You can request a tax filing extension to postpone from May 17th to October 15th. You don’t need to provide a reason for needing the extension, but it does take a little time to get it done right and avoid possible underpayment penalties.

Three tips for getting an income tax filing extension:

  1. You Must Apply

Individuals can request a tax filing extension by filing IRS Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, online at the IRS website, via approved tax software, or in paper form. It must be sent or postmarked no later than midnight on the original due date. The extension is automatically approved if a refund is expected or if the estimated amount due is paid with the extension request.

  1. Pay Amounts Due

Use the IRS Form 4868 instructions at https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f4868.pdf to estimate your 2020 income tax liability. Compare your estimated taxes to your tax withholding or quarterly estimated payments and enter the numbers on the extension request. If you owe more in taxes than you’ve paid in, the balance due must be paid with the extension request. Failure to pay the amount due results in an underpayment penalty and interest accrued daily on the unpaid balance.

  1. Check Your State

Each state has its own set of rules and processes for its residents to request an income tax filing extension. As mentioned above, most states followed the IRS and delayed their 2020 tax filing deadline, but some did not match the IRS’ May 17th deadline. Check your state’s tax department website for deadline updates and links to information about requesting an extension of time to file for 2020.

Rushing at the last minute is stressful and causes mistakes, especially with an already stressful activity like filing your income tax returns. Get more time to file your 2020 federal income tax return by requesting a tax filing extension. Go to the IRS website at https://www.irs.gov/forms-pubs/extension-of-time-to-file-your-tax-return for details and help estimating any taxes you owe with the extension request.

Getting a Tax Filing Extension

Your life is busy and deadlines can be hard to meet. April 15th is on a Sunday this year and Monday is a holiday, so the tax deadline is pushed back to April 17th. Whether you just can’t get organized or all your tax information hasn’t come in, you might just need more time to get those tax returns filed by the deadline, even with those extra two days.

 

Not ready? Not a problem! You can get an automatic six-month extension to file your taxes.

 

Two things to know if you’re not ready to file your taxes by April 17th:

 

  1. Requesting an Extension

 

Individual taxpayers use IRS Form 4868 to request an automatic extension to file their federal income tax return. An extension can be filed on the IRS website, e-filed using approved tax software, or in paper form. Paper forms must be postmarked or date-stamped before midnight of the due date.

 

Requesting an extension to file your state taxes varies based on where you live. Check your state’s tax website for instructions and details.

 

  1. What to Do if You Owe

 

You have to estimate your tax liability and figure out your tax withheld and/or paid quarterly to prepare your extension request. If you will owe more tax than you’ve already paid in, the balance due must be paid with your extension request. Failure to pay will result in an underpayment penalty and interest on the unpaid amount, accrued daily until it’s paid. That really adds up.

 

If you are getting a refund, your extension is automatically approved. But you still have to wait until your return is filed to get your tax refund.

 

Need more details about estimating your 2017 tax liability and getting a tax filing extension? Go to the IRS website and your state tax website. Need more guidance? Consult a qualified tax professional.