Tax Deadlines and Extensions for American Expatriates
Many American expats are unsure about whether or not they are required to pay U.S. taxes. And even if they are aware of their tax obligation, there is usually some confusion about the relevant deadlines. In this article, we will focus on tax deadlines for expats including both deadlines for tax returns, the deadline for the FBAR form and instructions on how to request a filing extension when necessary.
The U.S. Deadline
As an American, you’ve probably known the tax filing deadline, and the terror it often strikes, since you were a kid. April 15th is the day we all know and sometimes dread. And although April 15th is correct, if the 15th falls on a weekend or a holiday (like it did this year) the deadline will be pushed to the next available business day. In 2011, the deadline was pushed to the 18th of April because Emancipation Day fell on the 15th.
The Expat Deadline
If you qualify as an expat, and your overseas home is your full-time address, you automatically receive a two month filing extension from the U.S. government. This puts your filing deadline at June 15th. This extension is provided because of the differing tax deadlines in various places in the world. The U.S. government realizes that you might not have all of your necessary tax forms by the usual deadline. Although the deadline for filing has been delayed, it is extremely important to remember that any taxes due are still due by the U.S. deadline (usually April 15th). The extension only applies to filing, not to paying, which can make things a little confusing. If you owe money and do not pay it until your June 15th filing deadline, your amount due will have accrued two months of interest.
Additional Extension for Expats
In cases where the June 15th deadline does not allow for enough time, expats can ask for an extension beyond the automatic extension. This additional extension is preset at October 15th. The fastest and simplest way to file for the October 15th extension is to request Form 4868 from your accountant. You can also locate this form from the IRS website.
FBAR Form and Filing Date
An FBAR Form is required for American expats who have any amount over $10,000 in all of their foreign bank accounts combined. Qualifying expats do not have to have $10,000 at the time the FBAR Form is due, but if they have qualified at any point during the year (even part of one day), the FBAR Form is required. The FBAR form is due by June 30th, and there are not any available extensions for this form. The FBAR must be submitted to the Treasury (instead of the IRS) by the June 30th deadline.The FBAR (foreign bank account report) is submitted via Form 90-22-1. This Form can be found on the IRS website. Before assuming that you do not need to file Form 90-22-1, consider all of your qualifying accounts including mutual funds, joint accounts, brokerage accounts, etc.
Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative (OVDI) Deadline
In 2011, there is one last date to remember. For anyone who is behind on their taxes, the U.S. government has set aside August 31, 2011. If you need to disclose hidden or forgotten accounts and report on back taxes, doing so under the rules of this special Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative will allow you to do so without paying a fine or facing criminal prosecution. To learn more about the OVDI, contact the expat tax professionals at Taxes for Expats.
- April 18, 2011 – US filing deadline and due date for all taxes owed
- June 15, 2011 – Expat filing deadline
- June 30, 2011 – Foreign Bank Account Form is due (aka FBAR or Form 90-22-1)
- August 31, 2011 – Due date for the Foreign Bank Account Form AND for the Latest Voluntary Disclosure Program
- October 15, 2011 – Final tax deadline IF you have already applied for an extension
I.J. Zemelman, EA is the founder of Taxes for Expats