The countdown to the tax-filing deadline is underway.
Most taxpayers have until April 15 to file their federal returns. Residents in Maine and Massachusetts have until April 17 due to local holidays. If you don’t file on time, you risk getting slapped with a late-filing and/or late-payment penalty.
But if you’re missing key documents, dealing with an unexpected life event or simply running out of time to get your taxes done by the deadline, you can file for a six-month extension.
Whatever your reason, It’s a simple process to get those extra months. Here is what you need to do to give yourself the extra time you need.
Taxes, unpopular though they may be, fund government services Americans count on every day. Individual income taxes may be especially hated — but they are also important, accounting for 48% of federal tax revenue. For the vast majority of states, income taxes are also critical to governments’ balance sheets. The result? Most Americans pay income tax twice every year — once to federal government, and once to their state. No two state tax codes are exactly alike, however, and there are a handful of states that manage to function without levying an individual income tax. To identify the states with no income tax, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed state level tax codes using tax data compiled by tax policy research organization Tax Foundation. In the vast majority of states, individual income taxes represent over 15% of annual tax revenue. Because income tax is such an important and reliable revenue source, the states with no income tax make up for the lost potential revenue in other ways. Two states on this list, for example, have major tourist industries and raise revenue through higher than average sales taxes . Three other states that levy no income tax are rich in natural resources and are able to bring in additional revenue through taxes on mineral and gas extraction operations. Largely as a result, despite the missed income tax revenue, these states manage to balance their budget just as well as the average state, and do not necessarily have higher debt on a per capita basis. To identify the states with no income tax, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the tax code in each state using the latest tax data compiled by tax policy research organization Tax Foundation. Personal income per capita for each state is for 2016 and came from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. All other data came from the “Tax Foundation’s Facts & Figures 2018: How Does Your State Compare?” report. (Photo: LIgorko / Getty Images)
File for an extension
You can e-file an extension for free using any of the Free File software offered by the major tax preparation companies. These often help you estimate your tax due so you can make a payment. You can also print out Form 4868 and send it in to the IRS address for your state by April 15.
Once the IRS approves your extension, you have until Oct. 15 to file your return.
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What about your tax refund?
If you expect a refund, you won’t get it until after you file your tax returns and the IRS processes that return.
Paying the IRS
You still need to pay what you owe by April 15, even if you file for an extension. If you underestimate what you owe, you may end up paying interest on what you don’t pay by the deadline. If you pay less than 85 percent of the tax you owe, you’ll be charged a penalty of 0.5 percent of the underpayment every month until you pay the balance.
Each state has their own tax-filing extension rules. Check your state’s tax authority website for more information.
If you’re abroad
You automatically get two extra months until June 15 to file your federal tax returns without submitting an IRS extension request for if you’re a U.S. citizen or resident alien and you live and work outside the U.S. and Puerto Rico.This also applies to military members serving outside the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
When you do file your return, include a statement that explains why you qualified for the later deadline.
If you can’t file by the automatic two-month extension date, you can file a Form 4868to request an additional extension to Oct. 15. You have until June 15 to file this form.