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Three Ways for Service Members to Get a Federal Tax-Filing Extension

A marine talks with staff at a tax assistance center.

If you can’t file your federal tax return by this year’s deadline, then consider filing for an extension. It is a more common practice than you might think, and there are special considerations that service members can take advantage of.

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 you to pay the taxes you owe upfront and which ones allow you to delay your payment.

A benefit of military membership: More ways to get a tax-filing extension

There are three types of extensions available to service members:

Free MilTax Services

MilTax’s tax preparation and e-filing software is available mid-January through mid-October. And MilTax consultants are available year-round to help with tax questions or extensions.

  • You can get an automatic extension on filing your U.S. individual income tax return if you do so using IRS Form 4868 before the due date. But note that if you owe taxes, you will be charged interest from the date the payment was due if you do not make a payment by the original 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. If you can’t file your return within the two months, you can request 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 taxes or filing a claim for a refund. This deadline is extended for 180 days after you leave the eligible area, 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.

Military OneSource MilTax provides trained tax consultants who have extensive knowledge of the tax benefits for military members and their immediate family members. They can help you file for an extension, determine what you’re eligible for and answer any tax questions you may have.

Contact Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 or live chat to schedule a free appointment with a MilTax consultant. OCONUS/international? View calling options.

Don’t forget these factors

Other things to consider:

  • Don’t forget to address your state tax deadline as well. Filing for a federal tax return extension does not necessarily mean you will get one for your state taxes. Speak with a MilTax consultant about your state’s requirements.
  • Make sure your spouse has power of attorney, or that 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 adviser or ask a MilTax consultant.
  • If the IRS sends you a notice of examination before learning that you’re entitled to a deadline extension, contact your legal assistance office.

Filing for an extension on filing your federal tax return is simple if you have the right information. Speak to a MilTax consultant or another tax adviser 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.

If you live in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam or Saipan, call 800-342-9647 or live chat to schedule an appointment to speak to a trained tax consultant. OCONUS/International? View calling options.

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.

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