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How to Use an IRS Extension Form

Use Form 4868 to Request an IRS Filing Extension


Use a paper copy of Form 4868 to file for an automatic extension of time to file your income-tax return. Fill it out whether you intend to file it by mail or via IRS e-file. If you use e-file, your paper copy will serve as a worksheet.


Enter your name and address on line 1, and include the name of your spouse if you intend to file a joint return.


Enter your social-security number on lines 2 and 3.


Estimate your total tax liability for the year by using Form 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ, 1040EZ, 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ. Enter this estimate on line 4. Use the form that you will file later and make your estimate as accurate as possible.


Enter the total of all payments you have made for this tax year on line 5. Your total should include tax withheld, estimated-tax payments and any previous overpayment that you applied to this year's tax.


Subtract line 5 from line 4 and enter the balance due on line 6.


Enter the amount you are paying with Form 4868 on line 7. Make your check payable to the "United States Treasury." Print your name, social-security number, phone number and "200_ Form 4868" on the check (unless you intend to e-file).


Read the general instructions and definitions concerning non-resident and out-of-the-country status on page 2 of the Form 4868 instructions. Check line 7 or 8 if they apply to your circumstances.


Use the address that appears on page 4 of the Form 4868 instructions to file your paper form with any required payment, or go to the IRS website to e-file and pay your tax liability with a credit card (see Resources below). You must file Form 4868 by April 15. You may then file your return at any time up to October 15.

Tips and Warnings

  • The automatic extension that the IRS grants when you file Form 4868 applies to your tax return only. It does not extend your time to pay any taxes you owe. However, if you have already paid sufficient taxes through tax withholding, estimated payments or prior-year tax payments, you will not need to send a payment with Form 4868.

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