Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is a form used to apply for an extension to file tax returns after their regular due date.
The duration of the extension varies, depending on your location when filing Form 4868. If you are in the United States, you will have additional six months. If you qualify as an "out of the country" taxpayer, you will have additional four months.
You may use Form 4868 when filing an extension for the following tax returns:
- Form 1040, U.S. Nonresident Alien Income 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; and
- Form 1040-SS, U.S. Self-Employment Tax Return (Including the Additional Child Tax Credit for Bona Fide Residents of Puerto Rico)
To qualify for an extension to file a certain tax return, you must file Form 4868 before its due date.
For calendar year 2020, or other tax year beginning
Enter the beginning and the ending date of the tax year.
Part I. Identification
Enter your information. If filing a joint return, enter your spouse's information as well.
1. Your name(s)
Enter your name.
If you had a name change due to marriage or divorce, you must report it to the Social Security Administration before filing Form 4868.
Enter your street address.
If you changed your mailing address after you filed your last return, you must file Form 8822, Change of Address, to notify the IRS of the change.
City, town, or post office
Enter the city, town, or post office where you live.
Enter the state where you live.
Enter the ZIP code where you live.
2. Your social security number
Enter your Social Security Number.
If filing a joint return, enter the SSN that you will show first on your return.
If you file Form 1040-NR as an estate or trust, enter your Employer Identification Number (EIN). Then, enter “estate” or “trust” in the left margin next to your EIN.
3. Spouse’s social security number
Enter your spouse's Social Security Number. If filing a joint return, enter the second SSN to be shown on your return.
Part II. Individual Income Tax
Estimate accurately so your extension request will not be deemed null and void.
4. Estimate of total tax liability for 2020
Enter your estimate of your total tax liability shown in the following documents for the current tax year:
- Form 1040;
- Form 1040-SR or Form 1040-NR line 24;
- Form 1040-PR line 6; or
- Form 1040-SS line 6.
If your estimated total tax liability for the current tax year is zero, enter 0.
5. Total 2020 payments
Enter the total payment you expect to make in the following documents for the current tax year:
- Form 1040, Form 1040-SR, or Form 1040-NR, line 33 excluding Schedule 3, line 9;
- Form 1040-PR, line 12; or
- Form 1040-SS, line 12.
6. Balance due
Subtract the amount you entered on line 5 from the amount on line 4. Then, enter the difference. If the amount on line 5 is more than on line 4, do not subtract, then enter 0.
7. Amount you’re paying
Enter the amount you will pay.
You will still be granted an extension if you cannot pay the amount on line 6. However, you must pay as much as you can to limit the amount of interest you will owe.
8. Check here if you’re “out of the country” and a U.S. citizen or resident.
Mark the box if you are a U.S. citizen or resident and you are not in the U.S. on the regular due date of your return.
9. Check here if you file Form 1040-NR and didn’t receive wages as an employee subject to U.S. income tax withholding
Mark the box if you file Form 1040-NR and you did not receive wages subject to U.S. income tax withholding.
When to file Form 4868?
You must file Form 4868 no later than the original due date of your tax return.
If you are out of the country on the regular date of your return, you are allowed two months to file your return and pay any amount due without filing Form 4868. However, interest will be charged on payments made after your return's regular due date.
You are qualified as an out-of-the-country taxpayer if:
- You are a U.S. citizen or resident;
- You live outside the U.S. and Puerto Rico, and your primary place of work is outside the U.S. and Puerto Rico; or
- You are in military or naval service on duty outside the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
How to file Form 4868?
You may use any of the following private delivery services designated by the IRS to file your Form 4868 with or without the payment:
- United Parcel Service (UPS): UPS Next Day Air Early AM, UPS Next Day Air, UPS Next Day Air Saver, UPS 2nd Day Air, UPS 2nd Day Air A.M., UPS Worldwide Express Plus, and UPS Worldwide Express.
- Federal Express (FedEx): FedEx First Overnight, FedEx Priority Overnight, FedEx Standard Overnight, FedEx 2 Day, FedEx International Next Flight Out, FedEx International Priority, FedEx International First, and FedEx International Economy.
- DHL Express: DHL Express 9:00, DHL Express 10:30, DHL Express 12:00, DHL Express Worldwide, DHL Express Envelope, DHL Import Express 10:30, DHL Import Express 12:00, and DHL Import Express Worldwide.
Use the following mailing address:
1. Austin - Internal Revenue Submission Processing Center
3651 S IH35,
Austin TX 78741
2. Kansas City - Internal Revenue Submission Processing Center
333 W. Pershing,
Kansas City, MO 64108
3. Ogden - Internal Revenue Submission Processing Center
1973 Rulon White Blvd.
Ogden, UT 84201
If you want to mail your Form 4868 from a post office to the IRS, use the appropriate mailing address stated on the Where To File a Paper Form 4868 section (page 4) of Form 4868. The mailing address for returns with and without payment is different
Can Form 4868 be filed electronically?
Form 4868 for tax extension can be filed electronically or by mail. To file electronically, fill out Form 4868 online, generate an automated confirmation number, and print the form. Send the documents to the IRS by fax or mail.
What is the purpose of the Form 4868 tax extension?
The purpose of IRS Form 4868 is to request an extension for filing your income tax return. If you receive an extension to file your individual federal income tax, then the IRS is giving you extra time to file rather than penalizing you for not filing on time. The extension is good until October 15th of each year.
Extensions are not automatic, you must file Form 4868 to receive an extension beyond the normal April tax filing deadline.
Do I need to file an extension if getting a refund?
If you are expecting a refund, you do not have to file a tax extension.
Does it cost to file a tax extension?
Filing a tax extension using IRS Form 4868 is free. You do not have to pay anything to file a tax extension. However, if you owe taxes and do not pay them by the April 15 deadline, you will likely have to pay a fee when you file your income tax return.
Do I need to file Form 4868?
You only file IRS Form 4868 if you are requesting an automatic six-month extension on filing your income tax return. Taxpayers are not allowed to tack on the extra time to pay their taxes, so if you owe money, you will need an additional form and a payment plan in place to avoid penalties and interest.
It's important to note that this is an extension of time to file your tax return, not an extension of time to pay taxes owed.
If you want additional time to file and do not owe money, then Form 4868 is not the right form for you. There are other options that can help people with their taxes who need more time (e.g., Hardship and Special Relief Extensions).
Otherwise, if you are asking for additional time to both file and pay, then Form 1127, Application for Extension of Time for Payment of Tax Due to Undue Hardship, is the right form for you. It's an application for a payment extension. However, this application is not available in all states, so check to see what your state offers in terms of extensions before you submit it.
What are tax extension payments?
Tax extension payments allow taxpayers to properly complete their tax returns without penalty. Eligible taxpayers may request an extension of time to file their federal income tax returns, but they must also estimate and pay any taxes due. By filing the Form 4868 tax extension form, taxpayers can request an automatic six-month filing extension.
How do I file a tax extension for free?
Here's a quick guide to filing a federal income tax extension on time, at no cost.
You can choose to file an extension by paper or electronically. If you file electronically, you'll get your refund faster since it will be available earlier. There are 3 ways you can submit the form, such as online, by phone, or by mail.
If you've decided to file an extension for your federal income tax return, the first step is to determine which method works best for you:
- Filing an extension electronically
- Filing your paper Form 4868
- Notifying the IRS that you're using a different method
Here is some more information on each option:
- Filing an extension electronically — The IRS encourages most taxpayers to file their tax extensions electronically. When you e-file, your return is transmitted to the service center for processing and they can begin working on your return. You can file an extension using third-party tax service providers.
- Filing your paper Form 4868 — If you choose to file a paper form, you can download it from the IRS website or order it through the mail by calling 1-800-829-3676. You may also electronically fill out Form 4868 using an online PDF editor. Once completed, mail your paperwork along with a check for any estimated amount due and file as soon as possible. If you owe tax and do not pay on time, you will be charged interest on the unpaid balance and may also be charged a penalty for late payment.
- Notifying the IRS that you're using a different method — You can notify the IRS that you'll file by using a different method. To do so, you have to file Form 7004, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File Certain Business Income Tax, Information, and Other Returns, along with your tax return or extension form. The agency will accept this notification through October 15th even if they receive the paperwork after the due date. If you owe any taxes, interest, or penalties, file by April 17th to avoid these charges. Then use Form 7004 to tell the IRS that you're extending your payment deadline.
How do I file a joint tax extension?
You must complete and submit Form 4868 to request a tax extension for a joint tax account. You must also provide your spouse's employer identification number on the form.
It is recommended to file separately for each account if you are not married filing jointly with your spouse. This makes sure that each tax return is evaluated individually and any taxes due are paid accordingly.
What happens if I don’t file taxes but don’t owe?
Even if you are not required to file a tax return since you do not owe anything, you still may want to. Generally, you want to be able to accurately report any income you received during the year and any expenses you incurred that will reduce your taxable income. If you do not owe any taxes, filing a tax return can help determine if you have a tax refund coming. If you do not file a tax return, you may not be eligible for certain benefits or reduced rates.
The IRS has many times overstated that filing a tax return even when no income is reported and no tax is owed, is the right thing to do for your future. The IRS states that if you are not required to file a return, filing one might benefit you in these ways:
- Help keep your records straight — Filing a return may help keep track of income and expenses, which will make it easier for you to fill out other forms that report the same items.
- Provide documentation — If your employer is asking you to complete a form about tips you received or if you are borrowing money from a friend or relative, it can be helpful to have a copy of your tax return to refer to.
- Establish the fact that you do not owe the IRS — Many people who do not owe taxes may be contacted by the IRS about taxes they may owe. Filing a tax return is one way to prove that you do not have any unpaid taxes.
- Help to clear up discrepancies — If you previously filed a return but now find that your reported income or tax liability is different from what the IRS shows, filing an additional return may help resolve the difference.
- Establish your right to claim certain deductions or credits in future years — If you do not file a tax return by the due date and owe no taxes, you cannot claim any refundable tax credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit when you file next year.
- Keep your options open — Even if you are getting a refund this year, filing a return can help get lower withholding or estimated payments in future years.
- Prove entitlement to special benefits for seniors — You may qualify for additional Medicare or Social Security benefits when you reach age 65 by filing a tax return and establishing your income record usually for work purposes even when no tax is owed.
- Get a refund of all withholding — If you had taxes withheld from your earnings, make sure that you file a return to get a full refund of all withholding.
- Keep records for later years — You should keep copies or records of tax returns you filed with the IRS in case it is needed for tax questions in the future. These copies are not filed with the IRS.
Is there a penalty for filing taxes late?
The penalties for filing taxes late include fines, penalties, and possible jail time. However, the Internal Revenue Service will not throw taxpayers in prison just because they owe back taxes or even if they fail to file tax returns.
However, it is possible that you may face criminal fraud charges if you knowingly file a false return. Nevertheless, most taxpayers who fail to file their tax returns on time or at all simply face civil penalties, not criminal charges.
The IRS normally charges five penalties on top of any regular interest charges you incur when you do not file your tax returns on time. The total penalty is based on how late you are with your taxes. These penalties are as follows:
- Failure to File Penalty — This penalty is normally 5% of the total amount of tax due per month on your return. It is capped at a total of 25% of your unpaid taxes for any given tax year. The failure-to-file penalty increases to 15% if you file more than 60 days late.
- Failure to Pay Penalty — This penalty is normally 0.5% of your unpaid taxes per month, up to a total of 25%. The failure-to-pay penalty increases to 1% if you file more than 60 days late. If you file your tax return more than 60 days after the due date or extended due date, the minimum penalty is $135 or 100% of your unpaid tax, whichever is less. If you file your return more than 90 days after the due date or extended due date, the minimum penalty is $270 or 100% of your unpaid tax, whichever is less.
- Interest Charges — Interest charges accrue on top of all penalties for filing taxes late. Interest is normally charged on any unpaid tax from the date the return is due to the date you pay your taxes in full.
- Estimated Tax Penalty — Taxpayers who did not pay enough tax throughout the year through withholding or estimated tax payments may be subject to an underpayment penalty if either of these situations applies:
- You did not pay at least 90% of your current year's tax or 100% of the tax shown on the return for the prior year (based on your adjusted gross income).
- You did not pay at least 100% of last year's total tax bill, either through withholding and estimated tax payments. This is limited to the amount you would have paid had you been required to make estimated tax payments.
- Failure to Pay Trust Fund Recovery Penalty — This penalty is normally 100% of the trust fund recovery for not paying your taxes when they were due. To avoid this penalty, you must pay the tax in full within 10 days of the notice and demand for payment. This penalty is in addition to any other penalties that may be levied.
What to do if you forgot to file taxes?
If you forgot to file taxes, you must file as soon as possible. It's important to file a tax return otherwise the IRS will become suspicious of you for not filing.
In order to avoid additional fines and penalties, it is your responsibility to file your taxes as soon as possible. Furthermore, if you haven't filed taxes in 3 years or more, it is even more important that you file a tax return as the IRS will be more likely to perform an audit on your records. In order to "clear" yourself, you must file the past due tax returns and include all details required by the IRS in order to prevent receiving additional fines or penalties.
If you have been notified that a tax return was filed under your SSN, you must determine whether the return is yours. If not, you have an obligation to report your findings to the IRS within 60 days in order to prevent any tax implications that may arise from a fraudulent filing.
What is the difference between Form 4868 and Form 2350?
IRS Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, is for extensions for your income tax return while IRS Form 2350, Application for Extension of Time to File U.S. Income Tax Return, is used by U.S. citizens and residents living abroad, on temporary assignment with a foreign government, whose main place of business is outside the U.S.
You almost always need to file both forms, 4868 and 2350, if you meet the filing requirements for either form. The only way that you don't have to file either form is if you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien who lives outside the United States and Puerto Rico, and your main place of business is outside the United States and Puerto Rico, or you are in military service outside the U.S. and Puerto Rico, and your tax home is in a foreign country.
Can you go to jail for not filing a tax return?
There are no criminal penalties for not filing a tax return. However, if you willfully fail to file a return, you can be subject to civil penalties. Some of these penalties include fines and imprisonment. Willfully means voluntarily, consciously, and intentionally. If your failure to file is due to fraud or an intent to evade the tax laws, you can be subject to criminal penalties.
First, the taxpayer has to know that he or she is required to file a tax return. Second, you have to know that you are supposed to pay federal income taxes on your earnings. Third, if you did not pay any taxes on your earnings, then you have willfully failed to file a return. You are then subject to failure-to-file penalties. If you did not earn enough income to require filing a tax return, you likely can't be charged with failing to file because the IRS has no way of knowing if you earned any money or not.
It is important for taxpayers to remember that even if they don't owe any taxes, they are still required to file a return. If you were self-employed or received wages from an employer, your failure to file a tax return could result in the assessment of penalties as well as interest on any amount due.
How can I file Form 4868 for free?
There is no fee when submitting an extension for filing an income tax return to the IRS using Form 4868.
An explanation about the extension request is not needed. The IRS will contact you if your request is denied.