How to File for a Tax Extension—and Other Tax Day 2019 Questions, Answered

April 15 might be the least popular day of the year for many Americans. Taxes are due and, especially with the drastic changes in the tax code, many people just aren’t ready yet.

If you’re among that crowd, it’s possible to get an extension, but it’s important to follow the right steps. And if you’re expecting a refund this year, you might be curious about when your check will arrive.

Looking for some quick information about what’s next for your 2018 tax filings? We’ve got some answers.

How do I file for an income tax extension in 2019?

If you need a little more time to get last year’s financial affairs in order, you’ll need to file for an extension.

For individuals, the fastest way to do that is with the Free File service. This service, which offers free tax preparation assistance to people making under $60,000 per year also offers free extension filing for anyone, regardless of income.

For an automatic six-month extension, use IRS Form 4868, which will require you to estimate your tax liability, based on the data available to you. (You won’t have to make a payment immediately, but you will owe interest on your tax bill.)

Special rules may apply if you’re serving in a combat zone or a qualified hazardous duty area or living outside the United States.

Just don’t wait until the last minute. Last year, the online service went offline due, in part, to a flood of traffic.

When will I get my refund from the IRS?

The IRS says 77,925,000 people had qualified for refunds as of April 5. That’s down 1.5% from 2018 and the average refund is off 1.1%, coming in at $2,833.

Roughly 90% of refunds are issued within three weeks of the day the return is filed. If you’re wondering where yours stands (and don’t want to bother your tax preparer), the IRS has a Website to help you track its progress.

The Where’s My Refund? tool lets users check the status of their tax refund, updating the information daily. You’ll need to provide your Social Security number as well as the exact amount of your expected refund. The tool’s also available on the IRS2Go app.

What common tax mistakes should I look out for?

Simple mistakes can screw up your tax filing, delaying your refund or sending up a red flag to the IRS. Here are the nine most common errors, according to tax officials.

  • Missing or inaccurate Social Security numbers
  • Misspelled names
  • Filing status errors
  • Math mistakes
  • Errors in figuring tax credits or deductions
  • Incorrect bank account numbers
  • Unsigned forms
  • Electronic filing PIN errors
  • Filing with an expired Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

What are my odds of being audited by the IRS?

Worried about an audit? Assuming you didn’t cheat on your taxes, you can probably breath easy.

The chances of an IRS tax audit in 2018 were the lowest in 15 years, as the branch has lost close to one-third of its enforcement staff since 2010. And with the government shutdown earlier this year, that’s likely to hold steady.

A study earlier this month, though, showed the IRS has the highest audit rates in counties with larger minority populations.

Ok, I’ve filed. Are there any Tax Day freebies I can enjoy?

Uncle Sam may want your money, but there are plenty of businesses giving things away for free or at a discounted rate on Tax Day. Here are a few to swing by after you’ve filed for that extension or dropped your returns in the mail:

Great American Cookies: Get one free Original Chocolate Chip Cookies at participating locations for stopping by Monday.

Kona Ice: Tax Day is National “Chill Out Day,” meaning customers get free cup of tropical shaved ice.

Office Depot/OfficeMax: Hang on to receipts and paperwork for this year (and the past couple, just to be safe, but you can shred up to five pounds of documents shredded for free at the chains with a coupon.

BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse: Get half-off lare deep dish or Tavern-Cut Pizzas Monday for dine-in, take-out or delivery.

Cicis Pizza: Adult buffets are $4.15 Tax Day with the purchase of a large drink. (You’ll need this coupon.)

Orbitz: The online travel site is matching all taxes and fees paid on bookings today.

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