April 15th is in 9 days from now, and some people are still not ready to file their tax returns. There are many reasons for that, with more common being missing forms from various payers and entities. So, if you’re one of those unlucky investors in publicly traded partnerships (like USO, for example), or partners in an enterprise, or shareholders of a S-Corporation, or members of LLC that are not yet done with their tax returns – you’ll have to wait before you can submit your own paperwork.
But the deadline is near, so what to do?
The extension to file may be requested by anyone for any reason, and will be granted automatically for additional 6 months. This means, that you can get an automatic extension of the deadline to file till October 15th, you just need to ask. Note, that the extension is only for the return filing deadline, not the payment of the tax owed. You have to pay the estimate tax you expect to end up owing with the extension. If you don’t expect to owe any additional tax over what you’ve already paid through your salary withholding or quarterly estimated payments – there’s no need to pay additional money with the extension, but I’d suggest paying $1 just to have a physical proof that the extension has indeed been filed and received by the IRS.
Note, that any payment attached to the extension form is an addition to the tax paid, and will be refunded to you if you end up overpaying your taxes. There’s no additional fee or costs for filing the extension (except for mailing, if you file by mail).
How to file the extension?
1. By mail: fill the IRS form 4868 (get it here) and mail it with your check to the address shown in the instructions. As I said – even if you don’t expect to owe additional money over what you’ve already paid, and even if you expect a refund, do attach a $1 payment to the form – that’s how you can later prove that it was timely filed.
2. Online: You can file the extension electronically and pay using your credit/debit card (here the minimum $1 may in fact be required regardless of estimate tax). You can do it through any tax-preparation software or provider, either through the software, or on their web-sites. Here’s the link to Intuit (maker of Turbo Tax) free extension filing service.
Similarly, you can file extension to file with your state – check for the forms on the respective State government web site. Some states allow automatic extension without even requiring you to ask for it. Just file before October, and make sure you paid all your taxes on time (i.e.: before April 15th), and you’re fine. Check if your state is one of these. California is one such state.
Happy tax season!
Your Little Advisor