How to Postpone Your Tax Return

Knowing the deadline to file tax returns always falls around April 15 does not keep unpredictable events from disrupting your plans to meet the Internal Revenue Service's due date. To help you, the IRS accepts filing extension requests. The extension only applies to your paperwork, not to tax payments you owe. Enlist an accountant to estimate your taxes and keep you safe from interest and penalties. And ask about extending the filing period in your state.

Individual Requests

Complete IRS Form 4868 and submit it to the IRS by the same date tax returns are due to postpone your tax return. The extension is automatically granted and you may assume your request is approved. The IRS accepts Form 4868 by mail and electronically. Alternatively, you may extend your time to file by making an estimated tax payment through an IRS representative with a credit or debit card. You may also send it through the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System. This extension grants you an additional six months to file your return.

Two-month Extension

The IRS also gives you an automatic two-month postponement if the day returns are due you are living and working, or serving the U.S. government, outside the country and Puerto Rico. This benefit applies to single individuals and married couples who file jointly. If you file separately, only the person in the marriage to whom the circumstance applies receives the automatic two-month extension. When you submit your return in June, you must include a note that explains why you may use this rule to file a late return. If you owe taxes at that time, the IRS will assess interest on them.

Eight-month Extension

If you live in a foreign country and you need additional time to qualify for the foreign earned income exclusion or the foreign housing exclusion or deduction, the IRS may give you until December to file your return. As in other extension arrangements, taxes you owe are still due in April and they will be assessed interest if you miss the deadline. To ask for this extension, complete IRS Form 2350 and send it to the the indicated address.

Business Requests

You may also submit filing and payment extension requests on behalf of your business. Complete IRS Form 7004 to get the company’s tax return due date postponed automatically for five or six months. The length of the extension depends on the type of form you file for your business taxes. If you expect your corporation to report a net operating loss for the tax return’s fiscal year, fill out Form 1138 and submit it to the IRS. The form extends the deadline for tax payment until the end of the month in which the corporation’s taxes are normally due. Despite granting the extension, the IRS assesses interest on any payments made past the original deadline.

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About the Author

Emma Watkins writes on finance, fitness and gardening. Her articles and essays have appeared in "Writer's Digest," "The Writer," "From House to Home," "Big Apple Parent" and other online and print venues. Watkins holds a Master of Arts in psychology.

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