Tax Time Guide: Request online extension, get 6 more months to file

The Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers who may have trouble meeting the April 17 tax filing deadline that Free File provides an easy, online option to get more time. Taxpayers submitting Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, will automatically be granted a six-month filing extension. By using Free File on IRS.gov, the process is free, simple and fast.

This is the seventh in a series of nine IRS news releases called the Tax Time Guide, designed to help taxpayers navigate common tax issues.

The IRS offers the extra time to file, automatically, to all taxpayers requesting it. A filing extension allows taxpayers until Oct. 15 to gather, prepare and file their taxes with the IRS. However, it does not extend the time to pay any tax due.

Applying for an extension requires answering a few questions on Form 4868. Part I of the form asks personal information such as name, address and Social Security number. Part II is tax related and asks about estimated tax liability, payments and residency. By going through Free File on IRS.gov, taxpayers can make the request electronically for free. Besides Free File, taxpayers can request an extension through a paid tax preparer, tax-preparation software or by mailing in a paper Form 4868. Tax forms can be downloaded from IRS.gov/forms.

Other fast, free and easy ways to get an extension include using IRS Direct Pay, the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System or by paying with a credit or debit card. There is no need to file a separate Form 4868 extension request when making an electronic payment and indicating it is for an extension. The IRS will automatically count it as an extension.

Direct Pay is available online and on the IRS2Go app. It’s free, does not require preregistration and gives instant confirmation when taxpayers submit a payment. It also provides the option of scheduling a payment up to 30 days in advance. Taxpayers using a credit or debit card can pay online, by phone or with the IRS2Go app. The IRS does not charge any fees for this service but the card processor does.

The IRS emphasizes that a request for an extension provides extra time to file a tax return, but not extra time to pay any taxes owed. Payments are still due by the original deadline. Taxpayers should file even if they can’t pay the full amount. By filing either a regular return or requesting an extension by the April 17 filing deadline, they will avoid the late-filing penalty, which can be 10 times as costly as the penalty for not paying.

Taxpayers who pay as much as they can by the due date reduce the overall amount subject to penalty and interest charges. The interest rate is currently five percent per year, compounded daily. The late-filing penalty is typically five percent per month and the late-payment penalty is normally 0.5 percent per month.

Other options to pay such as getting a loan or paying by credit card may help resolve a tax debt. Most people can set up an installment agreement with the IRS using the Online Payment Agreement tool on IRS.gov.

Other taxpayers who get more time to file without having to ask for extensions include:

  • U.S. citizens and resident aliens living and working abroad have until June 15 to file their tax returns. However, interest is still charged on any tax payments made after April 17.
  • Disaster victims, including those in American Samoa, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, have until June 29, 2018 to file and pay. Similarly, taxpayers in parts of California have until April 30, 2018 to file and pay. For information about this and other disaster relief, see the disaster relief page on IRS.gov.
  • Members of the military on duty outside the United States and Puerto Rico receive an automatic two-month extension to file. Those serving in combat zones have 180 days after they leave the combat zone to file tax returns and pay any taxes due. Details are available in the Armed Forces’ Tax Guide Publication 3.

In addition to having payment options, taxpayers who find that they can’t pay what they owe should know that the IRS will work with them. Taxpayers can find answers to questions, forms and instructions and easy-to-use tools online at IRS.gov anytime. No appointments needed and no waiting on hold.

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IRS online tool lets taxpayers check their account balance

The Internal Revenue Service today urged taxpayers to use a handy online tool to check the status of their federal tax accounts.

The online account feature is one of many useful online tools driving the impressive growth in visits to the agency’s popular web site. Already this year, visits to IRS.gov have jumped 24 percent over last year at this time. The IRS.gov online feature provides individual taxpayers with basic information to file, pay or monitor their tax payments. In addition, taxpayers can:

  • View the amount they owe.
  • Pay online or set up an online payment agreement.
  • Access their tax records.
  • Review the past 10 months of their payment history.
  • View key tax return information for the most recent tax return they filed.

To access their information online, taxpayers must register through Secure Access, the IRS’ two-factor authentication process. This identity-proofing process rigorously protects sensitive information. Taxpayers who already registered using Secure Access for Get Transcript Online or Get an IP PIN may use their same username and password.

Taxpayers should review the Secure Access process prior to starting registration. In addition to the online account tool, the IRS encourages taxpayers to visit IRS.gov to see many other self-service tools and helpful resources available for individuals, businesses and tax professionals. “Where’s My Refund?” for example, and the IRS2Go mobile app remain the best way to check the status of a tax refund. This tool is updated no more than once a day, so taxpayers don’t need to check more often.

The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media to request personal or financial information. This includes requests for PIN numbers, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts.

Here’s How to Get Prior-Year Tax Information

As people are filing their taxes, the IRS reminds taxpayers to hang onto their tax records. Generally, the IRS recommends keeping copies of tax returns and supporting documents at least three years. Taxpayers should keep some documents — such as those related to real estate sales — for three years after filing the return on which they reported the transaction.

Use a Tax Return to Validate Identity
Taxpayers using a tax filing software product for the first time may need their adjusted gross income amount from their prior year’s tax return to verify their identity. Taxpayers can learn more about how to verify their identity and electronically sign tax returns at Validating Your Electronically Filed Tax Return.

Those who need a copy of their tax return should check with their software provider or tax preparer first, as prior-year tax returns are available from the IRS for a fee.

Order a Transcript
Taxpayers who cannot get a copy of a prior-year return may order a tax transcript from the IRS. A transcript summarizes return information and includes AGI. They’re free and available for the most current tax year after the IRS has processed the return. People can also get them for the past three years.

The IRS reminds people ordering a transcript to plan ahead, because delivery times for online and phone orders typically take five to 10 days from the time the IRS receives the request. Taxpayers who order by mail should allow 30 days to receive transcripts and 75 days for tax returns.

There are three ways for taxpayers to order a transcript:

  • Online Using Get Transcript. They can use Get Transcript Online on IRS.gov to view, print or download a copy of all transcript types. Those who use it must authenticate their identity using the Secure Accessprocess. Taxpayers who are unable to register or prefer not to use Get Transcript Online may use Get Transcript by Mail to order a tax return or account transcript type. Please allow five to 10 calendar days for delivery.
  • By phone. The number is 800-908-9946.
  • By mail. Taxpayers can complete and send either Form 4506-T or Form 4506T-EZ to the IRS to get one by mail. They use Form 4506-T to request other tax records: tax account transcript, record of account, wage and income and verification of non-filing. These forms are available on the Forms, Instructions and Publications page on IRS.gov.

Those who need an actual copy of a tax return can get one for the current tax year and as far back as six years. The fee per copy is $50. Taxpayers can complete and mail Form 4506 to request a copy of a tax return and mail the request to the appropriate IRS office listed on the form.

If taxpayers need information to verify payments within the last 18 months or a tax amount owed, they can view their tax account.

Check Status of a Tax Refund in Minutes Using Where’s My Refund?

The Where’s My Refund? tool gives taxpayers access to their tax return and refund status anytime. All they need is internet access and three pieces of information:

  • Their Social Security number.
  • Their filing status.
  • The exact whole dollar amount of their refund.

Taxpayers can start checking on the status of their return within 24 hours after the IRS received their e-filed return, or four weeks after they mail a paper return. Where’s My Refund? includes a tracker that displays progress through three stages: the IRS receives the tax return, then approves the refund, and sends the refund.

Where’s My Refund? updates once every 24 hours, usually overnight. Taxpayers should remember that checking the status more often will not produce new results. Taxpayers on the go can track their return and refund status on their mobile devices using the free IRS2Go app. Those who file an amended return should check out the Where’s My Amended Return? tool.

Generally, the IRS issues most refunds in less than 21 days, but some may take longer. IRS phone and walk-in representatives can research the status of refunds only if it’s been 21 days or more since a taxpayer filed electronically, or more than six weeks since they mailed a paper return. Taxpayers can also contact the IRS if Where’s My Refund? directs them to do so.

There is a misconception that a tax transcript can help taxpayers determine the status of their refund. The information included on a transcript does not necessarily reflect the amount or timing of a refund. Transcripts are best used to validate past income and tax filing status for loan applications, and to help with tax preparation.

Share this tip on social media — #IRSTaxTip:Check Status of a Tax Refund in Minutes Using Where’s My Refund? https://go.usa.gov/xnuCu

Application for Recognition of Exemption by IRS

The IRS reminds people seeking tax-exempt status to use the current version of forms to avoid processing delays. The current version of Form 1023, Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, is dated December 2017, and Form 1024, Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(a), is dated January 2018.

If you use a prior version of one of these forms, the IRS will return your application and ask you to resubmit using the current version of the form.

User fees

Revenue Procedure 2018-5 announces the following user fees:

Application Type User Fee
Form 1023 $600
Form 1024
Form 1024-A
Form 1023-EZ $275
Group exemption letter $2,000

Please submit Form 8718, User Fee for Exempt Organization Determination Letter Request, with group exemption letter requests and exemption applications, other than those filed on Forms 1023 and 1023-EZ.

The IRS announces user fees annually in updates to Rev. Proc. 2018-5 and posts them to IRS.gov.

Form 1023 revisions 

The IRS revised Form 1023 and its instructions. Highlights include:

  • Added a new public charity status for agricultural research organizations (Section 170(B)(1)(a)(ix))
  • Eliminated a question about the advance ruling process
  • Eliminated an outdated question about organizations applying for 501(c)(3) recognition more than 27 months after formation
  • Increased financial data reporting requirements for organizations older than one year

Updated 2018 Withholding Tables Available And In Use; Taxpayers Could See Paycheck Changes Right Away

The Internal Revenue Service has released Notice 1036, which updates the income-tax withholding tables for 2018 reflecting changes made by the tax reform legislation enacted last month. This is the first in a series of steps that IRS will take to help improve the accuracy of withholding following major changes made by the new tax law.

The updated withholding information, posted today on IRS.gov, shows the new rates for employers to use during 2018. Employers should have begun using the 2018 withholding tables  not later than Feb. 15, 2018. They should continue to use the 2017 withholding tables until implementing the 2018 withholding tables.

Many employees will begin to see increases in their paychecks to reflect the new law in February. The time it will take for employees to see the changes in their paychecks will vary depending on how quickly the new tables are implemented by their employers and how often they are paid — generally weekly, biweekly or monthly.   The new withholding tables are designed to work with the Forms W-4 that workers have already filed with their employers to claim withholding allowances. This will minimize burden on taxpayers and employers. Employees do not have to do anything at this time.

“The IRS appreciates the help from the payroll community working with us on these important changes,” said Acting IRS Commissioner David Kautter. “Payroll withholding can be complicated, and the needs of taxpayers vary based on their personal financial situation. In the weeks ahead, the IRS will be providing more information to help people understand and review these changes.”

The new law makes a number of changes for 2018 that affect individual taxpayers. The new tables reflect the increase in the standard deduction, repeal of personal exemptions and changes in tax rates and brackets.

For people with simpler tax situations, the new tables are designed to produce the correct amount of tax withholding. The revisions are also aimed at avoiding over- and under-withholding of tax as much as possible.

To help people determine their withholding, the IRS is revising the withholding tax calculator on IRS.gov. The IRS anticipates this calculator should be available by the end of February. Taxpayers are encouraged to use the calculator to adjust their withholding once it is released.

The IRS is also working on revising the Form W-4. Form W-4 and the revised calculator will reflect additional changes in the new law, such as changes in available itemized deductions, increases in the child tax credit, the new dependent credit and repeal of dependent exemptions.

The calculator and new Form W-4 can be used by employees who wish to update their withholding in response to the new law or changes in their personal circumstances in 2018, and by workers starting a new job. Until a new Form W-4 is issued, employees and employers should continue to use the 2017 Form W-4.

In addition, the IRS will help educate taxpayers about the new withholding guidelines and the calculator. The effort will be designed to help workers ensure that they are not having too much or too little withholding taken out of their pay.

For 2019, the IRS anticipates making further changes involving withholding. The IRS will work with the business and payroll community to encourage workers to file new Forms W-4 next year and share information on changes in the new tax law that impact withholding.