If you serve in the military for the United States, including all active duty contingents, or you are providing active support for the US military in an active combat zone, you are entitled to certain extension provisions. There are two very different tax filing and payment extensions that could apply to you. These provisions depend entirely on your military service in or outside of an active combat zone or area designated as a qualified duty hazard area. See how you might qualify below.
Automatic 2-Month Extension & Additional 4-Month Extension
If you are serving the U.S. military overseas, not in an active combat zone, and are out of the country during the April 15 tax filing due date, you are automatically entitled to a 2-month tax filing extension until June 15. This extension gives you 2 extra months to file and pay your taxes, without being subject to the IRS late filing penalty or late payment penalty. However, interest will still be due on any tax that isn’t paid by April 15.
If you need even more time, you can request an additional 4-month extension by filing Form 4868. This will extend your tax filing deadline to October 15, however, it will not extend your tax payment deadline.
Form 4868 can be printed and mailed into the appropriate IRS processing center, or it can be e-filed online. If you file by paper mail, your form must be postmarked by June 15. If you e-file Form 4868 online, it can be submitted as late as 11:59PM on the deadline (in your local time zone). Filing online is much easier and faster, plus you can make an electronic tax payment with your extension if necessary.
If you do not file a tax return (or tax extension) and you owe taxes, the IRS will charge a late filing penalty starting at 5% per month. But if you file a tax return (or tax extension) and you owe taxes, your late payment penalty will start at 0.5% per month.
Combat Zone Extensions
If you are a soldier assigned to active duty within a combat zone, almost all due dates with the IRS are extended automatically for you. This includes deadlines for tax filing, payment of taxes, filing claims for a refund, and other obligations, which are all extended 180 days after you leave the combat zone or contingency area.
This combat tax extension applies to any officer of the U.S. military or civilian who is outside the combat zone but is engaged in activities that support the operation within the combat zone. Such roles include those serving in the merchant navy, supply convoys, Red Cross personnel, civilians acting under direction of the U.S. military in support of the combat personnel, and accredited correspondents in the area. These extensions also automatically apply to spouses of the affected military personnel, whether you file jointly or separately.
If a member of the U.S. military is injured during combat, they are excluded from tax deadlines for the entire time they are hospitalized outside the U.S.. If the hospitalization continues upon their transfer back to the U.S., the extension can be for only a maximum of five years.
These combat extensions are widely applied across most IRS tax deadlines for those that meet the requirements. The key to understanding the requirement is whether you are actively serving the U.S. military in an active combat zone, or supporting those active troops through the direction of the U.S. military. Corporations (including S Corporations) and Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) are not eligible for these extensions.
Contact a tax professional today to find out if you qualify for a U.S. military tax extension.