May 17 deadline: how can you get more time to file your tax return?

May 17 deadline: how can you get more time to file your tax return?

Though the last day to file your tax return for 2020 was extended till May 17, the deadline is just around the corner and you may still not be ready. How can you get more time to file your tax return?

If you need more time to file your 2020 tax return, there are ways to obtain it.  According to the IRS, anyone can request an automatic tax-filing extension, but some people get extra time without asking. Are you included?

Due to the ongoing pandemic, this year the IRS postponed the usual April 15 deadline for filing individual income tax returns until May 17, 2021. In spite of this, just like every year, many Americans will still need more time to meet their tax-filing obligation. What must they do?

The IRS estimates that more than 16 million taxpayers will get an automatic extension this filing season, either by filing a form or making an electronic tax payment.

Other taxpayers, however, including disaster victims, those serving in a combat zone, and Americans living abroad get more time, even if they don't ask for it.

These are the details on each of these special tax-relief provisions.

Disaster victims

Victims of the February winter storms in Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana have until June 15, 2021, to file their 2020 returns and pay any tax due. This relief also includes more time for making 2020 contributions to IRAs and other plans and making 2021 estimated tax payments.

Combat zone taxpayers

Military service members and eligible support personnel serving in a combat zone have at least 180 days after they leave the combat zone to file their tax returns and pay any tax due.

Combat zone extensions also give affected taxpayers more time for a variety of other tax-related actions, including contributing to an IRA. Various circumstances affect the exact length of the extension available to taxpayers.
 

Taxpayers outside the United States

U.S. citizens and resident aliens who live and work outside the U.S. and Puerto Rico have until June 15, 2021, to file their 2020 tax returns and pay any tax due.

The special June 15 deadline also applies to members of the military on duty outside the U.S. and Puerto Rico who do not qualify for the longer combat zone extension. Affected taxpayers should attach a statement to their return explaining which of these situations apply.

Though taxpayers abroad get more time to pay, interest applies to any payment received after this year's May 17 deadline.

Everyone else

Taxpayers who don't qualify for any of these three special situations can still get more time to file by submitting a request for an automatic extension until October 15, 2021. But because this is only a tax-filing extension, their 2020 tax payments are still due by May 17.

An easy way to get the extra time is through Free File on IRS.gov. In a matter of minutes, anyone, regardless of income, can use this free service to electronically request an extension on Form 4868. To get the extension, taxpayers must estimate their tax liability on this form.

Another option is to pay electronically and get a tax-filing extension. The IRS will automatically process an extension when a taxpayer selects Form 4868 and makes a full or partial federal tax payment by the May 17 deadline using Direct Pay, the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), or a debit or credit card.

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