What is IRS Tax Form 4868?

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Do you need a little more time to file your taxes? Do you expect to have an outstanding balance that you’ll have trouble paying before the typical deadline? The good news is that you can receive an extension if you spend a few minutes filling out a Form 4868.

If you expect to have any trouble paying your tax obligation, there’s good reason to file an extension. Tax penalties, particularly the late filing penalty, can add up quickly.

If you don’t file by the April 15th deadline, you can expect to pay 5% of the outstanding tax owed every month until the tax obligation is paid. The maximum penalty is 25%. If your return is 60 days late, the minimum penalty is $135 or your outstanding balance, whichever is smaller.

So, if there’s any doubt that you’ll be able to file on time, file Form 4868!

The latest you can file Form 4868 is April 15, 2013. Get the form in by this date, and you’ll at least avoid late return penalties.

Provided that you return Form 4868 by the regular filing deadline, you can qualify for up to six extra months to complete your return. If you are outside of the country on the regular date of your return, your deadline is extended two months without the need to file an extension. If you need to extend this deadline an additional four months, for a total of six, file Form 4868.

Filling out Form 4868 is a very simple process. All you need is standard identification information (name, address, social security number, and spouse’s social security number), an estimate of your total tax liability for the year, the total you’ve paid this year, and the amount you’re including with Form 4868.

Even if you properly file an extension, you can expect to be charged 0.5% of any tax owed for each month past the deadline. The same is true if you automatically qualify for the two-month extension for filers outside of the country. To avoid this penalty, you can include a payment with Form 4868 so that you no longer have an outstanding balance.

You will not be charged this penalty if you can show reasonable cause for not paying on time. To do this, write a statement that explains the circumstances that prevented you from paying on time.

You are also considered to have reasonable cause for late payment if 90% of your total obligation is paid via withholding, estimated tax payments, and payments made with Form 4868.  Make sure you keep a record of any payment you include with your Form 4868. This amount will have to be entered on your return when you do file. When you finish the form, check the instructions for where to mail it. The IRS has regional receiving locations. Form 4868 will explain where to mail the form, based on your state of residence.

If there’s any way to get your return finished by April 15th, get to work right away. And if there’s any doubt, go ahead and file Form 4868 now. You can always file on time, even if you file for an extension.

Published or Updated: April 3, 2013
About Rob Berger

Rob founded the Dough Roller in 2007. A litigation attorney in the securities industry, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, their two teenagers, and the family mascot, a shih tzu named Sophie.

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