Running Behind? How to Get an Extension on Your 2019 Taxes
Tax day, April 15th, might be looming on your calendar, and you may not be ready with everything you need to file. To avoid scrambling, apply for a 6-month extension with the Internal Revenue Service. If you feel a little overwhelmed, let’s start with the basics. First, what do you file? If this is your first time missing the IRS deadline for filing your 2018 tax return, don’t worry. You can fill out the IRS Form 4868 for tax extension and send it through snail mail or file it online. Sooner is better, but the IRS will accept e-filed returns until October 15th. If you do not apply for an extension, there is a late payment penalty. Read on to learn how to start the process, important deadlines and how to handle your tax payment if you do owe the IRS.
Where to Start
Snail Mail – If you choose the paper version, you can find copies of the needed documents at your local library or through certain nonprofits within your community like the United Way. There is nothing wrong with using snail mail but be sure that you make copies of everything you send to the IRS along with proof that you mailed it. Be prepared for the IRS to tell you that they never received your taxes – having a backup is important!
Tax Software – Depending on which tax software you’ve purchased or are using online, they may have the capability to complete Form 4868. If so, just follow the steps and you’ll be on your way to filing for your extension.
IRS Free File – You may not realize that the IRS has its own software at the IRS’ Free File Website. It’s in collaboration with Free File Alliance, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide people that make less than $66,000 of adjusted gross income access to free, name-brand tax-prep software. By partnering with the IRS, this software is available to everyone, regardless of their income bracket.
What’s a Tax Year?
The IRS considers a Tax Year as the previous calendar year (January 1-December 31). The tax season is from January until October 15th of the current year and during this time period, you can have your tax return and prepared.
Regardless of if you get an extension to file your taxes, you must make a payment to the IRS by April 15th along with the extension form. You cannot avoid this step, and if you choose to do so, be aware that even with being granted an extension, you will receive a late-payment penalty. If you want to avoid sending a check via snail mail, you can send a payment directly through IRS Direct Pay. By choosing this option, you will have the payment debited from your bank account. Plan to file your return even if you cannot pay the complete amount that you owe. Then, apply for an installment agreement to take care of the remaining amount. When trying to add this payment to your budget, it is important to remember that anything you owe is subject to interest.
With any tax returns – federal or state – there are few important dates. For filing, the deadline dates to pay attention to are April 15th and October 15th.
- April 15th – Federal and State Income Tax forms are due. To file online, you can do so at efileITNow. However, some states tax forms are due later. To locate that information, click here.
- October 15th – The deadline if you filed an extension or have not filed a federal or state tax return by April 15th or later. If you need to file only your state tax return, find more details on how to complete the process by clicking here. should check to see if any late payment penalties apply to your return.
Depending on your situation, you may owe taxes for one or several previous tax years. If that is the case, you may be subject to late filing and a late payment penalty. To get you back on track, download the required documents for that tax year, complete them and mail those forms to the IRS and your state tax agency. If you are unable to pay all of the taxes in one lump payment, set up a payment plan with either the IRS or state agency, and pay as much as your budget allows. This step will stop any late filing penalties which typically are higher than paying the late payment penalties.
Depending on your circumstance, you may not need to work with applying for a tax extension this year. If you are affected by a recent natural disaster or are a member of the military, this exception may apply to you. Additionally, if you are U.S. citizen or a resident who works or lives outside the country on April 15th, the IRS automatically grants you two extra months to file your tax return along with paying any amount due. Before you assume that you qualify for these extra extensions, check with the IRS website.
Even With an Extension
When you request an extension, remember that is half of the job of filing the return. You will still need to pay your estimated payment by April 15th and then complete your tax return prior to October 15th. If you do not meet this deadline, your penalties for that tax year will only get higher. Save yourself some cash and complete your taxes as soon as possible and move on to better things.
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