Some Taxpayers Get Extensions without Asking
Taxpayers Abroad, in Combat Zones and Disaster Areas Qualify
Even though April 18 is the tax-filing deadline for most people, some taxpayers in special situations qualify for more time without having to ask for it, according to the Internal Revenue Service.
Taxpayers in Presidentially-declared disaster areas, members of the military serving in a combat zone and Americans living and working abroad get extra time to both file their returns and pay any taxes due. Here are details on each of these special tax relief provisions.
Victims of Natural Disasters
Taxpayers in several disaster area localities qualify for more time to file their tax returns and pay any taxes due. Currently, taxpayers in parts of Georgia and Mississippi have until May 31, 2017, to file and pay, while those in parts of Louisiana have until June 30, 2017, to file and pay. These extensions also apply to other tax-related actions, including the deadline for contributing to an individual retirement arrangement (IRA). The IRS automatically provides extensions to anyone living in these areas so there’s no reason for these residents to contact the IRS to request an extension.
The IRS generally provides relief, including postponing filing and payment deadlines, to any area covered by a disaster declaration for individual assistance issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Among other things, this relief includes extensions for relief workers, disaster area businesses and anyone whose tax records are located in the disaster area.
Members of the military and eligible support personnel serving in a combat zone have at least 180 days after they leave the combat zone to file their tax returns and pay any taxes due. This includes those serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and other combat zone localities. A complete list of designated combat zone localities can be found in Publication 3, Armed Forces’ Tax Guide.
Combat zone extensions give affected taxpayers more time for a variety of other tax-related actions, including contributing to an IRA. Various circumstances affect the exact length of the extension available to any given taxpayer. Details, including examples illustrating how these extensions are calculated, can be found in the Extensions of Deadlines section in Publication 3.
Taxpayers Outside the United States
U.S. citizens and resident aliens who live and work outside the U.S. and Puerto Rico have until June 15, 2017, to file their 2016 returns and pay any taxes due. The special June 15 deadline also applies to members of the military, on duty outside the U.S. and Puerto Rico, who do not qualify for the longer combat zone extension. Be sure to attach a statement to the return explaining which of these situations applies. Though taxpayers abroad get more time to pay, interest, currently at the rate of four percent per year, compounded daily, applies to any payment received after April 18. For more information about the special tax rules for U.S. taxpayers abroad, see Publication 54.
Taxpayers who don’t qualify for any of these three special situations can still get more time to file, but they need to ask for it. Automatic extensions give people until Oct. 16, 2017, to file; tax payments are still due April 18, 2017.
An easy way to get the extra time to file is through the Free File link on IRS.gov. In a matter of minutes, anyone, regardless of income, can use this free service to electronically request an extension on Form 4868. To get the extension, taxpayers must estimate their tax liability on this form and pay any amount due.
Another option for taxpayers is to pay electronically and get an extension of time to file. IRS will automatically process an extension when taxpayers select Form 4868 and they are making a full or partial federal tax payment using Direct Pay, Electronic Federal Tax Payment System or a debit or credit card by the April due date. There is no need to file a separate Form 4868 when making an electronic payment and indicating it is for an extension. Electronic payment options are available at IRS.gov/payments.
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