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What Are the Tax Filing Requirements for U.S. Military Personnel Abroad?

Understanding tax filing requirements for U.S. military personnel abroad. Roseville CPAs explain tax requirements for members of the U.S. Armed Forces stationed overseas, including 5 tax breaks for military members.

It’s not always easy to figure out your tax obligations, such as when to file taxes, how to file taxes, or which tax forms you need to submit to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). For active duty military personnel who are stationed overseas, geography further complicates these questions about taxes. For example, do you have to file taxes in the military? And if so, are there any tax breaks for military personnel that you could use to your advantage? Our Roseville CPA firm discusses these and other tax issues for U.S. military servicemembers overseas, including members of the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marines, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Coast Guard.

About Active Duty Military Personnel Taxes

Unfortunately, serving in the military does not excuse you from the task of filing an annual tax return. Even if you are stationed overseas, you will still be required to file a federal income tax return.

That being said, the IRS recognizes that military taxpayers face some special obstacles to filing, namely the additional time required for tax documents to be shipped around the world. Therefore, the IRS gives military members who are stationed overseas some extra flexibility by extending the deadline to file.

If you are on duty anywhere outside of the United States when the tax due date arrives, you will automatically receive a two-month extension, giving you 60 additional days. This extension applies automatically, which means you do not have to file any forms to request the extension. The extension pushes the tax filing deadline for military members back to June 15.

If necessary, you can also obtain an additional extension that gives you until October 15 to file. However, the October extension is not automatically granted and must be requested using Form 4868 (Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return).

When you are ready to file, your tax documents should be mailed to the following address, unless you file online:

Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service Center
Austin, TX 73301-0215
United States

It is critical to note that the June and October deadline extensions for military members pertain strictly to filing taxes — not paying taxes. As the IRS cautions servicemembers (and U.S. citizens who are living abroad as civilians), “You must pay any tax due by April 15 or interest will be charged starting from April 15.”

5 IRS Tax Breaks for Military Members

In addition to automatically extending the deadline to file a tax return for soldiers who are deployed overseas, the IRS also offers an array of other tax breaks for members of the U.S. military, which you can take advantage of to reduce your tax liability, save money, and potentially enjoy some additional benefits. Working with a Sacramento tax preparation service for military members will help to ensure that you receive every tax break to which you are entitled, whether it is a tax deduction for military members, a tax credit for military members, or even a special allowance for ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) students. Below, our Roseville tax accounting service has listed five tax breaks for members of the U.S. Armed Forces who are stationed abroad.

  1. Allowances for ROTC members. College students can always use some additional money to help pay for textbooks, meals, transportation, and other educational expenses. In some cases, the pay ROTC students receive in advanced training is deemed non-taxable, including educational allowances.
  2. Multiple tax deductions. There are several tax deductions available for military members, including a moving expense deduction, a uniform deduction, and, for reservists, a travel deduction.
  3. The combat pay exclusion. Your combat pay might be partly or even completely tax-free if you are (1) serving in a combat zone or (2) providing support to a combat zone.
  4. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). You can increase your EITC by including your non-taxable combat pay in your taxable income. Not only could doing so help you get a larger tax refund, but also help you owe less. That means you save money two ways at once.
  5. Support for former military members who become civilians. If you ever leave the military and transition into civilian life, you might have the right to deduct certain expenses involving your job search efforts, including travel expenses and fees you pay toward job placement agencies.

Sacramento CPA Firm Serving the U.S. Armed Forces and Military Veterans

Unless you applied for the October extension, you’re likely finished with this year’s taxes already. However, with 2017 beginning to wind down, next year’s tax season will be upon us before you know it.

Don’t be caught unprepared. Instead, get reliable tax assistance from a skilled CPA with over 20 years of experience preparing tax returns and other tax documents for members of the United States military. The trusted team of California tax professionals at Cook CPA Group understand the unique requirements, opportunities, and obstacles that face military taxpayers abroad, and can make sure you are in full compliance with tax laws while simultaneously looking for ways to maximize your tax refund or reduce the amount that you owe. In addition to reviewing and preparing your tax returns, our Roseville tax and financial service for individuals can also provide assistance with other matters that affect certain taxpayers overseas, such as requirements pertaining to FATCA (the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) or filing an FBAR (Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts).

To learn more about the tax services and accounting services we provide for military personnel and military veterans, contact Cook CPA Group at (916) 432-2218 for a free and confidential consultation. From our offices in Roseville, CA, we proudly serve military members stationed at bases around the world.