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TurboTax Help

Do I need to file an extension if I'm getting a refund?

Technically no, at least when it comes to your federal return.

Because the IRS calculates the late-filing penalty off of any additional taxes you owe ($0 in your case), there's no penalty because $0 × anything = $0.

However, it's best to go ahead and file an extension anyway, for three good reasons:

  1. If you end up owing (e.g., you corrected an error, forgot to enter a W-2, got a revised 1099 form, etc.) an extension protects you from the late-filing penalty.
  2. Some states require that you file a federal extension to get a state extension. More info
  3. It only takes a few minutes, and it's free!

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