How to file a tax extension

Even if you’re used to filing taxes on time every year, sometimes you may need a little wiggle room to complete your federal tax return. Fortunately, the IRS offers a filing extension period. You just need to fill out the proper forms. Read on to learn how it works.

Key takeaways

  • Filing an extension for taxes can be done by filling out IRS Form 4868.
  • Extensions are typically for up to six months after the original tax filing deadline.
  • An extension can be filed online or by mail.
  • If you owe money, your payment will still be due on Tax Day—even if you file for an extension.

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Where to file an extension

Requesting a filing extension from the IRS involves Form 4868. But there are a few ways to go about it, including by mail, through the IRS’ Free File program, with private tax software or with the help of a tax professional. 

Although an extension generally gives you up to six months past the due date to send in your tax return, you must file for an extension no later than the deadline to file taxes—typically in April. If you’re filing by mail, make sure your return is postmarked on or before the deadline.

Tax extension deadline 

If you receive an extension for filing your taxes, you’ll have until six months after the original deadline to file them. And if the tax extension deadline date falls on a weekend or a holiday, you’ll have until the next business day. The tax extension deadline is Oct. 16, 2023, for the 2022 tax year. 

Requesting a tax extension

Requesting an extension to file your taxes can be easy to do. You may be able to use tax software or have a tax professional assist you. But the IRS offers free options on its website. 

Online requests

The IRS e-file system allows you to send your tax Form 4868 directly to the IRS. And it’s free, regardless of your income. Once the form is received, you’ll receive an electronic acknowledgement to keep for your records. 

Another way to file for an extension online is by using the IRS’s direct pay to submit the taxes you owe and note your extension request. Both online options can be a quick and simple way to request your extension. 

Mail requests

If you’d prefer sending your request by mail, you can print Form 4868 from the IRS website and send it in with any tax payments. States have specific addresses for where to send your request, so be sure to check for your state’s mailing address.

Due date for payments

While you can file an automatic extension to submit your taxes to the IRS, unless you have made arrangements, payments are still due on Tax Day, which is typically on or around April 15. Because Tax Day falls on a weekend in 2023, the deadline is April 18.

If you can’t pay your taxes in full, the IRS recommends paying what you can—and working with the IRS to find other options, such as a payment plan—to help lower any interest or penalty fees.

Special rules for tax extensions

In some circumstances, the IRS allows an automatic two-month extension. In general, it applies to people living and working outside the U.S., including people serving in the military. You can learn more about these extensions for people living abroad on the IRS website.

IRS tips for easy filing

The IRS offers these tips to help make filing taxes simpler: 

  • Keep track of important information such as your and your family members’ Social Security numbers, taxpayer identification numbers, prior-year tax information and PINs.
  • Set up an IRS account. This allows you to have access to things like payments, notices and tax records.
  • Pay any taxes owed with a debit card, credit card or bank withdrawal to help avoid late payment penalties.
  • File online and use the direct deposit feature to receive a faster tax refund. 

Filing a tax extension in a nutshell

Filing a tax extension can be a quick and simple process, giving you up to six months to file. But you’ll still have to pay owed taxes by the original tax filing deadline even if your extension is granted.

Looking for some more guidance this tax season? Learn more about taxes with this guide and consider consulting with a tax professional.

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