Any idea whether the filing extension applies to gift tax returns?
AUTHOR’S NOTE: There is (finally) official word from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on this issue: Normal filing and payment due dates continue to apply to estate and gift taxes.
That said, my original reply remains below:
Honestly, I don’t know. My gut is no, and here’s why.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced that the tax filing season been pushed to July 15, 2020. The IRS also issued guidance making clear that the due date for filing tax returns and making tax payments has been extended from April 15 to July 15. You can read the guidance here (downloads as a PDF).
The relief applies to federal income tax payments and federal income tax returns. According to the guidance, the relief doesn’t apply to any other taxes. In other words, there’s no automatic extension for any other type of federal tax or for the filing of any federal information return. I would interpret that to mean that gift tax returns are not covered by the relief but there is no specific guidance on this out yet.
Someone pointed out extensions language in the instructions (downloads as a PDF). It’s not terribly clear. the instructions say about the due date, “Generally, you must file Form 709 no earlier than January 1, but not later than April 15, of the year after the gift was made.” That’s not tied to the income tax return.
However, the instructions say that if you’re granted an extension of time for filing your calendar year 2019 federal income tax return, that will also automatically extend the time to file your 2019 federal gift tax return. It also says, “income tax extensions are made by using Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of
Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, or Form 2350, Application for Extension of Time To File U.S. Income Tax Return. You may only use these forms to extend the time for filing your gift tax return if you are also requesting an extension of time to file your income tax return.”
I don’t love the ambiguity. If this were me, I’d likely err on the side of caution by filing a Form 8892 (downloads as a PDF).
What is clear from the instructions (and Regs) is that any extension of time to pay the gift or GST taxes, you must be separately requested.
If I find out differently, I’ll let you know.