What Is a Tax Extension?
A tax extension is an extension of time to file your tax return. If you cannot file your federal income tax return by the deadline, it may be possible to get an automatic extension. After that date, if you still cannot file, you can request another extension in 2-month (for a total of 4 months) increments up to a maximum of 6 months. Also, note that if you receive an extension via paper mail (Form 4868), you must also attach a copy of this form to your filed tax return before the deadline.
How To Get An Automatic Extension (In 90 Minutes Or Less)?
1. Go to www.IRS.gov/efile and click on the "File/Pay" tab at the top of the page. Then select Start a New e-file Return or login to Your Account and choose to Continue for Free, where you will be able to file and pay your taxes online via credit card if you so desire. Still, most people will want to begin with Request an Extension Form, where you'll be taken to Form 4868, which can also be located directly here: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f4868.pdf.
2. Fill out the form entirely, but be sure to enter an email address that you check frequently. An email will be sent to you immediately with a secure PIN number and instructions for activating your extension. If you do not receive the PIN number in time, follow the instructions on Form 4868.
3. Verify all of your information using a pen and paper before submitting the form electronically, so you'll have a second chance if something is wrong. You can also print it out to mail in later or pay via postal mail. Do NOT use blue ink when filling out the application -- black ink is required!
How To Get A Tax Extension If You Are Not Eligible For An Automatic One?
1. Check the status of your refund here: http://www.irs.gov/Refunds. If you are due a refund, file Form 4868 right away to claim it before it is automatically forfeited to the treasury!
2. Mail-in and expedited request for an extension on a paper. The IRS recommends sending your form by certified mail or using a reputable delivery service since normal email or fax delivery is not included in their list of acceptable methods for filing.
3. Request a paper extension from the IRS by calling 1-800-829-1040. You may find yourself waiting on hold for a while, but service representatives are trained to answer most questions. They can mail in your form if you do not live near a taxpayer assistance center.
4. Visit an Internal Revenue Service Taxpayer Assistance Center in person with all of your materials prepared. This last option is recommended only after all other methods have been attempted since it generally takes at least 2 or 3 weeks before you will receive your completed form.
Contact the IRS directly if your situation is complicated by factors such as those listed below:
- You are married, filing separately from your spouse.
- You use the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) method of calculating your taxes since this method is not included in the automatic extension.
- You are self-employed, retired, or unemployed.
- You are self-employed, and your business is not being audited by the IRS. Contact an accountant if this applies to you since many tax preparers have no experience dealing with these types of scenarios!
- The IRS has any reason to believe that you are acting as a corporation (i.e., various forms now required for individual income tax returns, such as Schedule C) without filing as one. If this sounds like you, contact them immediately to clarify your status before it becomes more challenging to do so later on!
How To Prepare For Filing An Extension (Deferring Payment Of Taxes)?
- Sell stuff! It's common for people to find extra money around their house or in the bank with everything already paid off.
- Borrow money if you do not have any cash on hand, but only if the interest is less than what you would owe by filing late. If you are self-employed, this can include borrowing from your retirement account (i.e., IRA) before age 59-1/2. Before doing this, however, consider whether you will still be able to pay all of your bills, including outstanding balances on credit cards or consumer loans, with whatever amount is left over after taxes are withheld!
- Avoid penalties by filing at least 90% of your taxes owed before the deadlines pass, which includes electronically filed returns! This can be done with payment or an origination Form 4868 for early filers. If you cannot e-file because you owe less than $100 in taxes, file using postal mail following these directions: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f4868.pdf. Be sure to print out copies of all necessary forms before mailing them!
- Do not file if there is not enough money to pay the taxes owed! Even if your tax liability is zero after deductions, you must still file. You can either request an extension of time or simply pay what is required by filing Form 4868 before the deadline passes.
- If paying via credit card over the phone with a representative, be sure they are legitimate and have an AT&'T 800# associated with their business name. For further verification, call them back at least once to confirm that it is actually the IRS on the other line! Also, avoid giving out personal information during this process unless you are positive about who they claim to be since scammers sometimes pose as employees to carry out identity theft crimes against consumers.
- File for an extension as soon as possible if you are missing any documents that may be required depending on your individual situation (i.e., W-2s, 1099s). Failure to file even one day late can cause significant consequences!
- Prepare for pre-audit collection actions to resolve the issue quickly before it escalates further. You can request a short extension of time or make payments towards what you owe during this process until everything is sorted out. This also includes tax liens and levies.
- If required, contact the IRS once an expected refund is received from a state or federal tax agency to make arrangements for direct deposit. This can be done either by phone or mail following these instructions: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f4868.pdf. Be sure to keep documentation of all correspondence and notes on any conversations on the matter with both parties during this process!