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Income Tax Filing Extension for U.S. Citizens Living Abroad

September 18, 2015

Are you a U.S. taxpayer whose main place of business is outside the U.S. and Puerto Rico? You are able to request a two month income tax filing extension!

For American citizens living abroad, there is some good news regarding the upcoming October 15th individual income tax filing deadline. It is relatively easy to request and receive an additional two month extension to December 15th. Of course—the bad news for Americans residing abroad is that they are even subject to U.S. taxation in the first place.

Nevertheless let’s look more closely at the mechanics of the process.

The IRS instructions state that in addition to the normal six month extension to October 15th, U.S. taxpayers whose main place of business is outside the United States and Puerto Rico and who reside outside those jurisdictions can request an additional 2-month extension of time to file their returns to December 15th. There is no prescribed IRS form for this additional extension.

To request the two extra months, a letter must be sent to the IRS explaining the reasons why the additional time is needed. The letter must be sent by the extended due date (October 15th for calendar year taxpayers) to the following address:

Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service Center
Austin, TX 73301-0215

The letter should include the following information:

1. Name(s)and social security number of taxpayer(s)
2. Tax year and form to which the request pertains
3. Foreign country in which the taxpayer(s) resides

Do you have to cite a specific reason for the need for extension?

The reason can be general, i.e. more time needed to assemble tax records, but being more specific can’t hurt if there are particular items of information that are still needed for completion (just don’t blame it on your tax preparer!)

How should I send the extension request?

If the extension request is filed from outside the US which is likely the case unless it is being filed by a US based tax preparer, sending through an approved private delivery service such as FedEx or DHL is strongly recommended. Copies and proof of filing should be kept handy as occasionally a notice of late filing is received despite the extension.

This is most likely due to the IRS having difficulty matching up the letters to the actual tax returns.

We suggest you attach a copy of the extension to your return when filed. Timely filing of one’s tax return can be particularly important for overseas taxpayers even if no tax is owed as the extension also extends the due date of certain foreign disclosure forms such as Forms 3520 and 5471.

No formal acknowledgement will be sent by the IRS unless the request is denied for being untimely.

If the looming October 15th filing deadline is catching you by surprise, and you are not prepared, this extension can be a huge benefit to you!

Questions? Contact any member of our Tax Services Group.

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