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Airmen may be eligible for tax relief

By C. Todd Lopez

BOLLING AIR FORCE BASE, Washington, D.C. (April 12, 2007) -- Tuesday is tax day across the United States. By 11 p.m. that day, thousands of Americans will line up at area post offices to mail tax forms by the midnight deadline.

But some Airmen may not be ready to file their tax return. For those Airmen, the IRS can grant a six-month extension after completion of IRS Form 4868, said Capt. Hanna Yang, Bolling tax center officer in charge.

"For people that need an extension, you can paper file or electronically file an extension," she said. "If you paper file an extension, be sure your mail package is postmarked on or before April 17."

Captain Yang said the extension allows Airmen to file their taxes as late as October 15. But if you owe money, she said, there are repercussions for filing an extension.

"If you believe you owe, and don't have all your papers ready, then file an extension, but you will still be subject to interest and penalties," she said.

For Airmen that have served in a combat zone or a qualified hazardous duty area, who were deployed overseas away from their permanent duty station in support of operations in a qualified hazardous duty area, or served in any number of other qualifying capacities, the tax filing date is extended. Those Airmen can visit the Bolling legal office after the April 17 deadline to discuss options for filing with a tax advisor, Captain Yang said.

For Airmen who know they will receive money back from the government, there are no penalties for filing after the April 17 deadline, even without an extension. But Airmen shouldn't wait more than three years to claim that money, Captain Yang said. There is a three year statute of limitations on those funds, and after that time, the money stays with the government.

This year, the IRS has approximately $2.2 billion in tax return money from the 2003 tax filing year, left unclaimed by some 1.75 million Americans. About $8.5 million of that money belongs to some 9,700 military members who didn't file a tax return for that year. The median check amount for those returns is $785 dollars. That money must be claimed by filing a 2003 tax form, available on the IRS Web site, no later than April 17.