IRS Form 4868 Tax Extension in 2024: what is it, instructions, how to fill it out and where to apply

You can file an IRS Form 4868 for a 6-month tax extension in 2024. Learn instructions, filing steps, and application details to avoid penalties and extend your tax return deadline.


IRS Form 4868, officially known as the “Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return,” allows taxpayers to request an additional six months to file their federal income tax returns. This extension moves the filing deadline from April 15 to October 15, 2024. It’s important to note that this extension applies only to the filing of the return, not the payment of any taxes owed.

Why you might need an extension to file your taxes

There are several reasons why you might need more time to file your tax return:

  • Complex financial situations: If you have multiple income sources, investments, or deductions, you might need extra time to gather all necessary documents.
  • Unexpected life events: Events such as illness, family emergencies, or natural disasters can delay your ability to file on time.
  • Procrastination or poor planning: Sometimes, despite the best intentions, you simply run out of time.

Instructions for filing Form 4868

Filing Form 4868 is relatively straightforward, but it is important to get it right. If you are unsure, as with any tax filing situation, it may be advisable to seek professional assistance.

 Here are the steps:

  1. Estimate your tax liability: Before you file for an extension, you need to estimate your total tax liability for the year. This includes all income, deductions, and credits. Note that if the IRS consider your estimation unreasonable, they can refuse to accept the extension.
  2. Complete form 4868: You can fill out the form electronically using the IRS Free File service or by downloading the form from the IRS website and mailing it.
  3. Submit the form: If filing electronically, follow the instructions on the IRS Free File service. If mailing, ensure the form is postmarked by April 15, 2024.
  4. Pay any owed taxes: Even if you file for an extension, you must pay any estimated taxes owed by April 15 to avoid penalties and interest. Note that if you underestimate the amount of tax to be paid, you will likely have to pay interest and possibly penalties on the shortfall.

How to fill out Form 4868

Here’s a step-by-step guide to filling out Form 4868:

  • Personal information: Enter your name, address, and Social Security number. If filing jointly, include your spouse’s information.
  • Estimate your total tax liability: This is the amount you expect to owe for the year.
  • Total payments: Enter the total amount of federal income tax you have already paid (through withholding or estimated payments).
  • Balance due: Subtract the total payments from your estimated tax liability to determine the balance due.
  • Amount you are paying: Enter the amount you are paying with the extension request. This should be as close to the balance due as possible to avoid penalties.
  • Signature: Sign and date the form if you are mailing it.

Where to apply for a tax filing extension

You can apply for an extension in two ways:

  1. Electronically: Use the IRS Free File service to submit Form 4868 online. This is the fastest and most convenient method.
  2. By mail: Download Form 4868 from the IRS website, complete it, and mail it to the address listed in the form’s instructions. Ensure it is postmarked by April 15, 2024.

Important considerations regarding IRS Form 4868

  • Payment deadline: Remember, the extension is for filing, not for payment. You must pay any estimated taxes owed by April 15, 2024.
  • Confirmation: If you file electronically, you will receive a confirmation number. Keep this for your records.
  • Special circumstances: If you are in a disaster area or serving in a combat zone, you may qualify for additional time without needing to file Form 4868.

Filing for an extension

Filing for an extension using IRS Form 4868 can provide the extra time needed to ensure your tax return is accurate and complete. However, it’s crucial to remember that this extension does not extend the time to pay any taxes owed. Estimating your taxes correctly is vital to avoid interest and possibly penalties.

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