• Monte Silver, Tax lawyer

Do Americans abroad get until July 15 to file their US returns & pay taxes due?

Updated: Mar 27


US Treasury/IRS recently postoned the 2019 deadlines for filing returns and paying taxes - from April 15 till July 15. Does this apply to expats?


Summary: If you regularly file your return by June 15 each year, the answer is generally yes - the new July 15 deadline applies to you. If you regularly ask for extensions and file only by October 15, and plan to do so in 2019 as well, then this new deadline is not relevant to you.


What follows is a more detailed analysis, more suitable for tax professionals or people who love reading tax stuff.


1. The Treasury Coronavirus relief


On March 18, 2020, the Treasury/IRS issued Notice 2020-17 which stated that Treasury has determined that any person with a Federal income tax payment due April 15, 2020, is affected by the COVID-19 emergency (Affected Taxpayer)


The term “person” was defined to include an individual, a trust, estate, partnership, association, company or corporation, as provided in section 7701(a)(1) of the Code.

For an Affected Taxpayer, the due date for filing Federal income tax returns and making Federal income tax payments due April 15, 2020, is automatically postponed to July 15, 2020.


No extension is provided in this notice for the payment or deposit of any other type of Federal tax, or for the filing of any Federal information return.

The period beginning on April 15, 2020, and ending on July 15, 2020, will be disregarded in the calculation of any interest, penalty, or addition to tax for failure to file the Federal income tax returns or to pay the Federal income taxes postponed by this notice.


2. The filing date of Americans living abroad

IRS Publication 54, the “Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad” 2019 states as follows:


When To File and Pay


If you file on a calendar year basis, the due date for filing your return is April 15 of the following year. (Pub 54 page 3)


Extensions


You are allowed an automatic 2-month extension to file your return if you are a U.S. citizen, and on the regular due date of your return you are living outside the U.S. and your main place of business is outside the United States.


If you use a calendar year, the regular due date of your return is April 15. (Pub 54, Page 4).


How to get the extension. To use this automatic 2-month extension, you must attach a statement to your return explaining which of the situations qualify you for the extension.


3. Analysis


Given the above language, it appears that regardless of one's residence, the tax returns of a US citizen who is a calendar year taxpayer are normally due on April 15 of the year. While Americans abroad may elect to receive an automatic 2-month extension, such election is optional and requires compliance with documented formalities. Thus, if one does not elect to seek a 2-month extension for the tax year of 2019, the Coronavirus relief may indeed apply.


Thus for ordinary taxpayers who file by June 15, this year you can file by July 15. Just tel your CPA to state in the return that you did not seek the 2 month extension.


As for expats who usually get additional extensions and plan to file in October 2020, the July extension is not for you.


Nothing herein is legal advice nor can it be relied upon. You may wish to discuss this matter with your tax professional.

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