Your IRS Online Account as a US Expat: Everything You Need to Know

US expat creating her IRS online account

Taxes are tricky for US expats — in addition to the complications that come along with earning income abroad, tactical challenges like accessing your tax records, viewing your balance, and making payments are made that much harder when you can’t easily receive mail from or make calls to the US. Fortunately, the availability of IRS online accounts can make things just a little bit easier.

Although the directions for creating an IRS account online can sometimes be confusing, we’ve been working hard this past year along with the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel to help our clients create and access their online accounts — and we’ve picked up a few tricks along the way.

Read on to learn what you can do with an IRS account online, how to set one up, and what you can do to overcome common challenges.

What is an IRS online account, & what are the benefits?

The IRS offers an online account that makes it easy for taxpayers to access their information, manage preferences, and perform different actions. A few of the things you can do with the help of your online IRS account include:

  • Viewing your balance
  • Making payments
  • Creating payment plans
  • Accessing your tax records
  • Setting communication preferences
  • Generating or retrieving your IP PIN (a six-digit number that prevents someone else from filing a tax return using your Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number)

Doing so through the IRS online account is often significantly quicker, easier, and more comprehensive than other methods, such as requesting account transcripts by mail or making payments via the regular IRS website.

Read More: A Guide To The IRS Get My Payment Tool For Expats (Including Troubleshooting)

Can I view my IRS business account online?

Currently, the IRS only offers online accounts for individual taxpayers — however, they plan on making online business accounts available in the near future. 

How to create an online IRS account

1. Go to the IRS website’s online account page and click “Sign in to your Online Account.” 

2. Choose the option “ Create an account.”

3. The screen will then prompt you to enter an email address and create a password (which must have at least one uppercase and lowercase letter, as well as a number). Check the box accepting the terms of service, and click “Create Account” to continue.

4. Click “continue.” At this point, a verification link will be sent to the email you entered. Open the message and click the link to verify your email address and proceed.

5. You will then be asked to secure your account with multifactor authentication. We recommend the first option (Text message or Phone call).

6. You will then be prompted to choose between either a text message or a phone call and enter your phone number (international phone numbers will work as long as you select the correct country code). 

7. After clicking “Continue,” you will receive a code by text or phone call (depending on which option you chose), which you can then enter on the website. Click “Continue” to proceed.

8. You will be given 2 options to verify your ID for the purpose of creating an account — one is to enter all of the information electronically (Self-Service), and the other is to provide this information via a video call with an agent (Video Chat Agent).

IRS Online Account setup for US expats

If you choose Self-Service

9. Read and agree to the terms of service. Then, upload photos of the requested documents. For verification purposes, you will need to use a US phone number. If you don’t have a US phone number, coordinate with someone you trust in the US. 

If you choose Video Chat Agent

9. After reviewing the list of the required steps, click “Get Started,” — then read and accept the terms of service. 

10. Enter your personal information into the appropriate fields, then click “Continue.” 

11. Choose and upload eligible documents to verify your identity. You may upload either two primary documents or one primary and two secondary documents (the full list can be found here). Then, click continue.

💡 Tip: Upload documents in English whenever possible — even better if they’re US documents, such as a US passport, Social Security card, and bank statements with addresses that match your documents.

12. Once you have successfully uploaded your documents, they will be submitted for review. Once approved, you will be invited to join a video call to verify your identity. Make sure to have the documents you submitted on hand so you can show them to the agent on the call.

Read More: US Expat Tax Filing: What Documents Do I Need? A Checklist

Roadblocks expats run into (with solutions!)

There are a few common hurdles that US expats run into while trying to set up their IRS online account — read on to learn how to overcome these challenges.

My documents aren’t being accepted

Although the website states that they accept foreign and non-English documents, they typically reject them — so upload US documents in English whenever possible. You may also have a document rejected if it contains a different address than your current one, so make sure your address is up-to-date across the board before you proceed. Getting documents approved sometimes requires patience and perseverance — you may need to upload several different options before they are finally approved, so don’t give up! 

I don’t have a US phone number

When it comes to setting up the general account, you can use a foreign phone number. However, as mentioned before, if you choose the Self-Service verification route, you will, at some point, need a US phone number. You can get around this by contacting somebody you trust with a US phone number. When you enter their number, they will be sent a verification code, which they can pass along to you for you to enter.

Why can’t I access my IRS account online?

For any other questions or issues, you can…

What information is important to keep up to date on your IRS account?

Keeping your information up to date is key to keeping your IRS online account running smoothly, so don’t forget to regularly update your IRS mailing address, contact information, and communication preferences (e.g. email notifications, paperless statements) whenever necessary.

Get Expert Assistance With Your IRS Account Online & More

If you’re a US expat who needs help with IRS online account login or setup, or anything else related to taxes, don’t hesitate to reach out to Bright!Tax. We know that and other IRS processes can be tricky, but our team has seen and helped clients through it all.

Reach out today for assistance or just to learn more about our services!

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