Six Tips for Filing Extended Tax Returns

Every year, millions of taxpayers file an extension with the IRS for an extra six months to file their taxes. If you filed for an extension, you should have paid any tax you owed by the April deadline, but you have until October 16 to file your complete returns.

Monday, October 16 is the extension deadline this year. Here are six things to remember if you haven’t filed yet:

  1. File by Oct. 16. If you find that you owe additional taxes, you should pay as much as possible to reduce interest and penalties. IRS Direct Pay allows individuals to securely pay from their checking or savings accounts. You can also consider an installment agreement, which allows you to pay over time.
  2. Use Direct Deposit. If you are getting a refund, the fastest way receive it is to combine direct deposit and e-file.
  3. Keep a Copy of Your Tax Return. Taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax return and all supporting documents for at least three years. Among other things, this will make filing next year’s return easier. When a taxpayer e-files their 2017 return, for example, they will often need the adjusted gross income amount from their 2016 return.
  4. More Time for the Military. Military members and those serving in a combat zone generally get more time to file. If this applies to you, you typically have until at least 180 days after you leave the combat zone to both file returns and pay any taxes due.
  5. More Time in Disaster Areas. People who have an extension and live or work in a disaster area often have more time to file. The disaster relief page on has more information.
  6. Consider a Professional Tax Preparer. By hiring a CPA next year, you can avoid overpayments, underpayments, lost tax returns from previous years, and maybe avoid an extension all together. Not sure if a tax professional is for you? Take this quiz to find out.


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