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Military Tax Extensions

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If you serve in the armed forces, the IRS might extend your deadlines for:

  • Filing returns
  • Paying taxes
  • Filing claims for refund
  • Taking other actions with the IRS

You receive the extension if either of these applies:

  • You serve in the armed forces in a combat zone or you have qualifying service outside of a combat zone.
  • You serve in the armed forces on deployment outside the United States away from your permanent duty station. You do this while participating in a contingency operation. This military operation either:
    • Is designated by the Secretary of Defense
    • Results in calling or retaining members of the uniformed services to active duty during an official war or a national emergency

You can count as time in a combat zone or a contingency operation the period of time you’re:

  • Missing in action
  • A prisoner of war

The IRS also extends deadlines if you’re serving in a combat zone or a contingency operation in support of the armed forces. This applies to these people acting under the direction of the armed forces:

  • Red Cross personnel
  • Accredited correspondents
  • Civilian personnel

Even though the deadline is extended, you might want to file a return earlier to receive any refund due.


Spouses of people who served in a combat zone or contingency operation can receive most of the same deadline extensions. The extension doesn’t apply to a spouse for either of these:

  • Any tax year beginning more than two years after the date when:
    • The area is no longer a combat zone.
    • The operation is no longer a contingency operation.
  • Any period the qualifying person is hospitalized in the United States for injuries incurred in a:
    • Combat zone
    • Contingency operation

Length of extension

The IRS extends your deadline for taking actions with the IRS for 180 days after the later of these days:

  • The last day you:
    • Served in a combat zone — or the last day the area qualifies as a combat zone
    • Had qualifying service outside the combat zone
    • Served in a contingency operation — or the last day the operation qualifies as a contingency operation
    • Had any continuous qualified hospitalization for an injury. One of these must apply to the injury:
      • The injury is from service in the combat zone or contingency operation.
      • You received the injury while performing qualifying service outside of the combat zone.

In addition to the 180 days, the IRS extends your deadline by the number of days that were left for you to take the action with the IRS when you:

  • Entered a combat zone
  • Began performing qualifying service outside the combat zone
  • Began serving in a contingency operation

Deferral of payment

You might qualify to delay payment of tax that becomes due before or during your military service.

To qualify:

  • You must be performing military service.
  • You must notify the IRS that your military service has affected your ability to pay the tax.

Then, you’ll be allowed up to 180 days after termination or release from military service to pay the tax. If you pay the tax in full by the end of the deferral period, you won’t be charged interest or penalty for that period. This exception doesn’t apply to your share of Social Security and Medicare taxes.

To learn more, see these tax tips:

  • Military Income Inclusions
  • Military Income Exclusions
  • Combat Zone Exclusions
  • Military Moving Expenses

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