Tax Day Is Tomorrow — What To Know If You Need To File An Extension

Photographed by Megan Madden.
When the U.S. Treasury announced an extension of the federal tax deadline back in mid-March, the new date felt like a lifetime away — but July 15th is tomorrow. 2020 has been a year of crises that have forced us to take life day by day, minute by minute. So, understandably, if you’ve been distracted over the past few months, we’re here to remind you that Tax Day is almost upon us. That means you have a little more time left to file your state and federal taxes if you haven’t already. 
If you knew you were getting a refund, maybe you already filed your taxes well before the deadline, especially in a time of financial stress for so many people, though according to MarketWatch, over half the people who have yet to file will also probably be getting money back. But there are plenty of reasons why many people still haven’t filed their 2019 tax returns. Maybe you’re missing a few documents that will take a while to obtain, or maybe you know you owe taxes but are unable to pay it in full right now. Whatever the case, if you don’t think you can file your taxes properly by July 15th, you can request an extension — though you'll get charged penalties and interest if you owe taxes and can’t pay in full, getting an extension can help reduce some of those penalties.
How to get a federal tax extension
Requesting more time to file your federal tax return is easy — all you have to do to get an extension is use the IRS’ Free File program to submit Form 4868 online. If you’re using a different online tax tool or tax software, it will probably have an option for filing an extension too. Your federal tax filing extension will be granted automatically, and you’ll now have until October 15th to file. If you know you owe taxes, you can request an extension when you use a service like Direct Pay to make an estimated tax payment. Even if you can’t pay all the taxes you owe right now, you should try to pay as much as you can — because while submitting Form 4868 gives you more time to file your taxes, you’re not getting an extension on paying them. So if you haven’t made a dent in your taxes, you’ll receive a penalty and accrue interest on your payments starting July 15th.
How to get a state tax extension
It’s not always the case that requesting an extension on filing your federal taxes means you’ll get an extension on filing your state taxes. Though many states don’t require you to file a separate state extension if you’ve filed Form 4868, states like New York, Vermont, and North Carolina do. Other states, like California, don’t require you to request an extension if you don’t owe any taxes. If you do owe state taxes, you need to request an extension and pay as much as you can. You can consult this list to see what the requirements in your state are, as well as check with your state’s tax department website to make sure you’re up to date on the rules.
If you’re struggling to pay your federal taxes, you should know that the IRS does offer some options, such as installment plans, to help ease the burden. Many states also offer an installment payment agreement or short-term payment delays.

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