Apply for U.S. Tax Return Filing Extension Using Form 4868

The deadline for U.S. taxpayers to file their tax returns is April 15. Unless it falls on a weekend or holiday, the next business day becomes the due date. Not filing and paying taxes on time results in interest and penalties.

If you file your tax return late, the IRS will charge you a penalty. The penalty is 5% of your unpaid tax bill per month or partial month your return is late, up to a maximum of 25%. By using Form 4868, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may grant you an extension of time to file your individual income tax return.

The tax-filing due date is at hand and you need to ensure that the required documents to file your taxes are ready. However, if you are not yet done with the necessary paperwork, you may need more time. If you expect your important tax forms to arrive late, have trouble hiring a tax professional to help you with your tax return, or are going through a turbulent period in your finances or personal life, you need to request for a tax-filing extension.

IRS Form 4868

Tax Form 4868, or Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, is an IRS form U.S. taxpayers use to ask for six more months to file their individual tax returns. 

While filing an extension allows you to avoid incurring a late filing penalty, you must recognize that it does not give you extra time to pay taxes. A common misconception is that submitting Form 4868 to the IRS also gives a taxpayer more time to pay his or her taxes. If you owe the federal agency money, you must pay up by April 15, the due date to settle any tax balance due.

Use Form 4868 to request an extension of time to file the following: 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-NR-EZ: U.S. Income Tax Return for Certain Nonresident Aliens with No Dependents, Form 1040-PR: Self-Employment Tax Return-Puerto Rico, and Form 1040-SS: U.S. Self-Employment Tax Return

Submit Form 4868 on or before April 15, the same deadline to settle unpaid tax balance due. The IRS allows two methods to submit the form — by mail or online. By mail, you can send the form to the address you send your tax return to. You may refer to the instructions page, particularly the Where to File a Paper Form 4868 section, to see a complete list of addresses where you can submit the form. On the other hand, you can file the form using the IRS’s official website. Once the system gets your request, you will receive an electronic acknowledgment receipt.

Filling Out Form 4868

The IRS does not impose specific reasons to qualify for an extension, as it generally grants taxpayers’ requests without asking questions. You only need to supply all the required identification and individual tax information accurately and truthfully. While you do not have to explain the reason for the extension, providing any incorrect or false information may lead to the rejection of your request.

Form 4868 has two parts: Identification and Individual Income Tax. The Identification section asks for your personal information for the IRS to locate your records properly and fast. For the Individual Income Tax section, you will need to provide figures to determine if you owe the federal agency any amount.

Tax documents and processes do not have to be complicated. The general principle in filing any legal-related document is to prepare ahead of time to avoid difficulties and worse, penalties. Nevertheless, when you need to buy more time to file your tax returns, you may submit Form 4868 to the IRS.

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