Accountant for Filing Delinquent US Expat Taxes
Many American expatriates make the mistake of believing that moving outside the United States exempts them from having to pay taxes to the Internal Revenue Service, or IRS. The truth is that even relocating to some far-flung corner of the globe does not lift a person’s financial obligations to the American government; in fact, the U.S. is one of only two countries in the world (the other being Eritrea) to tax based on citizenship rather than location. For expats, this means that tax returns are due to the IRS just as they are for any domestic citizen.
If you were unaware of this fact and missed one or more filings with the IRS, don’t panic – you can fix this with the help of a qualified accountant. The international tax experts at U.S. Tax Help can guide you through the IRS’s streamlined procedures for filing delinquent taxes as an expat, saving your time, money, and stress while bringing you into compliance with American tax law. To learn more about U.S. Tax Help or to schedule your first consultation, visit us online or call (541) 362-9127 today.
Expats and American Tax Requirements
As mentioned above, U.S. expats are required to submit a yearly tax return to the IRS just like everyone else, though there are some unique exclusions and exemptions that can save you significant sums if handled correctly. That said, the fundamental truth that tax returns are due April 15 of every year remains relevant even after you move to another country, so mark that date on your calendar. If you miss that deadline, however, you are automatically granted an extension if you live abroad, pushing your actual due date back two months to June 15. You will not incur any penalties if you file by this date as an expat, though any money you owe will begin accruing interest starting April 15.
The basic Form 1040 familiar to most taxpayers is also used for expats, though there will likely be some additional paperwork that needs to be filed, such as a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) or Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets, which is required under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). Each form has its own reporting threshold, but a skilled international tax specialist can guide you on exactly what you need to file and when.
Filing Procedures for Delinquent Expat Tax Returns
Though it is not an organization frequently associated with forgiveness or compassion, the IRS nonetheless has procedures in place to help those living abroad who have accidentally missed past tax deadlines; these are known as the streamlined foreign offshore procedures, and they can be used for catching up on tax returns or other types of financial disclosures like those required by FBAR and FATCA. However, a taxpayer must qualify for this program, and the process requires close observation of 7-8 steps (depending on whether one or more FBAR forms must be submitted). Those steps are described below:
- You must compile and submit any missing tax returns for the last three years, along with the appropriate information returns such as those using Forms 8938, 5471, or 3520. For any return that was already filed, submit an amended return using Form 1040X.
- Clearly print the words “Streamlined Foreign Offshore” in red ink at the top of the first page of each return you are submitting. This step is extremely important and should not be overlooked.
- Fill out and sign Form 14653, Certification by U.S. person Residing Outside of the U.S., stating that the you are eligible for these procedures; that all relevant FBARs have been submitted; and that any failure to submit the necessary paperwork in the past was due to non-willful conduct.
- Submit all past-due taxes as shown on the relevant tax returns along with all applicable interest and fees. Be sure to include your taxpayer identification number (TIN) or Social Security Number (SSN) on all checks.
- If you do not have a TIN or SSN, submit an application for one along with all other paperwork.
- If your request is related to the deferral of income for a retirement or savings plan according to a tax treaty, you must submit a statement requesting a time extension and describing the reason for your previous failure to file on time.
- Send all documents and payments (in paper form) to the IRS office in Austin, Texas. This office is only used for this set of procedures, not for future filings.
- If you are also submitting delinquent FBAR forms, sent them for each of the most recent six years along with a statement saying that the submission is part of these streamlined procedures.
These steps may seem laden with technical, legal, and financial jargon, but a knowledgeable international tax expert can explain each to you in further detail and help you ensure that no steps are skipped.
International Tax Specialists for Delinquent U.S. Expats and Foreign Nationals
When dealing with international tax codes that could cost you thousands in fines and fees if mishandled, a qualified international tax accountant for delinquent US expats can go a long way toward saving you money and stress. The experts at U.S. Tax Help, led by experienced CPA Ted Kleinman, have decades of experience in the field of international taxation preparation and planning, and they can guide you safely through any troubles you may have with the IRS. To learn more about all the services available from U.S. Tax Help or to schedule an initial consultation with a tax professional, visit us online or call (541) 362-9127 right away.