How do I File for a Tax Extension?

By Roxy Caines

If you are unable to file your taxes by the April deadline, you can file for an extension, which provides an additional six months to submit your tax return.

Who can file for an extension?

Anyone can file for a tax extension. There aren’t eligibility criteria and the IRS won’t ask you to explain why you need a tax filing extension. Your request for an extension may be denied if you are under a court order to file your taxes by a certain date.

Note that an extension only provides additional time to submit your tax return. If you owe taxes, you still must pay them by the April filing date to avoid interest and penalties.

Military members in combat zones, taxpayers abroad, and people impacted by certain natural disasters are automatically granted an extension. The length of these extensions varies and may be less than six months.

How do I get a tax extension?

Complete Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. You can submit this form online using a free tax filing program like, or by mail. If you mail the form, get a Certificate of Mailing, or other documentation that shows you mailed the form by April 15.

Will I be charged fees or penalties?

It is free to submit an extension to file your taxes. If you owe taxes and do not pay by the April deadline, the IRS may charge a late payment penalty and interest on unpaid taxes.

If you know that you owe taxes, estimate the amount and pay it by the April tax filing deadline. You can pay when you request a tax filing extension (or separately). Payment options include online, check, or money order.

If you cannot pay the full amount by Tax Day, the IRS offers several options. Learn what to do if you owe taxes and cannot pay them.

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