The US tax return deadline is approaching: How to get an extension

The US tax return deadline is approaching: How to get an extension

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April is tax time for Americans. If you’re a US citizen living in Germany, you most likely need to file your taxes in both countries. But with the tax years in the US and Germany not lining up, it can be tricky to get your financial affairs in order in time. Luckily, there are several extension options you can make use of, as Nathalie Goldstein from MyExpatTaxes explains. 

It’s April, and you know what that means: it’s tax time! At least for Americans anyway. If you’re reading this, you probably live outside of the United States. If that’s the case, you can take a sigh of relief. As an American living abroad, you have until June 15, 2022, to file your US tax return - that’s an extra two months compared to your friends and family members at home in the US. 

Anyone who lives outside the US receives this extension automatically, so don’t say the IRS never gave you anything! There is nothing you need to do to get this extension. 

Some expats should file by April 18

If the idea of filing a day past April 15 gives you anxiety, you can of course file early, if you so wish. 

Some expats in particular should file by the April deadline. This is you if you expect to owe any US taxes this year. The reason for this is that any tax you owe will start to accrue interest from April 18, 2022. While expats get an automatic extension on filing, they don’t get an extension on paying their US taxes. This means that if you pay after April 18, you could end up paying back more. 

Even if you think you may not owe US taxes, you might be surprised. Thanks to Advanced Child Tax Credits, lots of people will wind up owing the taxman money this year, even if they don’t typically owe anything. You should have received Letter 6419 from the IRS. This letter will help let you know if you need to pay back any overpayment you may have received in Child Tax Credits.

How to claim the June 15 extension on your US tax return

If you don’t owe any US taxes, then you can happily wait until June 15 to get your tax return sorted. You don’t need to claim this - it’s applied automatically if you reside outside of the US on April 18. 

Just be sure to submit your US tax return before June 15, 2022! 

What if I need more time to complete my tax return?

If two months isn’t enough time for you to collect all of your income statements and relevant information, there are two other extensions available to Americans living abroad. However, you need to request them. 

One is slightly easier to apply for than the other, because one is shorter than the other. You can either apply to have your deadline extended until October, or until December. Let’s take a look at the process of applying for each. 

The October expat deadline 

Since your local tax deadlines won't line up with America, it makes sense that you might be waiting on certain documents before you can file your US taxes. If that's the case, you can apply to have more time.

To apply for an extension until October, you need to submit a request to the IRS. You can either fill out Form 4868 and mail it, or make an extension payment directly with the IRS. A tax software can also help you file an extension. 

You need to submit an extension request before June 15, 2022 - but it’s best to do it as soon as possible, lest you forget! If your request is successful, you’ll have until October 17 to submit your return. That’s an extra six months compared to your compatriots living in the US. 

The December expat deadline 

So far, so simple, but if you want to extend your tax return deadline even further to December, you’ll have to do a bit more work. That’s because you need to start by getting out a pen and paper. Yup! You need to write a letter. I suppose you could print your letter, but you’ll still need to sign it by hand. 

In your letter, explain your circumstances to the IRS. Again, it’s not unusual for expats to be waiting on documents from foreign employers, foreign banks, transfers, and so on. You especially might need more time if you’re self-employed or a business owner. 

Write a convincing letter, and you’ll get until December 15 to file your tax return. As long as you have a valid reason and remember to send your letter before the June 15 deadline, you shouldn’t have any problems. Of course, remember to include your name and social security number as written on your US SSN card. Otherwise, how will the IRS know it’s you? 

No one knows your specific tax issues like an expat. Expats built MyExpatTaxes for expats. You don't need to wait until you have every document to start your taxes. The sooner you start, the sooner you'll know if you need to file an extension. 

Nathalie Goldstein


Nathalie Goldstein

As an American living in Austria, Nathalie, Enrolled Agent, experienced first-hand the complexities of filing U.S taxes from abroad. Viewing this problem as an opportunity, she joined forces with technical...

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