Nonprofit Tax Help

David McRee, CPA

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


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. However, I must warn you that the IRS computer does not deal with alternate due dates very well and sends out a lot incorrect penalty notices. My advice is to file all extension requests several weeks before the 15th, regardless of which day the 15th falls on.

 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 enter the correct code on the form to indicate what kind of Form you are requesting an extension for.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: For tax years beginning AFTER December 31, 2015, the IRS is offering one 6-month extension rather than two three-month extensions. At the time of this writing, the IRS has not yet updated Form 8868 to reflect the new 6-month extension. One presumes that this update will occur shortly. Just be aware of this change.

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, as applicable to the situation at hand:

"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.