You should immediately file a request for an extension of time to file if you know your return is probably going to be late. It’s a simple matter of filing Form 4868 with the IRS, although it won’t be accepted if the main filing deadline has already come and gone. You don’t have to wait until October 15 to file if you happen to be able to submit your return before that time.
You might also want to file an extension even if you’ve completed your return and it looks like you owe taxes. This at least pushes your filing deadline back to October and helps you avoid the more serious late filing penalty.9
Estimate what you think you’ll owe when you request an extension, and make payment when you submit the form.10
An extension gives you time to take your return to a tax professional to make sure that you’re not missing a deduction, credit, or some other detail that could help you out.
Tax deductions decrease your taxable income and can push you into a lower tax bracket that will reduce your tax bill, while a tax credit comes directly off what you owe to the IRS and can sometimes put you in a situation where you’ll receive a refund instead of paying.