The usual tax filing date of April 15 is extended this year: You have until Tuesday, April 18, 2017, to file your 2016 tax return with Uncle Sam. That means you have one additional weekend to get your paperwork in order and sent off.
If that’s not enough, you can ask for a six-month extension — but you should know that all an extension does is give you more time to file your return. It doesn’t mean you can put off paying taxes you owe. You’ll still need to send payment of your estimated tax bill by April 18. Otherwise, you could face substantial penalties.
Automatic tax filing extension
Requesting an extension can go hand in hand with sending payment to the IRS. It’s pretty easy to get an extension. Here’s how:
- File Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Tax Return, through IRS e-file or through your online tax software. You also can go old school by filing a paper Form 4868 and sending it with your payment through the mail.
- Use Direct Pay, the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System or a credit or debit card to pay all or part of the estimated tax you owe, and pair it with an extension request. Select the onscreen option or otherwise indicate that the payment is intended for a return on which you’re filing for an extension. You can also pay in cash at a 7-Eleven store that participates in the IRS’ PayNearMe program (payment limits are up to $1,000 per day).
When you file for an extension, your return needs to be en route to the IRS by Oct. 16, 2017. If you live in a state where you pay income tax, your federal extension also gives you an extension for your state return.
» MORE: Try our federal tax calculator
Estimated tax payment dates
If you’re self-employed, you don’t see tax withholding in the earnings you make from your occupation. Although it can be nice to have a bigger check, the IRS expects you to keep current on your tax bill with quarterly payments by promptly filing Form 1040-ES along with your estimated payment.
For 2016 earnings, the final quarterly payment is due Jan. 17, 2017.
For tax year 2017, follow this schedule:
- First-quarter payment, which includes earnings from January through March, is due April 15.
- Second-quarter payment, which includes earnings from April through May, is due June 15.
- Third-quarter payment, which includes earnings from June through August, is due on Sept. 15.
- Fourth-quarter payment, which includes earnings from September through December, is due on Jan. 15, 2018.
The IRS lets you delay the fourth-quarter payment without penalty if you file your tax return and pay your bill by the end of January.
» MORE: Best tax preparation software
The IRS often grants an extension to taxpayers living in areas devastated by severe weather or other disaster situations. You can check the status of your area here.
If you’re living out of the country at tax time, the IRS cuts you a break by giving you an automatic two-month extension of time to file. You don’t have to file any forms or other paperwork to get the extension, but the IRS will require you to pay interest on any tax you owe at the time of the regular deadline.
Updated Jan. 5, 2017.