The tax deadline to file your 2011 tax return is April 17, 2012. If you are unable to file your return by the due date, in most cases you will want to file for an automatic tax extension.
Here is a look at all that you need to know about filing for a tax extension, along with any special filing circumstances that you may qualify for:
What is a Tax Extension?
A tax extension buys you extra time to prepare and file your tax return. When you file for an extension, it is typical for the the IRS to automatically grant you an additional six months to file your return. If you file for a tax extension for the 2011 tax year, your new due date will be October 15, 2012.
It is critical to understand that while you can get an extension on preparing and filing your tax return, you cannot get an extension for paying your tax bill. If you think that you are going to owe the IRS money, you will need to estimate the amount due and send it in with your application for an extension. If you fail to pay your tax bill by April 17th then you will be subject to penalties and fees.
How Do I Go About Filing for an Extension?
Filing for an extension is fairly simple. You will need to fill out IRS Form 4868 in order to qualify. The form asks for your name, address, social security number for you and your spouse, if applicable and an estimate on your tax liability.
You can either e-file for your extension or you can print out the form from the IRS website and mail it in. If you do owe tax dollars, you can make your payment electronically with an e-file application or if you are mailing in your application you can include with it a check covering your payment due.
Extensions for U.S. Taxpayers Living Outside of the Country
If you are currently a US citizen or resident alien and living outside the country, you may qualify for additional extensions, including an automatic two month extension that you do not need to apply for. You may also qualify for the traditional six month extension and an extension on paying your tax bill if you owe the IRS money. If you do file for an extension to pay, it is important to note that you will have to pay interest on the amount due from the original due date.
Extensions for Military Members
If you are an active member of the military and living outside the US, you automatically qualify for a two month filing extension and no action is needed on your part to receive it. Additionally, if you are in the armed services and are currently or have recently been located in a combat zone, you are also eligible for special tax filing extensions as follows:
- You do not need to file your taxes for the time period you are stationed in a combat zone. Once your tour is up, you will have the number of days served in the combat zone prior to the tax deadline plus an additional 180 days to prepare and file your return. For example, if you were stationed in a combat zone on April 1, 2012, when your combat tour is over you will have 197 days to file and pay your 2011 taxes.
- If you are injured while in a combat zone and are hospitalized due to such injuries, you do not need to file any tax returns until your hospitalization has ended with the maximum allowed time being 5 years plus 180 days.
All military extensions that are granted for combat zone employments and hospitalizations also allow for an extension on paying your tax bill with no interest or penalties due.