e-filing, your tax return — June 11, 2015

Living Abroad? Time to File!

by Bob Williams

Living Abroad

While those of us living stateside are (hopefully) imprinted with the need to get our tax returns filed by the April 15 deadline, if you live overseas, it’s a bit different. Taxpayers living outside the U.S. of A. have until June 15 to get a return e-filed and any taxes due paid.

Whether you’re an American expat soaking up the local flavor of San Jose in Costa Rica, a U.S. artist noshing on a Belgian waffle on the square in Brugges, or an American tech wiz on the cutting edge in Singapore, Uncle Sam expects to hear from you soon.

Do I Really Have to File?

The answer to that question is “Yes,” and “Maybe.” Let us explain.

You’re considered a U.S. citizen if you were:

  • Born in the U.S.
  • A child of an American citizen
  • A naturalized citizen of the U.S.
  • Or born in Puerto Rico, Guam, or the U.S. Virgin Islands

This is where that “Yes” part comes in. If you’re a citizen and you have income from just about any source – foreign or domestic – you’re expected to file. However, your age, filing status and income are the real deciding factors on whether you’ll have to file for any particular year, therefore, “Maybe.”

Your best bet is to always check the Form 1040 instructions.   Make sure you’re reading the instructions for the same tax year as your return – the requirements may change year-to-year.

You can also take a look at the IRS’ handy video on Filing Requirements for International Taxpayers, and on the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion.

Income as Mobile as You Are

Income can come from anywhere in the world, and it should all be included in your tax return. Federal law requires us to report any income worldwide, including income from foreign trusts or foreign bank and securities accounts. In most cases, taxpayers will need to complete Schedule B in their returns.

Part III of the Schedule B asks about the existence of foreign accounts – like bank and securities accounts – and usually requires the taxpayer to disclose the country where the account is located.

Some taxpayers may also have to include Form 8938, Statement of Foreign Financial Assets. If the total value of specified financial assets exceeds a certain amount, the assets must be reported on the return. Check out the instructions for Form 8938 for more information.

We’re Here to Help

Filing from a different time zone is no problem on 1040.com. We’re open 24-7, so you can work on your international return on your schedule. And our email support is always ready to help you out.  After you file, you can stroll down the strasse with a few extra Euros in your pocket, and one very clear To Do list.

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