Tax Laws

Filing for an Extension on Your Income Tax Return


Each year on April 15, taxpayers find themselves unprepared to file their tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service or New York State. Taxpayers may be unprepared for any reason such as; procrastination, did not receive all the paperwork needed to file the return, or complexities of the return they have to file. Over ten million Americans each year get an extension on filing their federal income tax returns, so it is common.

Filing for an extension is relatively easy for taxpayers. You do not have to provide the Internal Revenue Service with a reason or excuse, and they will not deny your application if you do or do not have a reason. However, it is important to note that when you file an extension on your current tax year, you are filing an extension of time to file, but this is not an extension of time to pay. If you believe that you will owe taxes and you decided to file for an extension, you should include a payment with your extension request. The IRS will still impose penalties on the tax debt owed and not paid by April 15, and the debt will accrue interest if not paid on April 15 each year.

There are several avenues that taxpayers can take when filing for an IRS extension. They will need to file Form 4868, the Application For Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Tax Returns. This can be filed online through, or it can be filed on paper after the taxpayer mailed the form in. If you file electronically, you do not need to mail in the form as well. Taxpayers can request an automatic extension of time to file their federal income tax return by paying part or all of the estimated income tax owed by credit card using the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). This can be done by phone or internet, and the information is listed on Form 4868.

Form 4868 is not complex, and in order to be able to file for an extension, you should know:

  • Your name, address, and social security number
  • An estimate of your total tax liability for the year you are filing an extension
  • The amount of taxes paid during the year, including any withholding taxes
  • If you believe you will owe taxes, include the amount you are paying when filing the extension

Taxpayers should file Form 4868 by the due date for filing of the tax year they are seeking an extension for. If taxpayers missed the deadline for filing their return and requesting an extension, they should still file their return as quickly as possible. The penalties for non-filing accrue, and if you owe a tax liability, you will owe even more if you delay filing. The best way to solve most tax return problems is simply by filing a return as the first step. If you need help filing for an extension or preparing unfiled tax returns, contact an experienced tax attorney. The IRS will notice that returns are not being filed and if IRS tax debt is owed, they will work to collect the amount owed.

If you owe back taxes and have unfiled returns for multiple years, you should work with a tax attorney to settle your back taxes. The longer taxpayers wait to settle their tax liability owed, the larger the tax debt grows to due to penalties and interest accrued. The IRS normally has a ten year statute of limitations.

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