How to Get a Last-Minute Extension if You Still Haven't Filed Your Taxes

If you still don't have your taxes done, don't sweat it. You have options.


Today’s the day: April 15, Tax Day.

If you still don’t have your taxes done, don’t sweat it. You have options.

The easiest: File Form 4868. Doing so will automatically extend your tax filing deadline by six months.

The catch, however, is that it does not extend the amount of time you have to pay the government if you owe a balance.

“A lot of people when they want to extend the filing of their tax return, they think, ‘OK, I just filed Form 4868 tax extension, OK, I’m good’—but that form is only an extension to file your return,” Amy Wang, senior manager of tax policy and advocacy for the American Institute of CPAs, told Grow earlier this year. “It’s not an extension to pay what you owe. So you still need to, at the best of your ability or hire a tax professional, calculate what you think you will owe for the year and pay that tax liability by April 15.”

The instructions for Form 4868 offer some guidelines on estimating that bill.

Fail to pay by today’s deadline, and your unpaid balance can be subject to interest and penalties. The failure-to-file penalty is typically 0.5% of the unpaid amount for each month or part of the month the debt remains unpaid, while the current underpayment interest rate is 6%.

Your second option, of course, is to buckle down and finish your taxes today. The IRS estimates it takes a typical tax filer seven hours to fill out Form 1040, including two hours of record keeping and four hours completing and submitting all forms. That’s not impossible, depending on when you read this and what else you have to do today.

Failing to file a return will trigger penalties. The typical fee is 5% of the tax owed for each month or part of a month your return is late. Once it’s 60 days past due, the minimum penalty is $210 or 100% of the tax owed, whichever is less. You’ll also accrue failure-to-pay penalties.

If you’re not sure whether you should try to make the tax deadline or file an extension, consult with a tax professional—don’t feel pressured to do it alone.

“We’re tax professionals and we think about taxes all the time, but when you’re not a tax professional...you're not thinking a lot about taxes,” says Robert Kerr, executive vice president of the National Association of Enrolled Agents.

More from Grow:

acorns+cnbcacorns cnbc

Join Acorns


About Us

Learn More

Follow Us

All investments involve risk, including loss of principal. The contents presented herein are provided for general investment education and informational purposes only and do not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation to buy any specific securities or engage in any particular investment strategy. Acorns is not engaged in rendering any tax, legal, or accounting advice. Please consult with a qualified professional for this type of advice.

Any references to past performance, regarding financial markets or otherwise, do not indicate or guarantee future results. Forward-looking statements, including without limitations investment outcomes and projections, are hypothetical and educational in nature. The results of any hypothetical projections can and may differ from actual investment results had the strategies been deployed in actual securities accounts. It is not possible to invest directly in an index.

Advisory services offered by Acorns Advisers, LLC (“Acorns Advisers”), an investment adviser registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). Brokerage and custody services are provided to clients of Acorns Advisers by Acorns Securities, LLC (“Acorns Securities”), a broker-dealer registered with the SEC and a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (“FINRA”) and the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (“SIPC”). Acorns Pay, LLC (“Acorns Pay”) manages Acorns’s demand deposit and other banking products in partnership with Lincoln Savings Bank, a bank chartered under the laws of Iowa and member FDIC. Acorns Advisers, Acorns Securities, and Acorns Pay are subsidiaries of Acorns Grow Incorporated (collectively “Acorns”). “Acorns,” the Acorns logo and “Invest the Change” are registered trademarks of Acorns Grow Incorporated. Copyright © 2021 Acorns and/or its affiliates.

NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns Grow Incorporated.