How to File a Business Tax Extension

Running Out of Time to File Business Taxes? Request an Extension Online

A man uses a laptop at his desk in his home.
Photo:

Marko Geber / Getty Images

The tax deadline is looming and you're not ready to file yet. You may have to track down some straggling financial records, or maybe some other complication has cropped up to make it impossible to file your business return on time. In that case, you can file a one-time six-month extension to have time to complete your return.

This article explains the process of filing a tax extension for different kinds of businesses and business owners, including an easy way to file by going online.  

Key Takeaways

  • You must file a tax extension before the due date of the specific tax return, paying the taxes due by this date.
  • Use Form 4868 to apply for a business tax extension as part of your personal tax return.
  • Use Form 7004 to apply for an extension for a corporation, S corporation, or partnership.
  • You can apply for an extension online, or get an automatic extension if you pay taxes due online.

How to File an Extension Application 

Businesses may file requests for tax extensions using eitherForm 4868 or Form 7004, depending on the type of business they own.

Income Tax Extension Due Dates 

The due date for applying for an extension on a tax return is the original due date of the return for that year: 

  • April 15 for businesses filing business taxes along with their personal tax return on Form 1040/1040-SR
  • Corporate tax returns are due on the 15th day of the fourth month after the end of the tax year (April 15, for a December 31 year-end).
  • S corporation returns are due the 15th day of the third month after the end of the tax year (March 15 for a December year-end).
  • Partnership (including multiple-member limited liability company (LLC)) returns are due the 15th day of the 3rd month after the end of the tax year (March 15 for a December 31 year-end).

Business Tax on the Owner’s Personal Return

 Business owners who pay business taxes as part of their personal tax returns are called pass-through businesses. These businesses use Form 4868 to apply for an extension.

This typically includes:

  • Sole proprietors and single-member limited liability companies (SMLLCs) filing their business tax on Schedule C as part of their tax return
  • Partners in partnerships and S corporation owners filing a Schedule K-1 for their share of business tax liability as part of their tax return.

Note

If you live and work abroad, you must use a special extension application if you expect to qualify for special tax treatment. File Form 2350 extension application for U.S. citizens and aliens abroad.

Business Tax Returns

 Corporations and partnerships use Form 7004 to file an extension application for the business, not the individual owners. This includes corporations, S corporations, and multiple-member LLC businesses filing as partnerships, corporations, or S corporations.

You Can’t Extend Payment

Even if you apply for an extension for filing your business income tax forms, you can't extend the payment deadline. You must calculate and pay any income taxes and self-employment taxes by the due date of the form. To avoid IRS penalties for underpayment and late payment, you should pay at least 90% of the tax due. To estimate the tax you must pay, use an estimated tax calculation. 

Note

Definitely request an extension if you're not prepared to file your actual return on time. The late filing penalty can be more expensive than the penalties and interest associated with paying late. So get your extension request in, then address the nuts and bolts of preparing your return and figuring out what you owe.  

The Easy Way to File an Extension Application

Extensions on Personal Tax Returns: If you are one of the pass-through business types listed above and you pay your business taxes through your personal return, there's an easy way to get an extension on your tax return.

You don’t need to file Form 4868 if you make a payment using one of the electronic payment options. The IRS will automatically process an extension of time to file when you pay part or all of your estimated income tax (1040-ES) electronically.

Note

The easiest way to get an extension is to pay all or part of your income tax due and indicate that the payment is for an extension, using the IRS Direct Pay system, EFTPS, or your credit/debit card. You will receive a confirmation number for your records.

Extensions for Business Tax Returns: Form 7004 for corporations, S corporations, and partnerships can't be filed through the personal tax filing system. You must use the IRS Modernized e-File (MeF) platform. 

Mailing in an Extension Application

You can always file an extension application in the old-fashioned mail-in way. You can print out either form from the IRS website (Form 4868 or Form 7004) and get the mailing address for your location from the form. Mail it in as many days as possible before the tax deadline.

E-File Using a Software Program or Tax Professional

All the major tax software applications allow you to file an extension using either Form 4868 or Form 7004. When you log on to prepare your return, there should be a tab or option for filing an extension. There may not even be a charge, although you'll eventually have to pay to prepare the return itself. 

You can use either the personal or home business version of the product to file Form 4868 or use the business version to file Form 7004. You can do this immediately, then go back days or weeks later to complete your tax return. 

Don’t Forget Extensions on State Income Taxes

States that have state income tax have different rules for extending the state return. Some states may go along with the IRS extension, while others (New York, for example) require you to file a separate extension. Check with your state's taxing authority to make sure you are complying with your state's requirements for filing an extension.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

Who qualifies for an extension on taxes?


The only qualification to apply for an income tax extension is the requirement that you file by the original due date of the return. You must also estimate and pay any taxes due by this due date to avoid penalties. 

The due date for personal income tax returns on Form 1040 is April 15 of the year after the tax year. If April 15 is a weekend or holiday, the extension is due the next business day. 

Does filing a tax extension hurt you?

You may have heard that the IRS may penalize someone who files an extension application. But the IRS doesn't select returns for tax audit based on whether the taxpayer requested an extension. They select tax returns for audit based on random selection and on screenings, comparing a tax return with "norms" for similar returns

Was this page helpful?
Sources
The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. IRS. "Instructions for Form 1120 U.S. Corporation Income Tax Return."

  2. IRS. "Instructions for Form 1120-S U.S. Income Tax Return for an S Corporation."

  3. IRS. "Instructions for Form 1065  U.S. Return of Partnership Income.”

  4.  IRS. "Extension of Time to File Your Tax Return."

  5.  IRS. "E-filing Form 7004."

  6.  New York Department of Taxation and Finance. "Apply for an Extension of Time to File an Income Tax Return."

  7. IRS. "IRS Audits."

Related Articles