Does the phrase "filing taxes" send a shiver down your spine, more so than hearing "Mercury is in retrograde"? Same. Tax Day, Apr. 17, is fast approaching. Though Tax Day is typically Apr. 15, they're due on Apr. 17 in 2018 because Apr. 15 falls during a weekend. If you're not ready, though, you can file an extension. So, how do you file an extension on your taxes? It's not that complicated, but you'll have to act fast.
It takes a lot to gather your financial information over the course of the past year. For some people, income comes in from multiple sources and it takes a lot to figure out what expense can be written off and how much is owed. It's a headache. Thanks to online filing services like TurboTax and TaxAct, individuals can have their hand held through the process. Which is helpful because there is some tax vocabulary they did not explain in school.
W2s, W4s, W9s are all tax forms that can make your head swirl. But don't worry, you can get your taxes done. And if you need an extension to do so, you can do it! According to the US Tax Center, "A Federal income tax extension is good for six months, which extends your filing deadline from April 15 to Oct. 15." That's some significant time to get your taxes done! But it does come with a few stipulations.
Everybody has the ability to file an extension. But there are some citizens who get an extension without having to ask for it. According to the IRS, "U.S. citizens and resident aliens who live and work abroad, as well as members of the military on duty outside the U.S., have until June 17 to file. Tax payments are still due April 15." Those actively serving the military have until 180 days after leaving their combat zone to file and pay. And those who have been affected by natural disasters have until Apr. 30.
If none of these apply to you, you can still fill out the extension form — and it's ~super~ easy. The IRS instructs, "The fastest and easiest way to get the extra time is through the Free File link on IRS.gov. In a matter of minutes, anyone, regardless of income, can use this free service to electronically request an automatic tax-filing extension on Form 4868." It's a simple form to fill out that requires your name, address, and estimated tax liability. If you think you're going to be late, fill out this form now. It has to be submitted and postmarked before Tax Day to be granted an extension.
If you are late to filing and paying your taxes, you could be penalized. The IRS lays down the law, explaining that the penalty is, "normally five percent per month based on the unpaid balance, that applies to returns filed after the deadline." So, you're going to want to avoid that mess. And why wouldn't you when it's as easy as filing your extension with Form 4868? You can even do it for free with E-File!
Taxes can be a headache, sure. But the ability to file an extension on your taxes, if you need it, will save you the migraine later. Especially if they were going to be late anyways. Take a deep breath. Make some tea. Study up on tax terminology. If you really need help, you can call upon an accountant to help manage your taxes, but it will most likely cost you more than an online filing service. Better to do it right — and on time, extension or not — the first time around.