What is an IRS Form 4868?

1 min read by Unbiased team Last updated June 14, 2024

We demystify IRS Form 4868 and explain what it is, what it’s used for, how to fill it out, and the alternatives to using it.


  • Get a six-month extension on your individual income taxes by filing IRS Form 4868 by Tax Day, April 15, 2025. 

  • You still need to include an estimate of the tax you owe on the form and pay all or part of it by Tax Day. 

  • Find a financial advisor for expert advice and assistance with getting your taxes in order. 

What is Form 4868? 

It can be difficult to meet deadlines, especially when life is busy. If you run out of time to file your federal 2024 income taxes by April 15, 2025, you don’t need to panic. IRS Form 4868 offers you a lifeline.  

Form 4868 is an IRS form that makes it possible to get a six-month extension on filing your tax return. However, you must send in your estimated balance by the April 15 deadline. 

IRS Form 4868 is officially known as the Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.  

After completing and submitting the form, the IRS will automatically give you a six-month extension on filing your individual income tax. If you do this for your business, please note that the IRS will only give some businesses a five-month extension. 

What is Form 4868 used for? 

All taxpayers are eligible to use Form 4868 to qualify for an automatic federal tax extension, and there is no need to justify your request. There are two important things to remember.  

Firstly, you need to plan in advance for an automatic tax extension, as you must submit IRS Form 4868 by Tax Day (15 April 2025). You can only file for an extension after this date if you are a US citizen or resident living outside the US. 

Secondly, a 4868 form is not an IRS tax exemption form; you are still liable for paying your taxes. If you cannot pay your taxes on time, you might need to pay a penalty as well as interest.  

How do I fill out Form 4868? 

Filling out IRS Form 4868 is simple.  

You can mail a paper copy of the form to the IRS, apply for an extension electronically via the IRS e-file program, or use H&R Block, Credit Karma, or another tax preparation software.  

If you want to mail a money order or check, use the instructions on the form to find out where you need to send your payment to. 

There are only two sections to Form 4868.  

In Part 1 of the form, you need to fill in your full name, your address, and your Social Security number. You will also need to include your spouse’s Social Security number if you are married and are filing a joint tax return. The name of the person who appears first on the income tax return must appear first on IRS Form 4868.  

You will notice that in the fourth line of Part 2 of the form, you will need to fill in an estimate of your total tax liability. This is the same amount that you are asked to fill in on line 15 of Form 1040. This means that you need to get out your W-2 forms and start working out your tax return if you want to fill in Form 4868 correctly. 

You then need to enter an estimated amount of the taxes you have already paid on line five of IRS Form 4868. This is the same amount that you need to fill in on line 18 of Form 1040. Subtract line five from line four to calculate the amount of taxes that you owe. Fill this amount in on line six of Form 4868. 

Next, fill in the amount of money that you are ready to pay on line seven of the form. Remember, you do not need to pay the entire balance when you use this form to file a tax extension. However, it can count in your favor to pay as much of the tax you owe as possible, as this can help you avoid paying a penalty for late payment as well as interest. 

After filling in the amount of money that you are ready to pay, check a box on line eight of IRS Form 4868 if you are going to be out of the country on Tax Day. Check a box on line nine of the form if you intend to file Tax Form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ

You are automatically eligible for a two-month extension if you are a US citizen who will be living overseas during tax season. You can fill in and file a 4868 form for an additional four-month tax extension if you need more time to work on and file your tax return. 

What are some alternatives to completing Form 4868? 

Although Form 4868 is relatively uncomplicated, it still takes some effort to fill it out. However, this is not the only way to apply for an automatic tax extension to ensure you don’t miss the deadline.  

One alternative to completing the form is to make an electronic payment that covers all or part of the total estimated amount of income tax that you owe via the IRS website. Another option for paying the estimated amount you owe is to let the IRS draw the amount directly from your bank account. If you choose this option, remember to indicate that the payment is for a tax extension. You do not need to worry about filing an extension if you are expecting a tax refund. 

Get expert financial advice 

IRS Form 4868 is helpful if you cannot complete your income tax return by Tax Day, even if you still need to include an estimate of the tax you owe and make a payment. Turn to a financial advisor if you need assistance with staying on top of your taxes.  

Get expert financial advice from an SEC-regulated financial advisor. Unbiased will match you with the professional that best suits your needs.  


Unbiased team

Our team of writers, who have decades of experience writing about personal finance, including investing and retirement, are here to help you find out what you must know about life’s biggest financial decisions.