A marine talks with staff at a tax assistance center.

Three Ways to Get a Federal Tax Extension as a Service Member

If you can’t file your federal tax return by the April 15 – April 17, 2017 – deadline, then consider filing for an extension. Doing so is more common than you may think. But there are certain things you should know when you request a penalty-free extension for your federal taxes, including what kinds of extensions require to you pay any tax you owe upfront and those that allow you to delay payment.

A benefit of military membership: more ways to get a tax extension

Whether it’s helping you get a tax filing extension or the biggest tax refund you are entitled to, MilTax, Military OneSource’s extensive tax services and resources, can help service members, families and survivors sort through the fine print. Contact MilTax at 800-342-9647 to schedule a free appointment with a tax consultant who specializes in military taxes.

There are three types of extensions available to service members:

  • Automatic extension will be granted if you apply for an automatic extension of time to file your U.S. individual income tax return using IRS Form 4868 before the due date. Note: if you owe taxes, you will be charged interest from the date the payment was due, if you do not make a tax payment by the original tax filing deadline.
  • If your duty post is outside the United States or Puerto Rico, you qualify for an automatic two-month extension. To receive this extension, you must attach a statement to your return explaining your situation and how you qualify for an extension. If you can’t file your return within the two months, you can request up to another four-month extension. If you owe taxes, your interest will start accruing from the date the payment was originally due.
  • If you are serving in a combat zone or contingency operation, an automatic extension can be granted for filing your tax return, paying your owed tax or filing a claim for a refund. This deadline is extended for 180 days after leaving the eligible area or after that area is no longer designated a combat zone or after your operation is no longer considered a contingency operation. You can also receive an extension if you are hospitalized outside the United States because of injuries sustained in a combat zone or hazardous duty area.

Don’t forget these factors

Other things to consider:

  • Don’t forget to address your state tax deadline too. Filing a federal tax return extension does not necessarily mean you get an extension of your state tax deadline. Speak with a MilTax consultant about your state’s requirements.
  • Make sure you give your spouse power of attorney, or you have filed IRS Form 2848 Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representation, if you want your spouse to file a joint return while you are overseas, in a combat zone or contingency operation or otherwise incapacitated. There are specific rules for spouses for joint or separate returns so gather more information from your tax advisor or a MilTax consultant.
  • If the Internal Revenue Service sends you a notice of examination before learning that you're entitled to a deadline extension, contact your legal assistance office.

Filing an extension of your federal tax return is simple if you have the right information. Educate yourself as best as you can. Speak to a MilTax consultant or another tax advisor to ensure you are selecting the proper extension before the original deadline and that you pay any taxes owed by the original deadline if necessary.

Talk to a MilTax consultant to make sure you’ve covered all your bases. If you live in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam or Saipan, call 800-342-9647 to speak to a trained tax consultant. To receive tax services in Spanish, call 800-342-9647, and a third-party translator will facilitate the call. If you're hearing impaired and require a telecommunications device, or TTY/TDD, dial 711 and give the toll-free number 800-342-9647.