How to File an Extension on Your Business Income Taxes

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How to File an Extension for Business Taxes Step 1: Rules and Deadlines

Filing an Extension for Business Taxes
Filing an Extension for Business Taxes. Bob Travaglione FoToEdge/Getty Images

First step to filing an extension

Before you file an application for an extension on your business taxes, take a minute to review the rules and the deadlines:

  • For every type of business tax return, the extension application must be filed no later than the date the tax return is due.
  • Then, the deadline for filing the extended tax return varies by type of business. For partnerships, the extension is for six months, until September 15. For corporations, the extension is for six months, until October 15. For sole proprietorships and single-member LLCs, the extension is for six months, until October 15.
  • In addition, at least 90% of any taxes that are due for the year in question must be paid by the tax return due date. Any payments after the due date may incur fines and penalties.
  • The type of tax return you are filing for your business dictates the deadline and the length of the extension. In general, you must file the extension application before the business tax return is due.
    • Partnerships and multiple-member LLCs must file their partnership returns by April 15. Partnerships have five months to complete and file the extension, so the extension due date is September 15.
    • Corporations and S Corporations must file their corporate tax returns six months after the end of their fiscal year (financial year), so a corporation or s corporation with a December 31 year end must file corporate taxes by March 15. The six-month extension is due September 15 for a December 31 year end corporation. For corporations, count six months after the end of the fiscal year for the tax return deadline, then six additional months to complete and file the extended tax return.
    • A sole proprietorship or single-member LLC (filing as a sole proprietorship) extension is for six months, so they must submit their extension by October 15.

Read more details about the deadlines for filing an extension and for filing your business tax return at the end of the extension.

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Business Tax Extensions Step 2: Estimate Your Taxes - Refund or Payment?

Estimating Business Taxes
Before you file your business tax extension, you must know whether you will be getting a refund or will have to pay. If you must pay taxes, the payment must be made by the tax due date for your business.

You have several options for estimating your business taxes:

  • Use a free tax preparation program, such as TaxAct or TurboTax, to do a quick estimate.
  • There are several free tax applets that might give you the information you need.
  • For more complicated partnership and corporation returns, you will probably need to talk to a tax preparer and get an estimate. The tax preparer can also help you file your extension.

If you can't pay your taxes when they are due, the IRS has some payment options you might want to look into.

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Filing a Business Tax Extension Step 3: Complete the Extension Application

Step 5 is the next-to-last step in completing your tax extension application.

Form 4868 for sole proprietors and single-member LLCs
If you are completing an application for a sole proprietorship or single-member LLC filing taxes on Schedule C, use Form 4868. You do not have to complete a separate extension application for your personal tax return, since your Schedule C is part of your personal return.

William Perez, Guide to Tax Planning, takes you step by step through the process of filing Form 4868 tax return extension for a small business filing taxes on Schedule C.

Form 7004 for partnerships, multiple-member LLCs, corporations, and S corporations.
If you are filing an extension for a partnership, multiple-member LLC, corporation, or S corporation, you must use Form 7004 (pdf). This form may be completed online, printed, and mailed to the IRS.

To complete Form 7004, you will need to know what tax filing form you are using for your type of business. Partnership taxes are reported on Form 1065, corporate taxes are reported on Form 1120, and S corporation taxes are reported on Form 1120-S.

Read more about how to complete Form 7004. or read the IRS Instructions for Form 7004, which includes instructions for filing online and details of filing by mail.

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Filing an Extension Step 4: Check for Errors

Before you send off that business tax return extension, or any tax form, be sure to check for errors. Some errors, like mis-calculations, the IRS can catch. Other errors, like failing to sign the form, may delay receipt of your tax form.


Some of the most common tax return errors are failing to sign a return or form, incorrect or missing Social Security Number or Employer ID, putting information on the wrong line, and failing to include forms which must be attached. Check through this list of common tax return errors before you send off that return.

If the IRS rejects your tax extension application it is probably because of an error or a change in information that the IRS was not aware of.

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Filing a Business Tax Extension Step 5: File Online or by Mail

Filing your business tax extension
You have several options for filing your business (and personal) tax extension. William Perez, Guide to Tax Planning, has a helpful list of some quick and easy ways to file a tax extension fast. Several of these options involve online filing. The article also includes mailing information for Form 4868.

If you are filing Form 7004 for a partnership or corporation tax extension, see the IRS Instructions for Form 7004, which include a list of mailing addresses. The mailing addresses are listed by form, so you will need to know which tax form you are filing the extension for. (Partnerships file business taxes on Form 1065, corporations file using Form 1120, and S corporations use Form 1120-S.

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Filing a Business Tax Extension - Answers to Commonly-asked Questions

Still have questions?
This article lists some some common questions about tax return extensions. For example:

  • If I don't owe taxes, do I have to file a return?
  • Can I file a second extension?
  • How do I file an extension with my state?
  • What if my extension application was rejected? What do I do?

 

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