As you probably know, individual tax returns are due by April 15th, 2015 for the 2014 tax year. However, for various reasons you may not always be able to file your tax return by that due date. You should not miss the date and file when you can because you will incur penalties and interest, even if you will get a refund once you file. If you won’t be able to file your return by April 15, you can file an extension which will extend the due date of your return 6 months to October 15th. There are some exceptions to this which we’ll discuss below.
Form 4868 is the form you file to request an extension. This form needs to be submitted no later than April 15th. When you file this form, you need to know your estimated tax liability for the year based on the information you currently have. Then you enter the amount you have already paid either through withholdings or estimated payments. If there is a balance remaining, this is the amount you should send in with your extension. Filing an extension does not mean you don’t pay your balance by April 15. You can still be charged interest and penalties if you do not pay your estimated balance due by April 15. You do not need to include a reason for why you need the extension. When you submit your tax return (by October 15), do not attach Form 4868 to your return because the IRS will already have record of it as long as you submitted it correctly. The IRS will only contact you if your request for extension is denied. If you don’t hear anything from the IRS after you file your extension, then that is completely normal so don’t worry.
If you are a U.S. citizen that is outside of the country when your tax return is due, you automatically are allowed two extra months to file your return (June 15) without filing an extension. To be considered outside the country, you must live outside of the United States (and Puerto Rico) and you main place of work must be outside of the country, or you are in the military stationed outside of the United States. Even if you are physically present in the U.S. at the time the return is due, you are still considered out of the country if either of those situations apply to you. If you will need more than the extra two months, you can mark a box on Form 4868 to request an additional four months to file.
There are multiple ways to make this payment. You can pay online using Direct Pay, the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, or a debit or credit card, and you can also pay over the phone. You can also send a check. Be sure you send it to the correct filing address based on where you live to avoid complications.
If you don’t think you’ll be able to file your refund on time, be sure to file that extension! You’ll be happy you did when you don’t get an additional bill for penalties and interest!