What’s that, you say? An extension? Yes, an extension. In fact, everyone is entitled to an automatic, six month extension. All you have to do is ask. The deadline for such requests is the filing deadline — next Tuesday, April 17th.
A few facts about income tax extensions:
- To request an extension, you should use IRS Form 4868. Any tax prep software worth its salt will also be able to handle this, as will any professional tax preparer.
- Unless you’re living in one of the few states with no income tax, you’ll also need to file a state income tax extension. Check with your state’s Department of Revenue (or equivalent) for details.
- Even if you request an extension, you still have to pay the amount due no later than April 17, 2012 to avoid penalties.
- After filing an extension request, your new deadline for filing your income tax return will be October 15, 2012.
The point about still paying what’s due by the original deadline is very important. This is because you’ll face penalties if you don’t pay on time, or if you pay in too little. Another important point is that the penalty for “failure to file” is typically higher than the penalty for late payment. Thus, even if you can’t afford to pay, you should still go ahead and file.
If you choose to file an extension, you should claim credit for your payment on the appropriate line of your return:
- Form 1040, line 68
- Form 1040A, line 41
- Form 1040EZ, line 9
- Form 1040NR, line 64
- Form 1040NR-EZ, line 21
- Form 1040-PR, line 10
- Form 1040-SS, line 10