I’m Not Ready to File my Taxes – What Can I Do?

We get until April 18 to file our taxes this year — three extra days! Four extra days if you live in Massachusetts or Maine. Even so, you might not be ready to file for a lot of reasons. Maybe you didn’t receive all your tax information or you’ve been traveling a lot for business.

Whatever your reason, the IRS gives you an automatic six-month extension to file. Here are the two things you need to know:

1. How Do I Get an Extension?

Individual taxpayers use IRS Form 4868 to request an automatic extension to file their federal income tax return. Businesses and estates use different forms but the process is essentially the same. 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 original due date.

The extension request asks for taxpayer name, address, and tax ID number. There is also a space for the taxpayer’s estimated tax liability and the tax paid in.

2. What If I Owe?

If you will owe more in taxes than you’ve already paid in, you must pay the estimated amount due with your extension request. Failure to pay will result in an underpayment penalty and interest on the unpaid amount, accrued until it is paid. Paying on-line by the due date means you don’t have to complete and file IRS Form 4868.

If you are getting a refund, your extension is automatically approved. But you still have to wait for your refund until the completed return is filed. Seems like a double standard, but that’s the way it is.

Need more details about getting a tax extension? Go to http://1.usa.gov/1XHtzSM or consult a qualified tax professional.