When to File
If you are e-filing tax returns on the calendar year basis, the due date for filing your return is generally April 15 of the following year. If the due date falls on a weekend, the due date for your return will be the following regular workday.
If you file on a fiscal year basis (a year ending on the last day of any month except December), the due date is 3 months and 15 days after the close of your fiscal year.
If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien residing overseas, or are in the military on duty outside the U.S., on the regular due date of your return, you are allowed an automatic 2-month extension for e-filing tax returns and pay any amount due without requesting an extension. For a calendar year return, the automatic 2-month extension is to June 15.
If you are unable to file your return by the automatic 2-month extension date, you can request an additional extension to October 15 by filing Form 4868 before the automatic 2-month extension date. However, any tax due payments made after June 15 will be subject to both interest charges and failure to pay penalties.
In general, the tax shown on your return should be paid by the due date of the return, without regard to any extension of time for filing the return. CAUTION! A tax return delivered by the U.S. mail or a designated delivery service that is postmarked or dated by the delivery service on or before the due date is considered to have been filed on or before that date. You can use certain private delivery services designated by the IRS to meet the “timely mailing as timely filing/paying” rule for tax returns and payments. See your Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return or Form 1040A, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return Instructions for a list of designated delivery services.
Revenue Ruling 2002-23, 2002-18 IRB 811 provides that federal tax returns mailed by taxpayers in foreign countries will be accepted as timely filed if they bear an official postmark dated on or before midnight of the last date prescribed for filing, including any extension of time for such filing.
U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad – Automatic 2 Month Extension of Time to File
You may be allowed an automatic 2-month extension of time to file your return and pay any federal income tax that is due. You will be allowed the extension if you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien and on the regular due date of your return:
- You are living outside of the United States and Puerto Rico and your main place of business or post of duty is outside the United States and Puerto Rico, or
- You are in military or naval service on duty outside the United States and Puerto Rico
If you use a calendar year, the regular due date of your return is April 15, and the automatic extended due date would be June 15. If the due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the due date is delayed until the next business day.
Even if you are allowed an extension, you will have to pay interest on any tax not paid by the regular due date of your return.
Service In A Combat Zone
If you served in a combat zone or qualified hazardous duty area, see Extension of Deadlines in Publication 3, Armed Forces’ Tax Guide (PDF).
If you file a joint return, either you or your spouse can qualify for the automatic extension. If you and your spouse file separate returns, this automatic extension applies only to the spouse who qualifies.
How To Get The Extension
To use this automatic 2-month extension, you must attach a statement to your return explaining which of the two situations listed earlier qualified you for the extension.
U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad – Automatic 6 Month Extension of Time to File
If you are not able to file your return by the due date, you generally can get an automatic 6-month extension of time to file. To get this automatic extension, you must file Form 4868 (PDF). Or, you can file Form 4868 electronically (e-file), using your personal computer, or through a tax professional. You do not have to explain why you are asking for the extension. You will be contacted only if your request is denied. For more information about filing electronically, see the form instructions.
The form must show your properly estimated tax liability based on the information available to you.
CAUTION! You may not be eligible. You cannot use the automatic 6-month extension of time to file if:
- You want the IRS to figure your tax, or
- You are under a court order to file by the regular due date
When To File
Generally, you must request the 6-month extension by the regular due date for your return.
Previous 2-Month Extension
If you are unable to file your return within the automatic 2-month extension period, you may be able to get an additional 4-month extension of time to file your return, for a total of 6 months. The automatic 2-month and the 6-month extension start at the same time. You do not have to request the 6-month extension until the new due date allowed by the first extension, but the total combined extension will still only be 6 months from the regular due date.
Time To Pay Not Extended
A 6-month extension of time to file is not an extension of time to pay. You must make an accurate estimate of your tax and send any necessary payment with your Form 4868 or pay the tax due by credit card. If you find you cannot pay the full amount due with Form 4868, you can still get the extension. You will owe interest on the unpaid amount.
You also may be charged a penalty for paying the tax late unless you have reasonable cause for not paying your tax when due. Interest and penalties are assessed (charged) from the original due date of your return.