What Are Tax Extensions?

Updated for Tax Year 2019


OVERVIEW

The IRS allows individuals, businesses and estates to file a tax return after the deadline by obtaining an extension.


UPDATE: The Treasury recently announced tax changes and updates in response to COVID-19. Updates include an extension until July 15, 2020 for all taxpayers that have a filing or payment deadline that normally falls on or after April 1, 2020 and before July 1, 2020. Please see the latest information on tax deadlines and stimulus updates related to COVID-19 on the TurboTax Coronavirus Tax Center and detailed information about federal and state tax changes on our Coronavirus blog post.


The IRS allows individuals, businesses and estates to file a tax return after the deadline by obtaining an extension. Successfully filing for an extension means no late-filing penalty will be assessed unless the return is not filed by the extended deadline.

However, this does not extend the deadline to pay taxes. If you fail to pay your tax bill by the original deadline, you may be subject to penalties and interest.

Filing an extension on a personal tax return

If you need more time to file your personal income tax return, you can complete Form 4868 for an additional time. This basic two-part form simply identifies you and allows you to make an estimated tax payment. You can generally recover interest on any amount you overpay, but you will be liable for interest and possibly penalties on any amount you underpay.

To obtain the extension, you must file Form 4868 by the tax return deadline, which is generally April 15 of each year. However, the federal tax return and extension filing deadline for 2019 tax returns has been extended to July 15, 2020.

TurboTax Easy Extension allows  you to file your extension online, and can help you estimate how much you owe in taxes.

Extensions for U.S. expatriates

U.S. taxpayers can obtain a two-month extension when they are outside the U.S. on the tax filing deadline. To qualify, your main place of business must normally be outside the U.S. or you must be on active duty in the military.

For this extension, simply file your return no more than two months after the original due date and attach a statement explaining why you qualify for the two-month extension. Unlike the three-month extension available to taxpayers living within the U.S., this two-month extension allows you avoid late-payment penalties during the two months. However, you will still incur interest charges on the amount of tax you fail to pay by the filing deadline.

Estate tax return extension

The estate tax return is ordinarily due within nine months of the decedent's death. The executor of the estate can file Form 4768 to receive an extension of time to file the estate tax return on Form 706.

An executor who is out of the country can file for an additional extension for a total of 12 months. However, this second extension is not automatic and the application must be filed with the IRS prior to the termination of the first extension so that it has sufficient time to evaluate the application.

Business tax return extensions

A partnership can obtain an automatic five-month extension of time for filing its income tax return on Form 1065, and a corporation that files an income tax return on Form 1120 can obtain an extension provided a Form 7004 is filed with the IRS by the original filing deadline. However, if you are a sole proprietor who prepares a Schedule C to report taxable business earnings, you can obtain an extension of time using Form 4868.

Get every deduction you deserve

TurboTax Deluxe searches more than 350 tax deductions and credits so you get your maximum refund, guaranteed.

For only $60*
Start for Free

Looking for more information?