Tax Deadline Fast Approaching for Taxpayers Living Abroad
Not all taxpayers had to file for extension if they weren’t ready on April 15: taxpayers who live abroad qualified for an automatic two-month extension to file their 2013 federal income tax returns. That means that those returns are due in just a few days, on Monday, June 16, 2014 (there’s an extra day to file since June 15 falls on a Sunday).
The automatic extension applies to any U.S. citizen or resident alien residing overseas, or those in the military on duty outside the U.S. The automatic two month extension allow you extra time to file your return and to pay any amount due without requesting an extension. That’s different from taxpayers who are physically in the U.S. on a few key points:
- Taxpayers who are physically in the U.S. must request an extension by filing form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return by the due date (April 15). Taxpayers who are overseas do not need to file the form to receive an automatic extension.
- Form 4868 extends the time to file by six months to October 15. The automatic extension for overseas taxpayers extends the time to file by two months to June 15 (or, as this year, June 16).
- Generally, you must pay what you owe as of the original due date of your return. However, if you qualify for the automatic 2-month extension, penalties for paying late are assessed from the extended due date of the payment (June 16). Interest may still apply. Otherwise, requesting an extension does not extend the time to pay taxes. If you do not pay the amount due by the regular due date (April 15), you will owe interest and penalty.
To claim the two-month extension, attach a statement to your tax return explaining which of these two situations applies to you as of the due date of your return:
- You are a U.S. citizen or resident alien living outside of the United States and Puerto Rico and your main place of business or post of duty is outside of the United States and Puerto Rico; or
- You are a U.S. citizen or resident alien in military or naval services on duty outside of the United States and Puerto Rico.
If you can’t meet the June 16 deadline, you can request an extension to file with form 4868 to extend until October 15, 2014. Note that’s a total extension of six months (two months + four months), not an additional six months.
If you need more time, there are limited exceptions for extending beyond the October 15, 2014. Members of the military and others serving in Afghanistan and other combat zone localities normally have until at least 180 days after they leave the combat zone to file their returns and pay any taxes due.
Lastly, don’t assume that you don’t need to file a return just because you might qualify for an exclusion or tax treaty treatment. Every U.S. citizen or resident who receives income must file a U.S. income tax return unless you are otherwise excluded based on the income criteria for your filing status (without regard to the foreign earned income exclusion or foreign housing exclusion). The same is true for the foreign tax credit and generally for tax treaty income.
You can find most of the forms you need online at www.irs.gov. If you are outside the U.S., you can usually find forms at most U.S. Embassies and consulates.
If you need help, walk-in taxpayer assistance is available at U.S. Embassies and consulates in Beijing, China; Frankfurt, Germany; London, England; and Paris, France. You can also get tax assistance by writing to:
Internal Revenue Service
Philadelphia, PA 19255-0725
If you need the assistance of the Taxpayer Advocate outside the U.S., you can call (787) 522-8601 for English or (787) 522-8600 for Spanish. You can also write to the Taxpayer Advocate at:
Internal Revenue Service
Taxpayer Advocate Service
City View Plaza, 48 Carr 165,
Guaynabo, P.R. 00968-8000
If you’re not sure about your filing obligations, help is available. Don’t wait too long: you only have a few days left yet!