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If you’re an American living abroad who hasn’t filed taxes since you relocated, you may be surprised to hear that you are considered by the IRS to be delinquent regarding your tax-filing obligations. Many Americans don’t realize that their citizenship means a lifelong tax-filing requirement to the US government, regardless of their location. Worse yet, if your tax debt reaches certain thresholds, the IRS can have your passport revoked. So, how do expats with late taxes get caught by the IRS? Let’s find out.
When people don’t timely file tax returns, the IRS can sometimes begin the process by collecting the information they have – like 1099s or W-2s – and compiling a substitute tax return to estimate a collection amount. But when the IRS does this, they don’t have the information to add in any deductions, credits, or exclusions that would limit the tax liability, so the person on the receiving end of this substitute tax return is going to end up paying a whole lot more.
This process is a bit trickier when the taxpayer lives in a different country. But, many actions taken by expats with late taxes will raise the eyebrow of the collective IRS and make them check your tax standing, such as the following:
Other situations may also cause the IRS to seek out your finances overseas and bring you into compliance. Essentially, anything you do that leaves a paper trail for the IRS could be used to discover your noncompliant tax status.
This past summer, the IRS enacted new compliance programs, most of which are seeking expats who have not complied with their filing requirements. More resources are now being allocated specifically to addressing expat noncompliance in the following areas:
Amnesty programs are still available for those who are late with their expat taxes. However, the IRS-initiated amnesty programs are temporary, and they can only be used by taxpayers who were not first caught by the IRS. They exist to encourage folks to voluntarily come forward rather than wait for the IRS to find them. So taking action before the IRS finds you is the best course of action for all Americans abroad, since some of the amnesty programs allow you to get caught up penalty-free.
Greenback specializes in expat taxes and can help you get caught up, minus all the stress. Get started with us today.
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