tax tips — March 17, 2017

Everything You Need to Know About Filing a Tax Extension

by Susannah McQuitty

Filing a tax extension

Tax extensions are life-savers, whether life has gotten in the way of filing you taxes or you just happen to be a chronic procrastinator (my people!). If the mid-April deadline is approaching a bit faster than you might like, we’ve got good news: Filing for a tax extension is easy, inexpensive, and gives you a lot more elbow room to file that 2016 tax return.

Form 4868

What is a tax extension?

The IRS allows six months for those who need the extra time to file taxes, so long as the extension form is submitted on or before the April 18 deadline (April 15 falls on a Saturday, and Washington D.C. will celebrate Emancipation Day on Monday, April 17). Taxpayers who submit an extension form have until October 16 to review and submit their tax information, since October 15 falls on a Sunday. It’s a good year for procrastinators!

Now, does this mean that you can raid the couch for change through the summer months and pay those taxes in October? Unfortunately, there is no extending the payment deadline, only the filing deadline. If you owe money to the IRS and miss the deadline, you’ll have interest and penalties to face for not paying on time – even if you filed for a tax extension.

Luckily, there are several options available to you for making tax payments. If you file your extension on, you can make payment with your extension via Electronic Funds Withdrawal (EFW). You can also mail in a check, or pay with a credit or debit card on approved payment websites like

So remember: you can extend the deadline to file your taxes to October 16, but any payments are still due April 18; go ahead and raid the couch ASAP.

How do I file a tax extension?

What’s the golden ticket for an extension, you may ask? It’s Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. If you file your extension with, you can come back at any time before October 17 to file your federal and state return for free. Filing the extension and return at the same place means the process will be that much easier.

A blue map of the United States with a question mark

What about a tax extension for state taxes?

There are no cut-and-dried rules for state tax extensions, since each state has its own requirements. Some states, like Utah, offer an “automatic” extension, so no request needed.

Others, like Pennsylvania and Oregon, automatically apply your federal extension to your state taxes; some of these want you to send a copy of your federal Form 4868, while others require you to check a box on your state return indicating that you filed the federal extension.

Finally, a few states, like New York and North Carolina, require you to request the extension using their own extension form. Check your state tax agency website for more details. Keep in mind that while many states follow the federal dates and have a filing deadline of April 18, a few states such as Delaware (4/30), Hawaii (4/20), and Louisiana (5/15) have later filing deadlines.

With April coming up faster than anyone would like, it is easy to get overwhelmed with all the work that needs to be done. If you need a breather, go ahead and file a tax extension; while you still might have to pay taxes by April 18 if you owe, you can give yourself time to file your tax return at your own pace.



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