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Ending up behind on your tax prep happens all the time. Maybe it was the move, dealing with local taxes or not getting bombarded with tax prep advertisements from January – April, but it happens and we can help! How we help depends a bit on your situation, but as a general rule if you are 1 or 2 years behind we would generally file the returns as late tax returns. In this case the fees would be the same per year as our normal tax prep, briefly outlined below.
If you are 3 or more years behind on your expat tax returns, then we would recommend filing using the Streamlined Filing Package. The Streamlined program is an IRS program where individuals who are behind for non-willful reasons can catch up and avoid penalties and criminal charges. This will also allow you to catch up on your FinCen 114 (AKA Fbar) without having to pay those penalties.
Either way, don’t panic. We can help!
True experts who have extensive experience in filing late tax returns. We file 100s of late tax returns each year.
We have clients in 217 countries and territories, so we are very familiar with US expat taxes across the globe.
You upload your tax documents to a personal, secure data folder. We use 256-bit encrypted security, the same as most banks.
Late filers often file at times other than tax time, and we are here for you year-round, whenever you need us.
We don’t leave any financial calculations up to you — we do all the heavy lifting.
We pride ourselves on not just being tax experts, but easy to work with too! We know being behind with the IRS on your taxes can be daunting, and we try to allay your fears by explaining complex tax matters in layman’s terms (not jargon) so you understand your choices.
Late Tax Return Preparation Cost: $485 USD
I have not filed my US tax return in years; where do I start?
This situation is more common than you might think. You should start by talking with an expat tax expert to identify how many years of back taxes you are going to need to file and what documentation you need in order to complete the necessary reports and returns to become compliant with the US tax authorities.
You will need to prove expat status for each year. Be aware that you may owe penalties for filing late or failing to pay taxes on time. Generally speaking, this will only be the case if you owed money on your US taxes, which will cause interest and penalties to accrue on the underpayment. If you have not declared your foreign bank accounts, you may also need to file FBAR forms for the years you have missed.
Our experience is that people who come forward have been given more leniency than people the IRS has found through their own means.
How many years of late US tax returns do I need to file?
The number of years of US expat taxes you need to file will depend on your situation. Typically, three to six years will be sufficient for the IRS to consider you caught up. If you are trying to sponsor a spouse for US citizenship, up to eight years may be required in order to prove your ability to support your spouse as a US citizen. If you need to get caught up to prove financial merit (for instance, if you are applying for a loan), three years is generally enough. That said, every situation is different; you should discuss your options with an expat tax expert to make sure you file the correct number of returns.
What are the penalties for filing late expat tax returns?
Prior to September 1, 2012, the IRS assessed penalties on late tax returns no matter how they were filed. With the changes to the Streamlined Procedures, an IRS amnesty program to help taxpayers get caught up on US taxes, they waived all penalties for expats! If you are behind and need to get caught up, the very best way to do so is by applying for the Streamlined Procedures and following the IRS program requirements carefully. While previously many Americans chose to do a quiet disclosure (simply filing back returns and hoping they don’t get flagged), we highly recommend going through this program and doing things properly – especially because there are no penalties to do so.
However, FBAR penalties can still be assessed. The US Department of the Treasury reserves the right to seize up to 50% of the assets in overseas bank accounts or $100,000 per account, whichever is higher. However, this is typically only done in cases where people are deliberately hiding assets overseas to avoid taxation. Expats are generally not penalized if they voluntarily come forward.
There is a new passport revocation law in place, which allows the government to seize your passport if you owe $50,000 or more in back taxes. This means keeping accurate records and staying on top of your expat taxes is more important than ever in order to prevent a situation like this from occurring.
Read more about late filing penalties on the IRS website, here: https://www.irs.gov/faqs/irs-procedures/collection-procedural-questions/collection-procedural-questions-3
What services do you provide for filing late tax returns?
If you are filing taxes 1 year late, we recommend filing as soon as possible as penalties have been accruing. If you need tax assistance, learn more about our flat-fee late tax return preparation. If you were unaware that you needed to file and require several years of tax filing, you may qualify for the Streamlined Filing Procedures. If you need tax assistance, learn more about our flat-fee Streamlined Filing Package designed to save you money.
What are the important US tax deadlines?
April 15th, June 15th, and October 15th
*If the 15th falls on a weekend, then the due date becomes the first business day of the following week.
Expatriates must be aware of the following deadlines for their US expat tax return.
US filing deadline and the date that tax payments are due, even for expats.
US expats receive an automatic extension until June 15th to file their US taxes; note that taxes are due on April 17th, and interest (but no penalties) will be applied if taxes are not paid by April 17th. Penalties will apply if taxes are not paid by June 15th. The 15th is also the FBAR deadline for US expats; however, there is an automatic extension until the October 15th deadline.
Final deadline for expat tax returns for those who have filed for an extension. This is also the final deadline for filing an FBAR.
Please Note: The US Federal tax return extension is an extension of time to file and not an extension of time to pay any tax due to the IRS. If you owe tax to the US, your interest will start accruing from the first tax deadline – April 15th. Additionally, if you do not request an extension and do not file, a late payment penalty of 5% may be assessed each month until the tax is paid.
Learn more about deadlines and extensions in our blog.
If you are a resident alien, generally you will have the same filing requirements as a US citizen within the US.
If you are living in the US, you will have the same filing deadline as other residents and citizens: April 15th.
However, if your main place of residence is still outside the US, you will have an automatic extension until June 15th (please note that all taxes owed will still be due by April 15th) for your tax return filing.
How do I file for an extension on a US expat tax return?
The IRS gives taxpayers living abroad an automatic extension beyond the US tax deadline of April 18th to file their US expat tax returns. The automatic extension runs through June 15th. If you need additional time to file your tax return, you can request an extension by filing Form 4868 and submitting it to the IRS. This will provide you with an extension until October 15th.*
If you still need more time, you must write the IRS directly and request an extension until December 15th. Additionally, if you need an extension to meet the criteria of the Physical Presence Test or the Bona Fide Residence Test, you can file Form 2350 to request the additional time you need.
Please note: The US Federal Tax Return extension is an extension of time to file and not an extension of time to pay any tax due to the IRS. If you owe tax to the US, your interest will start accruing from the first tax deadline, which is April 18th.* Additionally, if you do not request an extension and do not file, a late payment penalty of 5% may be assessed each month until the tax is paid.
If you’d like your accountant to file your extension for you, log into your account and select “Extensions” under “My Account.”
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