We are quickly approaching the first of several US tax deadlines – and as an American abroad, it’s time to begin preparing to file your US expat taxes. Since your reporting and filing requirements can be a bit more complex while living abroad, being prepared well in advance can set your mind at ease when it comes to staying compliant with the IRS.
By David McKeegan
Here are the most important deadlines you’ll need to be aware of this tax season.
US Tax Return
The first US tax deadline for the year falls on 18 April 2017 – this is due to a combination of the 15th falling on a Saturday and the Emancipation Day celebration in Washington, D.C. falling on the 17th.
For US expats, you automatically receive a two-month extension if living abroad on Tax Day, making your filing deadline 15 June. If you need additional time to complete your expat taxes, you can also file an extension, which buys you extra time until 16 October to submit your US Tax Return. It’s important to note that any income taxes owed will still be due by 18 April, or interest will accrue until paid.
State Tax Return
Not all states require US expats to file state income taxes, but if your state does (due to living and working in the state at any point during the 2016 tax year), you should be aware of your filing obligations. While many states follow the 18 April tax deadline, some have their own deadlines.
FATCA Form 8938
Form 8938 must be filed by US citizens who have foreign financial accounts exceeding a specified amount. The account types that must be reported include everything from bank accounts to stock of foreign issuers and others in between. The filing requirements you’ll want to be aware of are:
- Single or Married Filing Separately? You must file Form 8938 if the total value of your foreign assets is greater than $200,000 on the last day of the tax year or more than $300,000 at any point during the year.
- Married Filing Jointly? You must file Form 8938 if the total value of your foreign assets owned by you and your spouse is greater than $400,000 on the last day of the year or $600,000 at any point during the year.
Foreign Bank Account Reporting (FBAR)
If you had more than $10,000 in foreign bank accounts at any point during the tax year, you must file an FBAR. This is an aggregate amount, meaning even if you had $3,000 each in four separate accounts, you will still need to file.
For the first time, the FBAR deadline is moving up to fall on Tax Day (18 April), though US expats receive an automatic extension until 15 June, following the same timeline for your US expat taxes. There is also an automatic extension available until 16 October, in case you need more time to file your FBAR.
Despite the corresponding deadlines, your FBAR is filed separately from your US expat taxes, as it is submitted to the US Treasury Department rather than the IRS. FBAR penalties can be quite severe, so it’s very important to adhere to the deadlines for filing.
Prepare For The Deadline
Now that you’re aware of the filing deadlines for 2017, it’s a good time to begin gathering necessary documents and information so you are prepared to file your US expat taxes. Consulting with an expat tax professional is recommended, so you can be sure you’re taking advantage of the credits, deductions and exclusions available to you as an American living and working abroad.