by Michael Lodge
Many individuals travel and work abroad and have the concern as to how and what to report their taxes. It is great to live abroad but also very import to maintain your tax compliance while doing so.
If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien, the rules for filing income, estate, and gift tax returns and paying estimated tax are generally the same whether you are in the United States or abroad. Your worldwide income is subject to U.S. income tax, regardless of where you reside.
When to File
If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien residing overseas, or are in the military on duty outside the U.S., on the regular due date of your return, you are allowed an automatic 2-month extension to file your return and pay any amount due without requesting an extension. For a calendar year return, the automatic 2-month extension is to June 15. If you qualify for this 2-month extension, penalties for paying any tax late are assessed from the 2-month extended due date of the payment (June 15 for calendar year taxpayers). However, even if you are allowed an extension, you will have to pay interest on any tax not paid by the regular due date of your return (April 15 for calendar year taxpayers).
If you qualify for the 2-month extension but are unable to file your return by the automatic 2-month extension date, you can request an additional extension to October 15 by filing Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, before the automatic 2-month extension date. However, if you qualify for the 2-month extension, penalties for paying any tax late are assessed from the extended due date of the payment (June 15 for calendar year taxpayers). Otherwise, if you do not qualify for the 2-month extension, penalties for paying late are assessed from the original due date of your return (April 15 for calendar year taxpayers). Also, even if you are allowed extensions to June 15 and/or October 15, you will owe interest on any unpaid tax amount from the original due date of the return (April 15 for calendar year taxpayers).
Where to File
If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien (Green Card Holder) and you live in a foreign country, mail your U.S. tax return to:
Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service Center
Austin, TX 73301-0215
Estimated tax payments should be mailed with form 1040-ES to:
Internal Revenue Service
P.O. Box 1300
Charlotte, NC 28201-1300
Taxpayers with an AGI (Adjusted Gross Income) within a specified threshold can electronically file their tax return for free using freefile. Taxpayers with an AGI greater than the specified threshold can either use the Free File Fillable Forms or efile by purchasing commercial software. A limited number of companies provide software that can accommodate foreign addresses. To determine which will work best for you, view the complete Free File Software list and the services provided.
Taxpayer Identification Number
Each taxpayer who files, or is claimed as a dependent on, a U.S. tax return will need a social security number (SSN) or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN). To obtain a SSN, use form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card. To get form SS-5, or to find out if you are eligible for a social security card, contact a Social Security Office or visit Social Security International Operations. If you, or your spouse, are not eligible for a SSN, you can obtain an ITIN by filing form W-7 along with appropriate documentation.
You must express the amounts you report on your U.S. tax return in U.S. dollars. If you receive all or part of your income or pay some or all of your expenses in foreign currency, you must translate the foreign currency into U.S. dollars. Taxpayers generally use the yearly average exchange rate to report foreign-earned income that was received regularly throughout the year. However, if you had foreign transactions on specific days, you may also use the exchange rates for those days. Exchange rates can be found at Foreign Currency and Currency Exchange Rates. Yearly average currency exchange rates for most countries can be found at Yearly Average Currency Exchange Rates.
How to Get Tax Help
The IRS Office in Philadelphia provides international tax assistance. This office is open Monday through Friday from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST and can be contacted by:
Phone: 1 (267) 941-1000 (not toll-free)
FAX:1 (267) 941-1055
Email: Email the IRS
(e-mail is for general tax questions; NOT questions regarding your tax account)
Mail: Internal Revenue Service
Philadelphia, Pa 19255-0725
Taxpayer service, formerly offered at the foreign posts of duty, is no longer available. See Contact My Local Office Internationally for more details on international services.
Help with Unresolved Tax Problems
If you are experiencing a tax problem that is causing you economic harm or has not been resolved through normal channels, you can contact the Taxpayer Advocate.
For tax help, call our office at: 877.778.1770