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Filing Extensions and Tax Return Preparation Assistance for Military Personnel Stationed Abroad or In a Combat Zone

International Tax Gap Series

December 2009

If you are in the military stationed abroad or are in a combat zone during the tax filing season, you may qualify for certain automatic extensions related to the filing and paying of your federal income taxes.

Extensions

If you are in the military or naval services on duty outside of the United States and Puerto Rico on the due date of your income tax return, you are allowed an automatic 2–month extension to June 15 to file your income tax return. Please note, this automatic extension is an extension to file your tax return, not an extension of time to pay any tax owed by the regular due date of the return. In such situations, interest is charged on any taxes owed from April 15 to the date the taxes are paid. You can also request an additional 4-month extension by filing Form 4868, Application For Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Tax Return, by June 15. Be sure to check the box on Line 8 - ‘out of the country’ on the form.

If you are serving in a combat zone or in a contingency operation (or are hospitalized as a result of an injury received while serving in such an area or operation), you qualify for extensions of deadlines. The deadlines for filing tax returns, paying taxes, filing claims for refund, and taking other actions with the IRS are extended to at least 180 days after you leave the designated combat zone or contingency operation. You are able to notify IRS directly of your request for combat zone relief for extensions of deadlines through a special e-mail address: combatzone@irs.gov.

Resources

To assist you in making accurate and informed decisions, the IRS has a dedicated web page, Tax Information for Members of the Military, which provides questions and answers on combat zone tax provisions and Publication 3, Armed Forces’ Tax Guide. The web page and publication includes instructions on how members can ‘self-identify’ to advise the IRS of their combat zone status.

In addition, the IRS has partnered with the Armed Forces Tax Council (AFTC) to provide outreach to military personnel and their families. The AFTC consists of the tax program coordinators from the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. The AFTC oversees the operation of the military tax programs worldwide, and serves as the main conduit for outreach by the IRS to military personnel and their families.

Military personnel and their families may also take advantage of the IRS military-based Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.  Trained VITA volunteer assistors are able to address military-specific tax issues, such as filing deadlines when outside the United States, combat zone tax benefits, and the Earned Income Tax Credit guidelines.

As with all our programs, Taxpayer Advocate Services (TAS) is available to assist taxpayers who are experiencing problems in their dealings with the IRS. TAS can be contacted by calling 1-877-777-4778.

Thank you for serving our country.

References & Links
Publication 3 – Armed Forces’ Tax Guide
Form 4868 – Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Tax Return
Armed Forces Tax Council (AFTC)
Combat Zone E-mail Address 
Extension of Deadline – Combat Zone Service Q & A
Tax Information for Members of the Military Web Page
Taxpayer Advocate Services (TAS) 
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)

Return to:
  The International Tax Gap Series

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 16-Apr-2014