Remember way back on March 21st when the IRS has delayed the 2019 tax deadline to July 15th? Around that time, many states also delayed their 2019 filing deadlines to align with the feds. Well, March 21st might seem like just yesterday, but time flies and the filing and payment deadline is now looming. At this writing, the Treasury Secretary is floating another filing deadline delay. Tax industry experts are opposed, concerned that another delay would make this confusing and exhausting tax filing season even worse.
So, what if you still aren’t ready to file your federal tax return by July 15th? No problem! You can apply for a tax filing extension from the IRS (and your state, too). No need to provide a reason but it does take a little time and effort to get it done correctly, to avoid potential underpayment interest and penalties.
Two important tips about getting a tax filing extension:
- You Have to Apply
Individual taxpayers use IRS Form 4868 to request an extension to file their federal income tax return until October 15th. A federal extension can be filed directly on the IRS website, e-filed using approved tax software, or in paper form by midnight on July 15th. If you are getting a refund or submit the amount due with your extension (see #2 for more details), the extension request is automatically approved. If you are expecting a refund, you must wait until after your return is filed to get your money back. State extension requirements vary. Check your state tax department website for details.
- You Must Pay What You Owe
Use the IRS Form 4868 instructions to estimate your income tax liability based on the information you have https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f4868.pdf. Compare your estimated tax liability with your tax withholding or quarterly estimated payments and enter the numbers on the extension request form. If you are estimated to owe more federal income tax than you’ve 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.
Rushing at the last minute is stressful and causes mistakes. Better to give yourself more time to file your 2019 income tax returns by requesting an extension until October 15th. Need more details about estimating your 2019 tax liability and getting a tax filing extension? Go to the IRS website at https://www.irs.gov/forms-pubs/extension-of-time-to-file-your-tax-return.