WASHINGTON — With the April 15 tax deadline fast approaching, financial experts have an important message for military serving overseas:

Relax. Your taxes aren’t due for a few more months.

Under Internal Revenue Service rules, all military stationed abroad have an automatic deadline extension until June 15 to file their returns, and do not need to file any forms to take advantage of the extra time.

Troops serving in combat zones and those deployed abroad in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom have until 180 days after their deployment to file their 2004 tax returns.

“It’s a recognition of their situation, knowing it can be much more difficult to get those forms and papers in order,” said Kathy Burlison, a tax professional with H&R Block.

Information for military stationed abroad are included in the 2004 personal income tax instructions. Eric Smith, spokesman for the IRS, said the June 15 deadline does not apply to troops stationed in Puerto Rico, but it does apply to those stationed on Guam.

Servicemembers abroad can also request an additional two-month extension, pushing their due date back to August 15, by filing the agency’s form 4868 by June 15. However, Smith said interest on taxes due will be calculated from April 15, not the later deadlines.

Troops in active combat zones will not have to pay that extra interest, Smith said, and do not have to file any forms to have their tax responsibilities delayed.

Smith said the agency works closely with military officials to ensure collection notices aren’t sent to troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Anyone serving in an active combat zone who receives a can simply return the notice with the words “Combat Zone” and their deployment dates, and the action will be suspended.

The agency has also set up a special e-mail — — where troops can alert the IRS of their situations. Officials ask senders to supply their name, e-mail, date of birth, stateside address and dates of deployment, and a confirmation message will be sent to their home address.

“It’s important to know [about the extensions], especially when folks first come home and are strapped for cash,” Burlison said. “And if you’re injured, your 180 days starts the last day that you’re hospitalized for your injury.”

For more information, visit Tax Information for Members of the Military on the IRS Web site.

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