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About Form 4868: A 6-Month Extension to File Your Tax Return

Need more time to file your taxes? Fill out IRS extension Form 4868

If you can't file your federal income tax return by the filing deadline, you can get an extension just by submitting an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) extension form, known officially as Form 4868: Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. 

Notably, this doesn't get you more time to pay any taxes you owe. It only extends the deadline to fill out and submit the paperwork.

Key Takeaways

  • Form 4868 gives taxpayers a six-month extension, for any reason, to file federal income tax returns.
  • An extension for federal income tax returns due on April 15 would give you until October 15 to file.
  • In order to get an extension, you need to submit the 4868 form by the April tax filing deadline.
  • Filing the IRS extension form doesn't give you more time to pay your taxes if you owe them.
  • If taxes aren't paid by the April tax filing deadline, interest and penalties will be charged, accruing from the original due date, even if an extension was filed.

Reasons to File Form 4868 to Request an Extension

You may need an extension if you have not yet received all the necessary information to prepare your return. For example, you might be missing a Schedule K-1 from a trust in which you are a beneficiary.

If you are self-employed, there is an added benefit to obtaining a filing extension. It gives you until the extended due date to set up and fund a simplified employee pension (SEP) retirement plan.

If you decide that you do need an extension, be sure to file Form 4868 by the normal April tax filing deadline.

By obtaining the extension, you avoid any late-filing penalties as long as you file by the extended due date. If you don't obtain the extension, you face a late filing penalty of 5% of the amount due for each month or part of the month that your return has missed the April filing deadline. If your return is more than 60 days late, the minimum penalty is $435 or the balance due, whichever is smaller.

The IRS often extends tax filing deadlines for the victims of natural disasters. You can consult IRS disaster relief announcements to determine your eligibility.

It's important to keep in mind that filing an extension does not mean that you are off the hook for paying taxes due by the April deadline. You'll owe interest and potential penalties if you pay late, whether or not you file Form 4868.

Depending on your state, filing Form 4868 may also give you an automatic extension for your state income tax filing deadline.

Download Form 4868

All versions of Form 4868 are available on the IRS website.

Form 4868

Who May File Form 4868?

Taxpayers who want more time for any reason to file federal income tax returns may use Form 4868. You can file the form when you need an extension for a variety of returns in the 1040 series including:

  • Form 1040: U.S. Individual Tax Return
  • Form 1040-SR: U.S. Tax Return for Seniors
  • Form 1040-NR: U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return
  • Form 1040-PR: Self-Employment Tax Return-Puerto Rico
  • Form 1040-SS: U.S. Self-Employment Tax Return

What Information Do I Need to Fill Out Form 4868?

Form 4868 is only a half page. It doesn't require a date or signature. You don't have to give a reason for requesting an extension. All you have to provide is:

  • In Part I: Your name, address, Social Security number, and, if applicable, your spouse's Social Security number.
  • In Part II: A good faith estimate of what you think your final taxes will be, after subtracting the total tax payments you already made for the year.
  • If you expect to owe taxes, you need to pay the balance with the form.

Does Form 4868 Give Me More Time to Pay My Taxes?

No. Your payment is still due on the original due date, usually April 15. If you submit Form 4868 to the IRS, you should send in a payment of the estimated balance due. The more you pay, the less your interest and penalties will be if you pay less than you owe.

If you file Form 4868 electronically but want to send a payment by mail, send a copy of the e-filed form along with your check. The form acts as your voucher in this case, so your check will be credited properly to your tax account.

The IRS will allow you to skip filling out Form 4868 entirely if you pay your estimated income tax due online or by phone using Direct Pay, EFTPS, or a credit or debit card and indicate that the payment is for an extension. It will provide confirmation of the extension if you take this route.

I Live Abroad. Do I Need to File an Extension?

A two-month filing extension is automatically given to a U.S. citizen or resident:

  • Who lives outside of the U.S. or Puerto Rico
  • Whose main place of work is outside of the U.S. or Puerto Rico
  • Who is in the military or naval service on duty outside the U.S. or Puerto Rico

If any of the above apply to you, then you do not have to request a two-month extension.

If you want even more time, you must complete Form 4868 and check the box on Line 8 indicating that you are "out of the country." By doing this, you'll have an additional four months to file without any late-filing penalty.

The Bottom Line

Form 4868 is available to any U.S. taxpayer who would like extra time to file their federal tax return. By completing and sending it to the IRS, you will receive a six-month tax return due date extension into October. Keep in mind that even though you may obtain a tax return filing extension, the taxes that you owe are still due by the April filing date.

Article Sources
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  1. Internal Revenue Service. "2022 Form 4868," Page 1.

  2. Internal Revenue Service. "Simplified Employee Pension Plan (SEP)."

  3. Internal Revenue Service. "Failure to File Penalty."

  4. Internal Revenue Service. "2022 Form 4868," Page 2.

  5. Internal Revenue Service. "2022 Form 4868," Page 3.

  6. Internal Revenue Service. "Topic No. 304 Extensions of Time to File Your Tax Return."