IRS Form 4768 Instructions
If you’re an executor who must file a federal estate tax return, it may take a long time to distribute the decedent’s taxable estate. In many cases, this process goes much further than the normal due date of the return. Fortunately, the Internal Revenue Service allows taxpayers to file an estate tax extension using IRS Form 4768.
In this article, we’ll walk through this tax form and answer some frequently asked questions about estate taxes.
Table of contents
- How do I complete IRS Form 4768?
- Video walkthrough
- Frequently asked questions
- Where can I find a copy of Form 4768?
- Related tax forms
- What do you think?
How do I complete IRS Form 4768?
This one-page tax form contains four parts:
- Part I: Identification
- Part II: Extension of Time to File
- Part III: Extension of Time To Pay
- Part IV: Payment to Accompany Extension Request
We’ll walk through each part, step by step.
Part I: Identification
In this section, we’ll provide information about:
- The decedent
- The estate
- The executor of the estate
Line 1: Beginning at the top, enter the decedent’s first name, middle initial, and last name, followed by the decedent’s date of death.
Line 2: Just below, enter the name of the executor, name of the application filer (if not the executor), followed by the decedent’s Social Security number. If the executor and the filer are the same person, leave the middle field blank.
Line 3: On the third line, enter the executor’s address (street name and number), followed by the estate tax return’s due date. If you are not sure about the due date, see the FAQ section.
Line 4: At the bottom of Part I, enter the city, state, and zip code for the executor, the decedent’s domicile (county, state, and zip code), and a daytime telephone number for the executor.
Part II: Extension of Time To File Form 706, 706-A, 706-NA, or 706-QDT (Section 6081)
In Part II, we’ll provide information about the tax return and reasons to request an extension.
Form for which extension of time to file is being requested
At the top of Part II, indicate which type of tax return for which you are requesting an extension:
- IRS Form 706: United States Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return
- IRS Form 706-A: United States Additional Estate Tax Return
- IRS Form 706-NA: United States Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return, Estate of nonresident not a citizen of the United States
- IRS Form 706-QDT: United States Estate Tax Return for Qualified Domestic Trusts
Below this section, there are three types of extensions that you might consider.
Upon request, the IRS grants an automatic six-month extension of time, as long as the filing deadline has not already passed when the request is submitted.
If you are requesting an automatic extension, select this box and move down to Part III (if necessary), or Part IV.
If granted, the IRS will not contact you. Simply keep a completed copy of your extension request with your records.
Extension for cause/Form 4768 not filed in time for automatic extension
Check this box if you are applying for an extension, but the filing deadline has already passed. You must attach a statement explaining the following:
- Why you did not timely request an automatic extension of time,
- Why it was impossible or impractical to file the return by the due date, and
- Specific reasons why you have good and sufficient cause for failing to timely request an automatic extension.
If approved, the six month extension for cause runs from the original due date of the return, not the date that you filed Form 4768 or the date of approval. Keep a completed copy of your extension request in your records.
In general, only an executor who is located outside the United States may request an additional extension of time beyond the six-month period after the original due date. To do this, you must check the box and provide a written explanation why it is impossible or impractical to file this return by the filing date.
The IRS encourages executors who may need additional time to separately request an automatic extension first, before the due date. From there, the executor can request the additional extension.
You cannot combine both an automatic extension and an additional extension on the same Form 4768.
Part III: Extension of Time To Pay (Section 6161)
Internal Revenue Code Section 6161 allows for an extension of time to pay estate tax or generation-skipping transfer tax liabilities, provided the executor can show reasonable cause.
The IRS can approve extensions for up to one year at a time, up to the following maximums:
- Extension of time to pay: 10 years
- Extension of time to pay a deficiency: 4 years
To receive an extension for payment, you must provide a detailed explanation and demonstrate good cause in a written statement. Submit this statement as an attachment to your completed form.
Types of reasonable cause
The IRS form instructions indicate the following as examples of reasonable cause:
- Estate has sufficient liquid assets to pay taxes due. However, the assets are located in several jurisdictions, and the executor cannot readily collect them with reasonable effort
- A substantial part of the estate consists of assets with rights to future payments. These assets cannot be liquidated or borrowed against without causing significant harm to the estate.
- Estate includes a claim to substantial assets that are subject to litigation. The size of the gross estate is unascertainable on the due date
- Estate doesn’t have sufficient funds, even though the executor has made reasonable efforts to convert assets into cash.
In addition to your attached written statement, you must:
- Enter your requested extension date (not to exceed 12 months)
- Check the appropriate box(es)
If the taxes cannot be determined because the gross estate’s size is unascertainable, check the appropriate box, then enter ‘0’ on Part IV, Line 3.
Also, check the appropriate box based upon the type of request. There are four possible boxes:
- The request is for the tax that will be due when the original return is filed
- The request is for the tax that will be due as part of an amended return or supplemental return
- The request is for additional taxes due as part of an IRS examination
- The request is for a Section 6166 installment payment
Interest on outstanding balances
Even with an approved extension, interest will accrue on any outstanding balance after the original due date. The IRS will calculate interest based upon the prevailing interest rate and outstanding balance due.
Part IV: Payment To Accompany Extension Request
Generally, the IRS will only grant an extension of time to pay for the amount of cash shortage in the decedent’s estate.
Line 1: Amount of estate and GST tax estimated to be due
In Line 1, estimate the amount of estate and/or generation-skipping transfer tax (GST tax) due.
Line 2: Amount of cash shortage
Indicate the amount of cash shortage. You must include a statement of assets already distributed. Also, if applicable, include a plan for partial payments during the extension period.
Line 3: Balance due
Subtract Line 2 from Line 1. This represents the balance due with your completed Form 4768. Please note that any submitted payment will not be refunded if there is a remaining tax liability, even if the payment exceeds the non-deferred liability amount.
Instead, the excess payment will be applied to other tax liabilities under IRC Sections 6402 and 6403.
Signature & verification
If you are the executor of a decedent’s estate, sign the top part of the form, under ‘If filed by executor.’ Also enter your title and the date.
Note that you are signing this document under penalties of perjury.
If you are not the executor of the estate, sign the bottom, under ‘If filed by someone other than the executor.‘ In addition to the normal representations under penalty of perjury, your signature indicates that you are one of the following:
- An attorney in good standing. If applicable, check this box and select the jurisdiction that represents the highest court for which you are entitled to practice law.
- A certified public accountant (CPA) duly qualified to practice. Select this box and specify the jurisdiction where you maintain your credentials
- An enrolled agent. An enrolled agent is authorized to practice before the Internal Revenue Service
- An authorized agent holding a power of attorney. If applicable, you do not need to submit the power of attorney unless otherwise requested.
Check the appropriate box, then sign and date in the Signature and Verification field.
Watch this instructional video for step-by-step guidance on IRS Form 4768.
Frequently asked questions
This depends on the type of return.
Forms 706 and 706-NA: The due date for Form 706 and Form 706-NA is 9 months after the date of the decedent’s death. If there is no numerically corresponding date in the 9th month, the due date is the last date of the 9th month.
Form 706-A: Form 706-A is due 6 months after the taxable disposition or cessation of qualified use.
Form 706-QDT: Form 706-QDT is due:
On or after January 1 but not later than April 15 of the year following any calendar year in which a taxable event occurred, or a distribution was made on account of hardship; or
nine months after:
(a) the death of the surviving spouse, or
(b) the failure of the trust to qualify as a Qualified Domestic Trust (QDOT).
Yes. You do not have to pay penalties with an approved extension. However, any outstanding tax liability accrues interest beginning on the day after the original due date.
Send your completed request to the following address:
Internal Revenue Service Center
Attn: Estate & Gift, Stop 824G
7940 Kentucky Drive
Florence, KY 41042-2915
IRS Form 4768 is not a mandatory form. However, the following people may file Form 4768:
-Representative or executor of a decedent
-An authorized certified public accountant (CPA)
-Authorized enrolled agent
-Authorized agent holding powers of attorney
-Qualified heir filing Form 706-A
-Trustee/designated filer filing Form 706-QDT
Internal Revenue Code Section 6081 grants certain extensions of time for tax return filings. In the case of estate taxes, the IRS can grant an extension of up to 6 months. If the executor of a decedent is located overseas, the IRS may be able to grant more time after the expiration of the extension period.
Internal Revenue Code Section 6161 grants certain extensions of time for paying taxes. In the case of an outstanding estate tax payment, the Treasury Department (via the Internal Revenue Service) may approve extensions in one-year increments for up to 10 years in the case of an outstanding tax liability. For an estate tax deficiency as determined by the IRS, this extension is limited to 4 years.
No. According to the IRS instructions, you must complete a separate Form 4768 for each extension request requested in Part II. You may include an extension to file and an extension to pay on the same request.
Where can I find a copy of Form 4768?
You can obtain a copy of this tax form from the IRS website. For your convenience, we’ve attached the latest copy of Form 4768 to this article.
Related tax forms
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