Nonprofit Tax Help

David McRee, CPA

Form 8868 Extension of Time to File IRS Form 990 / 990-EZ

FREE E-book! Download my free booklet on how to get an extension of time to file Form 990 / 990-EZ / and 990-T. These are detailed instructions that even the most inexperienced person can follow to file your own extension request. Contains lots of info the IRS instructions don't tell you. Written in plain English.

To save the book to your computer, right-click on the link to open a contextual menu. Then click on "Save target as" if you are using Internet Explorer, or "Save link as" if you are using Firefox. A "save" window will open. Choose the location on your computer where you want to save the file. If you're not sure, save it under "My Documents." Remember where you saved it so you can find it. Any PDF reader will open it. There is no password. Adobe Acrobat pdf reader is probably already on your computer. Feel free to give the ebook away to associates, or clients (just don't sell it).

It is not at all unusual for an organization to need an extension of time to file their Form 990. Sometimes the annual audit isn't finished, sometimes the CPA is too busy, sometimes the financial records are not yet in order. Whatever the reason, the first extension request is automatically granted. But you still have to file the extension request form on or before the due date of the Form 990. If you are one day late filing the extension request, it is not valid and the IRS will charge a penalty each day the Form 990 is late.

If the due date falls on a weekend or holiday, then the next business day is treated as the due date. Example: If the May 15th due date falls on a Saturday, then the return (or extension request) must be filed by Monday, May 17th.

Note: When you are filing a return or extension within 2 weeks of the deadline, ALWAYS use certified mail with a return receipt. You may find yourself in need of a hand-stamped receipt from the post office to prove you mailed the return on time. It happens to me frequently. Filing electronically avoids this issue, but not everyone is set up to file electronically. See the video on my foolproof method of mailing documents to the IRS.

Requesting an Extension

Fill out IRS Form 8868. Just follow the form instructions. Be aware that part one of the form is for the first (automatic) three-month extension. Part 2 of the form is used for the second three-month extension.

You cannot ask for 6 months with the first extension. You only get 3 months per request, for a maximum of 6 months.

Also, note that Form 8868 applies to other forms besides Form 990, so be sure to check the correct box to indicate what kind of Form you are requesting an extension for.

Requesting a Second Three-Month Extension of Time to File Form 990

Part 2 of Form 8868 is used to request an additional 3 month extension. You'll need to give a reason. Here are the two most common reasons I've given over the last 12 years:

"Additional time is needed because the organization is waiting for the completion of the annual independent audit of the financial statements."


"Additional time is needed to assemble documents and records necessary to file a complete and accurate Form 990."

Extending the Due Date of Form 990-T

If your organization is required to file Form 990-T because it has Unrelated Business Taxable Income, and if you need an extension of time to file Form 990-T, you must file a SEPARATE Form 8868 for the 990-T.

You only need to apply for one extension for the 990-T because the extension that pertains to the 990-T is for 6 months.

State Corporate Tax Return

If you are filing a Form 990-T, you may also need to file a corporate income tax return with the state in which you operate. So be sure to get an extension for the state corporate return as well. The 990-T reports taxable income, which is often taxable at the state level as well.