Tax Tips for U.S. Americans Abroad
As the wise Benjamin Franklin once said, “…but in this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
Unfortunately, taxes are a part of our lives. Even if you are a US citizen living abroad, you cannot escape the tax obligation of reporting your worldwide income every year.
As usual, on April 15th taxpayers must submit whatever info and payment they owe to the IRS. This is even true if you are an American abroad. If you just need to file, you have until June 15th to get that done.
If you are a US expat and meet the requirements of filing/paying US taxes, BUT forgot or didn’t know you have to file your US tax returns and FBAR annually, you can use something special. It’s an expat tax amnesty program called the Streamlined Procedure. This allows you to avoid tax evasion even in a great way.
US Expat Tax Amnesty 101
Using an IRS tax amnesty program like the Streamlined Procedure is a safe and legal way to fix up a past of tax filing neglect. Many people who fell behind on reporting their US taxes and personal income tax every year to the IRS may be hesitant to start this process.
And did you know – there were actually 2 IRS amnesty programs to choose from? Besides the Streamlined federal income tax amnesty program, the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) allows taxpayers who may be on the verge of becoming a criminal or heavily penalized from the IRS to be protected, as long as they use this program. If so, then then it is possible for penalty obligations to be removed or lessened. This program is also a great advantage to take on when facing potentially serious tax consequences.
Unfortunately, OVDP was closed on September 28, 2018, by the IRS. Luckily, the Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures continues to be open for the time being.
Here are MyExpatTaxes we want to reassure you that we got your back when it comes to helping you become tax compliant and be in a friendly relationship with the IRS. A US citizen abroad who never filed a tax return can be a red flag for the IRS, but we got you covered.
We want nothing better than to make the US tax process as simple and affordable for you as possible. Let’s stop you from accumulating unnecessary tax liabilities. Dealing with all that, plus foreign bank stuff is our thing.
What to Expect Beforehand
In order to utilize this unique service of the federal tax amnesty program, your actions must be innocent, to begin with. Meaning, if you have not been filing or paying taxes as a US expat for many years because you didn’t know, you fall within the “innocent” area.
The IRS emphasizes that neglect and inadvertence for US taxes must be the result of a ”good faith misunderstanding of the requirements of the law.” So unless you have accrued a large amount of unpaid taxes intentionally, it will all be okay!
Streamlined Procedure Requirements for US Expats
You as a U.S. expat are eligible to use the Streamlined Procedure if:
- You did not live in a home (have an abode) in the US for the last 3 years.
- Were physically living outside of the US for at least 330 days. (So visiting your family for a month once a year is acceptable – and hopefully enjoyable!).
- Haven’t filed federal tax returns in the last 3 years. The tax due date for expats is June 15th every year, with an opportunity to extend to October 15th.
- Haven’t filed delinquent or amended tax returns (this means you filed carelessly, irresponsibly and/or falsely)
- Haven’t filed the FBAR within the last 6 years.
If you meet all these requirements, you will NOT be subject to failure-to-file and failure-to-pay penalties! This means you can take a deep breath and not worry about paying gut-wrenching fines as high as $10k. Yes the IRS wants the taxpayer to pay what is required, but avoiding high fines is possible.
MyExpatTaxes and The Streamlined Procedure
So how can we at MyExpatTaxes help you personally with the Streamlined Procedure? We are now officially supporting clients specifically with it. So if you are someone who has not been filing 3 years or more in US taxes, we can work with you on that.
Even if it’s been 10+ years since you’ve done taxes as an expat, and you have tax debt, the Streamlined Procedure allows you to catch up! Always.
The Streamlined Procedure only requires:
- 3 years of back tax returns (not including the current year’s return)
- 6 years of FBAR reports (not including the current year’s report)
- FBARs are only required if you had more than $10,000 in ALL of your foreign financial accounts at any time during the year (i.e. bank accounts, pension accounts, life insurance policies, etc).
- Signed Statement: “Certification by U.S. Person Residing Outside of the U.S.”
How much will it all cost?!
- Even if you’re doing the more complex process of the Streamlined Procedure, we don’t increase our fees! It’s still 149 Euro/return through the MyExpatTaxes software. If we may say, this is quite a deal that you cannot find anywhere else in the world currently.
- Current year’s return + 3 years of back tax returns = 4 returns * 149 Euro/return. If you require all 6 years of back FBAR reports, we’ll just charge 100 Euros for the three extra years.
- 696 Euros including VAT for 4 years of returns + 6 years of FBAR reports to catch up on your tax obligations and ensure peace of mind … we say that’s pretty reasonable!
We Can Help You
On top of signing up through us at MyExpatTaxes to work directly with The Streamlined Procedure’s US expat tax amnesty program, we also offer our free IRS tax advice along the way, to answer tax questions you may have. We guarantee to give you the best expat tax service available for an affordable price.
Our software is user-friendly and guides you to fill out your tax information with ease. Once you punch in all the numbers of your worldwide income and do the necessary clicks, our software prepares an informational return that we then send out to the IRS.
Post updated September 2019