The federal income tax filing deadline for most individuals is Monday, April 18, 2016.
That’s because Emancipation Day, a legal holiday in Washington, D.C., falls on Friday, April 15, this year. If you live in Massachusetts or Maine, you have until Tuesday, April 19, to file your return because Patriots’ Day, a legal holiday in both states, is celebrated on April 18.
Need more time?
If you’re not able to file your federal income tax return by the due date, you can file for an extension using IRS Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. Filing this extension gives you an additional six months (until October 17, 2016) to file your federal income tax return. You can also file for an automatic six-month extension electronically (details on how to do so can be found in the Form 4868 instructions).
Note: Special rules apply if you’re living outside the country, or serving in the military outside the country, on the regular due date of your federal income tax return.
Pay what you owe
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not filing your return because you owe money. If the bottom line on your return shows that you owe tax, file and pay the amount due in full by the due date if at all possible. If you absolutely cannot pay what you owe, file the return and pay as much as you can afford. You’ll owe interest and possibly penalties on the unpaid tax, but you will limit the penalties assessed by filing your return on time, and you may be able to work with the IRS to pay the unpaid balance (options available may include the ability to enter into an installment agreement).
It’s important to understand that filing for an automatic extension to file your return does not provide any additional time to pay your tax. When you file for an extension, you have to estimate the amount of tax you will owe; you should pay this amount by the April 18 (April 19 if you live in Massachusetts or Maine) due date. If you don’t, you will owe interest, and you may owe penalties as well. If the IRS believes that your estimate of taxes was not reasonable, it may void your extension.