How to File an IRS 1040 Extension

by Grayson Charles ; Updated July 27, 2017
The IRS will grant you an automatic extension to file your taxes if you can't make the deadline.

If you are unable to file your federal income tax return by the due date, you can get an automatic six-month extension. However, you must file Internal Revenue Service Form 4868 to notify the IRS. The form is the Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. You must file it by the due date for filing. The form is available as a download from the IRS website.

Step 1

Collect the tax documents for the tax year in question. While you may request the extension because you do not have all the relevant financial information, you will need to estimate any taxes you owe. The previous year's tax data may serve as a guide.

Step 2

Estimate your tax liability for the tax period for which you are requesting the extension. Subtract the amounts you paid during the tax year. Your employer will have deducted taxes from your salary. Take into account any deductions to which you are entitled.

Step 3

Complete IRS Form 4868. Write in your estimated tax liability on line four. Write in your total tax payments for the year on line five and enter the difference on line six. Enter the amount you are paying on line seven.

Step 4

Mail the form to the IRS with your estimated tax payment. While the extension to file is automatic, you are required to pay any taxes you may owe by the due date. If you pay less than the total taxes you owe, you will be assessed a late penalty and interest will accrue. The late payment penalty is usually one half of 1 percent of any taxes not paid by the due date. The maximum penalty can accrue up to 25 percent.

About the Author

Grayson Charles has been writing and editing since 1986. He enjoys writing technical articles in the areas of government, law, public policy, computers and the impact of the Internet on society. He was previously a freelance writer for "Panacea Magazine." Charles holds a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from the State University of New York at Albany.

Photo Credits

  • David Sacks/Lifesize/Getty Images