The April 15th deadline to file taxes can be extended for taxpayers who are unable to file their taxes by the due date. Taxpayers who do not file for an IRS extension before the deadline will have a failure to file penalty applied by the IRS to their outstanding tax debt.
Automatic IRS Extension of Time to File
Once taxpayers become aware they will not be able to file taxes on time due to unavoidable circumstances, such as a death in the family, divorce, theft, disruptions because of natural disasters, etc., they should immediately apply for an extension of time. Failure to file taxes, even if a reasonable cause exists, will result in a penalty from the IRS.
Taxpayers who cannot file their return on time should request an IRS extension of time electronically with "IRS Form 4868: Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Tax Return," or they can file with a paper form and mail it to the address provided. Taxpayers can, and should, pay all or at least part of their taxes with a credit card, debit card, or electronic funds transfer, as an extension of time to file is not an extension of time to pay your tax debt.
When Not to File for an IRS Extension
Even though there is still time to file taxes, many taxpayers will need an extension because of unique circumstances. An extension of time is typically granted as a six-month extension. Even if taxpayers are unable to pay the taxes due, they will still need to file.
Taxpayers should not file for an IRS extension if the only reason is that they know they are not able to pay the taxes due. They may instead file for an IRS debt payment program, such as an Installment Agreement, to pay the taxes owed in monthly payments.
Things to Consider When Filing for an IRS Extension
An IRS extension gives taxpayers extra time to file their returns, but it does not extend the time taxpayers have to pay their tax debt. Taxes that are not filed by the April 15th deadline will still accrue interest and penalties, even if your extension of time to file has been approved.
Taxpayers can file for an IRS extension through the e-filing service provided by the IRS. They may use tax preparation software to prepare a tax return or hire the services of a certified tax preparer, and again, taxpayers may use a credit card, debit card, or an electronic funds transfer to pay the tax amount owed.