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How Do I Get an Extension on Taxes?

Updated for Tax Year 2019


OVERVIEW

If you're unable to complete your federal tax return by the deadline, find out how to get an IRS extension on your taxes and extend your tax filing deadline until October.


UPDATE: The Treasury recently announced tax changes and updates in response to COVID-19. Updates include an extension until July 15, 2020 for all taxpayers that have a filing or payment deadline that normally falls on or after April 1, 2020 and before July 1, 2020. Please see the latest information on tax deadlines and stimulus updates related to COVID-19 on the TurboTax Coronavirus Tax Center and detailed information about federal and state tax changes on our Coronavirus blog post.

Woman sitting next to her dog on the couch and filing for a tax extension.

 Overview

Your personal income taxes are (almost) always due on April 15 ( July 15 for 2019 tax returns in 2020), unless the 15th falls on a holiday or weekend. If you are having trouble meeting this deadline, you can submit a short form and obtain an extension of time to file.

The IRS offers the extension, regardless of your reasons for needing it. So if you simply forget about the deadline, it's irrelevant. This extension gives you extra time—until Oct. 15 (again, barring weekends or holidays) — to file your federal tax return.

Step 1: Estimate taxes owed

Estimate the amount of taxes you will owe for the year. Simply subtract the total tax withheld from your paycheck and your estimated tax payments from the amount of tax you owe.

Before estimating your tax liability, be sure to reduce your income by all exemptions and deductions you anticipate claiming. You can then estimate the tax you owe by using the tax tables in the instructions to your tax return.

  • If you plan on using a tax credit, don't forget to reduce the tax you owe by the credit.
  • If you still owe tax, it's wise to include a payment when requesting the extension.
  • If you pay too little, you may owe interest and penalties.

You can also use TurboTax to find out how much you’ll owe, or use our TaxCaster calculator to get an estimate.

Step 2: Download Form 4868

Completing Form 4868 allows you to obtain the extension to file your return. You can access a copy of the form on the TurboTax website and fill it out in a matter of minutes. If you make an estimated tax payment with a credit or debit card by April 15 (July 15 in 2020), your extension is granted without having to file Form 4868.

Step 3: Complete Form 4868

The application for an automatic extension of time requires minimal information. All you need to include is your name, address and Social Security number.  If you're not making an estimated tax payment by credit or debit card, then you can include a check made out to the U.S. Treasury.

Step 4: Mail the form

Mail the Form 4868 to the appropriate IRS address for your geographic area listed in the instructions. The most important step is to ensure you mail the form by the original due date of your tax return.

Using TurboTax Easy Extension to file a tax extension

TurboTax EasyExtension is a simple, online tool that allows you to file a tax extension in minutes. Try it here.

Heads up - filing Form 4868 only provides you with an extension of time to file. You must still pay 100% of the tax you owe by the original filing deadline to avoid interest and late-payment penalties.

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