There are a number of reasons taxpayers file their tax returns after April 15, and taxpayers can protect themselves from costly fees, as long as they take certain precautions. Reasons for filing after the deadline can vary from professional agendas to behavioral characteristics. Some taxpayers have financial transactions or joint ventures which may be difficult to summarize by the April 15th filing deadline. Other taxpayers simply do not get around to filing until it is too late to comply with the deadline.

Whatever the reason, the IRS will not deny an extension solely on the basis of the reason for requesting the extension. The "automatic" extension does not even require a stated reason for requesting the additional time.

To avoid penalties for filing after April 15th, the taxpayer must file for an extension and show an estimate of the tax liability. If the estimate of the total taxes due exceeds the amount already paid in, the taxpayer is required to send the difference along with the extension request. However, if the estimate on the extension request is less than the tax on the final return, certain penalties may be levied.

The "automatic" extension period moves the filing deadline from April 15th to August 15th of the same year. However, more time can be obtained by filing a request for an additional extension. Unlike the "automatic" extension, this second extension requires that the taxpayer state the reason for the delay. The taxpayer must also inform the IRS as to whether or not the tax returns for the three prior years were filed in a timely fashion. The taxpayer will also need inform the IRS as to whether or not the estimated tax payments, if any, were made on time. Taxpayers not in the United States on April 15th, have until June 15th of the same year to file their returns. This extension does not require an extension form, only the attachment of a statement indicating the taxpayer's whereabouts on April 15th.

The rules for extending the filing date of state tax returns vary from state to state. Taxpayers needing an extension should check on the rules for their respective states.

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