Extensions for Tax Filing: What Are They and When Do You Apply?

Published by John Holmes at February 22, 2019

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An extension to file a tax return allows an individual or business extra time to file their tax forms and paperwork. This request grants an extension of up to six months and is due before the common tax due date of April 15th for individuals and March 15th for businesses. Below is a brief overview of how extensions work and the associated forms for individuals and businesses.

How Tax Filing Extensions Work

When filing for an extension it is important to keep the following in mind:

  • No Explanation is Required: generally, the IRS does not require a specific explanation for why you are filing for an extension and they will only contact you in cases where the request has been denied.
  • Timeframe: Requesting an extension extends your time to file by six months.
  • You Still Have to Pay on Time: an extension to file does not remove the requirement for payment. You are still required to pay your taxes as per the best information you have at the time. Interest and penalties will be charged for late payment of taxes.

Paperwork and Guidelines

  • Individuals: Form 4868 due April 15th is the common tax form filed for individuals who need an extension.
  • Businesses: a business can request an extension for tax filings by filling out Form 7004 which is specified for general business filings and information returns.


Getting an extension for your yearly tax filing is not uncommon. Both individuals and businesses do so every year for a variety of reasons. However, tax regulations are highly complex and there are several different forms related to tax extensions with some focused on highly specific occurrences such as Estates or Gifts. To assure your taxes are reported properly (no matter if personal or business) hiring an experienced tax professional is advisable to ensure that your forms are filled out properly and the right forms are submitted at the right time.

Please do remember that if you choose to file an extension and you will owe money to the government, payment must be made by April 15th. Penalties and interest will be assessed if payments are not received by April 15th.

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