How To Get An Extension To File Your Business Tax Returns

Yes, the tax season is upon with the first filing date for some businesses being March 15, 2005. If you can't imagine getting your tax returns together by that date, you need not worry. The IRS automatically gives you an extension if your file the appropriate form. As you might expect, there are different forms for different businesses.

An Important Note

It is vitally important that you understand that an extension to file taxes is not an extension to PAY taxes. The IRS will give you a break on the filing date, but it wants the money now! If you anticipate that you will owe taxes, you need to send in the appropriate payment. Failure to do so could result in interest charges when you eventually get around to filing your returns.

Corporations

If you conduct business as a corporation with a fiscal year-end of December 31st, you are required to file your 2004 tax returns on or before March 15, 2005. You can get an automatic extension, however, by filing form 7004 before the March 15 deadline. Form 7004 applies both to "C" and "S" corporations and grants you an automatic 6-month extension to September 15, 2005.

While this automatic extension applies to "S" corporations, you should be aware of a quirk in the tax code. Since "S" corporations "pass through" taxes to your personal returns, the six-month extension is really only a five-month extension. To file your personal tax returns, you must report information from the K-1 issued from the "S" corporation. Unfortunately, the IRS only grants automatic extensions for filing personal tax returns to August 15, 2005.

Limited Liability Company

The IRS has never really figured out to how to handle limited liability companies. It has settled on a policy of avoiding the issue and simply treating the entity as a corporation or partnership.

Limited liability companies with more than one owner typically elect to be treated as partnerships for tax purposes. If this describes your situation, the LLC is required to file tax returns by April 15, 2005. You can obtain a 3-month extension by filing form 8736. Although form 8736 contains language regarding partnerships, you will still use this form since the IRS classifies you as a partnership for tax purposes.

If you are the sole owner of an LLC, you may be in for a surprise. The IRS doesn't recognize LLCs owned by one person. Instead, it simply considers you a sole proprietor and the rules for sole proprietorships apply. These are discussed below.

Partnership

If your business is a partnership, you are required to file tax returns by April 15, 2005. You can use form 8736 to obtain a 3-month extension.

Self-Employed/Sole-Proprietor

If you are not using a business entity, your business tax information should be reported on your personal tax return. The due date for filing your personal tax returns is April 15, 2005. You can obtain a four-month extension by filing form 4868.

Summary

Regardless of how your business is organized, the IRS will automatically grant you an extension to file your tax returns. By sending in the appropriate form, you can avoid a mad rush that will inevitably result in missing deductions and overpaying your taxes. Just make sure you pay any taxes you anticipate owing by the appropriate date.

Richard Chapo is CEO of http://www.businesstaxrecovery.com

Obtaining tax refunds for small businesses by finding overlooked tax deductions and credits through a free tax return review.

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