April 18 is Tax Day, the federal deadline for individual tax filing and payments.
However, if you need more time to complete your 2021 returns, you can file an extension. Here’s what to know:
What Does a Tax Extension Do?
An extension gives you more time to gather your paperwork and file your taxes later, but it doesn’t grant you an extension to pay your taxes. If you think or know you owe money, you should estimate your tax liability and pay that amount when you file a Form 4868.
If you know you’re getting a refund, then you don’t need to pay when you’re filing an extension. However, the earlier you file your return, the earlier you’ll receive your refund.
Is There a Deadline to File a Tax Extension Request?
Yes. Extension requests must be filed no later that the regular due date of your return, the IRS states on its website.
In other words, the request to file an extension, and the 2022 tax deadline is on the same day.
That means that this year, your request to file an extension must be in no later than April 18.
How Do I Request a Tax-Filing Extension? What Form Do I Need to Fill Out?
You’ll need to fill out Form 4868 in order to file for an extension. You can e-file that for free, using Free File.
Who Can Request to File a Tax Extension? Are There Any Restrictions on Who Gets an Extension?
Any individual tax filers, regardless of income, can electronically request an automatic tax-filing extension.
To get the extension however, you must estimate your tax liability on the Free File form, and should also pay any amount due.
What If I Can’t Afford to Pay My Taxes When They’re Due?
If you aren’t able to pay your taxes on the day they are due, you may qualify for an online payment plan (including an installment agreement) that allows you to pay off an outstanding balance over time.
Once your online application is complete, you’ll receive immediate notification of whether your payment plan has been approved.
Those payment plans can include:
- Short-term payment plan – The payment period is 120 days or less and the total amount owed is less than $100,000 in combined tax, penalties and interest.
- Long-term payment plan – The payment period is longer than 120 days, paid in monthly payments, and the amount owed is less than $50,000 in combined tax, penalties and interest.
OK, I’ve Filed for an Extension. What Day Are My Taxes Now Due?
A tax extension gives you an additional six months to file your taxes, making the new due date Oct. 17 to submit your 2021 returns.
Your return is considered filed on time if the envelope is properly addressed, postmarked, and deposited in the mail by the due date.
How Soon Are Tax Refunds Issued?
According to the IRS, one out of 10 refunds is issued in less than 21 days. However, the IRS this year is facing its biggest backlog in history due to record low staffing numbers.
At the end of the 2021 filing season, the agency still had 35.3 million returns waiting for processing. One reason is that every paper document that goes into the IRS is processed by a human, according to the IRS. Another is that the agency has administered massive coronavirus pandemic-related relief programs over the last several years — like the advanced Child Tax Credit.
As of April 8, the IRS had received more than 103 million returns for this tax season, and it had issued more than 63 million refunds worth more than $204 billion.
What’s the Average Tax Refund?
The average refund is $3,226, according to the IRS.
What Happens If You Miss the Tax Deadline?
If you file your taxes after the April 18 deadline, you may get hit with a Failure to File Penalty.
According to the IRS, “if you don’t file your tax return by the due date” you will incur a penalty that is based on a percentage of the taxes you owe.
The amount you may have to pay is calculated by how late you file your tax return, and the amount of unpaid tax as of the original payment due date. Interest can also be changed on a penalty. Here’s a breakdown of the math.
If your return is over 60 days late, the minimum Failure to File Penalty is $435 (for tax returns required to be filed in 2020, 2021 and 2022) or 100% of the tax required to be shown on the return, whichever is less.
How Can I Check the Status of My Tax Return?
Once you receive confirmation that your federal return has been accepted – typically about 24-48 hours after e-filing, you’ll be able to start tracking your refund at the IRS site “Where’s My Refund?.”
The “Where’s My Refund?” tool is updated only once every 24 hours. If it’s been more than 21 days since a tax return was e-filed or more than six weeks since mailing a return, taxpayers can call a tax office help hotline to talk to a representative. Find your local IRS office here.
Taxpayers can also calling the automated refund hotline at 1-800-829-1954.
For state returns, check your state’s Department of Revenue website.
What if I’m Still Awaiting My 2020 Tax Return?
The IRS says it “continues to make progress in this area and has taken numerous steps to help address this issue.”
If you are still awaiting a 2020 tax return, you do not need to wait for it to be fully processed in order to file your 2021 taxes.
According to the IRS, those with unprocessed 2020 tax returns, should enter $0 (zero dollars) for last year’s AGI on their 2021 tax return when electronically filing.
Only 1 out of every 225 tax returns are inspected by an IRS agent, so your odds of getting audited are low, NBCLX Political Editor Noah Pransky says. He explains how the agency has been underfunded over the past several years and why audits are more likely for low-income taxpayers.