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How to File for a Tax Extension

Posted by Paul D. Woodard | Apr 07, 2017 | 0 Comments

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The deadline for filing your 2016 tax return is only days away. Tax returns for tax year 2016 are due by April 18th, 2017, which is a Tuesday. If your taxes are relatively simple, you may still have the ability to timely file your taxes, either by mailing in your tax return or via electronic filing. However, if for whatever reason, you cannot get them done before the deadline, you may need to file for a tax extension.

For tax year 2016, the Internal Revenue Service permits most calendar taxpayers to file for an extension to delay the filing of their taxes until October 16, 2017. However, it is important to remember that filing an extension only delays the deadline for filing your taxes. It does not delay the time for paying your taxes. Accordingly, you may have to pay interest and penalty charges on payments made after the April 18th deadline even if you have been granted an extension.

If you want to file an extension, you have a few options. These options include filing an application for an automatic extension, using Free File software to e-file an extension, or paying all or part of your estimated tax due and indicating that the payment is for an extension.

If you pay all or part of your estimated federal income tax due and indicate that the payment is for an extension, you will not have to file a separate extension form. To make a payment, you have the option of using Direct Pay, the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), or payment with a credit or debit card. (credit or debit card payments require additional fees). If you use one of these accepted payment methods, you will be provided with a confirmation number for your records.

The Internal Revenue Service also provides a list of companies that offer Free File software to prepare and e-file for an extension for free, or you can e-file using tax preparation software. Alternatively, you can use form 4868 Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

Some tax filers are allowed additional time to file their taxes without having to first file an extension. This includes members of the military serving in combat zones or qualified hazardous duty areas. In addition, Individuals living outside the U.S. with their main place of business outside the U.S. are allowed an automatic 2-month extension to file their return. However, individuals living outside of the U.S. will have to pay interest on any tax not paid by the regular due date.

San Diego is home to many active duty military families. For those serving in a combat zone, the deadline is extended for the period of their service in the combat zone, plus 180 days. Thus, once they complete their service in a combat zone, they will have 180 days, plus the time that was left before the April 18th deadline to file their taxes. During this extension period, they will not be assessed interest or penalties.

In California, taxpayers have an automatic 6-month extension to file their California state income taxes. This means California residents do not have to submit a written request in order to receive an extension. However, like your federal taxes, an extension does not delay the deadline for making your required tax payments. Thus, if your taxes remain unpaid by the April 18th deadline, you may be assessed interest or penalties even with a filing extension until October 17, 2017.

Butterfield Schechter LLP is San Diego County's largest firm focusing its law practice on tax law, employee benefits, and business counseling. Our firm can help you identify tax-savings opportunities, avoid tax penalties, and represent you in tax court. Contact our office today with any questions on how we can help you and your business succeed.

About the Author

Paul D. Woodard

Paul Woodard practices in the areas of Employee Benefits, Employee Stock Ownership Plans, Pension and Profit Sharing Plans, ERISA, ERISA Litigation, Business Law, Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs), and Estate Planning.

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