Tax Extensions 2021: How and When to Get One

File IRS Form 4868 — but remember that getting an extension doesn't give you more time to actually pay your taxes.
Tina OremSep 14, 2021
How to file a tax extension online

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What’s inside

The federal income tax filing deadline is May 17, 2021. If you need more time, you can get an automatic income tax extension by filing IRS Form 4868. This gets you until Oct. 15, 2021, to file your tax return.

Here are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to tax extensions.

You can get a tax extension electronically or via mail. You should request an extension on or before the to avoid a late-filing penalty from the IRS.

supports Form 4868 for tax extensions. Most do. You can simply follow the program’s instructions and see how to file a tax extension electronically that way. The IRS will send you an electronic acknowledgment when you submit the form.

You can also apply for a tax extension by filling out Form 4868 on paper and sending it via snail mail (it’s less than a page long), but just get proof that you mailed it.

If you don’t plan to use tax software or haven’t decided which software to use, consider . The IRS partners with a nonprofit organization called the Free File Alliance to provide people who make less than $72,000 of  access to free, name-brand tax-prep software. Anybody — even people above the income threshold — can go there to file an extension online.


A tax extension gives you until Oct. 15, 2021, to file your tax return.

However, getting an extension does not give you more time to pay — it only gives you more time to file your return. If you can’t file your return by the May 17 deadline, you need to estimate your tax bill and pay as much of that as possible at that time.

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Some folks don’t necessarily need to worry about applying for tax extensions at all.

Requesting an extension and making an estimated payment are just half the work. You still have to file your final return. If you don't file by the Oct. 15 extension deadline, .

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