Automatic Filing Extension for Some Taxpayers

The tax-filing deadline for most people in 2017 is April 18. Although anyone can file for an extension, the Internal Revenue Service grants certain taxpayers in special situations an automatic extension without the taxpayer having to request it.

This article provides an overview of those who receive an automatic extension for filing there federal income tax return.

Victims of Natural Disasters

Taxpayers who living in certain designated disaster areas qualify for additional time to file their tax returns and pay their taxes owed. Taxpayers residing in these areas do not need to contact the IRS to request an extension.

Although the allowance for those affected by a disaster exists every tax year, the qualifying disaster areas and the additional time granted change from year to year. For 2017, taxpayers who reside in certain portions of George and Mississippi have until May 31, 2017 to file and pay their 2016 tax return. Taxpayers who reside in certain portions of Louisiana have until June 30, 2017 to file and pay their 2016 tax return. These extensions also apply to how long the taxpayers have to contribute to their individual retirement accounts for 2016.

The IRS typically grants this extension to any taxpayer residing in a disaster areas as declared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This relief extension also applies to relief workers, businesses located in the disaster areas, and those whose tax records are located in the disaster areas.

Individuals in Combat Zones

Member of the military or support personnel who are serving in a combat zone have 180 days beyond when they leave the combat zone to file their tax returns and pay any taxes due. The IRS maintains a list of qualifying combat zones on in Publication 3, the Armed Forces’ Tax Guide.

This extension also provides the taxpayer additional time to contribute to an IRA.

Individuals Outside the United States

United States citizens and resident aliens who live and work outside the United States and Puerto Rico have until June 15, 2017, to file and pay taxes related to their 2016 tax return. This extension also applies to members of the military outside the United States and Puerto Rico who are not serving in a combat zone and therefore do not qualify for the combat zone extension.

Although individuals outside the United States receive an extension of time to file and pay their taxes, they are charged interest at the rate of four percent per year compounded daily on any taxes owed after April 18.

All Other Individuals

Taxpayers who do not qualify for any of the three special situations described above can still receive an extension for filing their 2016 tax returns. These individuals must request an extension. This extension is automatic through October 16, 2016. However, any tax owed is still due on April 18, 2017.

Individuals can request an extension by completing Form 4688 available on This form requires that individuals estimate their tax liability to determine the amount they must pay by April 18.

Alternatively, when individuals by April 18 make a full or partial payment of their taxes electronically using Form 4688 via Direct Pay, the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, or a debit or credit card, the IRS automatically grants the individual an extension. The individual does not need to complete a separate Form 4688 to request an extension.

Where can I get help in filing my last-minute tax return?

If you still need to file your tax return, you should speak with a tax attorney. A tax attorney will be able to recommend to you whether you should file for an extension or can complete your return by the normal filing deadline. Whenever you file your return, a tax attorney can make sure you do not make mistakes that lead to you overpaying your taxes.

By calling the phone number above or completing the form below, you can speak with a tax attorney to get the help you need. The first consultation is free of charge, so you have every reason to start working with a tax attorney today.

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by Mark Johnston

Mark has been a contributor to legal web sites related to bankruptcy, tax, and criminal law since 2011. He has an Accounting degree from Texas A&M University.