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IRS Tax Extension Form 4868

You can prepare and eFile a free IRS Tax Extension on eFile.com. The deadline to e-File a 2020 Tax Extension will be April 15, 2021 May 17, 2021. Learn below if you should even eFile an extension or not. You can e-File Form 4868 or Form 2350 for free on eFile.com. After you have e-Filed an IRS accepted tax extension you can complete your 2020 Tax Return by or until Oct. 15, 2021; all your tax extension information will be in your eFile.com account when you eFile. If you owe taxes as a result of your tax return, you should prepare and eFile your 2020 Tax Return(s) as soon as possible but no later than May 17, 2021. 

Why? Because the late filing penalties are generally higher than the late tax payment penalties! Once you have e-Filed your 2020 tax return or tax extension by April 15, 2021 May 17, 2021, you will not be subject to late filing penalties, but late tax payment penalties might still apply. Yes, late filing penalties are higher than late filing penalties in most cases. eFile Tip: e-File something even if you can't pay anything by April 15, 2021 May 17, 2021!

Click for specific state tax return extension deadlines.

Start a Tax Extension, Instructions


Tax return or extension?

Here are suggestions on what to do next:

  • Are you expecting a tax refund?  You have three years for any given tax year to claim your refund by filing a tax return - for 2020 returns, that would be April 15, 2024. After that date, you will no longer be able to claim your 2020 Tax Refund. Don't become an IRS unclaimed tax refund statistic!
  • Find the tax refund eligibility filing deadlines by other Tax Years. Do you know that American taxpayers don't claim tax refunds annually on average in the amount of over 1 billion U.S. Dollars? Don't become part of this statistic: e-File your 2020 Tax Return now or by October 15, 2021 (or mail your return after Oct. 15) and claim your tax refund. It's your hard earned money.
  • Are you expecting to owe taxes? If so, you might face two IRS penalties.
    • 1. Late Filing Penalties: You can reduce potential late filing penalties immediately by e-Filing an IRS and applicable State Tax Return, by May 17, 2021 even if you can't afford to pay your taxes. You can e-File a return or extension and pay as little or as much as you can afford. However, eFile something by May 17 even if you can't pay anything! It will spare you the late filing penalties.
    • 2. Late Tax Payment Penalties: When you eFile your tax return, pay as little or as much as you can afford. Here are many tax payment options for you.
  • Penalty Estimator: Estimate your potential late filing or late payment IRS penalties. Click for state related penalties

Did you know that most taxpayers can eFile a Free Federal Edition return on eFile.com? Dare to compare eFile.com versus H&R Block® and TurboTax®.

Why or Why Not e-file an Extension?

These considerations are only relevant before Tax Day - usually between February and Tax Day, May 17, 2021 for Tax Year 2020:

Extension Consideration
Why to e-file an Extension?

Only efile a tax extension if you don't have all the information you need to prepare a tax return.

Why not to e-File an Extension?

If you owe taxes to the IRS, a tax extension won't postpone that payment deadline!

If you have everything you need to do your taxes, preparing and e-filing a tax return will save you time and money.

Is a Tax Extension Right for You?

Before you e-file a tax extension, consider these common misconceptions and truths about tax extensions:

Extension Myth
Extension Truth

"Filing a tax extension postpones my tax deadline and my tax payments without IRS penalties."

A tax extension only postpones your time to file a return, not your time to pay your taxes! In addition, you may face late filing penalties for each month your return is not filed.

"Filing a tax extension eliminates any late tax payment penalties."

Even if you file an extension on time, you will still face IRS late payment penalties for not paying your taxes on time.

What is an IRS Tax Extension?

A tax extension gives you an additional 6 months to file your tax return, making your new deadline October 15. It is not an extension of time to pay your tax bill. e-File or file IRS Form 4868 by May 17, 2021 for Tax Year 2020 here on eFile.com for free. It is easy to prepare and e-file your federal tax extension on eFile.com since we will generate Form 4868 for you. See the penalties of not filing versus not paying taxes with the IRS Penalty Estimator.

Important: If you have an IRS accepted 2020 tax extension in your eFile.com account, you can use promo code ext40efile to save 40% when you complete and e-file your 2020 Tax Returns - IRS and states - by October 15, 2021.

If you do not have enough tax information, or all your tax records, to start and e-file a tax return by Tax Day - in 2021, it is May 17, 2021 - you should eFile an IRS extension by that date. However, you will need to find out how much you expect to owe in taxes and submit payment for at least 90% of your balance due by May 17, 2021 in order to avoid IRS penalties and interest. You can estimate your tax liability (or tax refund) with our free tax calculator.

What to Do Before Preparing and Filing Your Tax Return

Before you file, educate yourself about your tax situation and use these free tax calculator and educational tools to find out if someone qualifies as your dependent, if you can claim the Earned Income Credit or the Child Tax Credit, or if you can file as Head of Household!

3 Top Tax Extension Tips

  1. DO e-File a tax extension if you don't have all the information you need to prepare a tax return.
  2. Do NOT eFile a tax extension if you owe taxes to the IRS; a tax extension won't postpone the payment deadline!
  3. Do NOT e-File a tax extension if you have everything you need to do your taxes; preparing and e-filing a Tax Return will save you time and money.

When to Prepare and e-File a Tax Extension

You should e-File a Federal Tax Extension for Tax Year 2020 by May 17, 2021, the same day as the deadline to efile a 2020 Tax Return. If you efile a Tax Extension, your new deadline to efile a 2020 Tax Return will be October 15, 2021. After October 15, 2020, if you have already prepared your return on eFile.com, you can still access your return, print it, and mail it to the IRS to file it. However after October 15, you will no longer be able to prepare online or e-file a current tax year return.

Tax Tip: If you owe taxes, but you have missed the deadline to efile an extension, you should eFile your Tax Return now to avoid further penalties, fees and interest.

After Tax Day - Tax Year 2020: May 17, 2021 -  you can no longer e-File a Tax Extension. You will still be able to prepare and efile a Tax Return past the deadline. You can start and efile a Tax Return on eFile.com by Tax Day. Before you e-File, know the tax amount you owe. Once your Tax Return has been accepted by the IRS you can make changes to this return by filing a Tax Amendment and download Form 1040X. There is no deadline to amend a Tax Return, but there is a 3 year limit on claiming Tax Refunds. If you e-File a Tax Extension, your new deadline to e-File a 2020 Tax Return will be October 15, 2021.

Tax Tip: It takes almost as much time to efile a Tax Extension as it takes to start and efile a Tax Return, so you may as well prepare your return with the information you have and efile on time. Even if you don't have all your tax information by Tax Day, you can amend your Tax Return at any time, and you have up to 3 years after the original filing deadline to claim a Tax Refund.

Tax Extensions for Back Taxes

Tax Extensions are due on Tax Day for the current Tax Year. After that date, the IRS will no longer accept extension requests for that Tax Year or back taxes. For example, after July 15, 2020, you can no longer file or eFile an extension for your 2020 Tax Return. State Tax Return extensions deadlines.

If you have not filed a Tax Return for a previous Tax Year, we recommend that you file the return as soon as possible and pay as much as you can.

To E-file an Extension and Not to Pay Taxes?

Even if you do not have the money to pay the taxes you owe, you should e-file a Tax Extension or Tax Return. The potential IRS fees and penalties for not e-filing anything are going to be larger than on the taxes owed. Therefore, pay as much or as little as you can, but do e-file a Tax Extension or Return. The IRS will most likely add penalties and/or interest to the late payments. Learn about your tax payment options.

Find Out How Much You Owe in Taxes

Option 1: Estimate your taxes with the eFile.com free tax calculator.

Option 2: Start a Tax Return on eFile.com. Before you e-File the return, you will know whether you owe taxes based on all the tax information you entered.

You should file your Tax Return by the time it is due, regardless of whether or not a full payment can be made with the return. Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for an IRS payment plan.

Please contact eFile.com with any questions about Tax Extensions.

Extension Filing Deadline

We recommend that you file your Tax Return as soon as possible and pay as much as you can to avoid further late filing and/or payment penalties. If you are expecting a refund, you will not face a late filing penalty.

How to e-File or File an IRS Extension

Important: The IRS Tax Extension Deadline for 2020 Tax Returns will be closed after May 17, 2021 - the Tax Extension Deadline for Tax Year 2020. You can e-File your Tax Extension here at eFile.com for free then by following one of the options below. See state tax extension deadlines and instructions.

Option 1: You already have an eFile.com account.

Start a Tax Extension
eFile.com account holders: click image to enlarge

Click and sign into your eFile.com account. Then click on My Return on the left at the top and then the green "Need an extension?" button on the right and e-File your extension for free. See the instruction image on your right.

Option 2: You do not have an eFile.com account.

Start your free IRS Tax Extension now.

Note: If you e-filed an Extension for Tax Year 2020, you can prepare and e-file your IRS and State Income Tax Returns on eFile.com until Oct. 15, 2021 at a 40% discount with this promo code: ext40efile

Potential Late Filing or Late Payment Penalties

Failure to e-File/file a Tax Return or an IRS Federal Tax Extension by Tax Day for the current tax year can be costly. If taxes are owed, a delay in filing may result in penalty and interest charges that could increase your tax bill by 25 percent or more. There is no penalty for the late filing of a return on which a refund is given except for the delay of your refund. If you do not file or e-File and/or pay your taxes on time, you may be subject to IRS penalties.

Important: The only way to avoid late filing penalties is to e-File or file a Tax Return or Extension by Tax Day - May 17, 2021 for Tax Year 2020 - and in case of a Tax Extension, e-File the Tax Return by Oct. 15, 2021.  Late Payment Penalties will occur after the Tax Day Deadline of May 17, 2021 for Tax Year 2020 for unpaid taxes. As late filing penalties are higher than late payment penalties, you should file a return or extension even if you can't afford to pay your taxes on time.

In case you have unpaid taxes for this or a previous Tax Year, you might owe tax penalties and interest.

Are there penalties if I expect a Tax Refund but do not file on time? No, there is no tax penalty for failure to eFile a Tax Return or Tax Extension if you expect a Federal or State Tax Refund. However, by waiting too long to eFile you can lose your refund. Please be aware that your return must be filed/e-filed within three years of the original due date.

Find more information on tax penalties, late interest payment or IRS fees here.

Can't pay the taxes you owe? Explore options to help you ease your tax burden now. You might also be apply to apply for the Application for Extension of Time for Payment of Tax Due to Undue Hardship via Form 1127.

How to File a State Tax Extension

The requirements for filing a State Tax Extension vary from state to state. They mostly relate to Tax Extension filing deadlines, tax payment rules, or certain Tax Extension forms to fill out (or not, in some states' cases). However, in general, most states follow the deadline to file a Federal Tax Return Extension. Find out how to file a State Tax Extension for a particular state.

Automatic Tax Extension for U.S. Citizens and Residents Living Abroad

If you are a U.S. resident living outside of the country on Tax Day, and your main place of business is outside of the U.S., you automatically receive a 2-month extension of time to file your return and time to pay any income taxes you may owe. The automatic deadline to file 2020 Tax Returns is June 15 and you do not have to file any forms in advance to get this 2-month extension. However, you will need to file your return on paper and attach a statement explaining why you qualify for the extension.

If you need more time to file your 2020 Tax Return beyond June 15 (to October 15, 2021), you can prepare and e-file extension Form 4868 on eFile.com by May 17, 2021. After May 17, you will need to prepare and file the form on paper (since the IRS will stop accepting extensions after that date). Make sure that you sign the form and check off the box indicating that you were out of the country on Tax Day before you mail it to the IRS. Be aware that any owed taxes, penalties, and interest will apply after May 17.

Automatic Tax Extension for the Military

If you are a member of the Armed Forces stationed outside of the United States (and Puerto Rico) at the time of your tax deadline (April 15, 2021 for Tax Year 2020 Returns) then you will automatically receive a 2-month extension of time to file your Tax Return. Please note that this automatic extension is not an extension of time to pay any tax owed by the regular due date of the return. Therefore, interest is charged on any taxes owed from May 17, 2021 to the date the taxes are paid. You can get an additional extension to October 15, 2021 by using Form 4868.

If you are a member of the Armed Forces on active duty in an officially designated combat zone (or contingency operation) on May 17, 2021, you will receive an automatic extension of time to file and time to pay. The extension will be for 180 days plus the number of days you had left to file when you entered service in the combat zone. Learn more about deadline extensions for the military

Tax Extension Rejection Instructions

If you e-filed a 2020 Tax Extension on eFile.com, but the IRS rejected it, we recommend that you just get started on your 2020 Tax Return. There is no penalty for filing late if you are getting a Tax Refund. If you owe taxes, you should eFile your Tax Return now to avoid the worst penalties even if you can't pay your taxes right now.

TIP: Make a tax payment as soon as possible.

  • Because your extension was rejected, the tax payment you set up did not go through. As soon as possible, you should make a payment to avoid IRS penalties.
    • You can mail a payment with your Tax Extension. Instructions are on the form.
    • You can make an online payment directly from your bank account, or with a credit card or debit card. Find out how to make online payments.

Find out the penalties for paying late or for filing late when you owe taxes.

Please don't hesitate to contact us if we can assist you.

How to e-File a Tax Return After Filing an Extension

Follow these instructions on how to e-File a tax return after filing an extension

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