Tax Return Timeline

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Tax Return Timeline

Q:  I heard that I don’t have to file my tax return by April 18 so that I have more time to get the money together. How does that work?

A:  The information that you heard is part correct and part incorrect.  Individual taxpayers can certainly request more time to file their tax return and, in fact, the approval for the extension is automatic.  Simply complete IRS Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return and mail to the IRS by to April 18th, 2017.  The extension will provide an extra six months to complete the forms and file your final income tax return.

Keep in mind that the extension provide by Form 4868 is an extension of TIME to file the return and NOT and extension of required payments.  If you will owe money with your return, you are still required to pay the amount due by April 18th.  If you are unable to do so, then you will incur penalties and interest based on the number of days that the payment is late.  So if you indeed expect to owe money to the IRS on April 18th, take a few minutes to try and estimate what that amount might be.  Your first thought may be, “If I had time to do an estimate, I would just go ahead and finish the return!”  That may be true, but the estimate only needs to be close.  Use last year’s tax return as a guide and then make adjustments based on the things you know will be different.  You don’t have to send the calculation or the method of your calculation to the IRS, just make a good guess and then send the amount of money that you think you will owe with the extension and you will be all set.

If you are making a payment with the extension then you can also consider using the IRS Electronic Federal Tax Payment System or EFTPS to make the payment.  You can indicate that the payment is for the extension and the payment itself satisfies the filing requirement and you don’t need to actually mail the Form 4868.  You can access the EFTPS system directly from the home page at  The most important part, whether you include a payment or not,  is to make sure the extension is completed on time.

As always, don’t forget that you are not alone. Bookmark our website at as well as the IRS website at and you will always be able to find the help you need.


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