Every year, millions of American taxpayers mark April 15 (April 18 in 2023 due to the observance of Emancipation Day) as the deadline for filing their income tax returns.
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, the final deadline to file their taxes is Oct. 16, 2023 (usually Oct. 15). 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 18, 2023, deadline for filing their income tax can request a six-month tax deadline extension by filing Form 4868 before the deadline. Once the IRS receives your extension request, the deadline for filing your taxes is pushed back to Oct. 16, 2023.
Military extensions may extend beyond Oct. 16. While most U.S. taxpayers are required to file by the Oct. 16 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. This extension has several rules, so 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.”
How Do Tax Extensions Work?
Filing for an automatic 6-month extension to file your taxes is easy. Simply fill out Tax Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Income Tax Return (pdf), by the tax filing deadline.
The tax deadline is usually every April 15, but the actual date can vary if that date falls on a weekend or holiday. You then have until October 15th to file your taxes with the IRS.
If you missed the deadline to file for an extension, get it in ASAP, which will minimize IRS penalties and interest owed. These penalties and fees can be substantial!
Why File an Extension?
In most cases, a person files for an extension when they have a tax liability they owe but cannot pay or file by the April deadline. It is important to note that while 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 are still liable for any taxes owed. Taxes owed that are not paid in full by April 18, 2023, will accrue interest and penalties until they are paid in full.
What You Need to Know About the Oct. 17 Deadline
If you have requested an extension, you must file your taxes on or before the final deadline. The IRS has already granted additional time to prepare your tax return. Any filers who miss this extended deadline will be subject to a failure-to-file penalty that can be as high as 25% of the amount owing, depending on how long it takes them to pay, and additional penalties. For this reason, it is imperative that anyone who has not yet filed get their taxes in order and filed before the deadline passes.
Late Filing and Late Payment Penalties
Missing the tax deadline is not recommended. Remember, if you owe taxes this year, the payment is due to the IRS by April 15th, regardless of whether or not you have filed your tax return. Missing your payments can result in ugly penalties and interest charges.
It’s best to file for an extension immediately, then try to get a rough idea of what you owe in taxes and make that payment as soon as possible. Even if you can only send in a partial payment, that will help reduce the number of penalties and interest you owe.
Late filing penalties are high
The IRS will assess a late filing penalty of 5% of the unpaid taxes not paid by the due date for each month your taxes are late, usually to a maximum of 25%. It is very easy for late filing penalties to reach several hundred or several thousand dollars. If your payment is more than 60 days past due, the minimum late filing penalty is $100 or the balance of the taxes you owe, whichever is less.
Late payment penalties and interest are also assessed when you do not send the IRS your tax obligation by the deadline. The late payment penalty is usually 0.5% of your unpaid taxes, with the maximum at 25%. You may be able to have your late payment penalty waived if you paid over 90% of your obligation. However, you would still owe interest on the balance due. The interest stops accruing when you pay the balance. Translation – pay your taxes ASAP to avoid significant penalties and fees!
Important tax dates
- Tax Return Filing Deadline – April 15
- Tax Return Extended Filing Deadline – October 15
- Estimated Taxes Due Dates – April 15, June 15, Sept 15, Jan 15
*Note: If the due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the due date is extended until the following business day.
Options for Those Who Owe Back Taxes
If you do not have the money to pay taxes owed by the deadline, consult a tax professional to learn the available options. 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 hefty fines. To avoid this, you need only file your taxes promptly. 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.
There Are No Other Extensions
Oct. 16, 2023, marks the deadline for filing extended tax returns. No additional extensions are offered to individuals who fail to file by that date, 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.