Need more time to file your taxes? Good news: It's surprisingly easy to ask the IRS for a later due date.
This year taxes are due Tuesday (that’s April 18) for most folks. Normally, Tax Day falls on April 15, but because of the weekend and Emancipation Day, a holiday observed in Washington, D.C., there’s still time to file and pay. Due to tornadoes, flooding and other natural disasters, some affected residents in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Georgia, New York and other states have additional time to file, as well.
But if you can’t meet the deadline, you’ll need to request a free tax extension from the IRS while you get your 2022 taxes in order. Here’s how.
Requesting a tax extension from the IRS
Before we dive deeper, you should know this from the outset: A tax extension will only push back the deadline for you to file your tax return by six months. That extension will not change the due date for any money you need to pay the IRS.
In other words, a 2023 tax extension will give you until Oct. 16 to get your paperwork together and submit your federal income tax return. (Your state may have different deadlines.)
The extension process varies depending on whether you overpaid taxes throughout the year — and expect a tax refund — or underpaid taxes — and owe the IRS money.
If you expect a tax refund
The majority of taxpayers receive refunds from the IRS, so it’s likely you’ll need to file your extension following these guidelines. Requesting an automatic extension to file your tax return is relatively simple. You won’t have to explain why you can’t file or wait to hear if the request is accepted. You just file the extension form online or by snail mail.
However, online methods are highly recommended, as the IRS is notoriously slower to handle physical paperwork.
For online tax extension requests, you can get started by using the IRS’s Free File tools.
- Regardless of income, you can use guided tax software through the IRS’s free file partners to submit your request and avoid filling out any forms directly.
- If you prefer to fill out the request yourself, you can use the IRS’s Free Fillable Forms tool to manually complete and submit Form 4868, aka the extension request form.
If you’re unable to submit your extension request online, you can print Form 4868 and fill it out by hand. Then mail the completed form directly to the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The exact IRS location you’ll need to mail it to depends on your state; you’ll find the corresponding address on Page 4 under “Where To File a Paper Form 4868.”
If you owe the IRS
Should you owe the IRS, you will still need to make a payment by Tuesday or face penalties and interest. When you make a partial payment — or pay your tax bill entirely — you can indicate that your payment is for an extension, and the IRS will automatically process it without the need to fill out any additional forms.
However, let’s say you’re not sure if you’re going to be able to submit your payment by Tax Day. In this case, you would need to request an extension.
The process is the same as outlined above: You can use the IRS's Free File tools or mail in Form 4868. If you’re not using tax prep software and actually have to fill out the paperwork, prepare to do a little math. On lines No. 4 through No. 7, you’ll need to estimate how much you owe and the amount you’re going to pay. (Note: That doesn't mean you have to include payment with this form. It’s only an estimate.)
Finally, the IRS provides short-term and long-term payment plans for those who are struggling to pay their tax bills by the deadline. Enrolling in a plan can help you mitigate significant tax penalties.