Americans overseas eligible for short extension
March 23, 2008
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — So what happens on April 15 if you’re still not ready to file?
Many U.S. citizens and servicemembers overseas are eligible for an automatic two-month extension.
To be eligible, individuals must be living and working outside the United States during a period that includes April 15.
In addition, you must attach a statement to your return explaining why you qualify for the extension.
If that’s still not enough time, the Internal Revenue Service says you can request an additional six-month extension by filing a Form 4868 by mail, electronically or through a tax professional. The extension cannot be used, however, if you want the IRS to figure your taxes or if you are under a court order to file on time.
The IRS warns that the six-month extension is only an extension to file, not an extension to pay. If you owe the government money, you must estimate the amount and send it with the Form 4868 or pay the tax due with a credit card.
“If you find you cannot pay the full amount due with Form 4868, you can still get the extension,” but you will owe interest on the unpaid amount.
The one exception to this rule is servicemembers in combat zones, who won’t be charged interest while they’re deployed.
Deployed servicemembers also get an additional 180-day extension to file beginning the day they leave the combat zone plus the amount of time they had to file before they entered the combat zone.
The IRS Web site gives an example of how that works:
“For example, you had 3½ months (January 1 through April 15, 2007) to file your 2006 tax return. Any days of this 3½-month period that were left when you entered the combat zone (or the entire 3½ months if you entered the combat zone by Jan. 1, 2007) are added to the 180 days when determining the last day allowed for filing your 2006 tax return.”