What to Do if You Can't Finish Your Taxes by April 15

Will you miss the April 15 deadline? Here's what you need to know.

Mar 30, 2014 at 1:02PM


Source: The Motley Fool.

April 15, the deadline for filing your tax return, is fast approaching. Although the deadline may seem set in stone, it's possible to get an extension for filing your individual tax return. The IRS will grant an extension in most any circumstance so long as you file the correct paperwork by April 15.

Getting an extension is fairly simple, but it does have a few rules.

Do the paperwork
The IRS grants a six-month extension to the filing deadline to people who submit Form 4868 (link opens PDF) by April 15. The form is called "Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return," and you can find it online. The new deadline for people who file for an extension is Oct. 15. Obtaining an extension is a painless process; you do not have to provide a reason for the extension, as it is granted automatically. The IRS will not contact you if your extension is accepted; you will only hear from the IRS if the extension is denied.

When you eventually file your taxes, you do not need to attach a copy of Form 4868 to your tax return; your return and the extension request are filed separately. However, if you submitted a payment toward your tax bill with your extension request, you do need to report that on your taxes. Form 4868 (linked above) tells you on which line to report your payment. For example, if you file your taxes using Form 1040, report your extension payment in line 68.

If you do not submit paperwork on time, the IRS charges a "late filing penalty." The penalty is only charged if you file your taxes after the due date (or, if you file for an extension, after the new, extended deadline). The IRS typically levies 5% of the amount due for each month that your return is late, with a maximum charge of 25%. A return submitted more than 60 days after the deadline will have a minimum penalty of $135 or the balance of the tax due on your return -- whichever is smaller.

Make a payment
When requesting an extension, you need to know that you are only getting an extension for filing your tax return, not for paying taxes you owe. It is important to accurately estimate your tax burden and submit a payment (if necessary) by April 15 so that you do not have to pay interest or late fees on top of your taxes.

If your tax payment is late, then there are, of course, late fees. This is a separate penalty from the late filing charge. Failure to pay taxes by April 15 results in a penalty of 0.5% of any tax not paid, and the penalty is applied for each month after the deadline. Even if you have completed the appropriate extension paperwork by April 15, the IRS can still charge a penalty for taxes not received by then. If you are able to demonstrate a reasonable cause for not paying your return on time, the IRS may waive this fee. Attach an explanation to your tax return. Do not include an explanation with Form 4868.

Special circumstances
If you live outside the U.S. or are serving in a combat zone, there are special rules for receiving an extension. Taxpayers who live outside of the United States automatically get two extra months to file returns and pay any taxes owed without filing Form 4868. Members of the military who are deployed outside of the United States receive an automatic six-month extension for filing their taxes. You can learn more about the deadlines for those serving in the Armed Forces here

Take advantage of this little-known government tax rule
Recent tax increases have affected nearly every American taxpayer. But with the right planning, you can take steps to take control of your taxes and potentially even lower your tax bill. In our brand-new special report "The IRS Is Daring You to Make This Investment Now!," you'll learn about the simple strategy to take advantage of a little-known IRS rule. Don't miss out on advice that could help you cut taxes for decades to come. Click here to learn more.

Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

©1995-2014 The Motley Fool. All rights reserved. | Privacy/Legal Information

Compare Brokers