Expat Forum For People Moving Overseas And Living Abroad banner
Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 7 of 7 Posts

·
Administrator
Joined
·
51,610 Posts
If most of your income comes from salary (i.e. earned income from a job or, in most cases, a personal business), you should only have to file the last 3 years' back taxes. You should contact your local US Embassy or Consulate and ask if they have an IRS office. If they can't help you directly, they may be able to refer you to a VITA group in the area, which is a volunteer group set up to help people prepare their US income taxes.
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
tony....the 3 year rule quoted above does not apply to you. it applies to the time limit to file an amended return to seek a refund. and of course you must have originally filed a return before you can amend it. you must file an original return for any year you were required to do so (met the filing rquirements, etc.), whether it is 5 years ago or 20 years. there is no statute of limitations.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
51,610 Posts
tony....the 3 year rule quoted above does not apply to you. it applies to the time limit to file an amended return to seek a refund. and of course you must have originally filed a return before you can amend it. you must file an original return for any year you were required to do so (met the filing rquirements, etc.), whether it is 5 years ago or 20 years. there is no statute of limitations.
The 3 year rule I mentioned doesn't refer to amended taxes at all. It's a concession that the IRS has made to expats who "didn't realize they still had to file while living abroad" - and periodically it is spelled out in detail on the IRS website and/or local US consulate websites. For the moment, the best reference I can find is here: U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad though you may have to do a bit of digging to find information on filing back taxes.

The notion of filing the past 3 years applies if, thanks to the overseas earned income exclusion, you owe little or no taxes during those three years.
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
I posted my response so that the original poster would not think that he only had to file the last 3 years of his returns even if he had not filed for 5 years. I really have no response to his request for a good accountant. And of course I have no idea how many years are involved.

However I stand by my response that there is no period of limitation for unfiled tax returns.
See IRS pub 552, page 6.

Also the filing requirements are the same whether or not you live in the US or abroad. IRS pub 593 "Tax Highlights For US Citizens Going Abroad" states on page 2 that "As a US citizen or resident alien......you are subject to the same income tax return filing requirements that apply to US citizens or resident aliens living in the US."

I find the idea that the IRS made a concession to ex pats because they didnt realize that they had to file while living abroad to be unrealistic. The only concession made by the IRS is that out of country filers have an extra 2 months to file (june 15 vs april 15).

Whether you owe little or no taxes has nothing to do with whether or not you must file a return. You must file a return if your total taxable income is above a certain amount dependent on your filing status. Furthermore, for those with foreign income, that foreign income is included in determining the required to file amount, even though on the return you may be able to exclude it from taxation. It can bump someone into the required to file category even if they otherwise would not be required to file.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
51,610 Posts
This is from the tax information booklet for 2008 put out by the Paris IRS office:

>>If you have not filed a U.S. income tax return for one or more years
and no money is due, you should file returns for the current year and
two prior years (i.e., 2008-2006).
However, if you have not filed a U.S. income tax return for one or
more years and money is due, you should file returns for the current
year and five prior years (i.e., 2008-2003). Instructions for getting prior
year forms can be found on page three of this booklet.<<


The three year back filing thing is a long-established concession extended to overseas taxpayers (certainly for at least the last 15 or 20 years).

It's based on the concept that if you "voluntarily" file, they are more than willing to forgive and forget. If they find you for failure to file (generally because you owe a significant amount), then all penalties apply because there is no statute of limitations on returns not filed. (And that's how the IRS officials put it at the tax meetings I've been to here in France.)
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Bev
Your quote from Paris IRS office confirms what I have been trying to say. Telling the original poster that he only has to file 3 years back taxes is incorrect. Your Paris office info says that if one will have tax due he must file 5 years back. Since we dont know whether tonyz will owe anything or not , it is impossible fo us to know whether he needs to file 3 or 5 years back. If he does owe for the last 5 years, the IRS could then request even more years back if they thought it was worth the effort financially.

BTW you also said that if tonyz income was from salary ( earned income etc) that would have a bearing on whether he would have to file. That is also incorrect. You said that if he owed little or no tax he could do only 3 years back. That is only half right... if he owes tax (little or a lot) he must go back 5 years. The info from the Paris IRS office is same advice you would get from IRS in the US. It is not any different. The info applies to all US taxpayers. The fact that the IRS has an office in Paris is the only concession to expats....no difference in tax treatment.

adieu
miguelito
 
1 - 7 of 7 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top