The tax season has officially kicked off and your tax documents are starting to roll in in preparation for filing your US Tax Return. If you’re doing a mad dash to determine what information is needed in order to file your tax for expats, you’re probably not alone! While Tax Day always seems to come quickly, doing a little bit of prep can go a long way in keeping you stress-free when it arrives. If you find yourself a little unprepared for tax prep this year, here’s a list of documents you should be saving – which will help you this year and next!
Statements to Keep Track Of
A majority of your income, interest and tax withholding statements will arrive in January and February following the tax year. Nowadays, it’s common to receive email notifications regarding some statements, with instructions to log in to your accounts to download them. The statements you might receive near the beginning of the year for your tax for expats include:
- Investment-related 1099s
- Mortgage interest statements
- Credit care statements
- Bank statements
- Other financial statements
Thanks to the Internet, it’s easier than ever to keep track of statements throughout the year. For easy reference, create a folder on your desktop and download statements into the folder as they become available. In addition to the statements listed above, keeping close tabs on bank statements will help you keep track of things like job expenses, charitable donations and unreimbursed work expenses. When you have a few minutes to spare, go through your bank statements to pull out specific information regarding expenses, including check numbers, payee names, dollar amounts and dates – and input the data into a spreadsheet for easy reference.
This folder is also a good place to add a spreadsheet for keeping track of your travel for the year, so you’ll have the opportunity to use the Physical Presence Test to claim the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion on your tax for expats.
Documentation for Life Events
Life-changing events often have an unexpected consequence – affecting your US tax for expats. Events ranging from marriages, adoption, and childbirth to things like death of a spouse, divorce and child custody agreements all have an impact on your tax preparation, so it’s important to keep important records and documentation for reference when preparing your expat taxes.
The event of buying a home will also have an impact on your expat taxes (and can save you money!), so keep track of your closing documents, invoices/statements for home improvements and your annual mortgage statement.
Filing Your Tax for Expats
Keeping track of important documents throughout the year will certainly help you come tax time. Being aware of the filing deadlines is also a critical step, to ensure you finalize your tax for expats in time to avoid penalties and interest from accruing. For your 2016 tax return, you should mark the following dates on your calendar:
April 18, 2017: Federal Tax Deadline
This is the Federal filing deadline for US citizens who are not currently living abroad. If you moved back to the US prior to this date, you will need to file your taxes by this date. However, if you are living abroad on this date, you receive an automatic two-month extension. Note that any taxes owed are due on this date, or interest will accrue until paid.
April 18, 2017: Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR) Filing Deadline
Beginning with the 2017 filing year, the due date for Form FinCEN 114 now falls on Tax Day. It must be filed online using the BSA e-filing system, and there are extensions available until October 15, 2017.
June 15, 2017: US Expat Tax Deadline (without extension)
This is the US tax for expats deadline and also the deadline to file an additional extension until October 17. Remember that if you are required to file FATCA Form 8938, it must be filed along with your US expat tax return. If you file for an extension, the extension applies to Form 8938, as well.
October 16, 2017: Final US Expat Tax, FBAR and FATCA Deadlines
If you filed an extension prior to June 15th, this is your final deadline for your tax for expats, FBAR and FATCA filing. Normally the deadline is October 15th, but due to it falling on a Sunday, the tax deadline is extended.
Working with an expat tax preparer will ensure you don’t miss any opportunities for ways to save on your tax for expats, which can give you peace of mind and help you avoid stress around filing taxes. For more expat tax tips and ways to save, download our tax guide for Americans working overseas.
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