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How Do I File an Extension for My Taxes?

Filling a Tax Extension
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Did the tax deadline creep up on you this year, and now you need to know how to file for an extension? Everyone should know how to do this, as the odds are you’ll need to file for a tax extension at some point.

There are deadlines for this too that you’ll want to know about.

Here are the steps on how to file an extension for taxes in 2021:

  1. Print out Form 4868.
  2. Estimate taxes owed.
  3. Fill out Form 4868.
  4. Include payment information.
  5. Mail the form.
  6. Pay by the new October deadline to avoid penalties.

Don’t worry, as the process for filing for an extension is much easier than you think. Your tax extension should be six months long, hopefully giving you enough time to gather all of your tax information.

If you overpay, you’ll receive an IRS refund.

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1. Print Out Form 4868

If you need an extension on your taxes, you must file Form 4868, which is the Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, before May 17th.

This form allows you to extend how long you have to file your tax returns.  The application doesn’t mean you’re allowed to pay late. All payments still must be made by the tax deadline, or you’ll receive interest and penalties. 

Before you get started, you’ll need to download the form and print it out. If you make estimated payments on your taxes, your extension comes automatically without filing Form 4868.

2. Estimate Taxes Owed

Now, you’ll need to estimate the amount of taxes you owe. You’ll need to take the tax that your employer holds from your paycheck and any estimated payments out of the amount you owe.

Then, factor in your deductions and exemptions. You may want to have someone assist you with this process or use a tax calculator. If you still owe your taxes, you may want to include a payment when you send in the application form.

3. Fill Out Form 4868

After you’ve downloaded the form, printed it, and have your estimated taxes, you’ll need to complete the form. You’ll need your name, address, and your Social Security number. Then, you’ll need to include an estimated tax payment.

It’s free to file a tax extension, and even possible to do it online. As long as you make sure to fill it out and file ahead of the deadline, you’re sure to have plenty of options available.

This YouTube video describes how to file your extension application:

4. Include Payment Information

You can include the payment by using a credit, debit card, or a handwritten check made out to the United States Treasury. Once you have the form filled out, you’ll want to mail it to the proper IRS address. 

You’ll need to make sure you send it before the due date of your taxes.  This payment covers the taxes that you expect you owe but still gives you the additional six months to file all the paperwork for your taxes.

If your estimate is over the amount, you’ll receive a refund.  You’ll owe if your estimate was under, but there shouldn’t be penalties.

Overall, this is the best option for anyone who needs an extension. Use that time to gather all of the paperwork for your taxes. A professional tax filer can assist you through the process if you believe you need additional help.

5. Mail the Form

Depending on where you live in the States, you’ll need to mail the form to the appropriate IRS office. Additionally, the address is different depending on if you include a payment with the form or not.

You’ll want to view the official IRS filing chart to determine where you need to send your application. To better sort through the chart, hit “ctrl” and “f” on your keyboard. Doing so opens a tiny box at the top of the webpage. 

You’ll need to type in the name of your state to find it quickly.  In short, you’ll need to know where to mail the form once you have it all filled out. Everyone needs to send it somewhere different, so make sure you have the proper address. 

You don’t want to waste time, especially if you’re filing closer to the deadline.

6. Pay by the New October Deadline to Avoid Penalties

Currently, the IRS extended the deadline for everyone to May 17th, 2021. You get this extension automatically, without having to do anything. You’d want to fill out Form 4868 for the extension only if you need more time beyond May 17th to file.

The extension gives you about six months to file. That means the new due date would be around October 15th, since you need to consider weekends and holidays. Overall, you want to make sure you pay by this new date after your application goes through.

If you don’t file by the new due date, you’ll receive penalties and interest fees. It’s best to avoid paying extra when possible because all of those charges can add up to your taxes. 

How to File Electronically

If you don’t want to mail the form, you can also file it electronically. Doing so would send the form directly to the IRS. This method is often faster, making it great if you’re close to the deadline.

Several tax sites, such as E-File and TurboTax can help you through the process.

Bottom Line

Overall, the sooner you can file for a tax extension, the better off you’ll be. You’ll need to make sure that you have everything submitted by the new due date to ensure you don’t get any penalties or fees. 

It’s best to file your application as soon as you realize you need more time. It’s free to do, so there’s no reason not to file for an extension!

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