- Days left

How to file a tax extension, no matter how disorganized you are

×
It's inevitable: You're fairly sure you're going to have all your tax documentation together, and then something goes awry. You don't receive all your tax forms, you've misplaced a receipt, or you're otherwise unable to file your return by the due date.

If you need more time to prepare your federal tax return, you'll need to file an extension.

To get started, you need the following information:
  1. Your personal details, including your Social Security number, address, and the name and taxpayer ID number of your spouse.
  2. A copy of your 2008 tax return.
  3. A list of tax payments made in 2008.

If your tax situation hasn't changed since last year, you can use your 2008 tax return to estimate your tax liability. You'll find your total tax liability from 2008 on line 60 for the form 1040, line 37 for form 1040A, and line 11 for form 1040EZ. Subtract any payments you've made throughout the year and report your balance due on line 6 of the extension form. Ideally, if you owe a balance, you'll pay at least that much along with your extension to avoid a potential penalty.

To prepare and file the extension for your federal income tax return, you'll need to select a method:

File a paper extension. Most taxpayers are eligible for an automatic 6-month extension of time to file. To get the extension, you must file Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Income Tax Return (downloadable here), by April 15. Assuming you file on time, you'll be extended through Oct. 15. A longer extension may be granted if you're living out of the country.

File online
. You can apply for an extension by filing form 4868 online through a software preparation service like TurboTax or by hiring a tax professional who uses e-file. If you want to make a payment with your online filing, you can pay by electronic funds withdrawal or send a check to the IRS. As with a paper return, the extension must be filed before the end of day on April 15.

Pay by credit card
. You can also apply for an extension by paying part or all of your estimate of income tax due by using a credit or debit card. To pay by credit or debit card, call toll-free or visit the Web site of one of the following service providers approved by the IRS:

Link2Gov Corporation
1-888-PAY-1040 (1-888-729-1040)
1-888-658-5465 (Customer Service)
www.PAY1040.com

Official Payments Corporation
1-888-UPAY-TAX (1-888-872-9829)
1-877-754-4413 (Customer Service)
www.officialpayments.com

RBS WorldPay, Inc.
1-888-9-PAY-TAX (1-888-972-9829)
1-877-517-4881 (Customer Service)
www.payUSAtax.com


No matter which option you choose, remember that an extension must be filed in a timely manner. More important, filing an extension extends the time to file but not the time to pay. As with the form, payments should be made by April 15.

If you run into difficulty or need more information, the IRS can help. You can call 1-800-829-1040 for assistance, Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m.–10 p.m. your local time (Alaska & Hawaii follow Pacific Time).

Note: This article was originally published on January 20, 2010.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Advice for Recent College Grads

Prepare yourself for the "real world".

View Course »

How to Avoid Financial Scams

Avoid getting duped by financial scams.

View Course »

TurboTax Articles

Essential Tax Forms for the Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also referred to as Obamacare, affects how millions of Americans will prepare their taxes in the new year. The law now includes penalties for all who haven?t obtained health insurance -- and those penalties are expected to be paid at tax time. The ACA also provides tax credits to help people pay for insurance, and you can claim those credits when you file your taxes. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has introduced a number of tax forms to accommodate the ACA.

Are You Exempt From Health Care Coverage?

The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is an individual mandate that requires all eligible Americans to have some form of basic health coverage by 2014. Those without insurance will receive a penalty when they file their tax returns ? that is, unless they have an exemption. TurboTax's Exemption Check can help you find out whether or not you qualify for an exemption.

Mortgage Refinance Tax Deductions

When refinancing a mortgage to get a lower interest rate or obtain more favorable loan terms, you're really just taking out a new loan and using the money to pay off your existing home loan. In general, the same tax deductions are available when you're refinancing a mortgage as when you're taking out a mortgage to buy a home.

How to Determine if You Have Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC)

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, requires most Americans to have health insurance that meets a government standard known as "minimum essential coverage," or MEC. Whether your insurance qualifies as MEC depends not on the plan itself, but on how you obtained your coverage.

Rental Property Deductions You Can Take at Tax Time

Rental property often offers larger deductions and tax benefits than most investments. Many of these are overlooked by landlords at tax time. This can make a difference in making a profit or losing money on your real estate venture. If you own a rental property, the IRS allows you to deduct expenses you pay for the upkeep and maintenance of the property, conserving and managing the property, and other expenses deemed necessary and associated with property rental.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum