How Long Are Corporate Extensions? The Code Says Five Months, but the IRS Says Six Months! Hurray!

The IRS has reassured the public that it knows what it is talking about in the 2016 instructions for Form 7004. Apparently, the IRS has been getting inquiries from preparers who are wondering if the instructions for Form 7004 are correct. The instructions indicate that the automatic extension period for corporations is six months, while §6081(b) states that the extension period for corporations is five months. The IRS explained that they were relying upon §6081(a) for the authority to grant six-month extensions, rather than the five-month extension period specified in §6081(b). For more information see the IRS notice here.

This really isn’t new. Prior to 2016, §6081(b) stated that corporations had a three-month extension period, but the IRS had been granting corporations a six-month automatic extension for years.

Due dates have changed! Calendar-year partnership returns, which were previously due Apr. 15, are now due by Mar. 15. Calendar-year C corporation returns, which were previously due Mar. 15, are now due by Apr. 15. S corporation returns remain due on Mar. 15. The underlying rationale is to have “flow-through” returns like Forms 1065 and 1120S due a month before the underlying returns where the K-1s will be reported. 

Note. A 2016 calendar-year C corporation return is due Apr. 18, 2017 and may be extended to Oct. 16, 2017. A 2016 S corporation return is due Mar. 15, 2017 and may be extended to Sep. 15, 2017.