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Tax Tips for U.S. Americans Abroad

Your Options as a US Citizen Abroad Never Filed Tax Return

So why is the IRS so concerned with US Expats? Well the US has the highest tax avoidance cost (circa $200 billion) in the world. So it makes sense that the IRS is continuously trying to find new ways, means, and methods to track US citizens who live or work abroad to make sure they get their tax reporting job done. This also explains the strict FATCA laws to prevent overseas money laundering. However, US citizen abroad never filed tax return, this can seem daunting.

Maybe you recently discovered you have to file (and possibly pay) US taxes and want to start getting that off your to-do list? You may be years behind on taxes or wondering what the solutions are for a US citizen that never filed a tax return, to begin with?

The truth is that within the rights of US citizens, if you don’t move forward with reporting your worldwide income every year, you could get fined. So, we got the answers for you on what to do if you’re a US citizen abroad never filed tax return…

New US Expat That Never Filed

If you are a new American expat living abroad for the first time and missed out on one or two years of filing your federal tax return, it’s ok. You can simply file back taxes from your missing returns. So if you are a new expat and already missed a year of filing, the US tax year you need to file for is the year before (ie: right now it is the year 2019, so you would need to file for 2018).

US citizens living abroad who have just missed one or two years US federal tax filing can catch up by simply back filing their missing returns. The filing deadline for US expats is June 15th but you can request an extension to the October 15th deadline.

Also, something else to be aware of if you missed out on a couple of years of filing a tax return while living abroad – is reporting your foreign bank account details.

This is only if you’ve ever had $10,000 combined or more in your foreign bank account(s) at any one time during the year. Or if you have signatory authority or control over someone else’s foreign bank account(s), which tip you over the 10K filing threshold, this is also important to take note. For one or both instances from above, you’ll need to file an FBAR, which stands for Foreign Bank Account Report.

If you actually have over $400,000 (single filers) of foreign financial assets in your foreign bank account at the end of the year, then you need to use Form 8938 in addition to a federal US tax return. Or, as we mentioned before, just go through us since we handle all the necessary tax forms every year for a US expat.

IRS Tax Amnesty Program

If you have never filed a tax return and are a US expat living abroad for more than 3 years, there is a solution for you. You can catch up on your US taxes as an American abroad by utilizing the IRS Tax Amnesty Program. This means you can avoid late filing penalties! It is a safe and legal way to get back on track if you’ve never filed a tax return.

However, it’s understandable if you are hesitant or nervous to start this filing process because it means you have to be open about being a US citizen abroad never filed tax return. Fear not though, as this US Expat Tax Amnesty program is made especially for you and will reduce any late filing fees if applicable!

After you catch up using the Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedure, you will continue to start reporting your worldwide income every year. It’s an obligation every taxpaying US citizen must fulfill once a year, and it can be stressful and complicated. (But this is where we come in! Here at MyExpatTaxes we provide help for American citizens abroad. We make life a little easier through our simple and affordable tax software.)

It is possible to come clean and eradicate the past history of not doing taxes with the IRS. Just check out the solution below:

The Streamlined Procedure

If the reason you failed to file because of “negligence, inadvertence, or mistake,” it means you are qualified to use the Streamlined Procedure Program. Being a “non-willful” individual who uses one of the reasons above shows the innocence that you were not deliberate in avoiding paying taxes. 

Additionally, filing late as a US expat can be a painless step if you want to live a worry-free life regarding getting caught by the IRS and being forced to pay taxes inevitably. So we suggest not to postpone the inevitable! Especially if you reach out to us to begin the catch-up process, this prevents the IRS from being super strict with you in the possible future.

The Streamlined Procedure needs at the last 3 US tax returns, plus the last 6 FBARS (if applicable), and a note that states how your previous failure to file was not because of wilful avoidance (a.k.a. knowing about it but not doing it anyway).

Plus, you can also take advantage of the Foreign Tax Credit and Foreign Earned Income Exclusion as you work on the Streamlined.

We say it’s better to just nip problems in the bud before they get out of hand. Staying tax compliant is a great thing you can do for your wellbeing as a US expat!

US Citizens Who Never Filed Can Use MyExpatTaxes

US taxes abroad can be difficult to understand. At the end of the day, if you are still struggling to figure out your tax profile and how to become more tax compliant, we suggest you entrust in an expat tax service.

Over here at MyExpatTaxes, we support American citizens abroad (even an Accidental American abroad) with all their tax questions and get them to a state of ease as we bring them to a state of tax compliance. Also, our customer service team is available to answer your emails, DMs, and any form of message you may have regarding getting back on track with the IRS as a US citizen abroad.

Plus, our award-winning software is sure to impress. Just submit all required information our software needs from you, and you can be done with your US taxes for the whole year. The IRS in the United States and our team will surely appreciate the effort you made!

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11 Comments

  1. Avatar Tony Bridges on February 20, 2020 at 4:42 pm

    My son has lived in El Salvador since 2017 and has not filed a US tax return. Need assistance on how to resolve as he wants to move back to the US. Was marred to a El Salvadorian in 2018

    • Michelle H. Michelle H. on February 21, 2020 at 11:47 am

      Hi Tony,

      Your son can take advantage of the Streamlined Procedure through us. The fee is €149 per year of missed filing, and €100 for extended support for us to guide your son through this process and work with the FBAR filings (if necessary). He can get started by signing up in our app today.

  2. Avatar Mario on February 21, 2020 at 3:43 pm

    I need assistance on this tax return forms since I lived abroad 33 years ( I´m 34 years old) and never filed a tax return. I moved back to USA a couple of months ago and I want to place this in order since I´m planning to ask for a K1 visa for my fiance and at a certain point in the process, I need to show tax return info.

    • Markus Markus on February 22, 2020 at 12:37 pm

      Hi Mario – you’ve come to the right place, then! 🙂 You can sign up at https://app.myexpattaxes.com and go through the Streamlined Filing Procedure.

  3. Avatar Niracha Marchetti on March 2, 2020 at 1:35 pm

    hi,
    I am 26 years American girl being raised and been living outside the States and now doing my master abroad. I have never earned more than $1000 a month. Do I need to file my tax or pay tax? or i can wait till i started working and earn enough to pay tax then start filing my taxes?

    • Markus Markus on March 2, 2020 at 5:10 pm

      Hi Niracha! It’s unlikely you owe taxes, but it depends on how much income you had – the filing threshold as a single person under 65 is USD 12,200 (for 2019). So you may be just under it or just over it. If your income is below the filing threshold, you don’t have to file. Note that it’s not just earned income (like salaries) that counts towards the threshold. Interest, government subsidies and the like would all count as income.

  4. Avatar Paul Rooney on March 5, 2020 at 12:12 am

    Hi,

    I’m a US citizen, living in Sydney for the past 15 years. My salary isn’t really high, just a bit over 100K the past few years. I filed my US taxes for maybe the first 3 or 4 years of living here. As I always owed zero tax to the US I just stopped doing it. I’d like to get back on track as I’m now 58 and hope to draw off my social security when I do retire, here in Sydney. Also, I’m considering becoming a dual citizen, getting my Australian citizenship, but I’ve been reluctant as I’m not sure how this would impact both my social security and my Australian Super Annuation.

    Would you be able to help with this?

    • Markus Markus on March 25, 2020 at 9:10 pm

      Hi Paul – yes, we’ll be able to help! Ideally, you go ahead and create an account with us at https://app.myexpattaxes.com

  5. Avatar Mia on March 21, 2020 at 12:14 am

    Hi. I am an American citizen, living abroad since 2016. I didn’t work all this time and don’t need to file Fatca. This year I should report foreign account interest for 2019. So will I have problems? I really don’t owe anything for these years living abroad that’s why I didn’t file. Now I should report (just report, no payment owned) for 2019 and I’m gonna file. Will I face problems and how IRS will inform me? Do they mail notifications to international addresses?

  6. Avatar Phyllisa on April 1, 2020 at 2:03 am

    Hi. I was born in the United States, but move to The Bahamas with my mother when I was 5 years old. I have never filed taxes, and I’d like to move to the United States in the near future. However, I know I need to get my taxes sorted. How do I go about doing this?

    • Michelle H. Michelle H. on April 1, 2020 at 9:00 am

      Hi Phyllisa, you’ll need to make sure you are in good standing with the IRS before you move to the US. Do check this blog here and sign up on our app to start the filing and making up process!

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