Need More Time to File Your Individual Tax Return? Read This

It can happen to the best of us: the deadline to file your individual tax return is approaching quickly, and panic is setting in. You’ve been trying to get everything together, but you’re just not there yet.

There are many reasons why someone may need more time to file their tax return. The unprecedented circumstances of the past year, recent changes to the tax code and seismic shifts in the United States labor market may have left you confused or uncertain about aspects of your return this year. 

Or perhaps you’ve been too busy with work, are facing an unforeseen emergency, or are not good at getting organized. 

By law, the IRS may assess penalties for failing to file a tax return and failing to pay taxes owed by the deadline. These late fees, interest payments, and failure-to-file penalties can be significant and costly, depending on your circumstances. 

But don’t worry! There is good news: tax-filing extensions are available for taxpayers who need more time. And not only that, but getting an extension for your tax returns can be easier than you might think. 

To get an extension on the deadline for filing your individual tax return, and avoid late fees, interest, and penalties, continue reading. You’ll discover:

  • How to get an extension on your tax returns
  • When to file for your extension
  • What happens if you don’t file a return or pay taxes

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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Jeff Coyle, CPA

Jeff Coyle, CPA, Partner of Rosenberg Chesnov, has been with the firm since 2015. He joined the firm after 20 years of business and accounting experience where he learned the value of accurate reporting, using financial information as a basis for good business decisions and the importance of accounting for management.

He is a diligent financial professional, able to manage the details and turn them into relevant business leading information. He has a strong financial background in construction, technology, consulting services and risk management. He also knows what it takes to create organizations having built teams, grown companies and designed processes for financial analysis and reporting.

His business experience includes:

Creating and preparing financial reporting, budgeting and forecasting.
Planning and preparation of GAAP and other basis financial statements.
Providing insight on financial results and providing advice based on those results.

Jeff also has a long history of helping individuals manage their taxes and plan their finances including:

Income tax planning and strategy.
Filing quarterly and annual taxes.
Audit support.
General financial and planning advice.
Prior to joining the firm in 2015, Jeff was in the private sector where he held senior financial and management positions including Controller and Chief Financial Officer. He has experience across industries, including construction, technology and professional services which gives him a deep understanding of business.

Jeff graduated from Montclair State University, he is a CPA and member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants and New Jersey State Society of Public Accountants.

Jody H. Chesnov, CPA

Jody H. Chesnov, CPA, Managing Partner of Rosenberg Chesnov, has been with the firm since 2004.  After a career of public accounting and general management, Jody knows the value of good financials.  Clarity, decision making, and strategy all start with the facts – Jody has been revealing the facts and turning them into good business results for more than three decades.

He takes a pragmatic approach to accounting, finance and business. His work has supported many companies on their path to growth, including helping them find investors, manage scaling and overcome hurdles.  His experience and passion for business reach beyond accounting and he helps businesses focus on what the numbers mean organizationally, operationally and financially.

He has a particular expertise in early-stage growth companies.  His strengths lie in cutting through the noise to come up with useful, out of the box, solutions that support clients in building their businesses and realizing their larger visions.

Prior to joining the firm in 2004, Jody was in the private sector where he held senior financial and management positions including General Manager, Chief Financial Officer and Controller.  He has experience across industries, which gives him a deep understanding of business.

Jody graduated with a BBA in Accounting from Baruch College, he is a CPA and member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants.

In addition to delivering above and beyond accounting results, Jody is a member of the NYSCPA’s Emerging Tech Entrepreneurial Committee (ETEC), Private Equity and Venture Capital Committee and Family Office Committee.  

He is an angel investor through the Westchester Angels, and has served as an advisor for many startup companies and as a mentor through the Founders Institute.

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