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Tax Tips for U.S. Americans Abroad

Filing Extensions for US Expats

You may ask, what are the filing extensions for US expats? Well, to start – April 15th is the tax deadline for US Americans in the states. But you may be surprised to know that not many US expats are aware that once they leave the country they still need to file their US taxes. Most especially, that they have an automatic extension of time, where their taxes are due on June 15th. (However, if you do owe tax payments, US expats need to pay by the April 15th deadline or else interest will accrue).

So frankly, US expats don’t need to worry about filing their taxes by the typical April 15th deadline. There is an automatic (and free!) extension to June 15th.

filing extensions for us expats

And if you cannot make it for the June deadline, you can use our service at MyExpatTaxes to apply for an extension to file until the October 15th deadline. The extension to use is the IRS Form 4868. Form 4868 is the application for an automatic extension of time to file a US individual income tax return. This what you use if you want to extend filing your tax return after the June deadline.

Knowing your US filing extension deadlines as an American abroad is super important. If you end up forgetting, avoiding or simply not knowing that you have to report your worldwide income to the IRS every year by a certain deadline (while living in a foreign country!), interest and filing penalties can accrue if you end up owing some US taxes. Don’t give into tax evasion, folks.

In this post, we’ll help you make sense of filing extensions for US expats, particularly with what you need to know.


Interest and Penalties for Your US Tax Return

There are 3 penalties to know for late taxes: interest on the tax due, failure to file, and failure to pay.

Every time you owe US taxes and you don’t pay the IRS in full, you will be tacked with interest, calculated on the amount you owe. As for the failure to file, for every month your tax return is late you will get 5% added for each month the return is late, up to 25%. If you fail to pay your taxes on time, you will be penalized with 5% interest for each month with what you did not pay yet to the IRS, until you pay in full. 


Tax Deadline Extension Possibilities

As we mentioned before, US expats have the opportunity to file their taxes at an extended date – June 15th. This is called an “automatic extension” that is naturally tacked onto any US citizen living abroad. Keep in mind though, that the June 15th deadline does NOT apply if you have taxes to pay to the IRS (in that case, you need to pay them by the April deadline to avoid penalties). Our suggestion is to track your time during the calendar year to make sure you get your tax returns in before the appropriate deadline!

Even more so, expats can extend their tax filing deadline to October 15th. However, you will need extra help by filling out the Form 4868 extension form. Don’t worry – we at MyExpatTaxes can do that for you!

The last offer to extend your tax deadline happens to be December 15th. By then, US tax companies and consultants are already preparing for next year’s tax season. To extend your deadline to December, you must write and send a letter to the IRS by October 15th. It must explain why you as a US expat need even more time to complete your tax return. Keep a tracking code and copy of your letter since you will not get a notification they received it.

As you can see, applying for a tax extension is not automatically granted after the June 15th deadline. You must take specific steps to get the additional filing extension you need (either to October or December).


Get Your FBAR Done by October 15th

A report of foreign bank account is big for the IRS. The FBAR (or Foreign Bank Account Report) needs to be filled out and reported by US expats with specific requirements: Those who have had over $10k in their foreign bank account at any one time during the year. For FBAR filers, the deadline to get this in is April 15th. However, there is an automatic extension until October 15th. So effectively, the real due date is October.

If you do not get your FBAR in on time, penalties may ensue. Foreign account holders who forgot or didn’t know could be charged up to $10k for each violation or missed FBAR form. If you purposefully avoid or not want to file your FBAR, you can receive a penalty of up to $100k, or 50% of what is in your foreign bank account.

Additionally, due to the recent stricter enforcement of FATCA, there is a higher chance the IRS might start tying filed FBARs with the bank records they receive from your financial institution.


We’ll Help You Meet the Tax Deadlines

Here at MyExpatTaxes, we will do everything we can to help you get tax compliant. We make sure all filing extensions for US expats are covered through our service and software. Additionally, we do the necessary extensions to make sure our customers become happy and safe with the IRS. Get started today and be surprised about how fast our software will help you get caught up.

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