Get A Federal Tax Extension In 3 Steps

Filing for a federal tax extension for your annual taxes is a simple and easy process, although there are very specific rules about paying your federal taxes even if you have filed for an extension.


It costs nothing to file for a federal tax extension. However, it is important that the extension be filed by the April 15 deadline, particularly if taxes are owed.

Extension Length

Once you file for a federal tax extension, you will automatically be given an extension of six months. However, if you have not yet filed your taxes by the time of the October 15 deadline, then your taxes will be considered late and be subject to any penalties.

If you live overseas or are in the military and have served overseas or in tax-free areas, then you may be eligible for a longer extension.


Paying annual federal taxes can often result in a great deal of angst for tax payers, particularly if they find themselves facing the April 15 deadline and they have not even begun to start the paperwork. Extensions from the Internal Revenue Service are available for up to six months. However, if taxes are owed, at least 90 percent of those taxes must be paid by the initial April 15 deadline and failure to do so may result in penalties that are added to the entire balance due.

How to File

There are two ways to file for a federal tax extension – manually or electronically.

You can file electronically by using one of a number of different tax software programs. Popular programs are TaxAct and TurboTax Online. You can also use the IRS website to fill out the forms online and send the form directly to the
Internal Revenue Service.

The other option is to download the forms from the IRS website or to pick them up from any public library or post office that has the forms available before the April 15 deadline.

Step 1

Fill out IRS Form 4868. Fill this form out as completely as possible, and make sure to include your estimated tax information, based on your W-2 forms from your employer.

Step 2

If you owe or estimate that you owe taxes, include a check for 90 percent of the tax balance due. If filing electronically, you will need to be able to pay the estimated 90 percent taxes due via credit or debit card.

Step 3

Complete and either electronically file the form by April 15 or mail it by the April 15 deadline. If you are mailing the extension form, make sure you include a check or money order for 90 percent of the tax balance due.


Filing for an extension for your federal tax returns is an easy and simple process. However, if you find yourself needing to file for an extension, make sure that you do so before the April 15 deadline and that you pay the 90 percent balance of your estimated taxes due if you owe the IRS money.
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