How to File an IRS Form 4868 Extension Online
Use Free File or Other Software to Quickly and Easily Get More Time
If you know you won't have an opportunity to prepare your federal tax return on time, it's simple to ask the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for an extension, and you can do it quickly and easily online.
You'll need to file IRS Form 4868, which you can do for free or at a low cost. The most direct method is to go through the IRS Free File website but you can also file the form through other tax software.
What Is Form 4868?
By filing Form 4868, also called Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File, you're applying for six months' extra time for filing your tax return. That means instead of being due April 15 as usual, your taxes would be due Oct. 15.
To qualify for this extension, you must:
- Properly estimate your 2019 taxes
- Enter your total tax liability on Form 4868
- File the form with the IRS by April 15 (or your usual due date)
You don't have to give the IRS a reason for filing late. Just fill out the form and file it; they'll contact you only if it's denied.
Although you can print out this form and mail it in, the fastest way to file the form is to do it online.
You can use the IRS Free File website to locate forms and e-file your application for an extension for free. Free File offers Fillable Forms, an online application that allows you to complete tax forms on the IRS website. IRS form 4868 can be filled out with minimal instruction and e-filed for free.
You can also use the IRS Free File service itself to file your federal return when you're ready; the only catch is you must qualify to use it, which can vary depending on the tax software provider you choose.
Skip the Form by Paying Electronically
According to the IRS, you can even skip filing this form as long as you pay at least some of what you expect to owe:
You don’t need to file Form 4868 if you make a payment using our electronic payment options. The IRS will automatically process an extension of time to file when you pay part or all of your estimated income tax electronically.
You can pay online or even by phone if that's convenient for you.
Be sure to make your estimate as accurate as possible. If you're wildly off, the IRS might decide to deem your extension null and void.
Also know that just because you got an extension for filing doesn't mean you get an extension for paying. Anything owed after the due date will be subject to late fees and penalties, so pay what you think you owe by the due date, even if you'll be filing your actual return later.
If you already use tax software to file your taxes, you'll probably be able to use it to file for an extension, too. Most quality tax software applications will have this feature, and most have the option to do so on the first screen you see when you open it up. You'll also probably find a link on the website if you're using the web app. Filing for your extension with the software you already use keeps all your tax data in one place.
TurboTax Easy Extension will take you through the steps to complete an extension for your federal tax return. This online application also features TaxCaster, a tool to help you estimate the amount of your refund or how much you will owe when you file your tax return.
If you already use TurboTax Online to complete your taxes, be sure to sign in to that account to use Easy Extension. This will keep all of your tax data together.
FreeTaxUSA is an online tax preparation website that allows you to request a tax extension by completing IRS Form 4868. There is even a menu item devoted specifically to extension requests. You can check the status of your extension through the website and find out if it has been accepted or rejected.
FreeTaxUSA is also a member of the IRS Free File Alliance and an authorized IRS e-file provider.
TaxSlayer Simply Free
TaxSlayer Simply Free provides Form 4868 for those requesting an extension to file their taxes. The website offers tax tips and tools, a calculator, and a blog. You can also check the status of your submitted forms.
Credit Karma Tax
Credit Karma Tax will help you to file your tax forms, including Form 4868, free of charge. The website provides a comprehensive Tax Help Center that includes a Q&A section, as well as a contact page for additional assistance.
Receive an Automatic Extension If You Live Overseas
If you're a U.S. citizen living abroad, you automatically get two extra months to file your taxes. If you need more time than that, you can ask for a further extension.
Victims of natural disasters and some members of the military may also qualify for automatic extensions; check with the IRS to see if your situation qualifies.
State Tax Returns May Be Different
The application to extend the filing date for a state tax return is a separate process and can vary among states. Some services offer this additional option, although there may be a fee.