The due date for your income tax return is coming up…fast.
But what if you don’t have all the information you need to complete your tax return? Or what if you – like many single moms – just haven’t had time to sit down and do it?
Luckily, there’s a super easy fix to keep you out of the IRS crosshairs if your tax return just can’t be done on time: File an extension.
If you won’t be able to complete and file your taxes by April 18, 2017, you can request an automatic 4-month extension using the free e-file version of Form 4868 right through the IRS website. And as long as you do it by April 18, your federal tax return will not be considered late. The form is very short (only about 3 inches long), and easy to fill out.
Here’s the most important thing you need to know: This is an extension of time to file the return, NOT an extension of time to pay any taxes you owe. If you expect to owe money, send in your estimated payment with the form – it will save you from costly interest and penalties later on.
Not sure how much you’ll owe? As long as you pay either the same amount you paid last year, or at least 90% of this year’s tax bill, you won’t get hit with an underpayment penalty. Even if your situation is very different than last year, going with last year’s tax bill guarantees you won’t face IRS penalties for not paying enough.
When you’re figuring out how much to pay with your extension, make sure to account for all the tax payments you’ve already made, whether they were through payroll withholding or estimated tax payments. Doing that make sure you don’t end up paying extra, and then waiting months to get that money back – something many single moms can’t afford.
If you’re expecting a refund, don’t send any money in with your extension.
What about my state income tax return?
The rules for extensions on state tax returns vary by state. Some automatically count your federal extension as a state extension. Others require you fill out a state form. Whatever the state rules are, the extension – just like the federal one – gives you only extra time to file…not extra time to pay.
Here’s a complete listing of state extension rules.