What to do after you've filed an income tax extension

Couple laying grass

You're just not ready to file that tax return, and April is creeping closer. No worries. Getting an extension is easy. No matter how you file, here is a guide to next steps.

Checking federal tax extension status

If you sent your extension in on time, it should be granted. To confirm receipt, it's easiest if you use software like TurboTax Easy Extension, since you'll get a confirmation from TurboTax within 48 hours.

If you use the U.S. mail to send your extension, you'll have to contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to ask about extension status. Currently, you can't do this on the IRS website. Call the IRS customer service number to determine if your request for an extension was received and approved.

Checking state tax extension status

If your state requires that you file an extension application separate from the federal tax extension application, you'll have to contact the taxing authorities in your state to check on its status. Call the taxpayer service number and ask the service agent whether your papers arrived on time.

Paying any tax due

The standard six-month tax extension allows you to file your tax return after the usual deadline. However, it doesn't buy you more time to pay any taxes you may owe. That means that if you don’t pay your tax balance by the filing deadline (April 15 in 2019), you'll get hit with penalty and interest.

Even if you can’t pay it all immediately, pay as much as you can. Penalty and interest are based on the amount you owe and how long you owe it. Late payment penalties are calculated at 0.5% of the unpaid tax balance per month. The maximum you can be charged in late payment penalties is 25% of the unpaid tax.

For example, if your tax balance is $2,000:

  • Penalty per month = $2,000 x 0.5% = $10
  • Total possible late payment penalty = $2,000 x 25% = $500

If you know you’re going to be out of the country on tax day, there is a two-month extension that allows you to hold off paying taxes without penalty, but you will still be assessed interest as of the day after the tax filing deadline.

Interest on unpaid tax compounds daily from the original due date of the return until the date you pay in full. The rate is calculated as the federal short-term interest rate, currently .81% plus 3%. Interest is applied daily, so for each day you're late, you’ll owe 0.0082% of the balance.

For example, if you owe $2,000 in taxes and don’t pay by the due date, you’ll pay:

  • .81% + 3% = 3.81% annual interest
  • 3.81% annual interest divided by 365 days = .01%
  • Penalty per day: $2,000 x 0.01% = $0.20

Note that compounding interest results in a daily recalculation of the principal amount plus accrued interest.

Filing tax returns on time

Generally, the due date for filing your income taxes is April 15. However, in some years it can fall on a weekend or a holiday. Therefore, the tax deadline can change to April 16, 17, or even 18 depending on the situation.

That means that if you are granted a two-month extension because you are out of the country on tax day, you have until June 15 to file your return and pay your tax.

If you are granted a six-month extension, you have until October 15. These extensions automatically extend your state income tax deadline as well in some states, like California. Other states, like New York, require a separate extension request.

When tax extensions are rejected

Even when filed before the deadline, some tax extension requests are rejected on or after that date. You will get notified in an email or a letter from the IRS if your extension request is denied. While the reasons behind this vary, the most common ones are:

  • Misspellings, switched numbers and other errors on the extension form
  • Out-of-date information like old addresses or last names that don't match up to the IRS records

In these cases, the IRS provides a window of time—typically five days—in which you may fix issues and correct errors with your request in order to file again.

Brought to you by TurboTax.com

How Do I File Back Tax Returns?

It's never too late to file your taxes. Here's how to file your back tax returns in five simple steps.

Read More

Brought to you by TurboTax.com

Charitable Contributions You Think You Can Claim but Can't

Knowing what you can and can't claim as charitable contributions helps you maximize the potential tax savings that the charitable tax deduction offers.

Read More

Brought to you by TurboTax.com

Filing Your Taxes Late

What do you do if you can't meet the IRS filing deadline? Learn more about filing a tax extension, late payment and late filing penalties, and what to do if you can't pay your taxes.

Read More

Brought to you by TurboTax.com

Deducting Health Insurance Premiums If You're Self-Employed

Most self-employed taxpayers can deduct health insurance premiums, including age-based premiums for long-term care coverage. Write-offs are available whether or not you itemize, if you meet the requirements.

Read More

Brought to you by TurboTax.com
Read Full Story
Your resource on tax filing
Tax season is here! Check out the Tax Center on AOL Finance for all the tips and tools you need to maximize your return.