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What Is Federal Extension Form 4868?


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Form 4868, also titled “Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File US Individual Income Tax Return,” is an IRS tax form that allows taxpayers and certain businesses to apply for an extension in the length of time they have to pay taxes. Upon submitting the form, filers have six months from the traditional tax due date in April to formally file their income tax forms.

Although tax day typically happens mid-April each year, U.S. taxpayers have until October of the same year to officially file their income papers when they file for an extension. If you need more time, for any reason, to file and pay your taxes, you can file Form 4868 by the original filing date in April to get an automatic extension. But before you decide to file, there are a few key things to know.

Any taxpayer, such as a U.S. citizen living domestically or abroad or a naturalized citizen, is eligible to file Form 4868. This paperwork grants an automatic six-month extension from the moment you file it. If you’re an American expat who lives outside Puerto Rico, the IRS grants you an additional two-month grace period to file Form 4868.

If you’re a U.S. expat or a foreign-born resident who needs more time to file, you can request an additional four-month extension by filing Form 4868. U.S. citizens living outside the country have until June 15 of the same tax year to formally submit Form 4868.

If you’re part of a married couple living abroad and requesting an extension, either person filing the tax return is eligible to receive the extension. However, if you’re part of a married couple that files separate tax returns, each spouse must request an extended tax grace period by filing a separate Form 4868.

Small Businesses and Form 4868

If you pay business taxes through a pass-through entity, you’re eligible to submit a Form 4868 extension. The IRS recognizes the following pass-through entities:

  • An LLC with a single member: A U.S. citizen or naturalized citizen with a single-member LLC can file Form 4868.
  • LLC partnerships: These types of pass-through entities can also utilize Form 4868, but the requirement entails submitting a Schedule K-1 that breaks down each member’s share and profit from an LLC.
  • Sole Proprietor: While the IRS only recognizes single sole proprietor owners for tax purposes, if a married couple owns and operates the business, it’s legal to operate as a sole proprietorship in certain states and if certain conditions are met. In this case, either spouse can elect to file a joint Form 4868, which applies to both. Or, each spouse can file their pass-through income separately, which means that the 4868 extension only applies to that particular marital partner.
  • S corporations: All shareholders involved in an S corporation are entitled to submit form 4868 provided that they receive and send a Schedule K-1 to the IRS.

If you’re an eligible tax filer operating an S corporation but have members who don’t work with a Schedule K-1, you aren’t qualified to use Form 4868. Instead, the IRS requires you to submit Form 7004.

The IRS doesn’t consider C corporations disregarded entities. This means C corporations aren’t eligible to file Form 4868. However, because each member of a C corp draws a paycheck and distributions, they can elect to file Form 4868 for their personal taxes. If you need to delay filing your C corporation’s business taxes, you must fill out and submit a Form 7004 for it.

Filling Out and Filing Form 4868

Filling out Form 4868 isn’t too complicated — it only has two sections. Part I, the first section, requires some pertinent personal information like your Social Security number, full name and address. If a married couple requests a federal extension Form 4868, the name that shows first on the tax form must appear first on Form 4868. 

Part II of Form 4868 involves estimations of what you’ll owe for the year in taxes. In this section, you’ll also declare any taxes you’ve already paid, what you still owe after making those payments and what you’re able to pay moving forward.

The IRS allows you to electronically file Form 4868 through its online IRS Free File system if your adjusted gross income is $72,000 or less. Commercial tax software can help you set up and submit federal extension Form 4868. You can also file Form 4868 with help from a tax professional.

Of course, you can print out form 4868, fill it out, and submit it via mail. However, the state you legally reside in, especially if you’re a U.S. expat, determines to which IRS office you will mail your form 4868. You can easily find the appropriate IRS office to send your federal extension form 4868 on the IRS’s website.

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