A computer glitch hit the Internal Revenue Service's tax-filing system Tuesday, the official deadline to file federal and California personal income tax returns.
But procrastinators need not fret: The IRS has announced a penalty-free one-day extension due to the filing issues that many taxpayers encountered. The agency said Tuesday afternoon that its systems were back up. Individuals and businesses that were originally due to file Tuesday will now have until Wednesday night.
For those who need even more time, you can get a lengthy extension.
When dealing with the IRS, you have to request that extension by filing IRS Form 4868. Technically, that form is due by midnight, although Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin told reporters that there would be some flexibility for taxpayers affected by the IRS system outage.
If you need an extension from the state, you can just have one: California doesn't require a form.
Be advised, this extends the due date for your tax returns until Oct. 15, but any federal and California tax money you owe is still due by the normal deadline. If you've already paid enough — or if you've overpaid and need a refund — you don't have to worry now about payment. If you owe tax money and don't pay by Tuesday, you could be subject to penalties and interest payments.
If you need to pay California income tax, you can do that online or with Form FTB 3519.
IRS systems are down
A wrinkle: The IRS electronic system that enables Americans to submit their tax returns online partly failed Tuesday, complicating filing for the millions of taxpayers attempting to meet the midnight deadline.
IRS Acting Commissioner David Kautter said the IRS is also was struggling to accept returns from widely used software programs such as TurboTax and Intuit — as well as from H&R Block, the massive tax preparation company.
Kautter said that people could continue to use those systems to file their taxes, but that some returns were not immediately going through to the IRS.
The problem appears to be a hardware issue, the IRS said. It advised taxpayers to "continue filing their tax returns as they normally would" and said the returns will be processed when feasible.
Extensions will be granted to those affected by the problem, Mnuchin said. "We'll make sure taxpayers have extensions once the system comes up to make sure they can use it and it in no way impacts people paying their taxes," he told reporters.
California state taxes are still due Tuesday.
The IRS is automatically giving extensions — both for filing tax returns and for paying any federal taxes due — under the following circumstances:
• Victims of wildfires, flooding, mudflows and debris flows in certain parts of Southern California have until April 30.
• Victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have until June 29.
• Members of the military and certain support personnel serving in designated combat zones have at least 180 days after leaving the combat zone.
These IRS extensions do not change California's due date for state taxes.
Taxpayers who live and work outside the United States have until June 15 to file federal tax returns, but they will have to pay interest on any amount received by the IRS after April 17.
By the way
Tax filing day was bumped to Tuesday because April 15 landed on a Sunday and because Emancipation Day, observed in Washington, was Monday.
From the IRS, here are a few facts and figures on the filing season through April 6.
• Total returns received: 103.7 million
• Number filed electronically: 95.9 million
• Number filed by tax professionals: 54.3 million
• Number of refunds: 79.1 million
• Average refund: $2,864
• Total amount refunded: $226.5 billion.
Martin writes for the Erie Times-News/McClatchy. Los Angeles Times staff writer Lauren Raab, the Associated Press and the Washington Post contributed to this report.
4:50 p.m. This article was updated with news of a one-day tax filing extension.
3:20 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from the IRS and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.