For most U.S. citizens and residents, the tax return deadline is April 15th. When April 15 falls on a weekend or a federal/District of Columbia holiday, the tax deadline is extended to the next weekday.
The FBAR (FinCen Form 114, formerly the TD F 90-22.1) is always due on June 30 (or the preceding weekday if June 30 falls on a weekend or holiday) and no extensions are available.
About Expat Tax Return Extensions
You can get an extension of time to file your return. In some circumstances, you also can get an extension of time to file and pay any tax due. However, if you pay the tax due after the regular due date, interest will be charged from the regular due date until the date the tax is paid. However, the interest rate charged by the IRS is generally fairly low – historically for the last several years it has generally been between three and four percent.
This article will discuss five expat tax extension options available for most U.S. taxpayers overseas:
- Automatic 2-month tax extension
- Automatic 6-month tax extension
- Additional 2-month tax extension for taxpayers out of the country
- A tax extension of time to meet tests
- Special combat zone extension
Automatic 2-Month Extension
If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien (i.e. “green card holder”) residing overseas, or are in the military on duty outside the U.S., on the regular due date of your return (April 15), you are allowed an automatic 2-month tax extension to file your return and pay any amount due without requesting an extension. While no penalties will apply for “failure to file” or “failure to pay” taxes, interest will apply retroactively for any taxes paid after the regular due date (April 15). For a calendar year return, the automatic 2-month extension is to June 15.
Automatic 6-Month Tax Extension
If you 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, any tax due payments made after June 15 will be subject to both interest charges and failure to pay penalties.
Additional 2-Month Tax Extension For Taxpayers Out Of The Country
In addition to the 6-month extension, expat taxpayers who are out of the country can request a discretionary 2-month additional extension of time to file their returns to December 15. In order to request this extension, you must send the IRS a letter explaining the reasons why you need the additional two months. The letter must be sent by the extended due date of October 15. The IRS has complete discretion on whether to grant the tax extension (it is not an automatic extension) and no notification from the IRS will be received unless the request is denied.
A tax extension of time to meet tests
You generally cannot get an extension of more than 6 months. However, if you are outside the United States and meet certain requirements, you may be able to get a longer extension. You can get an extension of more than 6 months to file your tax return if you need the time to meet either the bona fide residence test or the physical presence test to qualify for either the foreign earned income exclusion or the foreign housing exclusion or deduction.
You can request an extension if all three of the following apply:
- You are a U.S. citizen or resident alien.
- You expect to meet either the bona fide residence test or the physical presence test, but not until after your tax return is due.
- Your tax home is in a foreign country (or countries) throughout your period of bona fide residence or physical presence, whichever applies.
If you are granted an extension, it generally will be to 30 days beyond the date on which you can reasonably expect to qualify for an exclusion or deduction under either the bona fide residence test or the physical presence test.
You must file Form 2350 by the due date for filing your return to request the tax extension to meet tests. Generally, if both your tax home and your abode are outside the United States on the regular due date of your return and you file on a calendar year basis, the due date for filing your return is June 15.
Special Combat Zone Extension
If you are a civilian contractor working in a combat zone or contingency operation to support the armed forces, you may qualify for the special tax extension available to military personnel. The special combat zone tax is 180 days from the last day of qualifying service, plus the number of days you had left to file when you began qualifying service.
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Tax Samaritan is a team of Enrolled Agents with over 25 years of experience focusing on US tax preparation and representation. We maintain this tax blog where all articles are written by Enrolled Agents. Our main objective is to educate US taxpayers on their tax responsibilities and the selection of a tax professional. Our articles are also designed to help taxpayers looking to self prepare, providing specific tips and pitfalls to avoid.
When looking for a tax professional, choose carefully. We recommend that you hire a credentialed tax professional such as Tax Samaritan that is an Enrolled Agent (America’s Tax Experts). If you are a US taxpayer overseas, we further recommend that you seek a professional who is experienced in expat tax preparation, like Tax Samaritan (most tax professionals have limited to no experience with the unique tax issues of expat taxpayers).
Randall Brody is an enrolled agent, licensed by the US Department of the Treasury to represent taxpayers before the IRS for audits, collections and appeals. To attain the enrolled agent designation, candidates must demonstrate expertise in taxation, fulfill continuing education credits and adhere to a stringent code of ethics.
Every effort has been taken to provide the most accurate and honest analysis of the tax information provided in this blog. Please use your discretion before making any decisions based on the information provided. This blog is not intended to be a substitute for seeking professional tax advice based on your individual needs.