How do I file an extension for my 2012 taxes?
If you can't file your 2012 tax return by the April 15 deadline (June 17 if you're out of the country), you can:
- Paper-file an extension through the TurboTax CD/Download software; or
- Paper-file an extension by downloading Form 4868 from the IRS website.
No matter which method you choose, the extension will give you until October 15, 2013 to file your income tax return.
Important: Although extensions give you more time to file your return, they do not give you additional time to pay owed taxes. Nevertheless, even if you can't pay owed taxes by then, always file an extension to minimize penalties. More info
Filing your Federal extension
Here are 2 ways to file your federal extension, ranked in order of convenience:
Method 1 – Prepare and mail your extension using the TurboTax CD/download software
- Start by opening your tax return.
- Click Federal Taxes (or Personal if using Home & Business), and then select Other Tax Situations.
- On the Other Tax Situations screen, scroll down to File an Extension and click the Start button to the right.
- Follow the onscreen instructions to complete and print your tax extension on Form 4868.
- Mail your Form 4868, along with any tax payments, to the address provided on the TurboTax screen.
- You can also obtain the correct mailing address from page 4 of the IRS Form 4868 instructions.
Method 2 – Download, print, and mail IRS Form 4868
- Click here to open Form 4868 at the IRS website.
- This is a PDF file that will open in Adobe Reader, which comes pre-installed on most computers. Get the free Adobe Reader
- Complete the blue fields at the bottom of page 1.
- Print the form and the instructions by clicking the "printer" icon or by choosing Print from the File menu.
- Mail your extension to the address on page 4 of the instructions. Extension must be postmarked on or before April 15, 2013 (or June 17 if you're out of the country).
Filing your State extension
If you used TurboTax Easy Extension to e-file your tax extension or you do not plan to use TurboTax to file your state tax return, click here for state-specific extension instructions.
Otherwise, open your state return in TurboTax by clicking State Taxes and then proceed through the state program interview.
Look for an option to file your state tax extension; some state programs will have this at the beginning of the state interview, whereas in other state programs it appears towards the end.
How do I estimate additional taxes owed?
If you're using TurboTax, complete as much of your tax return as possible to get an estimate of how much, if any, you'll owe this year. The more info you enter, the better the estimate.
Not using TurboTax? You can either use TurboTax Online (it's free until you print or file) or use our free TaxCaster estimation tool.
Either way, don't be afraid to "fudge" missing data for estimation purposes, as the data can be updated or deleted before you file.
For example, if you made $2,000 on a stock sale but you're still waiting for your Form 1099-B, simply enter a stock sale with proceeds of $2,000 and a cost basis of 0. Then, when you receive your 1099-B, you can either update the numbers in TurboTax to match the form, or delete the transaction and re-add it by importing or manually entering the sale.
Seeing red? Amounts in red indicate that you owe that amount, whereas amounts in white or green indicate a refund. A refund amount of $0 means you won't get a refund, nor do you owe money.
If your estimate indicates that you don't owe, we still recommend filing an extension in case your estimate proves to be wrong. Because late-filing penalties are up to 10 times higher than late-payment penalties, filing your (free) extension is cheap insurance indeed!
What are the next steps after filing my extension?
Once you've filed your extension, you'll have until October 15, 2013 to either e-file or mail your federal return.
(Although most states have the same filing deadline as the federal return, check your state's requirements for the exact date.)
If you didn't send a tax payment with your extension, simply complete and file your return as usual. But if you made a tax payment with your extension, and you're using TurboTax, make sure to include the payment amount so you get credit for the payment. Here's how:
- Open your return.
- Click Federal Taxes (or Personal if using Home & Business) and then click Deductions & Credits.
- Continue to the Your 2012 Deductions & Credits screen and then scroll down to Estimates and Other Taxes Paid.
- Click the Start (or Update) button to the right of Estimates.
- On the next screen, click the Visit All button to the right of the Payments With Extension heading.
- Answer Yes to the Did you make a payment with your extension? question.
- Follow the on-screen instructions to enter any federal and/or state tax payments you made at the time you filed your extension.