Automatic Extension for Tax Filing If You’ve Been In a Combat Zone

The regular deadline to file your federal income tax return is coming up quickly (it’s Thursday!)  However, if you’ve been deployed to a combat zone recently, you have an automatic extension of the deadline.  If they file jointly, the spouses of deployed members have the same extension.  (This is for federal returns.  State regulations may vary.)

Calculating the extension is a little unusual.  First, you start with the day that you leave the combat zone.  Then you add 180 days, then you add the number of tax filing days that you were in the combat zone (January 1 to April 15).  This is the date that your return is due.  You do not need to file for this extension, but rather note the name of the operation you were supporting at the top of the return.  (I’d use big letters.)

For example, if my husband left the combat zone on February 6th, 2010, we would then add 180 days (this brings us to August 5, 2010), plus the 39 days of tax season that he was deployed (January 1 – February 6th) to come up with a final due date of September 13th.  You have to be sure to count the number of actual days in each month and not just use 30 or 31, or your calculations will be off.  Just to be sure, I plan to file before September 13th.  I explained it a little differently in last year’s post – if this explanation is confusing, see if the other explanation helps.

This extension is a huge blessing if you aren’t able to complete your taxes due to deployment and eases one of the stresses of your time away from home.  For more information on this extension, and other military tax issues, see the IRS’s Publication 3, Armed Forces Tax Guide.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.