Short on Time? How to File a Tax Extension

The deadline for your tax return is almost here, so if you cannot get your tax return in by Tax Day (This year it’s April 18th), you may need to file a request for a tax extension.

Never filed for an extension before? Here are some quick tips on how to get that extension you genuinely need!

Related: Best Online Tax Preparation Services 2018: Turbo Tax vs. H&R Block vs. Tax Act (Bonus Review)

What Are the Different Ways to Get a Tax Extension?

Americans can get an extension online; this is often one of the easiest and quickest ways to file an extension. Head over to the IRS government website and use Free File. Of course, Free File can also be used to file your federal taxes for free quickly!

If filing your tax return is no longer an option before the 18th of April, you can also file an electronic extension. This option is also available on the IRS website.

Of course, filing for an extension becomes a little easier when you have an accountant who can take care of it for you. Simply request that your accountant files a tax extension for you. If you do not have an accountant, you could also ask a tax preparer to file an extension on your behalf.

Filing an extension is also possible by using online software. TurboTax Easy Extension is an example of such software. The software automatically provides you with the forms you need and additional information you might need to file an extension. Since such programs can provide you with helpful information, it is a recommend option for those who do not have access to an accountant and have little experience with filing their tax return.

The last option you have to obtain an extension is downloading federal form 4868; this is an application for automatic extension of time to file U.S. individual income tax return. This form can also be downloaded from the IRS website.

If you have filled in form 4868, you will need to send it to the appropriate IRS with the highest priority. Instructions on how to send this form to the IRS can be found in the IRS website or the form itself.

Related: TurboTax Review 2018: The Easiest Way to File Your Taxes

To file an extension, you’ll need:

  • Your name (and spouse’s name if you’re filing jointly) and address;
  • Social Security number (s);
  • An estimate of your total tax liability for 2016;
  • Total of what you have already paid for 2016 (including withholding and estimated payments); and
  • The amount you’re paying with the extension, if anything.

Remember that an extension is an extension of the time to file and not an extension of time to pay.

If you expect to owe at tax time and you’re filing for extension, you need to make a payment with your extension request in order to avoid interest and penalty later.

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What If I Couldn’t Get a Tax Extension?

If the government is not willing to provide you with an extension, you will have to buckle up and try to get that tax return in on time.

To get your tax return still in on time, you can choose one of two option. The first option is calling up the tax office and hope that you might get a last minute tax appointment. You aren’t the only one in this situation though, so this option is often a shot in the dark.

Your second option is downloading the right tax preparation software. To get your taxes done on time, you might have to take some time off work, but this is still better than being reprimanded by Uncle Sam.


If you wish to obtain an extension, it is advised to do so now. When requesting an extension, it is recommended to be honest and give the IRS a legitimate reason why you are requesting the extension. Only by providing a legitimate and honest reason can you acquire that important extension.

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