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February 18, 2015 - Phil Hodgen

Filing Form 8854 by FedEx–A Success Story

In an earlier blog post (a copy of this week’s Expatriation Only email, and you really should subscribe) I talked about the fact that there is no official street address for Form 8854 delivery with FedEx or UPS. The only official way to file Form 8854 is by mail.

Anecdote: FedEx Filing Worked

I received a comment from a reader — she successfully used FedEx to file her Form 8854. I have edited the email slightly to anonymize it.

Hi Phil,

I expatriated in 2013 and faced this issue in June of 2014 when I was ready to submit my final 2013 return plus send a copy of 8854 to Philadelphia. I was sending both at the last minute but, mindful of the instruction that 8854 had to be received by June 15, planned to FedEx to both Austin & Philadelphia to ensure a timely delivery. Well, of course, I ran into the problem of no street address for the 8854 office in Philadelphia. After a barrage of panicked calls to my tax consultant’s office and various IRS numbers to try to find an address where I could Fedex the 8854s, I made one last attempt to phone the IRS and, by what seemed like a complete fluke, reached a human being who not only knew the address but was attached to the office in Philadelphia that handles the 8854s. She was extremely helpful and gave me this address for FedeXing the 8854:

Dept of the Treasury

Internal Revenue Service

2970 Market Street

Philadelphia, PA 19104

The envelope with the 8854 was received and signed for the next day so it seemed to work. Of course, I have never received any sort of acknowledgement from the IRS for any of the forms, returns, etc I have submitted since entering IRS hell in 2011, so I don’t know for sure all is well but, as far as I’m concerned, I’ve done everything I can to comply with IRS requirements and I’m ready to close that chapter of my life.

Throughout my IRS nightmare, I have found your blog extremely helpful. Thank you for sharing your information and expertise.

Regards,

(Name)

Good News

This is good news in her case. (And thanks for the email!)

The moral of the story in my prior blog post was that there is no official way to file Form 8854 via FedEx or UPS. Unofficial ways exist, of course. This is an example. Another example is personal hand delivery — that would work, too.

But technically, she did not file in the approved manner. Technically, the “I filed on time” question might turn out differently if there is a fight with the IRS.

You: “I have a thing from FedEx saying they delivered it to F. Flintstone at the IRS.”

Them: “We have no record of that. You didn’t file.”

You: “Well, I gave it to FedEx for delivery and they said they delivered it to you.”

Them: “We only officially accept FedEx delivery at certain locations and Philly ain’t one of them.”

I’m not saying this would definitely happen. In fact I’m pretty sure that if this type of situation came up, sooner or later your file would be assigned to a reasonable person inside the IRS, who would solve the problem quickly and in your favor. But in the meantime, you lose sleep and get gray hair. 🙂

Action Plan

Recommended (by me) action plan for people who need to file Form 8854 and want to be really sure that it arrives on time:

    • File for an extension of time for your expatriation year returns. Don’t run up against the June 15 deadline. This is optional and unnecessary stress.
    • If you have plenty of time, mail Form 8854 to Philadelphia from your home country, with whatever you possibly can buy to prove that it was mailed. Note that the IRS sometimes likes to say that the moment of importance is when your envelope is received by the U.S. Postal Service, not when it is received by your country’s postal service. Leave a buffer of weeks and weeks for things to arrive in Philadelphia. Note: this makes me nervous.
    • If you can, FedEx (or DHL or whatever) your Form 8854 to some friendly person in the USA who can then mail it, certified mail, return receipt requested, etc. etc. to the IRS. This is the approved, official method for filing Form 8854.
    • If you are in dire straits, do what my correspondent did, and risk the headbanging with the IRS later. Odds are there will be no head banging (the anecdote above is probably typical), and if there is head banging I would be pretty comfortable expecting the result to come out in your favor (after some time in which you marinate in stress).
Expatriation