Today is the due date for your personal Federal tax return. If you can not file today, you should file an extension – and most important, if you owe taxes, you need to make a payment. All extensions are extensions of time to file, not an extension of time to pay. Payments made after today’s due date, both Federal and State, will be subject to late penalties and interest. There are a few exceptions, and if you don’t know about situations like combat zone rules, they do not apply to you.
The Federal Government imposes two separate late penalties for failure to abide; the Failure to File penalty, and the Failure to Pay penalty. These are the most common IRS penalties. If you have to choose between the two penalties, you should at least file your return or the extension on time to avoid the one.
The Federal Form 4868 (extension) is considered to be “Automatic;” meaning that barring a narrow range of legal reasons, it will automatically, and without explanation, be accepted by the IRS. By filing the Federal Form 4868, you are legally changing the due date of your tax return from April 17, 2018 to October 15, 2018.
If you live in a State with an income tax you also need to file your State tax return, or a State extension with a payment. Most states instruct their citizens NOT to file an extension unless they owe tax and are also making a payment. In those states the six-month extension is automatic. You must be familiar with the laws of your state.