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Need more time to file a federal tax return? It’s easy with IRS Free File

April 2024



WASHINGTON — With the April 15 tax filing deadline fast approaching, the Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers who need more time to file their return that receiving an extension is quick and easy through IRS Free File on IRS.gov. An extension gives taxpayers an automatic six more months – until Oct. 15 this year – to file their tax return.


The IRS also reminds taxpayers that payments are still due by the original deadline, even if they request an extension of time to file a tax return. Taxpayers should file even if they can't pay the full amount.


Use IRS Free File to get an extension online

One of the fastest and easiest ways to get an extension is through IRS Free File on IRS.gov. All individual tax filers, regardless of income, can electronically request Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, by using the IRS Free File partner software on IRS.gov.


To get an extension, taxpayers must estimate their tax liability on this form and file it by April 15, 2024.


By filing either a return on time or requesting an extension by the April 15 filing deadline, people avoid the late-filing penalty, which can be 10 times as costly as the penalty for not paying.


More time to file, not more time to pay

While an extension allows for extra time to gather, prepare and file paperwork, it's important to remember that an extension of time to file taxes is not an extension of time to pay. Taxpayers who owe should pay their entire obligation, or as much as they can, by the April 15 deadline to avoid penalties and interest.


Taxpayers who pay as much as they can by the due date reduce the overall amount subject to penalty and interest charges. The interest rate for an individual's unpaid taxes is currently 7%, compounded daily. The late-filing penalty is generally 5% per month and the late-payment penalty is normally 0.5% per month, both of which max out at 25%.


Make a payment and get an extension, automatically

Other fast, free and easy ways to get an extension include using IRS Direct Pay, the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System or by paying with a credit or debit card or digital wallet. There is no need to file a separate Form 4868 extension request when making an electronic payment and indicating it is for an extension. The IRS will automatically count it as an extension.


The IRS will work with taxpayers who cannot pay the full amount of tax they owe. Other options to pay, such as getting a loan or paying by credit card, may help resolve a tax debt. Most people can set up a payment plan on IRS.gov to pay off their balance over time.


Some taxpayers get automatic extensions

Special rules offer some taxpayers more time without having to request an extension:

  • U.S. citizens and resident aliens who live and work outside of the United States and Puerto Rico get an automatic two-month extension, until June 15, to file their tax returns. However, tax payments are still due April 15 or interest will accrue on the unpaid tax.

  • Members of the military on duty outside the United States and Puerto Rico also receive an automatic two-month extension to file. Those serving in combat zones have up to 180 days after they leave the combat zone to file returns and pay any taxes due. Details are available in Publication 3, Armed Forces' Tax Guide.

  • When the U.S. president makes a disaster area declaration, the IRS can postpone certain tax deadlines for taxpayers in affected areas. Taxpayers in qualified disaster areas do not need to submit an extension electronically or on paper. Information on the most recent tax relief for disaster situations can be found on the Extension of Time To File Your Tax Return page.

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