“Tardiness often robs us opportunity, and the dispatch of our forces.” Niccolo Machiavelli
If are not able to file your income tax returns by April 15th, you can apply for an extension. But you have to file the extension by April 15th! Ironic, isn’t it?
Filing an extension to file your federal and state income tax returns is fairly easy. You would have to complete IRS Form 4868 and postmark or e-file it by April 15th.
An extension gives taxpayers an automatic 6 month extension to file their tax returns. The new due date for your return will most likely be October 15th. Most states accept the IRS form as proof of extension for state income tax returns.
At this point in the game, I would not recommend requesting an extension via snail mail. If you qualify for the IRS Free File program, you can file your extension for FREE!
If you do not qualify, you can still use participating partners of the Free File program. It may cost you!
What do you need to do to file an extension?
1). Do some math!
You will need an estimate of your tax liability. I know what you are thinking, “Who actually knows what that number?!?!” Your trusted accountant or tax preparer should know! Also, you can use the IRS Withholding Calculator to give you a round estimate.
2). Grab your W-2 and check copies!
You have to let the IRS know what you paid through payroll deductions and estimated payments throughout the year.
3). Cut a check!
If you file an extension and a balance is in fact due, send a payment along with your extension. An extension is a filing extension, not a payment extension or waiver.
After completing these steps, you now have 6 months to get your taxes done. I suggest you do this before May. You don’t want to wait to until the last minute again. Do you?
Jéneen R. Perkins is a freelance accountant and consultant serving entrepreneurs, families and small businesses. She prides herself in being fluent in English instead of “Accountant-ese”.
"Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is" is a journal about real life experiences and answers to tough tax questions posed to Jéneen R. Perkins, Owner of Eclat Enterprises, LLC