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What is Form 4868? (How to Get a Tax Extension)

By Nick Zarzycki — Reviewed by Janet Berry-Johnson, CPA on March 20, 2020

Editor’s note: If your tax deadline is April 15, the U.S. Treasury has announced a 90-day extension on your taxes—you now have until July 15 to file and pay your taxes. This article will be updated with all relevant tax changes.

Some people need a bit of extra time to file their income tax return (Form 1040). If you think you’ll need more time this year, you’ll have to file for an automatic deadline extension using Form 4868.

Here we’ll go over how to complete a Form 4868 extension request, how to file it, and when it’s due.

What is Form 4868?

Form 4868, ‘Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return,’ is the IRS form that U.S. taxpayers use to request an automatic six month tax extension for their federal tax return (Form 1040).

Although filing 4868 automatically extends the deadline for filing your return, it doesn’t extend the amount of time you have to pay your federal income tax. If you want to file 4868 properly, you’ll have to do the following:

  1. Estimate your 2019 tax liability using the information you currently have
  2. Enter your total tax estimated liability on line 4 of Form 4868
  3. Pay that tax liability by the regular due date

If you pay late, you’ll have to pay interest, and might also incur a late payment penalty. (Even if you file Form 4868.)

Who needs to file Form 4868?

Form 4868 applies to anyone who needs more time to file Form 1040, Form 1040-SR and Form 1040-NR.

If you need more time to file other tax forms, use Form 7004 to request a six month extension.

How to file it

Form 4868 is a simple, one page form from the IRS that looks like this:

form-4868

It’s divided into two parts:

Part I will ask you for your personal information, including your name, address, social security number and spouse’s social security number.

Part II is where you’ll estimate your total tax liability and payment for 2019.

Use Line 4 to record the total tax liability you expect to report on the following tax forms:

Record any tax payments you’ve made for the 2019 tax year so far on Line 5. Subtract Line 5 from Line 4 to get your total tax due (Line 6). Record the total amount you intend to pay on Line 7.

(Remember: if you fail to pay your taxes by the regular deadline, you will pay interest charges, and might also incur a late filing penalty.)

Check the box on Line 8 if you’re a U.S. citizen and are out of the United States at the time of filing, and the box on Line 9 if you didn’t receive wages as an employee subject to U.S. income tax withholding.

When is 4868 due?

The filing deadline for Form 4868 is April 15, 2020 (now July 15, 2020), the date you would have filed your income tax return.

Where to file form 4868

You can file a paper Form 4868, along with an enclosed tax payment (in the form of a checkor money order) to one of the following addresses provided by the IRS. (Which address you end up sending to will depend on which state you do business in, and whether or not you’re including a payment.)

Can you file 4868 electronically?

Yes. You can file Form 4868 electronically by accessing IRS e-file using your computer, or by using a tax professional who uses e-file.

Can you make a 4868 payment electronically?

Yes. You can pay the balance due you reported on Line 6 three different ways:

For more information about making payments to the IRS, go to www.irs.gov/Payments.


This post is to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, business, or tax advice. Each person should consult his or her own attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in this post. Bench assumes no liability for actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

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