Filing taxes is rarely a walk in the park. When you add in legal business structures, employee payroll, and other aspects of running a business, filing your taxes only gets more complicated. There’s a lot to manage between the end of the year and the April 15th filing deadline.
The good news is that many businesses don’t actually need to file every part of their tax return by that deadline. If you need extra time to file certain forms and documents, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) uses Form 7004 to enable business owners to request an extension.
Sound pretty good? Read on for more details on IRS Form 7004, the Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File Certain Business Income Tax, Information, and Other Returns. In this guide, we cover it all, including:
What Form 7004 is
Who’s eligible for a Form 7004 extension
How and when to file Form 7004 and make tax payments
What is Form 7004?
If you just need the basics, here’s the skinny:
The purpose of Form 7004: Requests for a tax filing extension
When it’s due: By the tax filing due date (April 15th for most businesses)
Who needs to file: Partnerships, LLCs, and Corporations that need extra time to file certain tax documents and returns
On the form, businesses can indicate the specific tax forms they need an extension for. Once filed, Form 7004 grants you an automatic extension of up to six months from the original due date for the form in question.
Which tax forms are eligible?
It’s important to note that not every tax form is eligible for a filing extension via Form 7004. In fact, many common tax documents (including Form 941, Form 1040, and Form W-2) aren’t included.
Form 7004 lists 33 forms in total for businesses to choose from. Here’s the full list, which you can also find on the form itself:
Form 1041 and variations
Form 1120 and variations
How long is the extension?
Once you file Form 7004 and are granted a filing extension, you have up to six extra months, measured from the original due date of each specific tax form.
Take Form 1065, the U.S. Return of Partnership Income, for example. This form is due three months after the end of a partnership’s fiscal year. For those following the calendar year, that’s March 15th.
If a partnership files Form 7004, their new due date for Form 1065 is six months later—on September 15th.
How do I know if my extension has been approved?
When businesses file Form 7004, they’re automatically granted a six-month extension on filing the specific tax return document listed on the form. That is to say, you won’t receive any explicit confirmation from the IRS stating that you’ve been approved. Don’t worry: you still have those six extra months.
The exception here is if you submit Form 7004 but your business or the particular tax return aren’t eligible—if your business is a sole proprietorship, for example (more on that later). In this case, the IRS will let you know that your request for an extension has been disallowed. In other words, no news = good news.
Am I eligible for an automatic filing extension?
If a 6-month extension on filing your business taxes sounds good, you may be wondering whether or not you’re eligible to file Form 7004 and get one. The answer: it depends, primarily on the way your business is legally structured.
There are 4 business types that can file Form 7004 to get an extension. They include:
Multi-member limited liability companies (LLCs) that file taxes as a partnership
Traditional corporations (or C corps)
If your business doesn’t file taxes as one of those four types, then you are not eligible to submit for an automatic filing extension via Form 7004.
How to file Form 7004 and get an extension
For those businesses that are eligible, let’s talk about the how and when of filing Form 7004 and securing your extension. In order to complete Form 7004, you’ll need to have the following information handy:
Business name, address, and identifying number
The tax form(s) you’re requesting an extension on
Tentative total tax, payments and credits to date, and balance due
Note: It’s important to remember that you must file a separate 7004 form for each tax form that requires an extension. So if you need an extension on Form 1065 and Form 8804, you’ll need to file two, separate 7004 forms.
When to submit Form 7004
Any 7004 form is due by the original due date for the form you’re requesting an extension on.
Using our previous example, Form 1065 is due by March 15th for partnerships that use the calendar year as their fiscal year. So a Form 7004 requesting an extension on Form 1065 is due by the same date.
Here’s another example: Corporations are required to file their annual return (Form 1120) within four months of the end of their fiscal year. For calendar year companies, that’s April 15th. So a 7004 form requesting an extension on Form 1120 is due by April 15th.
Once you’ve filled out a 7004 form for all of the tax forms you need an extension on, it’s time to submit them to the IRS and secure your extension. Businesses have two main options for this:
E-file and pay online
Mail in your forms and payments
Note: There are some forms for which the corresponding Form 7004 cannot be e-filed. They include Forms 8612, 8613, 8725, 8831, 8876, and 706-GS(D). For extensions on all other 7004-eligible forms, you can choose to e-file or file by mail.
If your 7004 form(s) are eligible to be e-filed, you’ll do so via the Modernized e-File (MeF) program. To use MeF, you’ll need to work with an Approved IRS MeF Business Provider, and they’ll do most of the work for you. You can find a list of approved providers by form and filing need on the IRS website.
File and pay by mail
To file 7004 forms by mail, simply print out your completed form(s) and mail them to the appropriate address. Which address you’ll mail 7004 forms to varies based on up to three things:
There’s an important caveat to all this talk of tax filing extensions: Your actual taxes (namely, the money you owe to the government) is still due on the regular due date, even if you receive an extension on the paperwork side of things.
If you’re filing for an extension on Form 1065, your annual partnership return for example, you’re still obligated to pay any and all tax owed (or estimated to be owed) by March 15th—even if you don’t file Form 1065 until the extension date of September 15th.
To sum things up, let’s recap the main takeaways business owners need to know about IRS Form 7004:
Form 7004 enables business owners to request an automatic six-month extension on filing certain tax forms and returns
It does not grant an extension on paying taxes associated with those forms