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There are many reasons you may need to file an extension for your individual tax return.  If you do not have all the information you need you can get an automatic six-month extension. This extension allows you to file your return by October 15th without penalties. However, it is NOT an extension to pay your tax liability.  You always have to pay by the original due date.Check out my complete post on extension due dates for corporate & partnership returns

Here is what you do:

An extension is rather easy to complete and file. Fill out form 4868 and submit this in paper form or e-file it with tax software like TurboTax.

If you are receiving a refund for the year, simply fill out the form with you name, address, SSN, estimated liability and tax payments already made.  Mail this to the IRS by April 15th to receive your automatic extension.  And you will get your refund after you file!

If you have a tax liability for the year, fill out your name, address with SSN, estimated liability and tax payments made. Then write a check for the estimated amount you owe and mail it by April 15th.  If your tax liability is not paid in full by April 15th you will be assessed penalties and interest.

Not sure if you will have a tax liability or not? Even if you’re not ready to file your return you can use tax software and calculate your return based on information you know and use estimates on the information you are waiting on. 

Free TurboTax tax calculators and tools!

I would be conservative and pay a little more with your extension. That way when you do file your return you will get a refund (hopefully). Then you won’t have to worry about penalties or interest for underestimating your extension payment.

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State Requirements

Some states accept federal extensions. For example, I live in GA and if I file a federal extension – GA will accept the federal extension. Meaning I do not have to do anything else to get my GA income tax return extended. I would have to make a payment if I had a tax liability in GA (just like the federal). Every state has different requirements though. Please check your state requirement!

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Free TurboTax tax calculators and tools!

My two cents… do not file an extension unless you really have to! There is no need to procrastinate especially with your taxes!


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this blog is for informational purposes only. This is not intended to be personalized tax, legal or accounting advice.  You should always receive tax advice from someone who is familiar with your unique situation.