Fact Checked

Filing deadline approaches for most taxpayers who got an extension

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For most people who got a deadline extension for filing their 2017 federal income tax returns back in April, that extra time is about to run out.

Getting the extension was probably super-easy: Maybe you filed an application for the extension, or maybe you estimated any federal income tax you owed, paid online and indicated it was for an extension — in which case you likely didn’t need to file a form. Whichever way you asked for the extension, you probably didn’t need to explain why you wanted it. The IRS often gives an automatic six-month filing extension to anyone who properly asks for it by Tax Day in April.

Now, that extension is almost up. Oct. 15, 2018, is the filing deadline for most people who requested an automatic six-month extension for their 2017 federal income tax returns.

What does this mean for you?

If you received a filing extension back in April, you may have just a few weeks left to prepare and file your 2017 return.

Hopefully, you paid any 2017 tax you owed by Tax Day this year. If so, all you should have to do now is gather your paperwork and file your tax return.

Why should you care?

Missing the deadline could be bad, especially if you owe more tax than you’ve paid.

Penalties for failing to file are 5% of any unpaid tax that you were supposed to report — and that penalty can be charged every month the return is late, for up to five months. If you’re due a refund, there’s no penalty for filing a late return, but you won’t know if you get a refund until you do file.

And if you owed taxes but didn’t pay, you’ll likely be facing penalties and interest for late payment — even if you got a filing extension. A filing extension means you can file your return after Tax Day, but any tax you owed was still due on Tax Day.

What can you do?

If you need to file your 2017 federal income tax return by Oct. 15, 2018, here’s some information that could help:

  • You can e-file your federal individual income tax return for free through the IRS Free File software if your 2017 adjusted gross income was $66,000 or less. And, of course, you can mail a paper return.
  • If you haven’t already paid your taxes, you can use IRS Direct Pay to do so. The service lets you pay directly from your checking or savings account at no cost to you. Or, if you use an online tax filing service, you may be able to pay directly through the service.
  • If you did pay your taxes when you filed for your federal income tax return extension, remember to claim your credit for it when you file your return by Oct. 15. Where you report the payment on your return will depend on what form you use. For example, if you file a 1040, you’ll enter the amount you paid on line 70 for your 2017 return. The instructions for your form should tell you how to report the payment.
  • If you missed the April filing deadline and failed to request an extension, you can — and should — still file your 2017 return. And, if you owe tax, pay it as soon as possible. The IRS can charge penalties and interest until you file and pay your balance in full.

About the author: With nearly 30 years of experience in media, marketing, public relations and journalism, Evelyn’s written about nearly everything — from newspaper accounts of salacious capital murder trials to whitepapers on what typ… Read more.