30 Minutes or Less: Here’s the Fastest Way to File for a Tax Extension

By Altaira Northe on March 14, 2018

If tax season panic is setting in, we have good news: you probably qualify for a tax extension. Even better, you can get a tax extension in 30 minutes or less if you have a wifi connection. We’ll show you how.

But remember, an extension to file your taxes is not an extension to pay your taxes. Even if you do receive an extension, you’re still required to pay your estimated taxes by the original due date.

Sole proprietors: here’s how you file for an extension online

Before we get into how to file for an extension, you should know there might be a chance you don’t need to file for an extension at all.

You’ll get an automatic six month extension if:

If any of these exceptions apply to you, you’ll automatically receive an extension of time to file your tax return; you don’t need to file for the extension.

For everyone else, to receive an extension, you must submit an application to extend your filing deadline. You need to apply on or before the usual tax deadline of April 17th, 2018. Once you submit your application  for the extension, your deadline for filing your tax return will automatically be moved to October 17th, 2018.

File by paying electronically

If you plan on paying your taxes electronically, you can skip a step in the process of filing for an extension. This is by far the fastest, simplest way to get an extension on filing your taxes. Rather than going through the IRS Free File system (more on that below), you can just select the “extension” option when paying through the IRS payment portal. It’s as simple as that.

You’ll still need to provide your basic contact and tax information, but you won’t need to file for an extension and pay your taxes as two separate steps.


An animation of filing for an IRS tax extension online


Filling for an extension online

The IRS offers a list of Free File providers to file a tax extension online. If your income is below $66,000 you can use Free File software, but if your income is above $66,000 you’ll have to settle for the Free File fillable forms.

To file your extension, you’ll just need your basic contact and social security information that you have on file with the IRS.

Remember, you’ll still need to pay your taxes by the April 17, 2018 deadline. So to file for an extension, you’ll also need to estimate your total taxes owed (here’s a guide to calculating your small business taxes) and subtract the total amount of tax you’ve already paid.

Partnerships, S corps, and C corps: here’s how you file for an extension online

For all corporations and partnerships, you’ll need to complete Form 7004 for an extension on filing your taxes, which you can do online through the IRS’ e-file service. Just create an account to get started, and the website will guide you through the rest.

For each type of return you’re requesting an extension for, you’ll need to submit a separate  Form 7004.

IRS Form 7004

Once you’ve identified the return that you’re requesting an extension for, you’ll need to provide the IRS with some basic information about your company:

  • If your organization is a foreign corporation that doesn’t have an office or place of business in the U.S.
  • If your organization is a corporation, and is the common parent of a group that will be filing a consolidated return.
  • If the organization is a corporation or partnership that qualifies under Regulations section 1.6081-5.
  • The dates of your calendar and tax years.
  • If you’re filling a short tax year, and why.

Finally, you’ll also need to include the tentative amount of your total taxes, and your total payments and credits.

Just like individuals, you still have to pay estimated taxes by your usual filing deadline.

Here are the tax deadlines for partnerships and corporations:

Partnerships deadline: March 15, 2018. Deadline with extension: September 15, 2018.

S corporations deadline: March 15, 2018. Deadline with extension: September 15, 2018.

C corporations deadline: April 17, 2018. Deadline with extension: October 17, 2018. If the fiscal year end is different from the calendar year end, then the filing due date is on the 15th day of the 4th month after the fiscal year end. The extended deadline would be 6 months after this date.

Filing for an extension is relatively simple, and it’s a great way to avoid late filing fees, or to give yourself a little extra time to make sure that you’re making the most of the available small business deductions.

If you’re having trouble calculating the amount of estimated tax to pay to avoid late payment  fees, we recommend talking to your CPA.


This post is to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, business, or tax advice. Each person should consult his or her own attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in this post. Bench assumes no liability for actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

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Altaira Northe

Altaira Northe is a writer, writing coach, and runner, who splits her time between Toronto and BC’s Sunshine Coast. @ctrlaltaira