By The Tax Institute at H&R Block
As an active duty servicemember stationed overseas (OCONUS), your are still required to file your U.S. tax returns on a timely basis. For those who are in combat zones, there are some extended deadlines allowed to complete past returns. And for those not in combat zones, extension of time is much shorter. But now H&R Block has a solution called “Block Live.”
Block Live℠ allows servicemembers to have their taxes prepared by an H&R Block Tax Professional in real time conveniently via video conference over the internet. Using the latest technology, a military servicemember can have their taxes prepared by an H&R Block expert safely and securely from just about anywhere there is an internet connection. Here is how it works:
- VisitH&R Block and click on the “File with Block Live” tab.
- Select a Tax Professional from our national network of specially trained online Tax Professionals.
- Start working with an available online Tax Professional immediately, or setup an online appointment for a time that's most convenient for you.
- Choose the Block Live communication option that works best for you: Video conference or Telephone
- Use a scanner, camera or smart phone to easily upload your documents securely to Block Live. Or if you prefer, fax your documents to us.
Your Tax Pro will ask you questions to make sure we are uncovering every credit or deduction for which you may qualify and then will review, complete and file your taxes. Only pay when you're satisfied.
Your tax return is backed by our maximum refund, and standard guarantee. Your satisfaction is guaranteed.
Though OCONUS servicemembers and their families have until June 15 to file income tax returns because of an automatic 2-month extension. Block Live will only be available during that time on a more limited basis.
REMEMBER - the automatic extension is an extension to file your tax return, not an extension of time to pay any tax owed by the regular due date of the return. In such situations, interest is charged on any taxes owed from the regular due date of your return to the date the taxes are paid.
You can also request an additional extension of time to file until October 15, 2012 by filing Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Tax Return, before the due date of your return.
REMEMBER to check the box on Line 8 - ‘out of the country’ on the form if you are qualified or the June 15 filing date.
Generally, joint returns must be signed by both spouses. However, when a spouse is overseas, in a combat zone, in a missing status, incapacitated, or deceased, a power of attorney may be needed to file a joint return. Also, if one spouse is overseas on military duty, there are a few options when filing a joint return.
- Both spouses can get online and work with a Tax Pro through Block Live and do everything electronically, or
- One spouse can prepare the return in a retail office, sign it, and send it to the other spouse to sign early enough so that it can be filed by the due date, or
- The spouse who expects to be overseas on the due date of the return can file Form 2848 designating that the spouse who remains in the United States can sign the return for the absent spouse.
- If your spouse is unable to sign the return because he or she is serving in a combat zone or is performing qualifying service outside of a combat zone, and you do not have a power of attorney or other statement, you can sign for your spouse. Attach a signed statement to your return that explains that your spouse is serving in a combat zone.
If You are in a Combat Zone
For servicemembers service in a combat zone or in a contingency operation (or continuously hospitalized as a result of an injury received serving in such an area/operation), you qualify for extensions of deadlines. The deadlines for filing tax returns, paying taxes, filing claims for refund, and taking other actions with the IRS are extended to at least 180 days after you leave the designated combat zone or contingency operation, or the last day of qualified hospitalization due to an injury from service in one of those areas.
Example: Colonel Sanders enters a combat zone on December 1, 2010 and remains there through March 31, 2012.
- The 2010 return: The deadline for filing the 2010 return will be January 13, 2013 which is 180 days plus 108 days. The 108 days is figured by calculating the amount of time Col. Sanders had to file the 2010 return before leaving for the combat zone which is January 1, 2011-April 18, 2011.
- The 2011 return: The deadline for filing is January 13, 2013 which is figured the same as above except the due date for the 2011 return is April 17, 2012 but the total amount days added is still 108 because of the leap year day.
- The 2012 return: The deadline for filing this return is not extended because the 180 days would not exceed the regular filing deadline of April 15, 2013.
Spouses of military members serving in a combat zone or on a contingency cooperation are entitled to the same extension as the military member with the following exceptions:
- The extension will not apply to the spouse for any tax year which begins more than 2 years after the date an area ceases to be a combat zone or the operation ceases to qualify as a contingency mission.
- The spouse does not get an extension for any period that the military spouse is hospitalized due to injuries received in the combat zone or while participating in the contingency operation.
- You are able to notify the IRS directly of your request for combat zone relief for extensions of deadlines through a special e-mail address: email@example.com
Whether filing taxes at one of H&R Block’s various retail outlets CONUS and OCONUS or through Block Live, we have tax solutions available to help you meet the requirements of filing your taxes on time. Keep the information in the article in mind as you get ready to file taxes in 2011. Find us online at HRBlock.com.