Expat Tax Deadlines: There's More Than Just Your Tax Return Due Date!
Updated - May 2020
As an American living in Germany, keeping track of tax deadlines and extensions isn't as easy as simply remembering the US's famous April 15th deadline. Firstly, you'll need to keep track of deadlines in both the US and Germany. Plus, as an expat, you'll likely need to file additional forms than you would in the United States—introducing even more due dates. To make sure you stay on schedule, be sure to add these US expat tax deadlines to your calendar this year!
Please note, if a deadline falls on a weekend or legal holiday, the due date is moved to the next business day.
First Things First: When Are Expat Tax Returns Due?
Any US citizen living abroad on Tax Day, which is usually April 15th, receives an automatic two-month extension. This means the expat tax deadline typically falls on June 15th. (Please note that, in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, the IRS has extended this deadline for 2020 to July 15th.) If you need more time, you can also file an additional extension request, which would make your expat taxes due October 16th.However, you should know that any taxes owed were technically due on Tax Day. Therefore, you'll be responsible for paying interest on any amount owed until the IRS receives your payment. Don't know how much you may owe and not ready to file? No problem! You can use Form 1040-ES to determine your estimated amount due and submit a payment based on that amount.
Don't Forget State Taxes
Though not applicable to all expats, if you lived in certain states prior to your move abroad, you may need to file a state tax return in addition to your expat taxes. You'll want to check on the filing requirements in the state where you last lived to see if you have a filing obligation.
Some states follow the Federal filing deadline of April 15th, but many others have their own deadlines. It's important to stay on top of your state filing obligations to avoid missing a deadline!
Thankfully, the FBAR due date falls in line with the US tax deadline, which makes this expat filing requirement easier to keep track of. The form must be filed electronically by April 15th. If you miss this deadline, you can receive an automatic extension until the final tax deadline of October 15th.
Expat Tax Filing Extensions
If you need more time to file your US tax return, you can request an extension via Form 4868, which will postpone the due date until October 15.
If an American living in Germany has extenuating circumstances and needs an additional extension, you can write a letter to the IRS to request an extra two-month delay. However, this extension is not guaranteed and should only be used if absolutely necessary.
Due Dates for Estimated Tax Payments
Self-employed Americans living in Germany—including expat freelancers and overseas contractors—will need to make estimated payments if they expect to owe $1,000 or more for the current tax year. These estimated tax payments are due quarterly:
|Payment Period||Estimated Payment Due Date|
|January 1 – March 31||April 15 (Extended to July 15th in 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic)|
|April 1 – May 31||June 15 (Extended to July 15th in 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic)|
|June 1 – August 31||September 15|
|September 1 – December 31||January 15|
Where to Begin
If you haven't already begun preparing your expat taxes, now is the time to do so! You should start by gathering important documents and other tax information. You'll need these details whether you plan to file your own taxes or work with a tax professional. As you get started, you may find this list of documents needed for tax preparation helpful to ensure you have everything you need to hit the deadlines!
This post was written by David McKeegan, co-founder of Greenback Expat Tax Services. Greenback specializes in the preparation of US expat taxes for Americans living abroad. Greenback offers straightforward pricing, a simple, hassle-free process, and CPAs and IRS Enrolled Agents who have extensive experience in the field of expat tax preparation. For more information about FBAR, expat taxes or Greenback, please visit greenbacktaxservices.com.