Get an Extension for Filing Taxes: Stress-Free Steps to Postpone Your Deadline

By NexGen Support Team

January 24, 2024

Get an Extension for Filing Taxes: Stress-Free Steps to Postpone Your Deadline
Need more time to file your taxes? Filing an extension for filing taxes is a common solution for gaining extra time without incurring penalties. This article provides straightforward guidance on requesting a tax extension, outlines the important deadlines and forms such as Form 4868, and clarifies how this can affect your tax situation. Whether you’re an individual or a business, we’ll cover what you need to know to navigate tax season smoothly beyond the usual April deadline. 

Key Takeaways 

  • Tax extensions are requests to the IRS for more time to file tax returns and settle tax bills, not restricted by income level or filing status. They are available for individuals, businesses, estates, and U.S. expatriates. 

  • Tax extensions can be filed online through IRS e-file or Free File, by mailing Form 4868, or with the help of a professional tax preparer, with the deadline typically being October 15 unless it falls on a weekend or legal holiday. 

  • State tax extension requirements vary by state, with some using specific forms and others granting automatic extensions; military personnel and overseas taxpayers have unique provisions for tax extensions due to service or residence abroad. 

  • Understanding Tax Extensions: What You Need to Know 

    Tax Extension A federal tax extension is a formal request to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for additional time to file your tax return and pay any outstanding taxes owed. People often seek extensions due to a lack of organization, unforeseen circumstances, or strategic planning regarding their taxes. Self-employed individuals may utilize this option to have more time to contribute funds into a retirement savings account.  Various types of federal tax extensions are available that individuals and businesses can apply. These include personal income tax return extensions, expatriate extensions for U.S. citizens living abroad, estate tax return extensions, and business-related returns/extensions.  It’s important to note that there are no specific requirements or limitations when filing for a federal tax extension – regardless of one’s income level or marital status. Even those who qualify as out-of-the-country but physically present within the United States/Puerto Rico at the time still hold eligibility towards obtaining an IRS-issued deadline extension if necessary. 

    Types of Tax Extensions 

    The federal government offers tax extensions, including income tax extensions, for taxpayers in different situations. These include individual filers, U.S. citizens living abroad, estate taxes, and business returns.  Each type of extension has a specific purpose and applies to certain circumstances. For instance, the automatic income tax extension allows individuals serving in combat zones or contingency operations extra time to file their taxes and make payments without penalty. Discretionary extensions can be requested by submitting forms like Form 4868 or Form 2350. Approval from the IRS is not guaranteed.  Both businesses and individuals are eligible for these same types of federal tax extensions if they meet the necessary requirements outlined by the IRS. 

    Eligibility Criteria 

    To be eligible for a tax extension, broad requirements must be met. Those who qualify include U.S. citizens, resident aliens living outside the country, and individuals applying for special tax treatment. They have the right to request an automatic extension of up to 6 months to file their U.S. individual income tax return, which can help avoid penalties for late payment.  The eligibility threshold also depends on filing status and age when obtaining a tax extension. For instance, during Tax Year 2022, the limit is $5 for those married but filing separately regardless of age and $25,900 for qualifying surviving spouses under age 65. If they meet these criteria, self-employed individuals may apply for a tax extension without additional requirements. Additionally, this allows them more time before paying late payment penalties on their income taxes. Furthermore, it provides up-to-date information to the tax collecting agencies. 

    How to File a Tax Extension: Step-by-Step Guide 

    Tax Extension After understanding a tax extension and determining eligibility, it’s important to know how to file for one. There are three ways of filing a tax extension: online filing using IRS e-file, paper filing, or seeking assistance from a professional tax preparer.  To request an automatic six-month extension electronically with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), follow these steps: 
  • Visit the official website of the IRS 

  • Fill out either Form 4868 or Form 2350 as required 

  • Submit your form digitally via their system 

  • Wait for confirmation that your request has been accepted. 

  • The free electronic option offered by the IRS Free File program also allows individuals to apply for an automatic tax-filing extension without incurring fees. 
    Two options are again available if you request an extended deadline using Form 4868. Submitting it electronically through an e-file provided by the agency itself. Or mail them all the necessary information before the cut-off date approaches. For both methods mentioned above, remember to follow proper guidelines accordingly & be sure to submit prior to set deadlines so late submissions can be avoided. Such delay may fetch fines, thus penalizing individuals badly. 

    Online Filing: IRS e-file and Free File 

    For those who are technologically savvy and looking for a quick and easy way to request a tax extension, filing online may be the best option. The IRS e-file system is a secure electronic method of directly submitting tax returns and extensions to the IRS. To file an extension, you can utilize this service by electronically submitting Form 4868, which grants an extra six months until October 15th to submit your return.  Alternatively, there’s also the option of using the IRS Free File program, which offers individuals free access to request automatic extensions for their taxes electronically. Some benefits of choosing either e-filing or utilizing the Free File program include convenience in submission and taking advantage of retroactive changes in tax laws without having to amend previous submissions. Opting for electronic filing with direct deposit could result in faster IRS refunds. 

    Paper Filing: Mailing Form 4868 

    Requesting a tax extension through traditional means can be done by mailing the appropriate form (Form 4868) to the IRS. Form 4868 is the ‘Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.’ It gives individuals six months to file their federal income tax returns.  You can access Form 4868 from the official IRS website and send it off using the designated address listed on their site. This four-page form comes with a comprehensive guide available at The key aspect here is ensuring that all sections are completed accurately before sending out your application before or by its deadline in order not to incur any penalties. 

    Professional Assistance: Hiring a Tax Preparer 

    Hiring a tax preparer may be a good choice if you are uncertain about the steps involved or want to ensure accuracy. It is essential to consider certain factors when choosing one. 
  • Their enrollment as an agent with the authority of the IRS 

  • Completion of an extensive exam successfully 

  • Listing in the Official Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers, including credentials and specific qualifications 

  • A professional tax preparer can provide valuable assistance in requesting an extension on filing your federal taxes by completing and submitting Form 4868 via mail or online. They also offer helpful tools for planning taxes and access to expert advice, making it easier to request an extension. Select a reputable, experienced tax preparer who will guarantee accurate compliance with all applicable tax laws. 

    Tax Extension Deadlines and Penalties 

    Understanding tax extension deadlines and potential penalties is crucial in avoiding unexpected costs or complications. Typically, the deadline for filing a tax extension falls on October 15th unless it coincides with a weekend or holiday, in which case it is extended.  If there are valid reasons for failing to file or pay taxes on time and not due to intentional negligence by the taxpayer, IRS the penalties may be waived at the IRS’s discretion.  While knowing how and why one should file for an official extension can prove advantageous when handling personal finances, knowing what happens if someone fails to comply with taxation responsibilities must also be equally significant. This awareness empowers individuals to make informed decisions that help them avoid facing unnecessary financial repercussions from delinquent filings. 

    Key Dates to Remember 

    Tax Extension Keeping a record of important dates related to tax extensions and filing deadlines can prevent penalties and ensure compliance with IRS regulations. In the United States, October 15 is the deadline for federal tax extensions. If this date falls on a weekend or legal holiday, individuals have until the following business day to file their extension.  It should also be noted that individual and business taxpayers have until October 15 to file their tax returns after receiving an extension. There are certain circumstances where these deadlines may be adjusted due to emergencies or disasters declared by public officials. Staying informed about these critical dates can help you plan accordingly and meet your obligations for the timely filing of taxes. 

    Late Filing and Payment Penalties 

    Failing to file tax returns on time or neglecting to pay taxes on time can lead to penalties. For each month (or part thereof) that a return is submitted late in the United States, there is an additional 5% penalty for unpaid taxes, with a maximum limit of 25%. If tax payments are overdue, there will be an extra fee equal to 0.5% of the outstanding amount per month (or part thereof) until it reaches 25%.  It’s important to note that both fines may apply simultaneously, as any other applicable fees related to tardiness in paying taxes. In these cases, failure-to-file penalties take precedence over those for delayed payments and cannot exceed five percent within one calendar month – 4/05%=premature filing fine +.005=late submission cost; 50=cap]. Understanding these potential financial consequences can help you effectively plan ahead when it comes time to make your annual tax submissions so as not to incur unnecessary expenses due to negligence regarding prompt execution. 

    State Tax Extensions: Navigating Different Requirements 

    It is important to note that while federal tax extensions are applicable nationwide, each state has unique regulations and guidelines. Certain states may have specific forms for requesting a tax extension, while others automatically grant them. The distinction between filing for a state versus federal tax extension is also worth noting, as different documentation and procedures are required.  Knowing these requirements can ensure compliance with federal and state tax extension laws. 

    State-by-State Guidelines 

    Tax Extension Each state has its own set of rules and designated forms for requesting tax extensions. In California, if no outstanding taxes are owed, a tax extension is automatically granted without needing to file a separate form with the state. In New York State, taxpayers must request an extension through their Resident Income Tax Return (Form IT-201) on the official website for up to six months.  In Texas and Florida, individuals seeking an extension must follow specific procedures such as submitting certain forms and making estimated tax payments by the original deadline. Conversely, in Illinois, taxpayers can obtain a standard six-month filing extension, and federal extensions that exceed this time frame are also recognized.  As evidenced, state guidelines regarding tax extensions vary greatly. It’s important to know your particular state’s requirements when obtaining additional time for filing income taxes or paying any necessary amounts before their respective due dates. 

    Common State Tax Extension Forms 

    While the IRS requires Form 4868 to be submitted for a federal tax extension, requesting an extension for state taxes often involves completing the appropriate form specific to your state. These forms can typically be obtained from your state’s tax department or reputable websites that offer assistance with tax preparation. Many states also have electronic versions of their tax extension forms available.  Becoming familiar with commonly used state-specific extensions is important to accurately file for a tax extension. Whether you choose to submit a paper form or use an online option, it is essential to complete and send in the form before the deadline to avoid facing any penalties. 

    Special Circumstances: Extensions for Military Personnel and Overseas Taxpayers 

    Taxpayers can utilize Form 4868 to request a tax extension. Certain individuals, such as military personnel and those living abroad, have special considerations. Members of the armed forces may be granted up to three types of extensions for their taxes. If they serve overseas or in a combat zone during the tax filing season, they may also qualify for additional extensions and potentially delay specific tax deadlines related to their service in a combat zone. 

    Military Service Members 

    Tax Extension The IRS offers tax extensions for military service members, giving them additional time to fulfill their obligations. Those on active duty outside of the U.S. or Puerto Rico are automatically eligible for a two-month extension from the standard filing deadline.  Service personnel serving in combat zones may also have certain tax deadlines deferred until 180 days after leaving the designated area or when it is no longer considered a combat zone. This provision aims to ease any burden placed on service members who may struggle with meeting regular tax filing requirements due to their military duties and deployments. 

    Overseas Taxpayers 

    Overseas taxpayers have specific considerations when it comes to tax extensions. Individuals who are U.S. citizens or resident aliens residing abroad can request an additional 2 months to file their tax return and fulfill any federal income tax responsibilities. They have the option to apply for an Extension up until October 15 or December 15 if necessary.  If a longer time frame is needed beyond the standard two-month period, individuals may submit Form 4868 by either filing it by paper or electronically through the IRS e-file system. Whichever method is chosen, accurate information must be provided on the form and submitted before the deadline to avoid potential penalties. 

    Tips for Filing a Successful Tax Extension 

    Having a comprehensive understanding of tax extensions, we can now explore effective strategies for filing them. When asking for a tax extension, it is crucial to accurately estimate your potential taxes owed to ensure that you pay the correct amount by the designated deadline. 

    Estimating Your Tax Liability 

    It is essential to follow these steps to determine the amount of taxes you owe. 
  • Identify your tax bracket and total income. 

  • Consider any deductions and credits that may reduce your taxable income. 

  • Factor in employee taxes as part of your overall liability. 

  • Calculate your taxable income by subtracting eligible deductions from your total earnings. 

  • One crucial aspect of this process is accurately calculating the taxable portion of your income.  Several tools are available for estimating tax liability based on location and earnings, including the IRS’s online Withholding Estimator. These resources can assist in providing a reliable estimate for federal, state, and local taxes owed, taking into account specific details about an individual’s situation to ensure accurate calculations occur when determining one’s final tax obligation. 

    Avoiding Common Mistakes 

    Incorrectly filing for a tax extension can result in severe penalties or even the rejection of your request by the IRS. It is crucial to thoroughly review and double-check your tax extension before submitting it, to ensure its accuracy. Before sending off your request, make sure you have completed these steps: 
  • Fill out Form 4868 if you need an automatic extension. 

  • Check your state’s requirements, as they may require a separate filing for extensions to avoid late fees. 

  • Conduct a comprehensive review of your return using the Double-Check method. 

  • Following these guidelines will decrease the likelihood of making mistakes and increase the chances of filing a successful tax extension on time.  It may also be helpful to include a written explanation detailing why additional time is needed when requesting an extended deadline from the IRS. By carefully avoiding common errors and adhering closely to these suggestions, you are more likely to have a smooth process and successfully obtain the desired tax extension for filing your taxes.  In summary, having a good understanding of tax extensions can greatly reduce the stress associated with tax season. It is important to know about the different types of tax extensions available, their eligibility requirements, how to file for them, and potential penalties for late filing or payment. It is crucial to remember that each state has its own guidelines for tax extensions, and special provisions may apply to certain groups, such as military personnel and overseas taxpayers. By following these recommendations and avoiding common errors, individuals can request a tax extension for more time to complete an accurate return during this busy season. 

    Frequently Asked Questions 


    How late can you file an extension for taxes? 

    An option to obtain more time for filing taxes is requesting a tax extension before the deadline of April 15th. This allows individuals until October 15th to submit their taxes without facing any penalties or interest charges. 

    Is there an extension for taxes in 2023? 

    You can request an extension in filing your 2023 taxes, giving you until October 16, 2024, to finish your return. 

    Does the IRS penalize you for filing an extension? 

    There is no penalty for filing an extension, but paying any taxes owed by the designated tax day is essential to avoid late penalties. If you cannot make a full payment on time, consider arranging a payment plan with the IRS.  All taxes owed must be paid before or on tax day so as not to incur additional fees. In cases where paying in full at this time may be more advantageous. 

    What is a tax extension, and why might I need one? 

    An extension for your taxes may be necessary if you need extra time to file your tax return and pay the amount due. This could result from lacking organization, unexpected events, or deliberate tax strategy. 

    How do I file a tax extension online? 

    To request a tax extension electronically, you can utilize the IRS e-file system on their official website. All you need to do is complete Form 4868 and submit it online, a simple procedure allowing for quick and convenient tax extension filing. 

    How can NexGen Taxes help? 

    Need help filing an extension for your taxes? NexGen taxes is here to help. Finding a trusted Tax Pro to file your taxes is as complicated as finding a hair stylist you like and trust. Luckily, you don’t have to handle the search on your own.   At NexGen Taxes, we connect individuals, businesses and nonprofits with licensed and experienced Tax Pros, EAs and CPAs in the US. We handle the hard part of finding and vetting the right tax professionals so you have peace of mind while trusting them to do your taxes. Remember, on NexGen Taxes platform, Tax Pros are competing to earn your business, so you are the winner as a consumer.  Get started today, and see how filing taxes can be simplified.