By  Wed Mar 9, 2011

How to Apply for an IRS Tax Filing Extension for Free – Form 4868

Not expecting to file your return by the deadline? You can apply for an extension, but you’ll still have to estimate the amount of income tax you owe — and pay it by the original deadline.

Although the deadline to file your individual tax return for tax year 2010 has been extended to April 18, 2011, it may not be enough time for some taxpayers.

By applying for a filing extension with IRS Form 4868, taxpayers will have six more months to submit their tax returns by the deadline of October 17, 2011. That way, taxpayers who will be filing late can save themselves from a late filing penalty.

Taxes Are Still Due By Original Deadline

A filing extension only give taxpayers more time to complete and file their tax returns. As part of Form 4868, taxpayers have to estimate their total tax liability and pay that projected income tax due by April 18, 2011. If the estimated tax paid is less than what the IRS calculates to be the actual tax liability, the IRS will slap on a late payment penalty. So, if you are applying for a filing extension it would be wise to overestimate, pay the taxes, and receive a tax refund for the amount you overpaid.

Applying for a Filing Extension for Free

If you are already a paid user of tax preparation software, you can e-file Form 4868 easily from the program. If you are working with a professional tax preparer, notify the tax preparer and it should be taken care of quickly.

For taxpayers who prefer the free method of applying for a filing extension, here are some options available to you:

Free e-File With Tax Preparation Software

Popular online tax preparation services from the likes of TurboTax, TaxACT, and H&R Block allow you to file Form 4868 for free after you sign up for an account. You do not have to pay for their other services if you don’t intend to use them.

A perk to using one of these tax preparation services to file Form 4868 is that they’ll guide you through the process of determining the estimated total tax liability with the information you provide. The application for an extension is filed electronically for free.

Free File Fillable Forms

The IRS offers you the ability to e-file Form 4868 by visiting www.freefilefillableforms.com. After creating an account, you can choose to file an extension. Form 4868 can be filled out on your computer but there is no software that will aid you in calculating the estimated total tax liability, which will have be done on your own. You can e-file the completed Form 4868 or print it out and mail it to the IRS.

If you want to fill in paper Form 4868 and mail it in, you can download IRS Form 4868.

FileLater

FileLater is an authorized IRS e-file provider that focuses on tax filing extensions. The standard charge for e-filing is $19.95 for personal extensions and $29.95 for business extensions. But, FileLater is currently offering free tax extensions if you log into FileLater using your Facebook account.

If you don’t mind connecting FileLater to your Facebook account and doing a little marketing to your friends, FileLater is another convenient way to file Form 4868.

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