File the IRS Extension Form if You Need More Time to do Your Taxes

I hate to admit it, but I’m just now getting around to doing my taxes this week, and should have them completed by Thursday.  If you’re getting a late start like me and don’t think you’ll be able to file your 2011 tax return by the April 17, 2012 deadline, you’ll want to file the IRS extension form.

What is the IRS Tax Extension Form

The IRS extension form, officially known as Form 4868:  Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, automatically extends your tax filing date for up to six months.

If you file the IRS extension form this year, your tax return would be due by October 15, 2012.  However, if you currently live out of the country, your extension is good for only four months, so your return would be due by August 15, 2012.

Please Note:  The IRS tax extension form does not extend your tax payment date!  It simply extends the time you have to file all the lovely paperwork.

If you think you’ll owe taxes to the IRS this year, you still need to pay those taxes by the April 17, 2012 tax due date.

How to Request an IRS Tax Extension

tax extension formThere are three ways to request an automatic extension of time to file your U.S. individual tax return.

1.  You can file Form 4868 electronically. If you use a tax professional to file your taxes, ask them to file Form 4868 electronically for you.  If you use a tax software package like TurboTax or H&R Block, you can electronically file Form 4868 via the tax software.

2. You can pay all or part of your estimate of income tax due using a credit or debit card or by using the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System.

3. You can file a paper Form 4868.

How to Complete the IRS Tax Extension Form

The tax extension form is very easy to complete.  Here’s what it requires:

  1. Your name
  2. Complete address
  3. Social Security Number (and spouse’s if you’re married filing jointly)
  4. Estimate of your total tax liability for 2011
  5. The total of any 2011 tax payments you’ve made
  6. Balance due (the amount of your liability minus the amount of payments you’ve made)

If you think you’ll have a tax balance due, you do not have to pay the amount due at the time that you file the IRS Extension Form 4868; however, you will have to pay the tax due by April 17, 2012 to avoid possible penalties and interest charges.

I have never requested an IRS tax extension, but I’m glad the option exists for those who do need it.  Have you ever filed the automatic IRS tax extension form?  If so, was it because you were just slow to get your taxes done, or was there some extenuating circumstance at the time?

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About the author

Rich Rich writes on personal finance from a pastor's perspective here at Money Wise Pastor. He loves In-N-Out Burger (and has the t-shirts to prove it), urban living, homeschooling, Gungor concerts, helping people succeed in life and work, camping, dreaming with his wife, and equipping his five children to become financially faithful and free. Find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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