Skip to main content

How to Get an Extension on Your Tax Return

Tax deadline sneak up on you? Filing for an extension is easy, and you don’t even have to give a reason.


  • Step 1: Understand your extension First off, let’s get this straight—filing for an extension means you have an extra six months to file your paperwork, not extra time to pay your taxes. Failure to pay the taxes you owe by April 15 will result in interest and penalties.
  • TIP: If you live and work outside of the U.S. and Puerto Rico, you automatically have two extra months to file your return and pay any taxes.
  • Step 2: Get the form Get a copy of Form 4868—the Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. You can find it at most post offices, public libraries, and tax offices. Or you can download it from
  • TIP: To download, open, and print the form, you’ll need a printer and an application that can view PDF files, like Preview (on a Mac) or Adobe Reader (available at
  • Step 3: Complete Form 4868 Complete Form 4868 according to its instructions.
  • Step 4: Pay up Write a check to the Internal Revenue Service for any taxes owed.
  • Step 5: Mail the form Mail Form 4868, along with any payment due, by April 15.
  • TIP: Form 4868 can be filled out and submitted electronically at You can also pay any taxes you owe online or by telephone.
  • Step 6: File your return File your tax return by October 15. There—now was that so hard?
  • FACT: Thirty-eight percent of the average American family’s income goes to paying taxes.

You Will Need

  • Form 4868
  • Form 1040 (or 1040A
  • EZ
  • NR or NR-EZ)
  • Your earnings statements
  • A post office
  • public library
  • or tax office
  • An application that can view PDF files
  • A printer

Popular Categories