If by now you’ve come to the realization that you’re just not going to be able to get your tax federal return filed on time, here’s some insight into how to file for a federal tax return extension. (As a reminder, your accountant or tax prep professional is your best source of knowledge when it comes to this and all tax-related topics. Talk to them!)

Visit the IRS Website

You may be surprised at how searchable and useful irs.gov is. When it comes to learning more about how to file for a tax return extension, the website has information for individuals as well as “corporations, partnerships, REMICs, and certain trusts.” You’ll also be able to find the requisite forms you need. The “Extensions” section of irs.gov also hammers home an extremely important piece of information: “Please be aware that an extension of time to file your return does not grant you any extension of time to pay your tax liability.” Basically that means that even though you’re requesting to take some extra time to get the paperwork done, you still have to pay on time.

Understand How Long Your Extension Is

If you’re seeking for an automatic extension to file your federal individual income tax return, you get six (6) months. It’s also important to note that in order to get a filing extension for your federal individual income tax return, you need to supply the following information:

  • “Properly estimate your 2013 tax liability using the information available to you,
  • Enter your total tax liability on line 4 of Form 4868, and
  • File Form 4868 by the regular due date of your return”

And for your business filing extension request, Form 7004 is what you need. For this form, you’ll need to know what the form for which you’re requesting an extension. For example, if you need an extension to file form 1120, you’ll need to indicate such on form 7004. (Isn’t this fun!?!?)

BONUS TIP: The IRS will not notify you if your extension has been granted; only if it has been declined. 


As always, your accountant or tax prep professional is the best source of advice for this stuff. Additional resources include sba.gov, irs.gov, your state’s revenue website (i.e., tax.ny.gov) and your local chamber of commerce.