For the first time in a couple of years, the tax filing deadline is actually on April 15th. No more reprieves for weekends and holidays. Regardless of the date, the tax deadline seems far in the future until, all of a sudden, it’s here! If you’re in a panic because you haven’t started gathering your W-2s or you’re waiting for that final K-1, you could probably use some more time to file.
Not ready? Not a problem! You can get an automatic six-month tax filing extension. No need to provide a reason but it does take a little time and action to get it done right to avoid a late filing penalty.
Two important tips about getting a tax filing extension:
1. You Have to Apply
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 by midnight on the due date. If you are getting a refund or pay the amount due, your extension is automatically approved. But you still have to wait until your return is filed to get any tax refund. Extending your state taxes is usually automatic when you extend your federal return, unless you owe more in taxes.
2. You Must Pay What You Owe
Start by estimating your income tax liability based on the information you have. Use the IRS Form 4868 instructions or www.irs.gov to figure it out. Compare your estimated tax liability with your tax withholding or quarterly estimated payments and enter the numbers on the extension request form. If you owe more 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. Need more details about estimating your 2018 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.
Still confused and need more help? Consult a qualified tax professional to help you out. The IRS has resources for that, too – https://www.irs.gov/tax-professionals/choosing-a-tax-professional