How to File an Extension for Taxes

Three Methods:Sample FormFiling an Individual ExtensionFiling a Corporate Extension

If you are not prepared to file your taxes when April 15th comes around, you can apply for an extension to file. The IRS almost never makes any inquiries as to why you are asking for the extension, so almost everyone who files is granted one, so long as they don't owe back taxes for multiple years. Remember, even if your extension is granted, you will still owe any tax liability plus interest.

Sample Form

IRS Form 4868

Method 1
Filing an Individual Extension

  1. Image titled File an Extension for Taxes Step 1
    Get the proper form. For an individual extension, you'll need a copy of IRS Form 4868. You can find a copy at Remember to make sure you have the form for the proper year.
  2. Image titled File an Extension for Taxes Step 2
    Gather your information. You will need to know your name, address, social security number, and your spouse's social security number in order to fill out IRS Form 4868.
  3. Image titled File an Extension for Taxes Step 3
    Estimate your income. Even if you file for an extension, you will still be asked to estimate the amount you would owe if you filed on time. The starting point for this estimate will be your yearly income. While the estimate will be useful for you, it's more for the IRS' purposes than your own. The estimate is not legally binding, so if you under or overestimate your liability or income, the IRS won't penalize you for the mistake.[1]
    • In order to estimate your income, it's best to use last year as a starting point. If you haven't changed jobs, gotten a significant raise at that job, or received a payment from investment income, your income is probably close to what it was the year before.
  4. Image titled File an Extension for Taxes Step 4
    Enter the amount of tax you have already paid. This includes any amount of tax that has already been withheld from your paycheck, and if you are eligible, the amount of any credits or deductions, including the Earned Income Credit.
    • There are many types of deductions and credits that are available to taxpayers. One of the most common is the Earned Income Credit. To see if you are eligible for specific deductions or credits, consult a tax preparer or the instructional forms for taxes, which can be found at There are instructions for many different forms, but most people use a 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ to file taxes.
  5. Image titled File an Extension for Taxes Step 5
    Estimate your tax liability. The amount of your tax liability will be the applicable tax on your gross income minus what you have already paid in taxes. There are many tax liability calculators/estimators available online, like the one at Just start with your gross income for the year (which will be your income before taxes), fill in all the information you have, and add it up. The result will be your estimate.
  6. Image titled File an Extension for Taxes Step 6
    Pay any amount of your estimated tax that you can. Since you are charged interest on your back taxes, you will want to minimize the amount of back tax you will owe. Therefore, pay whatever you can when you submit your form. This will offset any interest or penalties you will owe when you file. Make a payment here:
  7. Image titled File an Extension for Taxes Step 7
    Submit the form. Submit your form either electronically or via snail mail. The proper address can be found on Form 4868. Unless you hear from the IRS, you can assume that your request for an extension has been granted. You will usually hear from the IRS within 60 days.[2]
  8. Image titled File an Extension for Taxes Step 8
    Mark your calendar. If you file for an automatic extension, you will have until October 15 to file your taxes, assuming the original due date is April 15.

Method 2
Filing a Corporate Extension

  1. Image titled File an Extension for Taxes Step 9
    Obtain the proper form and gather identifying information. In order to file an extension for a business, you're going to need a copy of IRS Form 7004, which you can find at Make sure to check the year. You will also need to know your basic identifying information, including name, address, and your Employer Identification Number.
  2. Image titled File an Extension for Taxes Step 10
    Decide whether you are eligible for a five month extension or a six month extension. In general, trusts, non-bankruptcy estates, and partnerships are eligible for five month extensions, while other types of businesses are eligible for six month extensions. However, the rules for businesses are often far more complex than those for individuals, so it is best to consult a tax attorney, accountant, or other tax professional to determine which extension to file. Alternatively, you can find a list of the instructions for all of the IRS' forms at, which all include instructions on who should file what type of return.
  3. Image titled File an Extension for Taxes Step 11
    See if you qualify for an automatic extension under Regulation 1.6081-5. Certain types of businesses qualify for three month extensions without having to file under Form 7004. If they do file form 7004, then they can only get a maximum of three additional months past the regular due date, for a total of six months. Qualifying business are:[3]
    • Foreign corporations that maintain a place of business in the US.
    • A US corporation that transacts business and keeps its account records outside of the US or Puerto Rico.
    • A US corporation whose main source of income comes from US territories and other possessions.[4]
  4. Image titled File an Extension for Taxes Step 12
    Estimate your total income tax. Many businesses pay quarterly taxes based on estimate for their entire year's taxes. The estimate that you're filling in here is not an estimate for the remaining quarters, but for the entire year.
    • Include any payments that have already been made to the IRS in your calculations. This includes remittances and your quarterly tax payments. If you have either type of payment, include these in the total.
  5. Image titled File an Extension for Taxes Step 13
    Make a partial payment to the IRS based on what you think your business will owe. This will reduce your penalties and interest charges. Make a payment here:
  6. Image titled File an Extension for Taxes Step 14
    File your extension electronically or with a paper form. Mail your form and/or payment to the address printed on your instructions, or use your own electronic filing software. You can find a list of authorized electronic filing providers at
    • Businesses with assets of $10,000,000 or more are required to e-file.[5]
    • Assume your extension filing has been accepted by the IRS unless you hear otherwise. It is called an "automatic" extension because the IRS rarely rejects the request.


  • Consider getting help from a tax professional if you are having trouble preparing your taxes. Tax forms can be confusing, especially if your tax exposure changes dramatically in a given year. A tax advisor can help you file for an extension and gather the information you need.


  • Remember that filing for an extension does not mean you have an extension to pay any taxes that you owe. If you do not pay on time, you may be subject to interest charges and late fees.

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Categories: Taxes and Fees