8 Fast and Easy Ways to File an IRS Tax Extension

Filing an extension is super easy. By filing an extension, the IRS will give you an extra 6 months to file your tax return without penalty.

The deadline to file your 2016 tax return is April 18th, 2017.

With an extension, your deadline to file a tax return will be October 16, 2017. However, an extension of time to file is not an extension of time to pay. If you have a balance due, paying the IRS by the April 18th deadline results in avoiding any tax penalties and interest.

Be sure to file any state extensions too.

Mail in Form 4868

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Speed: 1 minute. Cost: 49 cents (for postage).

You can file an extension quickly and painlessly by using Form 4868.

Simply download and print the form, fill in your name and Social Security Number, and mail it to the IRS. That's it. Here are the links to Form 4868 (pdf) and the mailing addresses.

Do you need to fill out Lines 4 to 6 of Form 4868? This is where you report your estimated tax liability, payments made, and an estimate of your balance due. 

Be sure to mail this before the post office closes on April 18th. You need the envelope to be postmarked on or before the deadline in order for your extension to be filed on-time.

If the post office has already closed, use one of the online services listed below. More

Use Direct Pay on the IRS.gov Website

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Speed: about 6 minutes. Cost: free.

If you send in an extension payment using the Direct Pay system, an extension will be filed for you. No forms or mailing or e-filing is necessary. (Many thanks to Eva Rosenberg, who found this cost-efficient tidbit buried in the IRS's instructions.) More

Intuit's TurboTax Easy Extension

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Speed: about 5 minutes. Cost: free.

TurboTax has produced a slick and easy to use extension program. Register for the site, input your information, and TurboTax guides you through the steps.

TurboTax allows you to pay your tax using a direct withdrawal from your bank account.

The instructions and steps are clear and easy to understand—even if you're feeling rushed. More

TaxAct Free Online Extension

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Speed: about 5 minutes. Cost: free.

Simply create a username, enter your personal information, and choose between just filing your extension or first estimating your taxes.

If you want to estimate your taxes, work through the Federal Q&A to draft out your tax return.

After drafting out your return (or if you choose to skip this step), click on the Filing tab, and look in the navigation options just below the tabs. You'll see "File Extension" and click on that.

(Alternatively, click on Forms & Topics, also in the navigation options just below the tabs, under federal forms, scroll to Form 4868, and click on Add.)

TaxAct gives you the option of printing the Form 4868 to mail in or e-filing the form. TaxACT will let you set up a direct withdrawal from your checking or savings account to pay your estimated tax liability.

Here's a quick link to TaxAct's support page on Filing an Extension - Form 4868. More

FileLater Online Tax Extension

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Speed: about 5 minutes not including the payment section. Cost: $29.95 for personal tax extensions; $34.95 for business tax extensions.

FileLater provides an estimate of federal tax based on inputting an amount of wages and other income and assuming that the taxpayer is taking the standard deduction.

Users can schedule a direct withdrawal from a bank account to remit extension payments.

FileLater also supports the filing of extensions for business tax returns for corporations, partnerships, estates, and trusts.

FileLater provides users with the option to sign in using Facebook or Twitter in lieu of creating a new account. More

H&R Block Online Extension

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Speed: about 8 minutes. Cost: free. Start by choosing H&R Block Free. From the first page (after logging in or registering), look to the bottom right, in a box titled Tax Filing Resources, click on the File an Extension link.

The H&R Block software guides you the rest of the way. You'll choose a filing status, and input your name and address.

The H&R Block software requires that the user inputs an estimate of his or her federal tax liability and the total of tax payments that have been made for the year. If you don't know, H&R Block provides a link to their Tax Estimator Calculator, which opens in a pop-up window.

H&R Block did not provide an option to remit payment of tax via bank account or credit card. Accordingly, any payments will have to be made separately—for example, by using Direct Pay on the IRS Web site. More

eSmart Tax Online Extension

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Speed: about 12 minutes not including the payment section of the process. Cost: free.

After creating your account, eSmart Tax gathers information necessary to file your extension but does not provide an estimating utility like those found in TurboTax, H&R Block At Home, and FileLater. Users can set up a direct payment from a bank account to remit any tax. More

Free File Fillable Forms

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Speed: approximately 15 minutes. Cost: free.

Free File Fillable Forms is a free tax filing service sponsored by the IRS and hosted by Intuit, the makers of Turbo Tax.

After creating your account, start with one of the tax forms such as 1040EZ, 1040A or 1040. Fill out your name, address and SSN.

Free File Fillable Forms has a calculated field for the balance due (line 6) of Form 4868, which requires that users have a calculated tax liability, payments, and refund or balance due calculation on the main tax form. Thus, users will need to fill out at least some information on the main tax form to generate these figures.

After filling out that basic information on the main tax form, click the "File an Extension" icon in the upper right-hand portion of the screen, just under the logout link. That will open a screen that looks similar to the paper Form 4868.

Fill out the rest of the data fields that are below the Form 4868. Lines 4 and 5 (estimate of total tax liability and total payments) can be different amount than those calculated on the main tax form.

Once those two lines are filled out, click on the "Do the Math" button located at the bottom of the screen, and Free File Fillable Forms will calculate the balance due amount for line 6. Fill out the amount being paid with the extension on Line 7.

Be sure to fill out the rest of the data fields by scrolling through the rest of the screen. These data fields include email address, disclosure statement, prior year PIN fields, current year PIN, and date of birth. Also in those data fields, users can set up a payment from a bank account. Work in progress can be saved by clicking the "Save" icon in the upper-right hand corner of the screen.

Once all the required data fields have been filled in, the "E-file Extension Now" button in the mid-upper-right-hand side of the screen will become enabled (instead of being greyed-out). Click on that button to e-file the extension. Definitely not user-friendly. 

State extensions are not supported. More