June 10, 2013 - Phil Hodgen

2012 Tax Filing Deadline Tips for Friends of Bander


Two important deadlines for 2012 income tax returns are approaching fast. If you are a U.S. citizen (or green card holder) living outside the United States, do the following things now:

File Form 4868 to get an extension of time to file your tax return until 15 October 2013.

Prepare and file Form TD F 90-22.1. I recommend getting this form in a courier envelope for delivery to the IRS no later than Monday, 24 June 2013.

Back Story

I’m in Riyadh, and flying out tonight. (Lufthansa. Riyadh to Frankfurt to Los Angeles). Bander Alnogaithan was kind enough to give my Saudi mobile to a few of his friends. I met him on Twitter a few years ago. He is @saudilawyer on Twitter. Follow him!

Two of his friends called. They both had the same questions. I will bet there are a few other people out there on the internet who have the same problem. So this blog post is for all of you.

Who Needs This Information

This information matters to you if you are:

  • A U.S. citizen or green card holder; and
  • You live outside the United States; and
  • You have not done anything about your income tax returns for 2012.

Yes, you almost certainly do have a requirement to file a U.S. income tax return. I’m not going through the analysis for you. If you are breathing, there is SOME reason why the United States government thinks you should file income tax returns.

By 17 June 2013: Get an Extension of Time to File Income Tax Returns

For U.S. citizens or green card holders living abroad, the filing deadline for tax returns for the 2012 calendar year is 15 June 2013. Because that falls on a Saturday this year, the filing deadline is the next business day–17 June 2013. Today is 10 June 2013.

You need to file Form 4868 (PDF). Now.

You can mail the form. You can send it by FedEx, DHL, or UPS. But in true government tradition, the instructions to Form 4868 give you only a Post Office Box address and then tell you that you need a street address to send the form by FedEx, DHL, or UPS. Good luck finding the street address. I would usually have some potty-mouth words right now but the NSA reads everything we write and records all of our telephone conversations, and winter is coming. I, for one, welcome our new IRS Overlords. Sigh.

So your best bet it to do this online. Start here and follow the links along the happy trail until you find Form 4868. I will help you with a couple of useless government-mandated clicks. Start here instead.

Or you can find all sorts of commercial establishments happy to do this for you online for a modest fee.

This will get you an extension of time until 15 October 2013. Read the instructions and get this done.

By 24 (WTF?) June 2013: File Form TD F 90-22.1

Yes. It is a weird date. The explanation is below.

This is the dreaded FBAR form, where you declare the existence of all of your financial accounts outside the United States. The filing deadline is 30 June 2013. The piece of paper must be physically received at the IRS office in Detroit, Michigan on or before the deadline.

Since the deadline of 30 June 2013 falls on a Sunday this year, I want you to think of 28 June 2013 as your filing deadline. We are going to be doing something terribly archaic–sending a piece of paper across the great, wide ocean. This takes time. I want you to ignore regular postal delivery. I want you to think of overnight courier service only. FedEx. DHL. That kind of thing.

Plan on getting your package picked up by FedEx or DHL (or whoever you use) no later than Monday, 24 June 2013. This will allow enough time for the package to get to the Internal Revenue Service before the deadline. Also, you will have proof that the package arrived and was received by the IRS. This is a Very Good Thing.

Download the form. Fill it in. The delivery address is in the instructions.

Alternatively, you can in theory file Form TD F 90-22.1 online. Whether you trust government IT systems is up to you. If it blows up (because government IT systems are of course well-engineered) and you miss a deadline, you are hosed. Do not expect mercy. And of course the closer you are to the filing deadline the more likely it is that the IT systems will crash.

Recommended: do your Form TD F 90-22.1 on dreary old paper. Give money to DHL, FedEx, or UPS to deliver it to Detroit. But it is up to you.

By 15 October 2013: File Form 1040

After you have solved the immediate and urgent problems, your next step is to prepare the income tax returns for filing. This is Form 1040. This job is individual to you. Each person’s tax return is different. This is where you need individual help to prepare the tax return properly.

Oh. And if you cannot make the deadline of 15 October 2013, it is possible to apply for a further extension of time until 15 December 2013 to file your 2012 income tax returns. But that’s a story for another day.

Americans Living Abroad