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In July 2016, the IRS released the exact method of amending the Streamlined Filing Procedures. This was handy for expats everywhere because it shows you exactly how to re-submit your Streamlined Filing Procedures without suffering the dreaded consequences. So let’s talk about why expats benefit from the Streamlined Filing Procedures, and what to do if they find themselves needing to amend streamlined tax returns.
The Streamlined Filing Procedures are an amnesty program run by the IRS that helps encourage non-willfully delinquent taxpayers to become voluntarily tax compliant. Basically, if you didn’t realize you had a tax filing obligation and the IRS hasn’t contacted you yet, you can use these procedures to submit your taxes without incurring any of the penalties. All you have to do is submit three years of tax returns and six years of FBARs (Foreign Bank Account Reports)—whether or not you met the thresholds. And, you must also submit Form 14653, or the Certification by US Person Residing Outside of the United States for Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures.
It may seem straightforward now, but mistakes sometimes happen; expat taxes are complex. So, those expats who accidentally forgot to include a form may have thought they just needed to hold tight until the IRS reached out to them. But in reality, that’s not the best idea. Failing to disclose can mean hefty financial penalties or jail time—so, if you made a mistake, you’re going to want to take action.
First, a few rules: if you want to amend streamlined returns, your already-submitted tax returns must not currently be under IRS review. Basically, that means act now. Further, you must include all of the following documents in your amended submission.
You’re going to need to submit corrected returns for all the years associated with the original submission. Then, on the top of the very first page, you would write in red ink “Amended Streamlined Foreign Offshore.” Let’s say you made a mistake on your FATCA Form 8938—then you must submit an amended Form 8938 for each year in the submission.
You’ll also need to submit an amended Form 14653. On this form, write “amended” in red ink at the top of the page. And on page two, be sure to include all the details you can about the error in the original document.
If your mistake means you owe more money, you’re going to need to include your payment, and this includes penalties. So, keep in mind that the miscellaneous offshore penalty is 5% of the highest year-end total balance of the taxpayer’s foreign assets subject to the penalty during the applicable years.
Then, just mail the amended submission where the original submission was sent:
3651 S. IH 35
MS 6063 AUSC
Attn.: Streamlined Procedures
Austin, TX 78741
The transparency and simplicity of amending a streamlined submission should encourage taxpayers who unwittingly omitted the reporting of a certain foreign financial asset or income from a foreign financial asset to come forward to amend their streamlined filings. This is even more so the case, given the negative consequences that may result without an amendment.
Greenback helps expats around the world get caught up on their taxes—minus the stress. Get started with Greenback today, and learn more about how to amend streamlined tax returns.