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At Ease Soldier: Extensions for Military Personnel

Updated for Tax Year 2019


OVERVIEW

Military personnel, especially those in active combat zones, have several tax benefits available to them. One of the most important is the filing extension available for those on active duty overseas, which offers soldiers and their families some flexibility in filing and paying taxes during active service.


military man hugging his family

Military personnel, especially those in active combat zones, have several tax benefits available to them. One of the most important is the filing extension available for those on active duty overseas, which offers soldiers and their families some flexibility in filing and paying taxes during active service.

Combat zone personnel

The IRS offers automatic extensions for some federal income tax deadlines and related actions to active duty U.S. armed forces personnel who are serving in a combat zone or hazardous duty area outside of their regular duty station while deployed overseas.  Military personnel working in these combat zones can defer filing and paying their taxes until 180 days after the end of their active service in the zone.

  • Those who have been hospitalized due to injury or disease from combat zone service, they have up to 180 days after the last day of continuous hospitalization to file or pay.
  • The extensions also apply to spouses of active combat zone personnel who are filing jointly.
  • Contingency operations, such as national emergencies, also qualify for this extension.

Overseas personnel

If you are a member of the active military assigned outside of the United States or Puerto Rico, and are on assignment for the entire 24-hour period of the tax filing deadline, you are granted an automatic two-month filing extension.

  • This is an extension to file, not to pay taxes. Any tax you owe is still due on April 15 or the next business day if the 15th is a holiday.
  • You can also file for a six-month extension to October 15, as can any U.S. resident outside of the country, but this also does not apply to paying taxes, which are due on April 15.

Forms

Although extensions for combat zone soldiers and active military overseas are granted automatically, you're still required to submit certain documents and IRS forms, depending on which extension you're requesting.

  • If you are filing for the two-month extension for active overseas personnel, you must file a statement with your return proving that you were on active overseas duty during the entire tax filing deadline date.
  • If you are claiming the 180-day filing and paying extension for combat zone personnel, you can either contact the IRS to let it know of your status at combatzone@irs.gov, call the IRS, or respond to a notice of action from them.
  • To request a general 180-day filing extension for being out of the country, file Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Tax Return, before the original due date of your return.

If your spouse is serving in a combat zone or hazardous duty area, you can claim the extension by signing the return on behalf of your spouse and attaching either

  • a power of attorney or similar document, or
  • a signed statement about your spouse's active service in a combat zone or hazardous duty area.

Other tax perks for military personnel

Military personnel may also have access to other tax benefits. There are several types of military compensation and other benefits that are not subject to federal income taxes, and some can be included in income for tax credit and IRA contribution purposes. Some examples include:

  • Combat zone pay
  • Disability pay for active duty
  • Some moving expenses
  • Living allowances

Also, tax debt may be forgiven or refunded if a member of the military dies in a combat zone, or from terrorist activities or other military action. If you are in the military, consider reviewing the IRS tax booklet, "Armed Forces' Tax Guide," before filing your taxes.

Enlisted active duty and reserve military can enjoy TurboTax Online for free

In honor of our nation's military personnel, all enlisted active duty and reserve military can file free federal and state taxes with TurboTax Online using the TurboTax Military Discount. The #1 best-selling tax software, TurboTax easily handles military tax situations including:

  • Military and civilian income—including combat pay, BAS and BAH
  • Military-related expenses—TurboTax will find every deduction you deserve
  • Completed a PCS—TurboTax will determine your state of residence

Simply start your TurboTax Online return and use your military W-2 to verify rank, and your savings will be applied when you file. Get started today for free.

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