How to Fill Form 4868: Applying for an Automatic Extension on Individual Income Tax Returns

published on 25 December 2023

Filing taxes can be complicated and stressful. It's understandable if someone feels they need more time to prepare and file their tax return properly.

The good news is, you can easily get an automatic 6-month extension from the IRS to file your personal income tax return by filling out Form 4868. This will help avoid late filing penalties.

In this article, you'll learn step-by-step how to fill out IRS Form 4868 to get an extension on filing your personal tax return. We'll cover key information like eligibility criteria, deadlines to know, how to submit the form by mail or electronically, details on what supporting payment is needed, and more tips to make the process smooth.

Introduction to IRS Tax Extensions

The IRS Form 4868 allows individual taxpayers to receive an automatic 6-month extension to file their annual income tax return. By filing Form 4868 by the April 15 deadline, taxpayers can extend their deadline to file Form 1040 to October 15 without needing to provide a reason. However, this is only an extension to file, not an extension to pay any taxes owed.

Understanding Form 4868 for Tax Extension

IRS Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, allows taxpayers to receive an automatic 6-month extension for filing their annual Form 1040. This moves the filing deadline from April 15 to October 15. Form 4868 is easy to complete and available to download online or submit electronically. It requires an estimate of tax liability and any balance due.

Eligibility Criteria for Automatic Extension

The automatic 6-month filing extension is available to individual taxpayers filing Form 1040, including self-employed filers and trusts. As long as Form 4868 is completed properly and on time, the IRS automatically grants the 6-month extension. No justification is required to receive the extension.

Tax Extension Deadline 2023: Key Dates to Remember

To receive the automatic IRS tax filing extension for 2023, taxpayers must file Form 4868 by April 15, 2023. This extends the filing deadline to October 15, 2023. However, taxes owed are still due by April 15, 2023 to avoid penalties and interest charges. Filing Form 4868 by April 15 gives taxpayers until October 15 to file their return.

Penalties for Late Filing Without IRS Proof of Extension Filed

If taxpayers miss the April 15 deadline without filing Form 4868 to receive an extension, they face failure-to-file penalties of 5% per month of unpaid taxes, up to 25% of total tax due. The IRS will also charge interest on unpaid taxes from the original April 15 deadline. To avoid penalties, taxpayers should file Form 4868 even if they cannot pay their full tax balance by April 15.

Duration of the Automatic Extension

While Form 4868 provides an automatic 6-month extension to file until October 15, it does not grant additional time to pay taxes. Tax payments are still due by the standard April 15 tax deadline. By properly filing Form 4868, taxpayers avoid failure-to-file penalties but will still owe interest and late payment penalties if they do not pay all taxes owed by April 15.

How do I file an automatic extension for taxes?

You can easily file for an automatic extension on your individual income tax return by filing Form 4868 electronically or by mail. This will give you an additional 6 months to file your tax return.

Here are the key things to know about filing Form 4868 to get a tax filing extension:

  • You can file Form 4868 electronically through IRS e-file or Free File by the April tax deadline. This is the easiest and fastest way.
  • If you file Form 4868 electronically, you will receive an electronic confirmation that your extension request was received. You do not need to mail anything.
  • You can also file a paper Form 4868 and mail it to the IRS, but this takes longer to process. Make sure it is postmarked by the April deadline.
  • An extension gives you more time to file, but not more time to pay any taxes you owe. You still need to estimate and pay any owed taxes by April 18 to avoid penalties.
  • When you file your extended return by the October deadline, attach a copy of your Form 4868.

So in summary, filing Form 4868 electronically through IRS e-file or Free File by April 18 is the easiest way to get an automatic 6 month extension. Just don't forget you still need to pay any estimated taxes owed by the original deadline to avoid penalties. Let me know if you have any other questions!

How do I fill out form 4868?

Form 4868, also known as the Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, allows taxpayers to request an automatic 6-month extension to file their federal income tax return.

To fill out the form, you will need to provide:

  • Your name, address, and Social Security number or ITIN
  • Your estimate of total tax liability for the 2022 tax year
  • The amount you are paying with the extension request, if applicable

Some key points about Form 4868:

  • It extends the time to file your tax return but not the time to pay any taxes due. If you owe taxes, you still need to estimate that amount and pay as much as possible by the April filing deadline to avoid penalties and interest.
  • You can file the extension electronically using IRS Free File or file a paper Form 4868. The electronic method is faster with confirmation that your request was received.
  • After filing the extension, you have until October 15, 2023 to file your Form 1040 federal income tax return for Tax Year 2022.

When filling out Form 4868, double check your personal information and income tax liability estimate. Submit the form on time to ensure you receive the automatic 6-month filing extension. Pay as much as you can by April 18, 2023 to minimize any penalties and interest.

What is line 7 on form 4868?

Line 7 on Form 4868 is where you enter the amount you are paying with your extension request. This is the amount of tax you are paying by the April deadline to avoid penalties and interest charges.

When filing for an extension, you are not required to pay your entire estimated tax bill, but paying as much as possible is recommended. On line 7, enter the payment amount you will submit along with Form 4868.

Some key points about line 7:

  • You can pay online or by check or money order along with your extension request
  • Enter the payment amount on line 7 even if paying electronically
  • The more you pay by April deadline, the less penalties and interest you will owe
  • Payments can help ensure your extension request is accepted if you owe a balance
  • IRS encourages paying as much as possible with extensions to minimize later fees

The amount on line 7 helps the IRS determine if you have reasonably estimated your tax liability. Paying something shows good faith. Underpaying can lead the IRS to reject your extension request if you owe taxes.

So when filling out Form 4868, carefully enter on line 7 how much you are paying immediately. Pay as much as possible by the April deadline to avoid future penalties and extra interest charges.


Does the IRS send you a letter if you file an extension?

No, you will not receive any notification from the IRS after filing Form 4868 for an automatic extension unless your extension request is denied.

Here are some key points about filing extensions and IRS notifications:

  • When you file Form 4868 electronically or by mail by the tax deadline, you automatically receive an additional 6 months to file your tax return without needing approval. This gives you until October 15.
  • The IRS will not send you a letter or confirmation after receiving Form 4868. You can call the IRS to confirm they received your extension request if needed.
  • If you properly estimate your tax liability on Form 4868 and do not owe any additional taxes, you likely will not hear from the IRS until you file your actual tax return.
  • If your extension request is denied for any reason such as failing to properly estimate your tax liability, the IRS will contact you to resolve the issue.
  • If you do not file your tax return by the October 15 deadline after filing an extension, you may be subject to a Failure to File penalty. So make sure to file by the extended deadline.

In summary, you can safely assume your extension request was accepted if you do not receive any notification from the IRS. But make sure to file your tax return by October 15 even if you did not get an approval letter. Contact the IRS if you have any concerns about your extension status.

Step-by-Step Guide to File Tax Extension 2023

Filing a tax extension allows taxpayers additional time to complete and file tax returns, without facing late filing penalties. The IRS Form 4868 gives eligible filers an automatic 6-month extension to submit their Form 1040. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you correctly file IRS tax extension Form 4868 before the April 15 deadline, either electronically or by mail.

How to File an Extension by Mail

To file Form 4868 by mail and receive an automatic 6-month extension, follow these key steps:

  • Download the latest Form 4868 from the IRS website. Print out the form.
  • Accurately enter your personal information like name, address, Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) on Form 4868.
  • Estimate your total tax liability for the year and enter it on Line 4. This is only an estimate.
  • Enter on Line 5 the total payments and credits you already made towards your tax liability. Subtract Line 5 from Line 4 and enter the tax owed amount on Line 6.
  • Calculate the payment due with extension request (based on income taxes owed from previous year) and enter it on Line 7.
  • Enclose check or payment information for the amount due on Line 7.
  • Sign and date Form 4868 before mailing it to the applicable IRS address. It must be postmarked on or before April 15, 2023. Retain proof of timely mailing.

Electronically File for an Extension: A Faster Option

For faster processing, you can e-file Form 4868 electronically either through IRS e-file or by using tax software that supports tax extensions. Steps include:

  • Access the e-file provider's website or open your tax software.
  • Enter your personal details, income tax estimates, payments/credits, and amount owed correctly.
  • Submit your electronic Form 4868 and payment by April 15, 2023.
  • Retain the email confirmation as proof of e-filing the extension successfully.

E-filing ensures accurate information and faster IRS processing. You also get email confirmation when your 4868 extension request is accepted.

Using IRS Free File Extension for Eligible Taxpayers

If your adjusted gross income is $73,000 or less, you can electronically request an automatic tax filing extension through IRS Free File. Steps are simple:

  • Access the IRS Free File portal and select a tax software provider.
  • Enter your tax data and e-file Form 4868 through the software.
  • If owed, submit electronic payment of estimated taxes.
  • Save email confirmation as proof of accepted extension filing.

IRS Free File ensures eligible taxpayers can obtain a tax filing extension easily and for free.

Making an IRS Extension Payment Online

  • When e-filing Form 4868, you can pay the amount owed on Line 7 using IRS Direct Pay, electronic funds withdrawal, or by debit/credit card.
  • Alternatively, on mailing paper Form 4868, enclose a check or money order made payable to "United States Treasury".
  • If no payment is due for your 4868 tax extension, you do not have to make any estimated tax payment.
  • You still need to pay any final taxes owed by the October 15 deadline to avoid interest and penalties on unpaid tax amounts.

Submit timely estimated tax payments when e-filing or mailing IRS Form 4868 to prevent undue interest or penalties.

Keeping Records of IRS Extension Filed

  • Retain copies of mailed Form 4868 and proof of timely mailing.
  • For e-filed extensions, save the email acknowledgements from IRS/tax software as documentation proof.
  • If the need arises, confirmation emails or postmarked mailed records will evidence that you filed for a 4868 extension.
  • Keep copies of extension filing paperwork with your other tax documents for that year.

Carefully maintaining confirmation records when submitting Form 4868 provides helpful documentation to show your extension request was timely filed with IRS in case of any issues.

Managing Your Extension and Tax Obligations

Confirming IRS Receipt of Your Extension Request

After submitting Form 4868, you should receive an email confirmation from the IRS. Retain this confirmation as proof that your extension request was received. You can also check the status of your extension request using the IRS2Go mobile app or by creating an online account on

If you mailed in Form 4868 instead of filing electronically, be sure to keep a copy for your records. Tracking when the IRS received your mailed extension request can be more difficult, so retaining your own documentation is important.

Understanding the Payment Deadline Despite an IRS Tax Extension

It is critical to understand that while Form 4868 extends the filing deadline, tax payments are still due on April 15. An extension provides more time to file your tax return only - you must estimate your tax liability and pay any amount due by the original deadline to avoid interest and penalties. The extension is for filing your return, not payment of taxes.

So even with the 6-month extension, you still need to pay your estimated taxes by April 15 to avoid late fees. Work with your tax professional to determine estimated taxes and make the payment on time.

Filing Your Tax Return by the Extended Deadline

When you file Form 4868, your tax return is then due on October 15. Be sure to complete your return and file by this date. Failure to file by the extended deadline may incur a failure to file penalty.

Although you have extra time to file, don't delay completing your tax return. File the final Form 1040 as early as possible, even with the extension.

Options for Additional Extensions Beyond the 6-Month Period

If you receive the automatic 6-month extension but still need more time, you may qualify for an additional extension if you meet certain criteria. Situations like living abroad or disaster/emergency declarations can sometimes warrant longer extensions.

However, additional extensions are limited and granted only under specific circumstances. Consult the IRS or your tax professional for details on longer extensions.

Amending or Cancelling Your Filed Extension

If you determine your extension request was incorrect or no longer needed after submitting Form 4868, you can file an amended extension to make corrections or cancel the request. Use Form 4868-D to amend or end your extension - you can mail this form or amend the extension electronically through tax software.

Be aware that amending or revoking your extension does not accelerate your tax payment deadline. You must still ensure estimated tax payments are made by April 15, even if you later cancel the filing extension.

Conclusion: Final Thoughts on Filing for a Tax Extension

Recapping the Essentials of Form 4868 and Tax Extensions

  • Form 4868 allows taxpayers to automatically extend their tax filing deadline by 6 months
  • To qualify, taxes must be paid on time and the extension filed by the April deadline
  • Form 4868 can be easily filed electronically or by mail
  • An extension provides more time to file, but not more time to pay taxes owed

Avoiding Penalties: The Importance of Timely Filing and Payment

While filing Form 4868 gives an extension on the tax return deadline, taxes owed must still be paid on time to avoid penalties. It is important for taxpayers seeking an extension to:

  • Pay all estimated taxes by the April deadline to avoid interest and penalties
  • File Form 4868 by the due date to qualify for the 6-month extension
  • Meet the October extended deadline to file the return or further penalties may apply

IRS Resources and Help for Taxpayers Seeking Extensions

The IRS provides many helpful resources on filing extensions, including:

Reaching out to a tax professional can also help taxpayers navigate extensions.

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