How to file for a tax extension

Taxpayers throughout the US have it hammered into their heads that they have until mid-April to get their taxes filed. But what happens if you’re not able to file in time? Perhaps you’ve been traveling internationally, you’ve had a variety of things going on in your personal or professional life that have prevented you from having time to sit down with an accountant, or for this current tax season, your return is a bit more complex than it’s been in the past and you need some extra time to gather all of your documents.

Regardless as to why you might need an extension, you should know that the IRS is generally happy to grant one.

According to the IRS, individual taxpayers (regardless as to the tax bracket they’re in) can file for an extension online. There’s no cost to request an extension, and those who choose to file for an extension will have until October 15 to file their return.

If October 15 falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the due date to file will fall on the next business day. Does this mean that the IRS needs to receive your documents before that date? Not necessarily. If you’re planning on filing a paper return, your return will be “on time” as long as it’s postmarked by the deadline date.

Parents, students, employees, military members, seniors, and retirees are all eligible to file for an extension. However, just because you can push back your filing date, that doesn’t mean you’ll get an extension to pay your taxes. Per the IRS:

  • An extension of time to file your return does not grant you any extension of time to pay your taxes.
  • You should estimate and pay any owed taxes by your regular deadline to help avoid possible penalties.
  • You must file your extension request no later than the regular due date of your return. Filing for an extension is relatively simple. You can either 1) file yourself online using the IRS Free File form, or 2) you can ask your accountant or CPA to file for an extension on your behalf.

To get the extension, you’ll need to estimate what you owe (i.e., your tax liability) on that form and pay any amount that is due. If you don’t pay on time, you’ll be subject to fines and penalties.

For more information on how to file for a tax extension, be sure to speak with a local tax professional that you trust. Or, if you’d like to speak with a CPA about the pros and cons of extending your return date, call our office today to schedule an appointment.