Many US expats file their late tax returns and past-due foreign bank account reports (FBARs) through the Streamlined Filing Procedures. This IRS program waives the late-filing penalties for expats who qualify. The streamlined program requires that expats file at least three years of past-due tax returns and at least six years of past-due FBARs.
US expats need to gather financial documents for the past six years so that their tax returns and FBARs can be prepared. To help, Greenback accountants compiled a list of documents that expats need to have accessible for the streamlined program, including the FBARs, tax returns, and more. Plus, you’ll find out just how long you need to keep these records.
Documents Needed for the FBARs
To prepare FBARs for each of the six past-due years, US expats need to gather the following documents for the streamlined program:
- Bank statements for all foreign bank accounts;
- Statements or account history details for every foreign investment account;
- Statements for each foreign pension or retirement account;
- Statements for any foreign cryptocurrency accounts; and
- Statements for foreign whole life insurance policies.
Some accountants will ask you to summarize information from the bank statements. Other accountants will want to see your account statements. Ask your accountants how they prefer to see the information.
Documents Needed for the US Tax Returns
To prepare tax returns for each of the three past-due years, US expats need to gather the following documents for the streamlined program:
- Tax returns filed in your resident country;
- Paystubs showing wages, tips, other compensation, and taxes paid to your resident country (from January to December of each year);
- Business income and expenses for those who are self-employed (you can usually find a summary on profit and loss statements);
- Investment income reports showing interest, dividends, capital gains, and other investment income during the year (this could be a Form 1099 from a US financial institution or an annual statement from foreign institutions);
- Stocks, bonds, and securities – records of purchases and sales of stock and/or other securities (your broker might provide an annual statement);
- Real estate – records of sales and purchases of any property;
- Mortgage interest paid (annual summary showing how much interest you paid on a mortgage loan);
- Distributions from pensions, annuities, other retirement accounts (your financial institution should be able to provide you with annual summaries);
- Social security benefits paid to you, whether from the US or other countries;
- Any additional income (such as rental income, gambling winnings, and income from partnerships or trusts);
- Any other records you think may be applicable.
How Long to Keep These Financial Documents for the Streamlined Program
Expats will need to keep all these financial documents for at least three years from the date they sign their streamlined program certification form. At Greenback, we do the legwork for you, and store all your information for the period of time open to IRS audit. Plus, each year, our system saves your info, so you don’t have to fill out the same answers, year after year.
Use the Streamlined Program ASAP!
If you’re behind on your taxes, there’s no time like the present to get caught up. Get started with Greenback now, and we’ll take care of the hard part.