Advice for Late Tax Filers

If you think you’ll miss the April 15 federal tax filing deadline, The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) wants to make sure you use the right process for getting an extension.

First, be aware that you can automatically get an extension. The AICPA said that you can request one by filing IRS Form 4868, “Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.”

If you file a 4868 on time, and in accordance with all IRS requirements, you automatically get an extension to October 15 to file your 2013 tax return. It’s easy to meet those requirements: you simply supply some basic information, and provide an estimate of your taxes for 2013. Once filed, the extension is automatic; you don’t have to wait for any approval.

However, providing an accurate estimate, (and paying any tax you think you will owe) is essential, since 4868 merely extends your filing deadline. It does not extend your requirement to pay your taxes by April 15. In other words, unpaid taxes may still be subject to interest payments.

If you don’t have the money to pay your estimated taxes, the AICPA suggests that you consider contacting the IRS about installment agreements and offers in compromise.

The AICPA also cautions that filing for an extension on your federal taxes will not automatically get you a similar extension on your state income tax deadline. Check with your state for its procedures for getting an extension.

Also, filing for an extension will delay your refund, since the IRS cannot send yours until you actually file. Paying estimated taxes is not a basis for granting a refund.

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