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tax season filing extension

Tax season: How to file an extension

Updated April 2018

Taxes are due April 17! Did you just panic a little bit? Well, good news: the IRS will give you an extension on filing your return, as long as you send the request before the April 17th deadline. So take a deep breath, go find those tax documents, and check out our quick primer on filing an extension:

1. File the right forms

Remember, you’re actually paying two sets of taxes: state and federal. To request an extension for your federal return, use Form 4868. This document allows you to get an automatic extension. You will want to make sure that you get your request in as soon as possible. You don’t want to end up forgetting and suffering any penalties from turning in your request late.

If you want to file a state extension as well, check your local requirements. Some states such as Arizona, California, and Utah offer an automatic six-month extension when you file your federal extension, and another seven states don’t collect income tax at all. The IRS has created a list of tax extension rules by state, but it never hurts to double-check by reaching out to your state tax authority.

2. Pay your taxes

An extension only applies to the filing of your taxes—it does not guarantee any extension in actually paying any taxes owed. For most taxpayers, the deadline to pay any taxes owed and avoid penalties, interests, and late fees is the April deadline. (Although tax day is usually April 15, it falls on a Sunday this year, so you actually have until the 17th.)

If you’re worried about not being able to pay the full amount you owe by the 17th, the IRS does offer payment plan options. You can learn more about that here.

3. Submit your return by Oct 15th

Tax extensions are good for six months, pushing your filing date from April to October. In most situations, your state tax return is due the same time your federal income return is due: October 15th. However, if you fail to file a return by October, you may be charged penalties for filing your return late. So make sure you have it completed and sent in well before the due date to be safe.

Happy tax season, everyone!

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