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NAPLES, Italy – As the traditional April 15 tax deadline looms, overseas filers enjoy an automatic two-month extension — unless they owe money. Failure to file a return and late payments mean steeper penalties for those who owe. And those penalties start to add up after April 15.

If you’re due a refund, you have until June 15 to file, but there is no penalty for filing late.

Volunteers at some overseas tax assistance centers said they’ve had a steady stream of customers looking for help with their returns.

"We’ve been able to schedule about 20 to 25 appointments a day," said Army Capt. David Adamson, the officer in charge of the tax center in Heidelberg, Germany.

"We’re booked about two weeks in advance, but we do have walk-in appointments," Adamson said. "Simple returns take about 20 to 30 minutes, but the more complicated ones can take a couple of hours."

The traditional April 15 deadline may affect some overseas residents who are due past refunds but never filed.

Last month the IRS reported about $1.3 billion in unclaimed refunds from 2005. The three-year limit for collecting a refund means 2005 returns must be filed by midnight Wednesday or those taxpayers will lose out.

About 5,500 servicemembers are due money back from 2005, according to the IRS. In order to recoup the money, filers must also submit returns for 2006 and 2007, if they haven’t already done so.

"If you never claim your refund, it goes back into the treasury," said Anthony Burke, a spokesman for the IRS. "You’re just penalizing yourself."

The IRS Web site ( www.irs.gov ) offers complete information on tax regulations and filing options.

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