Tax day filing extension tips

The deadline to file your taxes lands every year on April 15th but if you haven’t gotten them squared away yet, you can request an automatic tax-filing extension, however, some people get extra time without asking.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, victims of certain federally declared disasters may have extra time to file their tax returns as do military service members in the combat zone, and taxpayers outside of the U.S.

The IRS estimates that more than 14.6 million taxpayers will get an automatic extension this filing season, either by filing a form or making an electronic tax payment. But some taxpayers, such as disaster victims, those serving in a combat zone and Americans living abroad, get more time, even if they don’t ask for it. Here are details on each of these special tax-relief provisions.

Victims of certain federally declared disasters

The IRS automatically provides filing and penalty relief to any taxpayer with an IRS address of record located in a disaster area. Thus, taxpayers need not contact the IRS to get this relief. However, if an affected taxpayer receives a late filing or late payment penalty notice from the IRS that has an original or extended filing, payment or deposit due date falling within the postponement period, the taxpayer should call the number on the notice to have the penalty abated.

This relief also includes additional time for making a 2018 IRA contribution and making estimated tax payments.

Combat zone taxpayers

Military service members 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 zones. A complete list of designated combat zone localities can be found in Publication 3, Armed Forces’ Tax Guide, available on IRS.gov.

Combat zone extensions also 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.

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 17, 2019, to file their 2018 tax returns and pay any taxes due. They actually have two extra days because the normal June 15 extended deadline falls on Saturday this year.

The special June 17 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. Affected taxpayers should attach a statement to the tax return explaining which of these situations apply.

Though taxpayers abroad get more time to pay, interest – currently at the rate of six percent per year, compounded daily – applies to any payment received after the April deadline. For more information about the special tax rules for U.S. taxpayers abroad, see Publication 54, Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad, on IRS.gov.

Everyone else

Taxpayers who don’t qualify for any of these three special situations can still get more time to file by submitting a request for an automatic extension of time to file. This will extend their deadline to file until Oct. 15, 2019. However, their tax payments are still due by the April due date.

An easy way to get the extra time is through Free File 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.

Another option is to pay electronically and get a tax-filing extension. The IRS will automatically process an extension when a taxpayer selects Form 4868 and makes a full or partial federal tax payment by the April due date using Direct Pay, the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) or a debit or credit card. Under this option, there is no need to file a separate Form 4868. Electronic payment options are available at IRS.gov/payments.