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Last-Minute Tax Tips: How to File for a Tax Extension

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Tax extensionUpdated April 8, 2013

Ideally, you've already completed your tax return, since late filers tend to pay more to get their taxes done. Or -- even if you've left it till the last minute -- you're on track to finish by April 15.

This is life, however -- untidy, contingent, opaque -- and some of us will wind up having to request an extension, whether because of a misplaced receipt or a late-arriving tax form. If you require such a reprieve, here's what you need to know.
To get started, you'll need the following information:
  • Your personal details, including your Social Security number, address, and the name and taxpayer ID number of your spouse
  • A copy of your 2011 tax return
  • A list of tax payments made in 2011
If your tax situation hasn't changed much since last year, you can use your 2011 tax return to estimate your tax liability for purposes of filing an extension. You'll find your total tax liability from 2011 on Line 61 of Form 1040, Line 37 of Form 1040A, or line 11 of 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 that indicates that you'll owe money to the IRS, you should 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 form: Most taxpayers are eligible for an automatic six-month extension. To get it, you must file Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Income Tax Return, by April 15, 2013. Assuming you file on time, you tax deadline will 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 tax prep 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 send a check to the IRS or pay by electronic funds withdrawal. (To use the latter option, you'll have to enroll first in EFTPS.) As with a paper return, the extension must be filed before the end of day on April 15, 2013.
  • Pay by credit card: You can also apply for an extension by paying part or all of your estimated income tax due by using a credit or debit card. To pay by credit or debit card, call toll-free or visit the website of one of the following service providers approved by the IRS:
Link2Gov Corporation
(888) PAY-1040 [(888) 729-1040]
(888) 658-5465 (Customer Service)
www.PAY1040.com

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

WorldPay US
(888) 9PAY-TAX [(888) 972-9829]
(877) 517-4881 (Customer Service)
www.payUSAtax.com
Each service provider will charge a convenience fee based on the amount of the tax payment. (However, as DailyFinance recently reported, this isn't the only reason you're probably better off not paying your taxes using a credit card.) At the completion of the transaction, you'll receive a confirmation number for your records.
No matter which option you choose, remember that an extension must be filed in a timely manner. More importantly, 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, 2013.

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

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21 Comments

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locvivek

An article which had the Titanic survivor’s north country legacy has been reprinted http://liveoncampus.com/wire/show/3366658

April 16 2012 at 1:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Big Daddy

A really good CPA would be a start

April 14 2012 at 2:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jvinylman502

Speaking of taxes...obama didn't pay his fair share. He is a greedy , selfish man keeping all that money when he could practice what he preaches.

April 14 2012 at 1:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jvinylman502's comment
gblank1603

Not an Obama fan here but he paid exactely what the law called for.

April 15 2012 at 5:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jayenterprise10

About $154,000! A lot more than I paid and most of you. Everybody should pay the same rate if you make more you pay more simple.

April 14 2012 at 1:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to jayenterprise10's comment
Paul

We need to talk PERCENTAGE;Obama paid 20%,Romney paid 15%(due to investment income,not regular job income),Obama's sec. paid 28%,and I paid 30% on a 60k income;49% of Americans paid NO PERCENT.Nice fair system we have.

April 14 2012 at 2:02 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Kimberly

why do republicans like to spread lies about President Obama? Are you guys that worried Romney can't beat him? You should be!

Obama/Biden 2012!

April 15 2012 at 7:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jfoster941

Late filers tend to pay more? They are using the wrong preparers then. We don't charge more or less depending on the time of the season. It is all based on the return that is filed. I have never heard of any tax preparers that I know charging more at the end of the season. And we need to get rid of the federal law that says Washington, DC holidays are the equivalent of federal holidays. There are several states that observe holidays around this time of the year but other states that don't observe those holidays are not impacted. The same should hold for Washington, DC holidays.

April 14 2012 at 10:39 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
builtincal

President Obama and his wife, Michele, gave a total of $48,000 in tax-free gifts to their daughters, according to tax records made public on Friday.

The president and his wife separately gave each daughter a $12,000 gift under a section of the federal tax code that exempts such donations from federal taxes.

There is nothing illegal about the president’s taking advantage of this tax shelter, but it does raise eyebrows given that he has lamented the myriad tax exemptions used by the wealthy—“millionaires and billionaires” like himself—to pay less in taxes. He has yet to propose a comprehensive plan to reform the byzantine tax code.

April 14 2012 at 10:24 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to builtincal's comment
gblank1603

That is not a tax shelter and did not reduce the tax they owed one cent. The gift is tax free to the reciever and doesn't affect the givers taxes any at all. Please do some reseach.

April 15 2012 at 5:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rrcontractinc

file on the 17th, dont pay until October 15th Form 1127-A

April 13 2012 at 2:10 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to rrcontractinc's comment
gblank1603

Form 1127-A requires the filer to show proof of an undue hardship---not easy to prove.

April 15 2012 at 5:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ctrever23

Do NOT file an extention. Just get it done. You still have to pay by April 17th. Don't be stupid.

April 13 2012 at 12:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ctrever23's comment
gblank1603

There are many good reasons for filing an extension--don't have to be stupid.

April 15 2012 at 5:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
HE-MAN

Yeah if your one of the commentors on this story, you're getting audited by the IRS, they're reading this. ooppps.

April 13 2012 at 5:19 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
dr.brooks

I don't know why we even have to cowpow to these hinchmen for congress in the first place when others like that rich thug, Romney, only paid 15%; way less than someone who is self-employed and has to pay 40%! And I laugh at that emancipation non-sense observed by the corrupt nation capital. These days we are ALL slaves..we don't even get to keep a large amount of our earnings without giving it to these glorified incompetent IRS crooks! Even the mafia had better standards and now that much of its power is gone the federal thug government has replaced it and is FAR worse! At least when one owe the mafia they only went after the guy that owe...not force his entire family on the street by taking the home and the food out of their mouths! There shouldn't even be a deadline so close after the holidays! People are just beginning to recover from the Christmas holidays only to now deal with this corrupt crap! It should be changed to JULY 4TH so that these congressional thugs are reminded why the US existed as an independent nation in the first place (taxation WITHOUT representation). All this federal gang has managed to do with these inflated liabilities on the working class is waste, waste and more waste and not help those via programs like schools etc. Screw the IRS thugs and screw the deadline! And I hate being on hold for ever!

April 13 2012 at 1:43 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to dr.brooks's comment
builtincal

President Obama and his wife, Michele, gave a total of $48,000 in tax-free gifts to their daughters, according to tax records made public on Friday.

The president and his wife separately gave each daughter a $12,000 gift under a section of the federal tax code that exempts such donations from federal taxes.

There is nothing illegal about the president’s taking advantage of this tax shelter, but it does raise eyebrows given that he has lamented the myriad tax exemptions used by the wealthy—“millionaires and billionaires” like himself—to pay less in taxes. He has yet to propose a comprehensive plan to reform the byzantine tax code.

April 14 2012 at 10:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to builtincal's comment
gblank1603

That is not a tax shelter and did not reduce the tax they owed one cent. The gift is tax free to the reciever and doesn't affect the givers taxes any at all. Please do some reseach.

April 15 2012 at 5:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
Paul

Romney paid 15% because of the TYPE of income which is from investments not from a job.Just another perk for the 1%.

April 14 2012 at 2:07 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Paul's comment
gblank1603

Actualy anyone pays that same rate on investment income.

April 15 2012 at 5:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down