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  • Writer's pictureJames D. Lynch

Some People Get More Time to File Without Asking; Anyone Else Can Request an Automatic Extension

Due to the ongoing pandemic, this year the IRS postponed the usual April 15 deadline for filing individual income tax returns until May 17, 2021. Even so, as is the case every year, many Americans will still need more time to meet their tax-filing obligation. Some taxpayers get more time, even if they don’t ask for it. Here are details on each of these special tax-relief provisions.

Disaster Victims: Victims of the February winter storms in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana have until June 15, 2021, to file their 2020 returns and pay any tax due. This relief also includes more time for making 2020 contributions to IRAs and other plans and making 2021 estimated tax payments. The IRS automatically provides filing and penalty relief to any taxpayer with an IRS address of record located in a federally declared disaster area. In some cases, relief is also available to people living outside the disaster area (for example, those with businesses or tax records located in the disaster area, or those assisting in disaster relief).

Combat Zone Taxpayers: Military service members and eligible support personnel serving in a combat zone have at least 180 days after they leave the combat zone to file their tax returns and pay any tax due. This includes those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. A complete list of designated combat zone localities can be found in Publication 3 (

Taxpayers Outside the United States: U.S. citizens and resident aliens who live and work outside the U.S. have until June 15, 2021 to file their 2020 tax returns and pay any tax due. The special June 15 deadline also applies to members of the military on duty outside the U.S. who do not qualify for the longer combat zone extension.

Everyone Else: Taxpayers who don’t qualify for any of these three special situations can still get more time to file by submitting a request for an automatic extension (Form 4868). This will extend their filing deadline until Oct. 15, 2021. But because this is only a tax-filing extension, their 2020 tax payments are still due by May 17.


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