The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has provided the following guidance for U.S. citizens abroad preparing for the 2015 tax filing season. This IRS guidance is posted under Federal Benefits and Obligations on www.travel.state.gov.
Who Must File?
All U.S. citizens and resident aliens must file a U.S. individual income tax return, even if they permanently live outside the United States and may not owe any tax because of income exclusion or tax credit.
When is the 2016 Federal Tax Return Due?
Due date for Form 1040: April 18, 2017.
- An automatic extension to June 15, 2017, is granted for taxpayers living outside the United States and Puerto Rico. No form is required; write “Taxpayer Resident Abroad” at the top of your tax return.
- Caution: This extension applies only for filing your tax return, not for payment. If you owe any taxes, you’re required to pay by April 15, 2017. Interest and penalties will generally be applied if payment is made after this date.
- To request an additional extension to October 15, 2017, use Form 4868.
- Caution: This extension applies only for filing your tax return, not for payment. If you owe any taxes, you’re required to pay by April 15, 2017. Interest and penalties will generally be applied if payment make after this date.
- Other extensions may be available on IRS.gov.
Can I Mail My Return and Payment?
You can mail your tax return and payment using the postal service or approved private delivery services. A list of approved delivery services is available on IRS.gov. If you mail a return from outside the United States, the date of filing is the postmark date. However, if you mail a payment, separately or with your return, your payment is not considered received until the date of actual receipt.
Can I Electronically File My Return?
You can prepare and e-file your income tax return, in many cases for free. Participating software companies make their products available through the IRS. E-File options are listed on IRS.gov.
IRS Change to the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) Program
The IRS is implementing significant changes made to the ITIN program under the PATH Act of 2015. The new law means that any ITIN not used on a federal tax return at least once in the last three years will no longer be valid as of January 1, 2017 for use on a tax return unless the taxpayer renews the ITIN. In addition, all ITINs issued prior to 2013 will begin to expire this year and taxpayers will need to renew them.
The first pre-2013 ITINs that will expire are those with middle digits of 78 and 79 (Example: 9XX-78-XXXX). The renewal period for these ITINs began October 1, 2016. The IRS began to mail letters to this group of taxpayers in August to inform them of the need to renew their ITINs in order to file a tax return, and explain the renewal steps. The IRS will announce the schedule for expiration and renewal of ITINs that do not have middle digits of 78 and 79 at a future date.
If taxpayers have an expired ITIN, not renewed before filing a tax return next year, they might face a refund delay and be ineligible for certain tax credits, such as the Child Tax Credit and the American Opportunity Tax Credit, until they renew the ITIN. More information is available on the ITIN page at IRS.gov.