By: Brent S. Kirwan, Esq.  

Starting with tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2016, the tax return due dates for the vast majority of annual tax returns were changed through a seemingly unrelated piece of legislation, H.R. 3236, Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015, known as the Highway Funding Bill.  The Highway Funding Bill changed the filing deadlines for partnerships, C corporations, certain tax-exempt entities, estates and trusts, and individuals filing FinCen Report 114.  These changes apply to tax years 2016 and beyond, first affecting the related filing deadlines in 2017.

One exception to these changes is that C corporations with a fiscal year ending on June 30 will not have to implement the changes until the filing of returns for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2026.

The Highway Funding Bill also temporarily extended the due date for employee benefit plans filing Form 5500.  The change increased the extension period from two and one-half months to three and one-half months past the original filing due date; however, this was quickly repealed by H.R. 22, Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, known as the FAST Act.  Following passage of the FAST Act on December 4, 2015, Form 5500 remains due 210 days after the close of the plan year and may be extended, either by filing Form 5558 for a two and one-half month extension, or by taking advantage of an automatic extension until the fully extended due date of the plan sponsor’s federal income tax return.

Prior to the passage of the Highway Funding Bill, employee benefit plans would generally file for the  two and one-half month extension because this would extend their Form 5500 filing due date longer than the extensions available for plan sponsors.  However, due to the change in due dates for plan sponsors, many employee benefit plans will no longer need to file their own extension, but will rely on the more generous plan sponsor extension.

The changes, based on a calendar year taxpayer, are summarized below with new due dates in bold:
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    Return Type        .      Revised Due Dates      Previous Due Dates Comments
Original          . Extended            . Original         . Extended             .
    Partnerships
    Form 1065  March 15  September 15  April 15  September 15  Original due date is 1-month earlier; extension now six months
    C Corporations
    Form 1120  April 15  October 15  March 15  September 15  For June 30 fiscal year filers, change goes into effect beginning January 1, 2026
    Exempt Organizations
    Form 990  May 15  November 15  May 15  August 15  Single filing to secure a six-month extension, eliminating two 3-month extensions
    Estates & Trusts
     Form 1041  April 15  September 30  April 15  September 15  Change in extension length only
     FinCen
    Report 114  April 15  October 15  June 30   N/A  Original deadline is 2 1/2 months earlier; new extension allowed

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Brent S. Kirwan is an Associate in Leech Tishman’s Corporate, Estates & Trusts, and Taxation Practice Groups. Brent is based in the Pittsburgh office and can be reached at 412.261.1600 or bkirwan@leechtishman.com

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Leech Tishman Fuscaldo & Lampl is a full-service law firm dedicated to assisting individuals, businesses, and institutions. Leech Tishman offers legal services in alternative dispute resolution, bankruptcy & creditors’ rights, construction, corporate, employee benefits, employment, energy, environmental, safety & toxic torts, estates & trusts, family law, government relations, immigration, insurance coverage & corporate risk mitigation, intellectual property, internal investigations, international legal matters, litigation, real estate, and taxation. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA, Leech Tishman also has offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Wilmington, DE.