WASHINGTON — Taxpayers who need extra time to file their federal returns this year can file the Form 4868 request for an automatic extension through IRS Free File. The extension gives you an additional six months, until Oct. 15, to file the tax return. Taxpayers can file the request for extension with traditional Free File or Free File Fillable Forms. Using Free File to prepare and electronically submit Form 4868 is free to everyone.
In addition, taxpayers can use paid preparers or purchased software to electronically file Form 4868. A paper version is also available for download from the IRS Web site, IRS.gov. However, you will only receive an acknowledgement that the IRS received your request, if you e-file or Free File the request.
Free File and Free File Fillable Forms will be available through Oct. 15.
An Extension to File, Not to Pay
An extension of time to file is not an extension of time to pay. You need to estimate your tax liability and pay any balance due when you request the extension. Several payment options are available, including electronic funds withdrawal, credit card and check.
If you are unable to pay the total balance due, you should pay as much as possible and then contact the IRS about an installment plan. Even if you cannot pay the balance due, it is important to either file a return or request an extension to avoid the failure-to-file penalty.
The IRS expects to receive approximately 10 million extension requests in 2010, which is about the same as last year. Some taxpayers automatically receive extensions to file. For example, military personnel serving in a combat zone have 180 days after leaving the combat zone to file their returns. Victims of recent natural disasters in certain federally declared disaster areas also have extra time.