Two weeks from today is April 18, this year’s deadline for filing personal federal taxes. While you can’t postpone paying your taxes, you can request an automatic six-month tax extension if you need more time to file your tax return (the detailed forms). Below are five things the IRS wants you to know about filing an extension. We’ll add a sixth: Even though it’s late in the game, consult your trusted tax, financial or legal advisor whenever making decisions about taxes as everyone’s situation is unique.
1. Use IRS Free File to file an extension.
You can use IRS Free File to e-file your tax extension request for free. Free File is only available through IRS.gov. You must e-file the extension request by midnight April 18.
2. Use Form 4868.
You can also request a tax extension by filling out Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. You must mail this form to the IRS by April 18. Form 4868 is available on IRS.gov/forms.
3. More time to file is not more time to pay.
An extension to file will give you until Oct. 17 to file your taxes. It does not, however, give you more time to pay your taxes. Estimate and pay what you owe by April 18 to avoid a potential late-filing penalty. You will be charged interest on any tax that you don’t pay on time. You may also owe a penalty if you pay your taxes late. Interest is normally charged on any unpaid tax.
4. IRS Direct Pay.
Pay your tax with IRS Direct Pay. Visit IRS.gov/directpay to use this free and secure way to pay from your checking or savings account. You also have other electronic payment options. The IRS will automatically process your extension—and you don’t have to file a separate request—when you pay electronically. You can pay online or by phone.
5. What if you can’t pay all you owe?
If you can’t pay all the tax you owe, you should first consult with your trusted accountant, tax or financial advisor who is familiar with tax laws, rules and regulations. (Unfortunately, they are in their most busy time of the year.) In specific situations, the IRS offers payment options. In most cases, you can apply for an installment agreement with the Online Payment Agreement application on IRS.gov. You may also file Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request. If you can’t make payments because of financial hardship, the IRS will work with you.