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Tax Guide
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File my US taxes online: the ultimate guide for US expats

File US Taxes Online

As a US expatriate, managing your tax affairs efficiently is critical. With the rise of digital platforms, the call to "file my taxes online" echoes louder than ever.

This ultimate guide will walk you through the ins and outs of e-filing your US taxes from abroad, and when you might need to use traditional paper filing.

Introduction to E-filing for US Expats

E-filing, or electronic filing, refers to the submission of tax returns over the Internet. It is a modern alternative to traditional paper filing and is especially advantageous for US expats.

Taxes for Expats (TFX), for instance, is dedicated to ensuring that the tax filing process is as smooth as possible for expatriates. The company processes all tax documents online and e-file your return when possible.

“We appreciate that nobody wants to deal with the hassle of printing paper returns and trips to the post office.” – Taxes for Expats

Advantages of E-Filing

Speed and convenience

You can e-file from anywhere in the world and it often results in quicker processing of refunds.

Enhanced security

E-filing platforms usually have strong security measures in place to protect sensitive data.

Improved accuracy

The e-filing system automatically checks for errors or omissions, reducing the chances of mistakes.

Direct deposit option

You can opt to have your refund directly deposited into your bank account.

Electronic record

You will have an electronic record of your submission, which is easier to keep track of than paper records.

When E-filing is not possible

However, not all tax returns can be e-filed due to IRS regulations.

In such cases it is recommended to resort to paper filing:

  • Tax returns older than 3 years: These must be sent through mail.
  • Dual-status alien tax returns: These complex cases are not eligible for e-filing.
  • State returns with non-US mailing addresses: Some states disallow e-filing for returns with foreign addresses.
  • Amended tax returns: Typically, these require snail mail. However, as of 2020, some amended returns are eligible for e-filing.
  • Streamlined foreign offshore procedure returns: This program assists delinquent taxpayers to update their returns without penalties but requires snail mail.

Streamlined procedure returns -
Penalty free program for US expats


Also essential info for US expats

Foreign earned income exclusion

US citizens living abroad might qualify for the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE), which allows you to exclude a certain amount of your foreign earned income from US taxation.

Foreign tax credit

You may also be eligible for a foreign tax credit, which can reduce your US tax liability based on the taxes you've paid in the country you're residing in.


Expats with foreign bank accounts may need to file an FBAR (Foreign Bank Account Report) if the total value of all foreign financial accounts exceeds $10,000 at any point during the calendar year. Additionally, FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) may require you to report certain foreign assets.

Choosing a competent tax service

The ability to e-file shouldn't be the only deciding factor when choosing a tax service.

“E-filing is simply the last step of the process. We would advise picking an accountant that delivers on all levels, the ability to e-file should not be a deciding factor because every single accountant (or at least anyone you should consider hiring) will have the same capability to e-file forms.” – Ines Zemelman, EA

Consider expertise, customer service, and familiarity with expatriate tax issues.

Pro tips for US expats

Start early

Give yourself ample time to gather documents and information, especially when you are abroad. This will also provide you with the flexibility to choose between e-filing or traditional paper filing if necessary.

Stay informed

Tax laws and regulations are subject to change. Stay informed about updates, especially those that affect US expats.

Consult an expert

Don’t hesitate to seek the advice of a tax professional experienced in expat taxation. They can help ensure compliance and maximize deductions and credits.

Keep records

Maintain records of your foreign income, taxes paid, and any other relevant financial data. This will not only streamline the filing process but also be useful if you're audited.

Know the deadlines

As an expat, you receive an automatic extension to June 15th, but you should be aware of the specific deadlines and plan accordingly to avoid penalties.

Understand tax treaties and exclusions

Familiarize yourself with tax treaties between the US and your country of residence and understand how they affect your tax liabilities.

Utilize IRS resources

The IRS website offers numerous resources for US expats, including guides and tools that can be invaluable in understanding and filing your taxes.

Double-check before submission

Before submitting your tax return, review it thoroughly for any errors or missing information. This is crucial whether you e-file or use traditional paper filing.

Bottom line

As a US expat, e-filing your taxes offers convenience, speed, and accuracy. However, it’s important to recognize that certain scenarios require paper filing.

Choosing a competent tax service with expertise in expat taxation is essential. Being proactive in understanding tax regulations, keeping well-maintained records, and consulting experts can ensure that your tax affairs are in order, whether you're e-filing or sending in paper forms.

Remember that handling your taxes efficiently is not just about fulfilling legal obligations; it's also about making informed decisions that can have substantial impacts on your financial well-being as a US expatriate.