Federal Tax Return Extension: IRS Form 4868

Federal Tax Return Extension: IRS Form 4868
  • Opening Intro -

    Are you ready to meet this year's tax filing deadline?

    You have until April 15 to file and to avoid penalties.


Tax time deadlines and how to obtain an extension.

For many Americans getting their taxes done on time is a challenge and simply cannot be accomplished. Fortunately, the IRS does allow taxpayers to file an automatic extension, one that gives them an additional six months to file. Here’s what you need to know about filing IRS Form 4868.

IRS Form 4868

To gain an extension you need to obtain IRS Form 4868 — Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return — by visiting the IRS.gov website. You can file this form electronically by accessing IRS e-file or by using your tax return software. Another option is to file a paper Form 4868 and have that postmarked by the filing deadline.

Fill out the Form

IRS Form 4868 is divided into two sections: Part I and Part II.

The first part asks for personal identifying information including your name, street address, city, state and zip code (line 1). It also requires you to fill in your Social Security Number (SSN) on line 2. If you are married, your spouse’s SSN must also be included (line 3).

The second part of Form 4868 requires you to estimate your tax liability for the past year (line 4) as well as your total tax payments for the year (line 5). Your balance due is calculated by subtracting line 5 from line 4 and listing that amount on line 6. On line 7 you include the amount that you are paying when filing for an extension. Line 8 covers a residency requirement; line 9 is for income tax withholding.

Money Now or Risk a Penalty

The IRS will grant you extension to file your return, but if you owe money then those funds need to be paid now. Some taxpayers wonder how they can determine the amount owed apart from completing their taxes.

The amount owed does not need to be precise, but it should come in close to the amount that you owe. Carefully calculate your tax and include what you owe with your filing.

Neglect to make a payment and you’ll pay interest charges. Underestimate the amount owed and your request for an extension may be rejected. Make your payment electronically or by check or money order. The mailing address for your tax return is found with the instructions for filing Form 4868.

File Your Return

With six months to complete your return, the IRS allows you to file it at any time during the extension period. If you are out of the country you may qualify for an additional two-month extension. In any event, your taxes are still due with penalties of up to 25 percent assessed for late payments.

Once you file your federal tax extension don’t assume that a state extension is included. Instead, visit your state’s tax website to learn how late filings are treated. Follow your state’s instructions to obtain an extension, if one is available.

See AlsoTax Tips for the Year Ahead


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Categories: Tax Tips

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".