Expats that Haven’t Filed Their US Tax Return Yet Can Request A Further 2 month Extension Until December 15th – If They Act Now
US expats still have to file a federal tax return, despite living abroad, declaring their worldwide income.
Expats are also subject to extra filing requirements not applicable to Americans living stateside, such as having to report their qualifying foreign bank and investment accounts by filing an FBAR.
Thankfully, there are several exemptions available that reduce or in many cases eliminate US taxes payable by US expats (such as the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion and the Foreign Tax Credit), however expats still have to tile a federal tax return to claim them.
Filing extensions for expats
Expats get an automatic 2 month extension to file, although any taxes owed (often nil) must still be paid by April 15th.
Expats who would like a longer extension though, perhaps to have more time to obtain foreign tax or residency information, or to meet the Physical Presence Test for the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, can apply for a a 6 month extension (starting on April 15th) by filing form 4868 electronically (online) before April 15th.
Expats who have filed for the 6 month extension by filing form 4868 but still aren’t ready to submit their federal tax return by October 15th can apply for a further 2 month filing extension until December 15th.
This extra extension can’t be applied for online though. Instead, expats must write to the IRS, mailing their request before the October 15th deadline.
Here is a template of a letter requesting this extra 2 month extension until December 15th:
“If you are not able to file your return by the due date, you generally can get an automatic 6-month extension of time to file. To get this automatic extension, you must file form 4868.” – the IRS
Austin – Internal Revenue Submission Processing Center, 3651 S IH35, Austin TX 78741, 267-941-1000.
Re: December 15, 2017 Extension Request
Name: Taxpayer Name or Names
Address: Taxpayer Address
SSN/ITIN: xxx-xx-xxxx (or SSNs if filing jointly)
Tax Year: 2016
October 12, 2017
Internal Revenue Service:
Per the instructions contained in publication 54, I am requesting an extension to file Form 1040 (insert any additional informational returns you will be filing in addition to the 1040 like Form 5471) for the 2016 tax year until December 15, 2017. Please note that I have already timely filed an extension request to October 16, 2017.
I require additional time to gather the income and expense information necessary to accurately prepare 2016 tax returns. I live outside of the United States and it takes additional time to gather and compile my information due to communication and mailing delays.
Please process the extension to file until December 15, 2017 for me as I am living abroad.
(Print and Sign Your Name(s))
We recommend that expats who do request this extension retain proof of posting for their records.
Starting in 2017, expats who have to report their foreign bank or investment accounts by filing an FBAR receive an automatic 6 month extension until October 15th to file. This extension can’t currently be extended any further though, so that expats who have requested an additional 2 month filing extension until December for their tax return must still file their FBAR by October 15th (or if October 15th falls over a weekend such as in 2017, by midnight on the Monday).
Expats who have been living abroad but weren’t aware that they must still file US taxes can catch up without facing penalties using an IRS amnesty program called the Streamlined Procedure.
The Streamlined Procedure requires expats to file their last 3 tax returns and last 6 FBARs (in both cases, as appropriate), pay any back taxes due (often nil, if they retro claim the most beneficial exemptions for expats, given their circumstances), and self-certify that their previous failure to file was non-willful.