Filing Your Taxes: Overview
Where To File
Send your federal tax return to the Internal Revenue Service Center for the place where you currently reside. For example, if you are stationed in Maine but your permanent home address is in California, you should send your federal return to the service center for Maine. The instructions for Forms 1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ give the addresses for the service centers.
If you are overseas and have an APO or FPO address, file your return with:
Internal Revenue Service Center
Philadelphia, PA 19255-0215
When to File
Normally you have to file your taxes by April 15.
Note: For Combat Zone/Qualified Hazard Duty Area extensions, see below.
Within the United States. You can receive an automatic four-month extension to file your return if by the regular due date you do any of the following.
- File a paper Form 4868
- File Form 4868 by phone or over the Internet. See the instructions for Form 4868.
- Pay part or all of your estimate of tax due electronically by using a credit card. (If you use this option, you do not have to file Form 4868.)
The extension of time to file is automatic, and you will not receive any notice of approval. However, your request for an extension will be denied if it is not made timely. The IRS will inform you of the denial.
You can request an extension beyond the fou-month extension by filing Form 2688 or by writing a letter to the IRS. Except in undue hardship cases, this additional extension will be granted only if Form 4868 has already been filed.
Outside the United States. If you are stationed overseas, you can qualify for an automatic extension until June 15 without filing Form 4868 if you are on an assigned tour of duty outside the U.S. and Puerto Rico for a period that includes the entire due date of the return. If you use this automatic extension, you must attach a statement to the return showing you met the requirement. You can request an additional two-month extension to file by June 17 by filing a paper Form 4868 by April 15. Write "Taxpayer Abroad" across the top of Form 4868.
You can request an extension beyond the four-month extension by filing Form 2688 or by writing a letter to the IRS. Except in undue hardship cases, this additional extension will be granted only if Form 4868 has already been filed.
Payment of Tax
An extension of time to file does not mean you have an extension of time to pay any tax due. While you do not have to send in any payment of tax due when you file Form 4868 or use an automatic extension, you will be charged interest if you pay the tax after the regular due date (the interest is calculated from the regular due date to the date the tax is paid). You also may be charged a penalty for paying the tax late unless you have reasonable cause for not paying your tax when due. So, when you file for an extension you should also estimate your tax due and pay by the April 15 deadline.
If you are unable to pay the tax your owe or estimate, you may want to file Form 9465 to arrange an installment payment agreement with the IRS that reflects your ability to pay the tax owed.
Combat Zone/Qualified Hazard Duty Area Extensions
If you serve in the Armed Forces in a designated Combat Zone or Qualified Hazard Duty Area or have qualifying service outside a Combat Zone/Qualified Hazard Duty Area, you automatically receive a 180-day extension for filing tax returns, paying taxes, filing claims for refunds, and taking other actions with the IRS.
Additionally, if you are deployed overseas away from your permanent duty station in support of operations in a qualified hazardous duty area, but outside the qualified hazardous duty area, you also receive these extensions (but not other combat zone benefits). The deadline for IRS to take certain actions, such as collection and examination actions, is also extended.
Your deadline is extended for 180 days after the later of:
- The last day you are in a combat zone/qualified hazardous duty area or have qualifying service outside of the combat zone/qualified hazardous duty area (or the last day the area qualifies as a combat zone or qualified hazardous duty area), or
- The last day of any continuous qualified hospitalization (defined later) for injury from service in the combat zone/qualified hazardous duty area or while performing qualifying service outside of the combat zone/qualified hazardous duty area.
In addition to the 180 days, your deadline is also extended by the number of days that were left for you to take the action with the IRS when you entered a combat zone/qualified hazardous duty area (or began performing qualifying service outside the combat zone/qualified hazardous duty area). If you entered the combat zone/qualified hazardous duty area (or began performing qualifying service outside the combat zone/qualified hazardous duty area) before the period of time to take the action began, your deadline is extended by the entire period of time you have to take the action.
For example, you had 3 1/2 months (January 1 - April 15) to file your tax return. Any days of this 3 1/2 month period that were left when you entered the combat zone (or the entire 3 1/2 months if you entered the combat zone by January 1) are added to the 180 days when determining the last day allowed for filing your tax return.
If the IRS takes any actions covered by these provisions or sends you a notice of examination before learning that you are entitled to an extension of the deadline, contact your legal assistance office. No penalties or interest will be imposed for failure to file a return or pay taxes during the extension period.