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Tax Deadline 2021: how to file an extension

Tax Day 2021 is nearing but for those who still need a little more time, the IRS allows for an extension until 15 October, but you’ll need to act now.

Tax Day 2021 is nearing but for those who still need a little more time, the IRS allows for an extension until 15 October, but you’ll need to act now.

Between the covid-19 pandemic and the recent changes to the tax code applicable to 2020 tax returns the IRS gave taxpayers more time than usual again this year. Still some taxpayers will need more time to file and most of them will need to ask for an extension, and pay any taxes they may owe, by 17 May.

The IRS gives certain groups more time to file a tax return but for most taxpayers by filing IRS Form 4868 they can get an automatic income tax extension. The extension will give you until 15 October, 2021 to file your 2020 tax return but not on paying your taxes.

How to file for a tax extension from the IRS

Individuals who would like an extension can do so by submitting “Form 4868” on or before 17 May according to the IRS. This can be done through your tax professional, tax software, using the IRS’ Free File or by mail. However, given the proximity of Tax Day it would be wise to do so electronically to avoid a late-filing penalty from the IRS.

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Using IRS Free File, a partnership between the IRS and Free File Alliance providing access to free, name-brand tax preparing software, taxpayers can request an extension. You will need to follow the program’s instructions to electronically file for an extension to have the filing deadline postponed to 15 October, 2021. Once the request has been made the IRS will send you a message to acknowledge that the form was submitted correctly. The Free File service is available to any taxpayer who has earnings of less than $72,000 annually to file for free, but the software is available to those with earnings above the threshold.

If you choose to send the application for a tax extension by mail, you will need to fill out Form 4868 on paper and have it postmarked on or before 17 May, 2021. You will want proof that you mailed it in time avoid a late-filing penalty from the IRS.

Beware, you still need to pay any taxes due by 17 May

Even though you ask for more time to file your tax return that doesn’t mean you get an extension on any underpayment of taxes during the year. You will need to estimate any money that you owe to IRS and pay that sum by 17 May, failure to do so will incur interest and penalties. If you are unsure about how to make an estimate, always contact a tax professional.

Some taxpayers given automatic extension

The IRS takes into consideration that circumstances may be more difficult for some taxpayers giving certain groups more time to file without requesting an extension. Though our advice would always be to file as soon as you can gather together all the necessary paperwork.

Those taxpayers “serving in a combat zone or a qualified hazardous duty area” or those “living outside of the United States”, should be aware that they may be subject to different rules for when they need to file.

As well the IRS gives taxpayers a little more time to file in areas hit by severe weather and where FEMA has made a disaster declaration. Check the link to the IRS press release below for your state to see how it affects your filing in 2021.

How can I check my refund?

The IRS offers a couple ways that you can check the status of your refund. You an use the agency's Where's My Refund? online tool or you can download the IRS2Go app to check your refund status.


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