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I've seen several folks across the internet being very worried about getting their streamlined submission in before the deadline. So, I have good news for those folks: Your streamlined submission cannot be late, because there is no deadline!

The normal deadline for expat tax returns is June 15th and for the FBAR is June 30th. But if you are putting together a Streamlined submission, you are outside the world of normal deadlines. The Streamlined procedures are an amnesty program, so you can participate in it whenever you are ready to (but you can only participate before the IRS contacts you about the delinquency, and the IRS can stop offering the program at any time (but it probably won't stop offering it ever)).

It is actually better to wait until July 1 to send in your Streamlined submission because you can only file delinquent returns and FBARs under the Streamlined program. If you were to file today, you would have to submit 2011-2013 returns and 2008-2013 FBARs, and then the regular due dates would apply to your 2014 return and FBAR. By waiting until July 1, you can just submit 2012-2014 returns and 2009-2014 FBARs as part of your Streamliined Submission.

Another thing to mention is that the deadline for banks to submit FATCA reports to the IRS is June 30th, so you want to get your submission in ASAP after that if you can (but really it's going to take eons for the IRS to sort through all the clutter).

So, stop worrying, you can't miss the deadline.
 

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It's a little more complicated than that, Stewart.

There are potential reasons why including the "oldest" tax year (versus not) is a better option and thus why some measure of haste is merited. As an example, if the oldest tax year filed in the Streamlined Program shows a nice fat excess Foreign Tax Credit that can be applied forward to other tax years within the Streamlined filing, then that's nice to grab in order to reduce the total tax burden. Of course if there's free money from the IRS claimable in that oldest tax year (such as the Additional Child Tax Credit), it's well worth grabbing that, too -- and there is a deadline to do that. And statutory interest on unpaid tax still accrues -- the Streamlined Program only waives penalties. (Yes, you have the oldest tax year "fall off," but that's why I said it's more complicated because it is, and interest is a factor.)
 

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Pot kettle black? ;) Your example (the Streamlined Program) is already a very small subset. :) About 94% of U.S. citizens living overseas owe zero U.S. tax (according to one professor's estimates). Though some percentage of that 94% could participate in the Streamlined Program, they could also just as easily file their late FinCEN Form 114s ordinarily and achieve the same financial outcome.

Among the remaining 6% most are tax compliant. But let's suppose for sake of argument that half of them are not. That 6% (or 3%) is very heavily skewed toward the affluent, at least in income terms. And those are precisely the sort of individuals where the "fine tuning" that I just described applies the most, where variations across tax years could yield significant differences in financial outcomes and/or where even a month or two of additional interest is, in absolute terms anyway, more than a cup of coffee.

So I think my "color" is more common than you might think, but, as I said, I agree with the general thrust of your argument. In my view the very first thing to do, and with some reasonable haste, is to get delinquent FinCEN Form 114s filed for the past 6 years plus current. (And yes, you can probably wait a few days now, as I write this, for 2008 to roll into statute of limitations land -- but a couple weeks is not a couple months, for example.) That's fundamental step 1 whether or not an individual decides to participate in the Streamlined Program. It's easy to do and, absent somebody financing terrorism, laundering drug money, profiting from human trafficking... absent somebody with far bigger problems, there's no downside risk to getting those reports straightened out, now. There are real published penalties for FinCEN Form 114 ("FBAR") non-filing, and the U.S. Treasury can send you a form letter (a "Birkenfeld" letter? ;)) any time it wishes (and presumably will start doing so when the FATCA data starts streaming in, very soon).

Then you've got a "reasonable" amount of time to decide when to dive into the Streamlined Program, bearing in mind the caveats I described.
 

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You say "po-tay-toe" and I say "poh-tah-toe" - Many of the tax situations we discuss here apply to only a tiny subset of "all taxpayers" or even "all expat taxpayers" (or potential taxpayers, as there is still a significant subset of those who don't file at all anyhow, whether through blissful ignorance or willful neglect).

Stewart's point is well taken. There are no deadlines for the Streamlined program, other than the mythical date when the IRS catches up with someone who has not been filing. For those who owe nothing (or very little), that day is way, way out there in the future given the current state of financing for the IRS.
Cheers,
Bev
 
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