If you need more time to file your federal taxes, a tax extension can give you an additional six months to file. However, a tax extension only gives you more time to file your taxes, not more time to pay your taxes. While you get additional time to file, the IRS still expects you to pay your taxes owing by the actual deadline. Here’s how a tax extension works, how to file, and the rules and penalties for late filings and penalties.
What is a tax extension?
A tax extension is a request to the IRS for additional time to file your federal tax return. The federal tax deadline is typically on April 15th of each year, unless it falls on a weekend or holiday, then it gets moved to the next weekday. If you ask for a tax extension, you’ll get six more months to file, moving your tax deadline to October 15th.
Extended deadlines for the 2022 and 2023 tax year
- For the 2022 tax year, the federal tax deadline was April 18, 2023. A tax extension would have extended your deadline to October 16, 2023.
- For the 2023 tax year, the federal tax deadline is April 15, 2024. A tax extension would give you until October 15, 2024.
More time to file, not more time to pay
A common misconception is that a tax extension will give you more time to pay your taxes, when actually, the extension only gives you more time to file. You still must pay your taxes due in full (or at least a close estimation of it) by the federal tax deadline when you file for an extension, if you want to avoid late-filing penalties and interest.
How to file a tax extension
To file a tax extension, you must submit Form 4868 to the IRS either electronically or through mail by the federal tax filing deadline. If your tax extension is not submitted by the federal tax deadline, it will not be accepted. If approved, you’ll get an additional six months to file your taxes.
- If you file a paper return, the IRS will consider your tax extension filing on time if you mailed it by the federal tax deadline.
- If you file an electronic return, the IRS will consider your filing on time if you submit it by the federal tax deadline using your local time zone.
Do I need to pay my estimated taxes in order to be accepted?
No, your tax extension will typically be approved whether or not you pay your tax bill by the deadline. However, you will incur late-payment penalties and interest on any amount owing.
Penalties and interest
When you submit your tax extension request, you need to also estimate your taxes owed and pay as much of it as possible. Any amount owing is subject to late-payment penalties and interest. However, the IRS typically waives the penalties if you’re able to pay at least 90% of your tax liability by the federal tax deadline. The best way to estimate your tax bill is by using tax software or working with your accountant using Form 1040-ES.
If you fail to file or pay your taxes on time, the IRS will send you a notice or letter informing you that you owe the Failure to File Penalty or Failure to Pay Penalty.
If you’re unable to file your taxes by the federal tax deadline, and you fail to request for an extension on time, you’ll incur larger penalties than if you requested an extension, and then didn’t pay your tax bill. The penalty for late-filing is usually 5% of your tax owing every month, with a maximum of 25% of your tax bill.
If your return is late for more than 60 days past the deadline, a minimum penalty is applied and you must pay $450 or the amount of tax owed, whichever is smaller.
If you did file your taxes, or successfully filed for an extension on time, but didn’t pay your taxes, the late-payment penalty is 0.5% per month, with a maximum penalty of 25% of your unpaid taxes. You can typically avoid late-payment penalties by paying at least 90% of your estimated tax bill along with your tax extension request, and the rest when you submit your taxes by the extended deadline. If you’re unable to pay your taxes in full, you can apply for a payment plan to reduce penalties.
However, interest will still be applied to any amount owing.
In addition to the late-filing and late-payment penalties, the IRS will also charge you interest on the amount owed. Interest charges start on the due date of the amount you owe and accrues each month you owe taxes.
On the other hand, if you overpay your taxes, the IRS pays you interest on the overpayment amount until they issue your refund. However, they are first given 45 days to issue your refund without paying interest on it.
2023 interest rates
You can view the interest rates charged for other tax periods on the IRS website here.
|Interest Categories||4th Quarter|
(Oct – Dec)
(Jul – Sep)
|Non-Corporate overpayment (for example, individual)||8%||7%||7%||7%|
|Underpayment (Corporate and Non-Corporate)||8%||7%||7%||7%|
|GATT (part of a corporate overpayment exceeding $10,000)||5.5%||4.5%||4.5%||4.5%|
|Large Corporate Underpayment (LCU)||10%||9%||9%||9%|
|Internal Revenue Code (IRC) 6603 Deposit (Federal Short-Term Rate)||5%||4%||4%||4%|
Automatic tax extensions
Some people get tax extensions automatically.
- US citizens or residents who lived outside of the country at the time of tax-filing deadline may receive an additional two months to file their taxes.
- Military members may get extra time, depending on where they’re based and their roles and activities within the military.
- People affected by natural disasters may receive extended deadlines to file and pay.
Extended deadlines for disaster relief states in 2023
Due to FEMA-declared natural disasters, some states have received extended tax deadlines for federal tax filings and payments due for individual, business, and quarterly tax filings. Residents of these states living in or running a business in the affected counties are eligible.
|State||Affected counties||Extended deadline|
|Alabama||Autauga, Barbour, Chambers, Conecuh, Coosa, Dallas, Elmore, Greene, Hale, Mobile, Morgan, Sumter and Tallapoosa counties.||Oct. 16, 2023|
|Arkansas||Cross, Lonoke and Pulaski counties.||July 31, 2023|
|California||Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Del Norte, El Dorado, Fresno, Glenn, Humboldt, Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Lake, Los Angeles, Madera, Mariposa, Mendocino, Merced, Mono, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, San Benito, San Bernardino, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Mateo, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Sierra, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Trinity, Tulare, Tuolumne and Yuba counties.||Oct. 16, 2023|
|Florida||Alachua, Baker, Bay, Bradford, Calhoun, Charlotte, Citrus, Clay, Collier, Columbia, DeSoto, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Franklin, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Gulf, Hamilton, Hardee, Hernando, Hillsborough, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lake, Lee, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Manatee, Marion, Nassau, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, Sumter, Suwannee, Taylor, Union, Volusia and Wakulla counties.||Feb. 15, 2024|
|Georgia||Butts, Crisp, Henry, Jasper, Meriwether, Newton, Pike, Spalding, and Troup counties.||Oct. 16, 2023|
|Georgia||Appling, Atkinson, Bacon, Berrien, Brantley, Brooks, Bulloch, Camden, Candler, Charlton, Clinch, Coffee, Colquitt, Cook, Echols, Emanuel, Glynn, Jeff Davis, Jenkins, Lanier, Lowndes, Pierce, Screven, Tattnall, Thomas, Tift, Ware, and Wayne counties.||Feb. 15, 2024|
|Hawaii||Maui and Hawaii counties.||Feb. 15, 2024|
|Indiana||Allen, Benton, Clinton, Grant, Howard, Johnson, Lake, Monroe, Morgan, Owen, Sullivan and White counties.||July 31, 2023|
|Maine||All counties.||Feb. 15, 2024|
|Massachusetts||All counties.||Feb. 15, 2024|
|Mississippi||Carroll, Humphreys, Monroe and Sharkey counties.||July 31, 2023|
|New York||Erie, Genesee, Niagara, St. Lawrence, and Suffolk counties.||May 15, 2023|
|Oklahoma||McClain and Pottawatomie counties.||Aug. 31, 2023|
|South Carolina||All counties.||Feb. 15, 2024|
|Tennessee||Cannon, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, Lewis, Macon, McNairy, Rutherford, Tipton, and Wayne counties.||July 31, 2023|
If you’re a resident in these states and have questions, here is a list of frequently asked questions for taxpayers affected by disasters.
Frequently asked questions
- Is there a penalty for requesting a tax extension? There is no penalty for requesting a tax extension. However, a tax extension only gives you more time to file your taxes, not more time to pay your tax bill. You may be hit with late-payment penalties and interest if your tax bill is not paid in full when you submit your request for extension.
- What are the penalties for not paying my taxes on time? If you filed your taxes or requested an extension, the IRS will charge 0.5% of the amount owing each month, up to 25% of your tax bill. If you failed to file your taxes or request an extension on time, the IRS will charge 5% of the amount owing each month, up to 25% of your tax bill.
- How much does it cost to file a tax extension? Filing a tax extension is free and can be submitted using Form 4686 by the federal tax deadline.
- What if I’m late to file my tax extension request? If you do not file your tax extension by the federal tax filing deadline, you do not receive an extension and should try to file and pay your taxes asap in order to reduce your interest and penalties.
- How much more time does a tax extension give me? You will receive six more months to file your taxes. The federal tax deadline is typically April 15th each year. With a tax extension, you’ll get up to October 15th to file.
- If I file for an extension, how will I know if I paid enough taxes to avoid penalties? You can use Form 1040-ES and work with a tax professional or use tax software to estimate how much you will owe. The late-payment penalty is typically waived if you’re able to pay at least 90% of your tax liability by the deadline.