Sometimes you don’t have enough time to get your finances in order, and that’s okay. If your business is not ready to file a federal income tax return by April 15th, you can request a 6-month extension (5 months for certain business entities) to October 15th. No reason need be provided and signatures are not required. However, this extension merely grants you more time to file your return: you must still PAY your balance on tax day. This seems counterintuitive - isn’t the point of the tax return extension to extend the period of time before paying? The answer is no. You still have to pay by April 15th. The point of the extension is to give your business more time to file an accurate report. If it turns out that you overpaid, you will receive a refund. However, if your final return is less than what you owe, you will have to pay the additional dues.

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To get an extension when filing your business income tax return, you’ll need to file form 7004 Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File Certain Business Income Tax, Information, and Other Returns, which is available at the IRS website.

If you are living outside the US at filing time, and not just on vacation or a business trip, you are eligible for an automatic filing extension to June 15th (you don’t need to fill out any forms for this). You can also file form 4868 Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File US Individual Income Tax Returnif you need additional time to file, and get four more months of extension till October 15th.

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