Calendar-year C corporations can get 6-month filing extensions

By Alistair M. Nevius, J.D.

Editor: Sally P. Schreiber, J.D.

In February, the IRS updated its website to confirm that an apparent anomaly in the instructions for Form 7004 is correct: It is allowing calendar-year C corporations a six-month filing extension, instead of the five-month extension specified in the Code.

The instructions to Form 7004, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File Certain Business Income Tax, Information, and Other Returns, raised questions among practitioners when they were posted on Feb. 2 because, on page 2, they refer to "an automatic 6-month extension for a calendar year C corporation . . ." However, Sec. 6081(b), as amended by the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015, P.L. 114-41, provides for five-month extensions for calendar-year C corporations (until 2026).

The IRS explains on its website that its instruction is not a mistake and "correctly reflects that calendar year C corporations are eligible for an automatic 6-month extension." The IRS cites the power granted to it in Sec. 6081(a)—"The Secretary may grant a reasonable extension of time for filing any return"—as authority for the longer extension period.

The Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act set the due date for Form 1120, U.S. Corporation Income Tax Return, as the 15th day of the fourth month following the close of the corporation's year. For calendar-year corporations, Form 1120 is thus generally due April 15 (it was due April 18 in 2017), and the six-month extended due date is Oct. 15 (Oct. 16 in 2017). Non-calendar-year C corporations already had a six-month extension available to them under Sec. 6081(b), except for C corporations with a June 30 year end, which are allowed a seven-month extension (until 2026).

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