Americans living abroad are granted an automatic extension for filing their US expat taxes, so while the rest of their fellow citizens scramble to get returns to the IRS by April 15 of most years, US expats have another two months to gather necessary forms and information about their foreign income and ensure that they meet the qualifications for expat tax exclusions and allowances. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that all expats are ready to file when June 15 rolls around!
So what do you need to know in order to file an extension to extend your foreign income tax return deadline to October 15?
Gather Basic Information
To file an US expat tax return extension, you’ll need to complete IRS Form 4868. This can be mailed to the IRS or it can be filed electronically by those who use an e-file software program or by tax professionals who file electronically for their clients.
Information you’ll need in order to complete your form:
- Personal identification information – your social security number or tax ID number (and the number for your spouse, if filing a joint return), as well as your mailing address
- Previous tax documentation – your 1040, 1040EZ, or 1040A form from the prior year’s tax return
- Any tax documentation for the current filing year
Information from last year’s return and tax payments is especially helpful if your financial situation did not change much. You will use these numbers to make a rough estimate of any taxes you may owe to the IRS for foreign income owed for the current filing year. Don’t forget to consider the possible tax savings you may receive based on the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion and the Foreign Tax Credit!
When You Owe For Your US Expat Taxes
After you make your estimates for Form 4868, if you discover you likely owe taxes to the IRS, get your check book ready. You will need to pay that amount by the April deadline in order to avoid being charged interest and penalties because the extension is for the filing date only, not for the payment due.
A check can be sent in with your Form 4868. If you prefer to file and pay electronically, you will need to sign up for the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System. If you don’t want to use the federal system, some tax service and software companies may be able to wire the money to the IRS, as may your bank – but keep in mind that some of these service providers will charge you for the transaction. Electronic funds should be scheduled for 8:00 p.m. on the day before the April due date so that they are transmitted in time.
How an Expat Tax Expert Can Help
If you are overwhelmed by the process of getting all of your documents condensed onto your tax return form, if you are tired of trying to calculate your Foreign Tax Credit and Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, or if you would like help filing your extension and the return itself, the expat expert accountants at Greenback Expat Tax Services can help. We offer a straightforward process to gather information from you and charge a low, flat fee for completing your tax returns – and filing for an extension is already covered by that fee!
Questions About Foreign Income?
Take a look at this video for important 2013 US expat tax deadlines. If you have any questions about your foreign income or US expat taxes, or if you would like to learn about our expat tax services, please contact us.