How to file a tax extension in 2022

Suppose you cannot file your federal income tax return by the filing deadline. In that case, you can request an automatic six-month extension using Form 4868, officially called “Application For Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Tax Return.” 

Filing this form allows an eligible taxpayer to request more time, for any reason, to file their U.S. individual income tax return. 

There’s more good news: the form is quick and easy to complete. All you need is your name, address, Social Security Number, and a realistic, reasonable faith estimate of your final tax liability after subtracting any tax payments you have already made for the year. 

If the IRS accepts your form, you will have an additional six months from the initial filing deadline to file your return. For example, the deadline in 2022 for most taxpayers will be Monday, April 18th. Usually, the deadline would be April 15th, but Emancipation Day falls on that date this year, so the IRS has pushed the deadline to the following Monday. 

However, it is essential to mention that the six-month extension period still ends on October 15th, 2022, and not October 18th. This year, however, since October 15 is a Saturday, returns extended returns are due on October 17. 

It is also critical to note that although the extension gives you more time to file, it does not give you more time to pay. Even if you receive an extension, you still need to pay the taxes you owe by that tax year’s original due date. 

Nevertheless, taxpayers facing financial difficulties that prevent them from paying what they owe may qualify for payment plans and other relief. You should always file a return (or extension), even if you cannot pay the full amount due, to avoid those costly penalties, which could worsen your situation.

You can file Form 4868 online using the IRS’s electronic filing program e-file, or you can send it in by mail. To receive a paper copy of the form, you will have to either download and print it from the IRS website,, or request to have a paper form mailed to you by filling out an order form on the website or calling the IRS at (800) 829-3676. Alternately, you could contact your local library and ask if they have any forms available. 

As long as the government accepts your extension and you file by that extended due date, you will avoid all late-filing penalties. 

How will you know if your Form 4868 filing is accepted?

If you file your form electronically, you will receive an email within 24 hours confirming receipt of your submission. After that point, you will likely need to take no further action. No news is good news—generally, the IRS won’t contact you unless there is a problem, so if you don’t hear anything, that will likely mean that they have accepted your filing.  

Usually, the IRS accepts requests for an extension for any reason with no issue. There are infrequent occasions, however, when they may reject a request. Usually, this will be due to a minor problem that is easy to fix, like a misspelling or information that differs from what the IRS has on record. 

Having said that, it is possible to incur more severe consequences. For example, I mentioned above that you would have to estimate your tax liability when applying for the extension. If your estimate is dramatically unrealistic, you may not just be looking at a rejected application; there can even be penalties in some cases. 

What if you live outside the United States?

If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien living outside of the United States and Puerto Rico on April 18th, you have a two-month extension. This automatic extension will give you until June 15th to file your tax return and pay any income tax due. 

The IRS considers you to be living outside the U.S. and Puerto Rico if:

  • Your primary place of business or post of duty is outside the United States and Puerto Rico.
  • You are in military or naval service on duty outside the United States and Puerto Rico.

However, you will still have to pay interest on payments made after the regular due date without regard to the extension. If you are out of the country and file a calendar year income tax return, you can pay the tax and file your return or Form 4868 by June 15th. File Form 4868 and be sure to check the box on line 8 if you need an additional four months to file your return.

The deadline is also automatically extended if you serve in a combat zone. This applies to members of the Armed Forces and merchant marines serving aboard vessels under the operational control of the Department of Defense, Red Cross personnel, accredited correspondents, and civilians under the direction of the Armed Forces in support of the Armed Forces. 

The extension is 180 days after: 

  • The last day you are in a combat zone, or the last day the area qualifies as a combat zone, or…
  • The last day of any continuous qualified hospitalization for injury from service in the combat zone.

When should you file for an extension?

As soon as possible! The government requires you to make your request by the due date for your return (April 18th this year). You can then file your return any time before the 6-month extension period (October 15th) ends. When you file your return, the IRS will apply any payment made with your extension against your total tax.

Filing for an extension may be last-minute by its nature, but the sooner you can anticipate your need for more time, the better. It’s important to be as accurate as possible when estimating your final tax liability. You don’t want to end up blindly guessing under pressure as the clock ticks towards midnight. 

If you think you won’t be ready, consider filing for an extension now.

What happens if you don’t file or pay your taxes?

First, the good news: if you miss the deadline, you can still file. In fact, the sooner you do, the better, as penalties can accrue significantly over time. Additionally, if you miss the deadline but the IRS owes you a refund, you will not have to pay any penalties.

On the other hand, if you owe money to the IRS, the penalties and fees will start piling up. Remember, it is too late to file for an extension once the deadline passes!

If you file for an extension before the deadline, you can avoid penalties or fees as long as you meet your extended deadline. If you miss that deadline, too, you will be looking at a penalty of 5% of the amount due for each month you are late (or part of a month; the IRS will prorate).

After sixty days, there will be a minimum penalty of $435 or the balance due (whichever is smaller).

Long story short: the sooner you file, the better! 

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