Have Unfiled Tax Returns as a US Expat? Here’s What to Do

November 24, 2023 | | 4 minute read
Expat Tax Blog. Tax Tips for US Americans abroad.

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Unfiled Tax Returns as a US Expat

Every American abroad is obligated to file US taxes if their gross adjusted income is over the filing threshold. But what if you are just finding out this information and have realized you have unfiled tax returns from living abroad for many years? You may even have 10 years of unfiled tax returns and need to get them sorted ASAP.

Staying tax compliant by filing your unfiled tax returns properly prevents tax penalties from the IRS from being placed on you and makes you eligible to receive stimulus checks.

Here’s what to do if you have unfiled tax returns as an American expat:

Understand the Streamlined Procedure

The Streamlined Procedure is a filing process started in 2012 by the IRS to support US expats in catching up on unfiled or delinquent taxes without severe penalties. It’s open to any US citizen abroad and Green card holder with various tax income and situations. By allowing US taxpayers the ability to “make up” for unfiled tax returns, the IRS can encourage people to get tax compliant and continue staying so in the future.


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Check if You Qualify for the Streamlined Procedure

In order to qualify for the tax amnesty program, your actions for not filing will need to be innocent. This means you honestly did not know how to file, didn’t know it was required or forgot. A signature stating this fact will need to be signed by you on Form 14653 for the IRS when you start filing through the Streamlined Procedure.

Do I Have to Pay Failure to File Penalties if I Qualify?

Fortunately, you won’t need to pay or be fined any penalties if you qualify to use the Streamlined Procedure. Especially since your actions are innocent/non-willful when it comes to not filing, you won’t be subject to fines – which could go up to $10,000 or more.

Prepare for the Streamlined Procedure

Once you figure out you are eligible to go through the Streamlined Procedure, you can sign up on our app for easy filing, or you can submit the following:

  • Submit information about your income and add all relevant details about your tax situation in the MyExpatTaxes software and/or include past returns if they already filed and want them amended.
  • If you had $10,000 or more in your foreign bank account at any one point throughout your expat years, you’d need to have the last six years of foreign bank account reporting forms (FBAR). If you never made over the FBAR threshold*, you will still need to file FBARs through the Streamlined Procedure.
  • A signed statement from the “Certification by U.S. Person Residing Outside of the U.S.” or Form 14653. By signing it, you certify you are eligible for the Streamlined Procedure, you filed all your FBAR forms, and you failed to file your returns because of non-willful conduct.

Your Questions Answered

Q: Hi. I’m a US citizen but left as a child. I have not filed any US taxes but I also have not had an income. I am planning to go back to live in the USA, but want to know if I need to straighten this up before going back. Thanks.

A: Hi, only if you needed to file US taxes (aka had income over the threshold) OR had financial bank accounts with over $10,000 combined would you need to go through the Streamlined Procedure (IRS Amnesty). We charge 749€, which is less than half of most other tax firms (charging at a start of $2,000).

Q: I’ve been living abroad for many years as a US Citizen and found out my filing requirements. According to my calculations, I don’t need to owe anything to the IRS this year, nor do the FBAR filing. Should I file my 2020/2021 returns to get the Economic Impact Payment (Stimulus Check) faster and then mail in my older returns or should I just go through the Streamlined Procedure?

A: Hey, you should definitely use the Streamlined Procedure since it’ll be an all-in-one application for you, and we can also see if you owe state taxes. We can help you file quickly so you can receive the Stimulus check as soon as possible even in 2024.

Perks of Filing Unfiled Tax Returns at MyExpatTaxes

Here at MyExpatTaxes, we have a dedicated package, especially for you. This is one of the most affordable options for getting back on track with your US expat taxes.

Features of MyExpatTaxes Streamlining:

  • Online Tax Filing: E-File your current year return, plus print and mail the three back years!
  • Start for free, and pay only when convinced
  • We take care of FBAR & FATCA for six years back
  • Sign the Streamlined Certification letter (form 14653) easy and electronically
  • Access to Tax FAQ & Technical Support
  • Comprehensive personal Tax Support with our Year-round Coverage and Professional Tax Review and Consulting
  • Get a Free Current Year Tax Amendment
  • Tax Forms Signed by Certified Tax Professional
  • Post submission IRS Audit Support
  • Secure document upload
  • Optional: PFIC (form 8621) included if need be

We have a plan to fit everyone’s needs. We continue to grow and notice that many of us prefer to be independent and just work through the software and use the tax tips included. Meanwhile, others need a personal tax consultant to guide them every step of the way.

While we offer an expat tax program, we are also certified tax professionals here to assist you to become happy with your taxes.

Written by Michelle H.

November 24, 2023 | | 4 minute read

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