IRS Bridges Tax Filing Deadline for Taxpayers Overseas


Do you have clients who have been stuck overseas due to the COVID-19 pandemic? The IRS has just reminded taxpayers who live and work abroad that they have until the extended due date of July 15—not the usual June 15 deadline—to file their 2019 tax returns, just like taxpayers residing on U.S. soil (IR-2020-109, 6/2/20).

Jun 9th 2020
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What’s more, these taxpayers can still apply for an additional extension to file their 2019 returns as late as October 15 if even more time is needed.

Background: Generally, the due date for filing U.S. tax returns and paying the requisite amount of tax is April 15 of the year following the tax year in question (or the next business day if the15th falls on a national holiday). For U.S. citizens and resident aliens residing overseas, or someone who is on military duty outside the U.S., the deadline is automatically extended for two months to June 15.

However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the IRS pushed back the due date for filing 2019 returns and paying tax to July 15 for payment deadlines falling between April 1, 2020 and July 15, 2020. This includes Americans who live and work abroad, nonresident aliens and foreign entities with a U.S. filing and payment requirement, as well as taxpayers who reside in the U.S. but have been unable to return home or have chosen not to.

If a taxpayer needs additional time beyond the July 15 deadline to file a return, he she can request a filing extension to October 15 in one of two ways.

1. The taxpayer may file Form 4868 through a tax professional such as yourself, via tax software or by using the Free File link on IRS.gov.

2. The taxpayer may submit an electronic payment with Direct Pay, Electronic Federal Tax Payment System or by debit, credit card or wallet options and selecting Form 4868 or extension as the payment type. The automatic extension to file will process when the taxpayer pays all or part of the tax electronically by the July 15 due date.

Caveat: An extension to file is NOT an extension to pay. The tax liability on a 2019 return is still due by July 15.

Note that members of the military qualify for an extra 180 days to file and pay tax if either of the following situations apply:

  • They serve in a combat zone or they have qualifying service outside of a combat zone.
  • They serve on deployment outside the U.S. away from their permanent duty station while participating in a contingency operation. This is a military operation that is designated by the Secretary of Defense or results in calling members of the uniformed services to active duty (or retains them on active duty) during a war or a national emergency declared by the president or Congress.

Deadlines are also extended for individuals serving in a combat zone or a contingency operation in support of the Armed Forces. This applies to Red Cross personnel, accredited correspondents and civilian personnel acting under the direction of the Armed Forces in support of those forces.

Finally, spouses of individuals who served in a combat zone or contingency operation are generally entitled to the same deadline extensions, with certain exceptions.

Practical approach: Stay in touch with clients who are currently overseas. You can coordinate tax filings to accommodate their changing needs.

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