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What to Do after Filing a Tax Extension

What to Do after Filing a Tax Extension - TaxACT Blog

If you didn’t quite finish your tax return by April 18, filing for a tax extension was a smart move.

It’s easy to mail Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File, to the IRS and get another six months to put everything together.

It’s a little too easy, actually. And the extension of time is more time than most of us need.

The new deadline of October 15 seems so far away. Spring is here, and summer’s coming. Who wants to worry about it now? But – be cautious! October will be here before you know it.

Here are a few tips to help you keep your tax return on track.

Do as much as you can on your return

If you haven’t already, prepare as much of your return as you can now.

If you’re waiting for information from someone else, make an estimate.

Mark estimated amounts as such on your return, so you’ll be sure to go back to them later.

Keep track of your tax notes

As you prepare your return, you should keep a notebook or list on your computer of tax items you still need (use a tax return checklist), questions you have, and how you arrived at amounts and other information you enter on your return.

As you find the information you need, you can check it off the list.

Be sure to jot down how you arrived at items, such as the square footage of your office, how many days you spent at a vacation rental you own, or the amount you spent supporting a relative who does not live with you.

Keep these notes with your tax return.

If the IRS ever questions anything on your return, your notes can help you explain where you got your information.

What to Do after Filing a Tax Extension - TaxACT Blog

Keep your tax documents organized

Before you file your tax documents, take a few minutes to arrange them so they’re easy to get back to.

Make notes on credit card statements, receipts, and so on as necessary.

Place check marks on tax documents to indicate the information you have already entered on your tax return.

A little attention now will save you from starting all over when you get back to working on your return.

Finish up as soon as possible

You’ll enjoy summer vacation more if you know you’ve already filed your tax return.

This is especially true if you’re worried about it, or if you aren’t really sure if you’ll owe more tax when you actually file.

When you’re finishing your return, don’t forget to enter any payments you made when filing your April 18 extension.

Don’t keep holding onto your return forever, hoping to find more deductions. Do the best you can, and then file.

If you find something important after you file, you can always file an amended tax return.

It won’t get easier to remember deductions and other information as times goes by.

Now that the April 18 crush is over, you might as well finish your return, so you can enjoy your summer without worrying about another tax deadline just around the corner.

Do you plan to finish up your return as soon as possible, or will you wait until the six-month extension is almost up?

Share in the comments below.

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About Sally Herigstad

Sally Herigstad is a certified public accountant and personal finance columnist and author of Help! I Can't Pay My Bills, Surviving a Financial Crisis (St. Martin's Griffin). She writes regularly at,,, RedPlum, and MSN Money. She is an experienced speaker and a member of Toastmasters International. Follow Sally on Twitter.


  1. Same question for me too. what happens if you didn’t file an extension? It is necessary to file it. Has there been any benefits like tax saving, tax concession ???

  2. christine says:

    what happens if you didn’t file an extension?

  3. These are great tax tips! Filing taxes can be stressful sometimes. I like your idea of making an estimate even if you’re waiting for information from someone else. It’s good to stay ahead of the game.

  4. my wifes debit card denied my tax return im guessing because it wasn’t in my name. How long will it take to come in the mail and do I need to contact the irs. Ive called them the last three days for probably 6 hours on hold and cant reach anybody so I can really figure out whats going on.

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