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How to File a Federal, IRS Tax Return Extension Form 4868

Important: The IRS is not accepting extensions for 2017 Tax Returns yet. We will update this page once you can prepare and efile extensions for 2017 returns online.

Review the sections below for information on tax extensions:

What Is an IRS Tax Extension?

A tax extension is an extension of time to file your tax return. However, it is not an extension of time to pay your tax bill.

Any taxpayer can get an automatic 6-month tax return extension by efiling the IRS Form 4868. It is easy to prepare and efile your federal tax extension on, and we will generate the Form 4868 for you.

Why or Why Not efile an Extension?

Consider the reasons why to and why not to file an extension below:

Why to file a tax extension

Is a Tax Extension Right for Me?

Before you efile a tax extension, consider these common misconceptions and truths about tax extensions:

  • Myth 1: "Filing a tax extension postpones my tax deadline and my tax payments without IRS penalties."
  • Truth 1: 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.
  • Myth 2: "Filing a tax extension eliminates any late tax payment penalties."
  • Truth 2: Even if you file an extension on time, you will still face IRS late payment penalties for not paying your taxes on time.

Should I file an extension on time if I don't have all the information I need to file a tax return?

If you do not have enough tax information, or all your tax records, to start and efile a tax return by April 17 , 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 April 17 in order to avoid IRS penalties and interest. You can estimate your tax liability (or tax refund) with the Free Tax Calculator.

What should I do before I prepare and file my tax return?

Before you file, educate yourself about your tax situation: Try our free tax educator 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!
Try the FREE Tax Toys & Tools

3 Top Tax Extension Tips

  1. DO efile 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 efile a Tax Extension if you have everything you need to do your taxes; preparing and efiling a Tax Return will save you time and money.

When Should I Prepare and efile a Tax Extension?

You should efile a federal tax extension for Tax Year 2017 by April 17, 2018, the same day as the deadline to efile a 2017 Tax Return. If you efile a tax extension, your new deadline to efile a 2017 Tax Return will be October 15, 2018. After October 15, 2018 you can still prepare your tax return on, but you will need to print and mail it.

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 April 17, 2018 you can no longer efile 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 by Tax Day. Before you efile, 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 efile a tax extension, your new deadline to efile a 2017 Tax Return will be October 15, 2018.

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 April 17, 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.

Can I efile or file a tax extension for a previous Tax Year?

Tax extensions are due on Tax Day every Tax Year. After that date, the IRS will no longer accept extension requests for that Tax Year. For example, after April 17, 2018, you can no longer file or efile an extension for your 2017 tax return.

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.

I cannot pay my taxes in full-should I file or efile a tax extension?

Even if you do not have the money to pay the taxes you owe you should efile a tax extension or tax return. The potential IRS fees and penalties for not efiling anything are going to be larger than on the taxes owed. So, pay as much or as little as you can but do efile an extension or tax 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 free tax calculator.

Option 2: Start a tax return on Before you efile 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 with any questions about tax extensions.

I missed the deadline for filing an extension-What should I do?

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 Do I efile or File an Extension?

The IRS is not accepting extensions for 2017 Tax Returns yet. You can register to prepare and efile your 2017 Tax Return by clicking the button below: 

 Register for Your 2017 Tax Return Now

What Are the Potential IRS Penalties for Not Filing a Tax Extension or Return After the Deadline?

Failure to efile/file a tax return or an IRS federal tax extension by April 17 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 efile) and/or pay your taxes on time, you may be subject to IRS penalties.

Important: The only way to avoid penalties is to efile or file a tax return and pay all taxes due by April 17.

A Note on IRS Interest: 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/efiled within three years of the 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.

efile Step 6 How Do I 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.

What is the 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. You will still owe interest on any unpaid taxes after April 17, but you will not be subject to late payment penalties or late filing penalties until June 15, 2018.

You do not have to file any forms in advance to get this 2-month extension, but you will need to file your return on paper and attach a statement explaining why you qualify for the extension.

Can I File An Additional Extension If I Live or Work Overseas? 

You can obtain an additional 4-month extension of (to October 15, 2018) by filing Form 4868. After April 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 June 15.

What is the 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 17) 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 April 17 to the date the taxes are paid.

You can get an additional extension to October 15, 2018 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 April 17, 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

What Do I Do If My Tax Extension Was Rejected?

We recommend that you just get started on your 2017 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 Do I File My Tax Return After I File My Extension?

Review our guide on how to file a return after filing an extension