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Important information on filing tax extensions

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Brian Mayhew
  • 36th Wing Legal Office
It's the time of the year many Americans dread - tax season. However, if you know the right information, you don't have to be sweating when tax season rolls around.

The basics
Tax returns are due on April 15 every year if your tax year ends on Dec. 31. Returns are filed timely if the envelope is properly addressed and ostmarked no later than April 15.

If you use a fiscal year, which is a year ending on the last day of any month other than December, your return is due on or before the 15th day of the fourth month after the close of your fiscal year.

Filing extensions
If you can't file by the due date of your return, you can request an extension of time. However, an extension of time to file is not an extension of time to pay. You will owe interest on any past-due tax, and you may be subject to a late-payment penalty if payment is not made timely. To receive an automatic six-month extension of time to file your return, you can file Form 4868, Application For Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Tax Return by the due date of your return.

There are three choices for filing Form 4868: electronically, by paying part of your tax due with a credit card through an outside service provider listed on the form or by mail.

If you file your Form 4868 electronically, you will receive an acknowledgement or confirmation number for your records, and you don't have to send in the form.

Besides filing electronically, you can usually get an extension of time to file if you pay part or your entire estimate of income tax by credit card. You may pay by phone or through the internet. Each service provider will charge a convenience fee based on the tax payment amount, and at the completion of the transaction, you will receive a confirmation number for your records.

In addition to filing Form 4868 electronically, or by paying part of your tax by credit card, you can file Form 4868 by filling out the form and mailing it where you filed your return.

Remember that until you file your tax return you will not b eligible for any 2007 economic stimulus payments.

Automatic extensions
If you are a United States citizen or resident, whose home and main place of business or post of duty is outside the United States and Puerto Rico on the due date of your return, you are allowed an automatic extension until June 15 to file your return and pay any due taxes. This also applies if you are in military or naval service on duty outside the United States and Puerto Rico.

To use this automatic extension, you must attach a statement to your return showing that you met the requirements for the extension on the due date of your return. If you are serving in a combat zone or in a contingency operation, you have at least 180 days after you leave the designated combat zone/contingency operation to file and pay taxes.

A scenario
A military spouse is living in Guam, and the servicemember is deployed. They intend to file jointly, and a return is expected. The deployed member will not return until July, and the spouse does not have a power of attorney to file taxes on the member's behalf.

Because the member will return outside the automatic extension period of June 15, a Form 4868 is required, and he has 180 days from the date he left the combat zone to file his taxes.

Should he return before June 15, a Form 4868 is not required, but a form of documentation must be included and attached to the return demonstrating he was out of country.

The Andersen Tax Center is open from from 8 a.m. to noon weekdays until April 30. Walk-ins are available on Mondays for 1040EZ filers and Tuesday through Friday are for appointments only. Call 366-4829 to make an appointment or for more information.