Every year, millions of American taxpayers mark April 15th as the deadline for filing their income tax return. While the vast majority of taxpayers meet this deadline, it is actually possible to request an extension to file your tax return. For those taxpayers, time is just about up to get 2009 taxes filed. The final deadline for those who requested an extension is October 15th. Here we review the process of requesting an extension and what happens if you miss the final deadline.
How do you get a tax deadline extension?
Taxpayers who know they will be unable to make the April 15th deadline for filing their income tax can request a six-month tax deadline extension by filing Form 4868 by the April 15th deadline. Once the IRS receives your extension request, the deadline for filing your taxes is pushed back to October 15th.
Military extensions may extend beyond October 15th. While the majority of US tax payers are required to file by the October 15th deadline, some military members may be eligible for an automatic extension if they were deployed to a tax free combat zone for part of the previous or current tax year. There are several rules for this extension, so be sure to visit the IRS website for specific information.
Note: According to the IRS, this extension may “also apply to individuals serving in the combat zone in support of the U.S. Armed Forces, such as merchant marines serving aboard vessels under the operational control of the Department of Defense, Red Cross personnel, accredited correspondents, and civilian personnel acting under the direction of the U.S. Armed Forces in support of those forces.”
Why File an Extension?
In most cases a person files for an extension when they have a tax liability that they owe, yet are unable to pay by the April 15th deadline. It is important to note that just because you are granted extra time to file your taxes, you do not get an extension for paying taxes owed. When you request an extension to file, you will avoid the penalty for failing to file, however you will still be held liable for any taxes that are owed. Taxes owed that are not paid in full by April 15th will accrue interest and penalties until the time at which they are paid in full.
What You Need to Know about the October 15th Deadline
If you have requested an extension, it is very important that you file your taxes on or before the final deadline. The IRS has already granted additional time to prepare your tax return and any filers who miss this extended deadline will be subject to a 25% failure to file penalty. For this reason it is imperative that anyone who has not yet filed to get their taxes in order and filed before the deadline passes.
Options for Those Who Owe Back Taxes
If you do not have the money to pay taxes owed by the deadline, consult with a tax professional to learn what options are available to you. Again, the most important thing to remember in this situation is that an inability to pay cannot justify not filing your taxes by the established deadlines. The IRS views failure to file as a serious offense, which may be punishable by one year in jail and a fine of $10,000 per year. To avoid this, you need only file your taxes in a timely manner. A tax specialist will be able to help you navigate the many options available to taxpayers who owe taxes but are unable to pay in full. By filing on time, you reduce the penalties and fees and possible jail time that results from failure to file.
Understand There Are No Other Extensions
October 15th marks the deadline for filing extended tax returns. There are no additional extensions offered to individuals who fail to file by October 15th, except those noted above regarding combat zone tax extensions. If the IRS does not receive your tax return by the deadline, they may file a return for you. Understand that when the IRS files a “Substitute for Return”, you are not off the hook for taxes owed. Any tax liabilities owed remain your responsibility and will grow over time until the issue is addressed and resolved. See more about penalties for not filing taxes.