If you aren't able to complete your federal tax return by the filing deadline, find out how and when to file for an IRS extension with these tips from TurboTax.
UPDATE: The Treasury recently announced tax changes and updates in response to COVID-19, updates include an extension of the first installment of tax year 2020 quarterly estimated taxes to July 15, 2020. Some information in this post however requires additional IRS guidance and may require updating. We will update as soon as we receive additional guidance. Please see the latest information on tax deadlines and updates related to COVID-19 here.
Need more time to file your 2019 tax return?
Before filing for an IRS tax extension, make sure it’s right for you. Here are a few common reasons why you may need to push your deadline back:
- More time needed to track down missing tax documents
- Unexpected life event
- Life’s been too busy
If you find yourself unable to complete your 2019 federal tax return by the deadline (July 15 in 2020 for filing 2019 taxes), you’ll first need to file an extension with the IRS to avoid any potential late-filing or late payment penalties. Filing an extension will allow you to push your deadline to October 15, 2020.
It’s important to keep in mind an extension only pushes back the due date for the filing of your tax documents. It does not give you extra time to pay on any taxes you may owe. If you believe you will owe money this year, you’ll need to estimate the amount after filing for an extension and make a payment by the filing deadline.
Easy options for filing an extension
Option 1: E-file your federal tax extension in minutes with TurboTax Easy Extension
Using TurboTax Easy Extension, you can:
- E-file your federal extension
- Make a payment of any tax due directly from your checking or savings account
- Print a PDF copy of your e-filed extension
- Receive notifications when your extension has been accepted by the IRS
- Get easy instructions on how to file a state extension by mail
Note: Once your extension is approved, you’ll have until October 15, 2020 to file your return. If you’re expecting a refund, it will not be processed until once you have completed your tax filing. If you think you owe, the estimated amount of taxes due will need to be paid to the IRS by July 15, 2020.
Option 2: Print and mail your completed IRS extension form
If you’d rather mail your extension directly to the IRS, simply refer to IRS Form 4868: Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, complete and print the form, and send it to the IRS address for your state.
If you owe federal taxes, include your estimated payment with your Form 4868 and mail it—postmarked by July 15, 2020 to avoid any penalties or interest. Then complete and file your return on or before October 15, 2020.
Do you need to request a state tax extension?
State tax extension guidelines vary. To see detailed information about state extension filing deadlines and mailing addresses, select your state of interest from this state tax authority's website.
Remember, TurboTax Easy Extension can help you access the tax forms you need to file your state extension by mail.
Need to use a credit card to pay taxes owed?
If you've e-filed or mailed Form 4868 and need to pay by credit card, you can use one of several IRS approved Electronic Payment Methods. You can pay with your credit card online or by phone. File your complete return by October 15, 2020.
- If the IRS thinks your estimate of the amount of tax you owe is unreasonable, it may disallow your extension and assess a late-filing penalty.
- If you underestimate the amount of tax you owe, you'll have to pay interest on whatever amount you fail to pay by the filing deadline (July 15 in 2020 for filing 2019 taxes).
- If you pay less than 90% of the tax you owe, you'll end up owing a penalty of 0.5% of the underpayment every month until you pay the remaining balance. For example, if you pay $600 by the filing deadline, but discover when you complete your return that you really owe $1,000, you will usually owe 0.5% per month on the $400 that is overdue, or about $2 a month, until you pay the full amount owed.
If you live outside the United States
If you live outside the United States, you may be able to get an extension by filing IRS Form 2350: Application for Extension of Time to File U.S. Income Tax Return if you believe you will qualify for special tax treatment. See IRS Publication 54: Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad to confirm if this form might help you.
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