Updated for 2019. This year, the deadline for federal tax filing is Monday, April 15th, 2019. If you file for an extension, you can extend the time allowed to file your return by six months to Tuesday, October 15, 2019. (It does not extend the time to pay any tax due.) There are many legitimate reasons to ask for such an extension, and the extension is granted automatically without needing to provide a specific reason.
Here’s how to e-File a federal and state tax extension for free. (State extension where available.) I have done a dry run with each option. Advantages of using e-File include:
- You save the time and postage costs of paper mailings.
- You can estimate your tax liability using online software and/or calculators.
- You receive confirmation of receipt via e-mail or text, often within hours.
- The potential convenience of filing your state tax extension online at the same time.
Option #1: TaxACT
- District of Columbia
- New Jersey
- North Carolina
To go directly to the extension form, click on the “Filing” tab on the left menu, and then the “File Extension” link right below it. You will be able to choose whether to file extension for Federal, State, or both. You will then be guided through the Form 4868 in a question-and-answer format. TaxACT will file the form electronically for you (or you can print and snail mail).
TaxACT also provides a tax liability estimator to help you determine if you need to make a payment with your extension. If you fill out more details in the main software, then the estimate will be improved. If you don’t think you’ll owe any taxes, you can just put down zero as your expected tax liability. If you wish to make a tax payment, you will be able to choose to pay with direct withdrawal from a bank account (account and routing numbers required) or pay with a credit card (IRS fees apply).
Afterward, you can confirm the status of your extension e-file by going to efstatus.taxact.com. They will even send you a confirmation via e-mail or text message. I got my confirmation less than 3 hours after submission.
Option #2: TurboTax
If you are really having trouble finding it, here are their more detail instructions:
- Click on the Federal Taxes tab
- Click on the Other Tax Situations subtab
- Scroll down to Other Tax Forms
- Select File An Extension
It will walk you through the information needed for Form 4868. Again, if you don’t think you’ll owe any taxes, you can just put down zero as your expected tax liability. If you wish to make a tax payment, you will be able to choose to pay with direct withdrawal from a bank account (account and routing numbers required) or pay with a credit card (IRS fees apply).
According to the Turbotax website, you should receive a confirmation email from the IRS within 48 hours of filing the extension.
Option #3: Free File Fillable Forms
As the name suggests,
For some reason, they make you create a new account every year. After you’re signed in, click on “Continue” and pick your form. Go with Form 1040. On the top left, you should see an icon with the label “File an Extension”.
This will bring up Form 4868. Click around the form to fill the boxes out. As above, you’ll need to estimate your total tax liability, but since this is just an online version of the form so there is no guidance included. You can request your estimated tax payment to be withdrawn electronically by supplying your bank’s routing and account numbers. For identification purposes, you’ll need your adjusted gross income (AGI) from your previous year tax return.
Bottom line. There are many options to e-file your tax extension for free. Confirmation is usually provided within 48 hours, as opposed to having to worry about if your paper form got snail-mailed to the IRS successfully. One last reminder: Filing an extension only extends the time to file your return and does not extend the time to pay any tax due. To avoid late payment penalties and interest you must estimate what tax will be due and pay that when you file the extension. The IRS doesn’t mind if you overpay a bit, you’ll just get a refund when you eventually file your return.
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