Expats: E-Filing of Tax Returns with Foreign Address?

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Expats: E-Filing of Tax Returns with Foreign Address?

Postby marcos123 » Mon Sep 19, 2011 2:10 am

As an expat, the potential development, pointed out by another poster, that the Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR) form must be e-filed would certainly be welcome news (once comfortable with security issues).

This would entail an immediate annual savings in international courier costs, as well as time in following up to verify whether Treasury actually received/processed (a good idea given the potentially hefty penalties involved).

However, my post deals with the e-filing of federal tax returns with foreign addresses. I understand from personal experience that TurboTax, for example, at least in the recent past, has apparently NOT accepted e-filing of federal returns with a foreign filing address. Still true?

I find this strange, as when I contacted the IRS field office that deals with international returns (Philadelphia) they claimed that there was absolutely no procedural restriction for taxpayers with foreign addresses on e-filing.

I would use my last registered US address as a proxy, in NY, but I know that if I do so, owing to tax sharing agreements, NYS and NYC would automatically come after me for taxes on my worldwide income (even though I am no longer domiciled there- and it would be a hassle to straighten out) so I am unwilling to go this route for simplifying my reporting life....

Have other expats with a foreign filing address had any problems at all in e-filing their federal tax returns??
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Postby plats » Mon Sep 19, 2011 5:16 am

I always knew (or thought) that foreign address filers couldn't e-file. Now, after clicking around, I find that the IRS has listed five companies which allow foreign addresses. I've been playing with the H&R Block site, which has the odd condition that the filer be 51 years old or younger for free filing. Another company made you choose a state before continuing. I may research further or stick to my free TurboTax from Vang. and print/mail it.

http://www.irs.gov/efile/article/0,,id=118986,00.html
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Postby FoolishJumper » Mon Sep 19, 2011 7:22 am

One hic-up for some expats is that you cannot e-file without a traditional W-2 for all income, so those expats who are not on continued U.S. payroll will not be eligible for e-file.

This has caught me a few years as I always have a W-2, but my wife often does not.

There were a few questions (on the truth of this statement that she had given when I first started expat) one year with my accountant, but I have a financial Power of Attorney, so I really don't mind too much that I don't e-file, as the cost to me is the same as if I was in the states. It was a bit humorous to get a $9 check back from the IRS at my foreign address last year though.
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Postby bpp » Mon Sep 19, 2011 10:08 am

Yes, you can e-file using a foreign address with TaxAct. I have done so for the past few years. Don't know about TurboTax.

FoolishJumper wrote:One hic-up for some expats is that you cannot e-file without a traditional W-2 for all income, so those expats who are not on continued U.S. payroll will not be eligible for e-file.


I don't get W-2s, but have no problem e-filing. The proper way to fill out a "substitute W-2" for foreign income is a bit confusing, but there is a way to do it. (Which I have to rediscover every year...)
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Postby marcos123 » Tue Sep 20, 2011 1:06 am

Many thanks to all for your VERY helpful responses.

Plats: of the five companies the IRS lists which allow e-filing with foreign addresses, TaxAct and H&R Block Free File seem the most promising, but I agree the age restrictions are indeed odd. If you decide to research further, it would certainly be interesting to hear your conclusions.

Bpp: That is great about TaxAct. Just a few questions, if you don't mind:

- I feel more comfortable using downloaded software vs. online data entry, can you comment on your experience with one or both.

- It would appear that the free edition would be sufficient vs. deluxe or ultimate for international returns?

- How user-friendly have you found TaxAct with Form 1116? If overly complex for data entry, can you manually override and just fill out the form? (I am way too familiar with said form.) Does it deal adequately with unused credits for carry-over purposes?

Thanks again. It will certainly be interesting to see if TaxCut and other software will be up and ready with this new Form 8938 that is supposedly going to be required starting next year for minimum amounts of $50,000 in foreign accounts.
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Postby bpp » Tue Sep 20, 2011 4:14 am

marcos123 wrote:Bpp: That is great about TaxAct. Just a few questions, if you don't mind:

- I feel more comfortable using downloaded software vs. online data entry, can you comment on your experience with one or both.


I always use the downloaded, free version. You do have to specify a state to download it, but that is only for downloading purposes, and is not used in the return itself.

- It would appear that the free edition would be sufficient vs. deluxe or ultimate for international returns?


Always used the free version myself. I think all you get with deluxe and ultimate versions is extra help files, state filing (useless for me) and importing of previous year's information. No actual new forms with the more expensive versions.

Note that none of the versions cover Form 8621, so if you have any PFICs you will have to paper file anyway.

- How user-friendly have you found TaxAct with Form 1116? If overly complex for data entry, can you manually override and just fill out the form? (I am way too familiar with said form.) Does it deal adequately with unused credits for carry-over purposes?


If you specify non-zero foreign tax paid on an income item, it will automatically generate a Form 1116, though I don't mess with the Foreign Tax Credit much and so cannot tell you much about it. You could try downloading the free version and playing with it to see if it handles what you need.

In general, you can switch between interview mode and forms mode, though with the latter if you override any calculated fields it will warn you that you will not be allowed to e-file, because the software cannot then certify the calculations. (But you can still print and mail.)

Thanks again. It will certainly be interesting to see if TaxCut and other software will be up and ready with this new Form 8938 that is supposedly going to be required starting next year for minimum amounts of $50,000 in foreign accounts.


I hope it does have that form in it. If it does, it might become worthwhile to start paying for the Deluxe version just to get the previous year's importing. The FBAR is enough of a pain as it is, having to re-enter the same information all the time -- but in a slightly different format every year, it seems... (It would be much more convenient if Form 8938 simply replaced the FBAR, since it is largely redundant to it anyway, rather than having to file the same information on two different forms going to different offices in the same department. But then, that would be logical.)
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Postby marcos123 » Tue Sep 20, 2011 8:22 pm

Thanks bpp. Looking forward to giving TaxAct a test-drive.
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Postby plats » Tue Sep 20, 2011 8:55 pm

I’ve been using TaxAct desktop free version for two years to double check my return, which has always been the same as TurboTax. I was shocked, shocked, yesterday when I checked 2009 and 2010 versions and found that it allowed e-filing even with my foreign address. I assumed I couldn’t e-file since TurboTax didn’t allow it. I’ll continue using TT and mail it in since I can get a free copy and it imports all data, but TaxAct should work just fine.
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Postby marcos123 » Tue Sep 20, 2011 11:27 pm

Interesting.... I had assumed the same thing for the last couple of years as well.

Personally, I will definitely go the e-file route, not so much for the quicker refund - but for the elimination of manual scanning risk by harried irs employees.

I paper filed in March and processing was completed within the promised 6 weeks, but when I double-checked (I actually called their Philly office which handles international returns) to ensure that they had properly scanned my Form 8606, they had failed to do so (i.e. they did not scan it at all!).

I certainly do not usually follow up in this manner, but since I took the one-time two-year payment option for 2010 Roth conversions, with nothing due in 2010, wanted to ensure that this was in order. It was not. Rather than dealing with this next tax year and correcting a future notice on taxes due, as well as a future refund delay, I decided to head this off now and was told the only way to correct this (i.e. their internal error) was to submit a 1040X with a duplicate 8606, which I have done. It will be at least a month before I know that they have finally processed this correctly.

A fairly ridiculous situation - even with the IRS. I cannot tell you how much I look forward to eliminating this risk next and future tax seasons. As well as the international courier costs (for tracking purposes) each year, over $50.
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Re: Expats: E-Filing of Tax Returns with Foreign Address?

Postby kramer » Fri Feb 01, 2013 1:20 am

This is an old thread about the ability to e-file with TurboTax using a foreign mailing address. It does not seem like the OP's question was directly answered and I recently did more than a little googling to finally confirm the answer for this for a 2012 tax return e-filed using TurboTax (I came across this thread during my research).

This is from the TurboTax web site, I cannot post a direct link because their site seems to generate responses (and maybe this is why Googling was not very helpful):

Can I e-file with a foreign address?
Article ID: GEN12340

Yes, you can file federal (IRS) returns with a foreign address. However, there are several restrictions regarding foreign-address returns:

Due to IRS regulations, you will need a U.S. bank account to receive your tax refund.
Similarly, you'll need a U.S. bank account or credit card to pay owed taxes and product fees.
TurboTax Refund Card and Refund Processing Services require a U.S. address or APO/FPO/DPO address.
Free products which require registration in lieu of payment require a U.S. address or APO/FPO/DPO address.
At this time, you can also e-file Arizona, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, and Rhode Island tax returns using a foreign address. (States not mentioned either don't allow foreign-address e-filing or are not yet set up in TurboTax to do so.)

Entering your foreign address
When you get to the What's Your Mailing Address? screen in TurboTax, select the Other radio button.

Then, select the appropriate option (APO/FPO/DPO, Foreign address, or US Possession). TurboTax will then expand the correct address format for you.

What if my employer has a foreign address?
TurboTax also support foreign addresses for employers when e-filing.

When you enter your W-2 information, select the Other radio button in the Box c: Employer's Name and Address area, and then select the type of address below it. TurboTax will present the correct field format and choices for your selection.
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Re: Expats: E-Filing of Tax Returns with Foreign Address?

Postby bpp » Fri Feb 01, 2013 4:15 am

I'm trying TurboTax now, because TaxAct stopped working this year on my Japanese version of Windows.
Haven't tried to e-file yet, but so far so good.

TurboTax handles some things better than TaxAct (foreign earned income is much more logically handled by TT now), some things worse, but overall similar in functionality, I'd guess.
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Re: Expats: E-Filing of Tax Returns with Foreign Address?

Postby kramer » Fri Feb 01, 2013 6:33 am

bpp wrote:I'm trying TurboTax now, because TaxAct stopped working this year on my Japanese version of Windows.
Haven't tried to e-file yet, but so far so good.

TurboTax handles some things better than TaxAct (foreign earned income is much more logically handled by TT now), some things worse, but overall similar in functionality, I'd guess.
Please let us know how it goes, BPP. I will similarly report.

Before I didn't bother to use my foreign address and just used my regular USA mailing address in a no-income-tax state because I have only passive income. However, with the coming ObamaCare tax penalties, I will have to start showing each year that I am a foreign resident for tax purposes.
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Re: Expats: E-Filing of Tax Returns with Foreign Address?

Postby bpp » Fri Feb 01, 2013 6:36 am

Will do, Kramer.
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Re: Expats: E-Filing of Tax Returns with Foreign Address?

Postby marcos123 » Fri Feb 01, 2013 8:15 am

kramer wrote:This is an old thread about the ability to e-file with TurboTax using a foreign mailing address. It does not seem like the OP's question was directly answered and I recently did more than a little googling to finally confirm the answer for this for a 2012 tax return e-filed using TurboTax (I came across this thread during my research).



As the OP, with the assistance of members on this board, and more specifically on this thread, I discovered that yes, expats can indeed e-file their federal tax returns with a foreign filing address with TaxAct. I did so last year, with a Brazil address.

As of the last filing season, I can also confirm that TurboTax, at least according to the company, did not allow the e-filing of federal tax returns with a foreign filing address. I had attempted unsuccessfully for various years prior to that. Perhaps, with enough accumulated complaints, this has now changed, but we need confirmation....
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Re: Expats: E-Filing of Tax Returns with Foreign Address?

Postby plats » Fri Feb 01, 2013 8:26 am

TurboTax 2011 allowed me to e-file with a foreign address. But I backed down before sending because I wasn't sure how to pay the balance due. Over 2012 I found that paying estimated taxes with officialpayments.com easy and cheap ($3.95 with a Visa debit card) so I think I'll try e-filing this year and paying through them.
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Re: Expats: E-Filing of Tax Returns with Foreign Address?

Postby marcos123 » Fri Feb 01, 2013 8:38 am

Just wanted to acknowledge that it was in fact plats and bpp who assisted me, the OP, in this matter. Thanks again to you guys.
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Re: Expats: E-Filing of Tax Returns with Foreign Address?

Postby bpp » Fri Feb 01, 2013 8:45 am

marcos123 wrote:Just wanted to acknowledge that it was in fact plats and bpp who assisted me, the OP, in this matter. Thanks again to you guys.


Cheers, marcos123. Glad to hear it worked out for you.
Always nice to get that kind of feedback.
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Re: Expats: E-Filing of Tax Returns with Foreign Address?

Postby plats » Fri Feb 01, 2013 8:57 am

bpp wrote:
marcos123 wrote:Just wanted to acknowledge that it was in fact plats and bpp who assisted me, the OP, in this matter. Thanks again to you guys.


Cheers, marcos123. Glad to hear it worked out for you.
Always nice to get that kind of feedback.

Ditto.

I'll try to e-file this year for the first time. It'll save me time printing, a trip to the post office, and the 800 yen registered mail fee.
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Re: Expats: E-Filing of Tax Returns with Foreign Address?

Postby ragabnh » Fri Feb 01, 2013 11:29 am

I work abroad, and for the past two years I efiled using Turbotax and my estimated taxes were withdrawn from my US bank account.
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Re: Expats: E-Filing of Tax Returns with Foreign Address?

Postby LadyGeek » Fri Feb 01, 2013 11:34 am

This thread is now in the Personal Finance (Not Investing) forum (tax question).
To some, the glass is half full. To others, the glass is half empty. To an engineer, it's twice the size it needs to be.
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Re: Expats: E-Filing of Tax Returns with Foreign Address?

Postby bpp » Sun Feb 17, 2013 1:31 am

kramer wrote:
bpp wrote:I'm trying TurboTax now, because TaxAct stopped working this year on my Japanese version of Windows.
Haven't tried to e-file yet, but so far so good.

TurboTax handles some things better than TaxAct (foreign earned income is much more logically handled by TT now), some things worse, but overall similar in functionality, I'd guess.
Please let us know how it goes, BPP. I will similarly report.

Before I didn't bother to use my foreign address and just used my regular USA mailing address in a no-income-tax state because I have only passive income. However, with the coming ObamaCare tax penalties, I will have to start showing each year that I am a foreign resident for tax purposes.


Ok, just e-filed my US tax return with TurboTax. No real problem, except for one extremely stupid one: TurboTax insists on having a daytime phone where I can be reached in case there is a problem, but they will not accept something that does not look like a US phone number, and they will not let you leave it blank. This is particularly stupid on their part because they make a big deal about being able to file from abroad on one of their screens. Anyway, had to fudge something there (and hope no problem arises for which they need to call me).

Now just have to wait to hear that it was accepted.
And get to work on my Japanese taxes.
And the FBAR...
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Re: Expats: E-Filing of Tax Returns with Foreign Address?

Postby plats » Sun Feb 17, 2013 7:02 am

bpp wrote:Ok, just e-filed my US tax return with TurboTax. No real problem, except for one extremely stupid one: TurboTax insists on having a daytime phone where I can be reached in case there is a problem, but they will not accept something that does not look like a US phone number, and they will not let you leave it blank. This is particularly stupid on their part because they make a big deal about being able to file from abroad on one of their screens. Anyway, had to fudge something there (and hope no problem arises for which they need to call me).

Now just have to wait to hear that it was accepted.
And get to work on my Japanese taxes.
And the FBAR...

Thanks for the heads up. I may just go ahead and file by mail as I've done in the past. That way I can also enclose a check to pay off my balance without worrying about a bank transfer.
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Re: Expats: E-Filing of Tax Returns with Foreign Address?

Postby marcos123 » Sun Feb 17, 2013 12:10 pm

plats wrote:
bpp wrote:Ok, just e-filed my US tax return with TurboTax. No real problem, except for one extremely stupid one: TurboTax insists on having a daytime phone where I can be reached in case there is a problem, but they will not accept something that does not look like a US phone number, and they will not let you leave it blank. This is particularly stupid on their part because they make a big deal about being able to file from abroad on one of their screens. Anyway, had to fudge something there (and hope no problem arises for which they need to call me).

Now just have to wait to hear that it was accepted.
And get to work on my Japanese taxes.
And the FBAR...

Thanks for the heads up. I may just go ahead and file by mail as I've done in the past. That way I can also enclose a check to pay off my balance without worrying about a bank transfer.


Bpp: really useful heads up here indeed: about TaxAct not working well this year with your local operating system; and your confirmation that TurboTax does indeed accommodate e-filing with foreign filing addresses - albeit with a foreign telephone glitch.

I'll admit that I have grown quite comfortable with TaxAct, following your initial recommendation, and my successful e-filing. I'll start working on my US return in the next couple weeks and will report here if I have similar problems with a Portuguese-language operating sytem with desktop TaxAct. Hopefully that is not the case but if so it is good to know that there is a back-up in TurboTax.

Plats: I have used the on-line EFTPS system for estimated tax payments, and for tax payments to accompany annual returns, for about a decade with no glitches or surprises. Best of all, you can check the status of your payment online and use as a receipt, and there is no cost as with a debit or credit card, or with postage. Note: I don't utilize the programming option for scheduling a year's worth of quarterly payments, which a couple of folks here over the years have stated they have had an issue with; I just schedule the ACH payment on their system a day or two before I intend to actually make the payment.
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Re: Expats: E-Filing of Tax Returns with Foreign Address?

Postby kramer » Sun Feb 17, 2013 1:06 pm

Thanks, Bpp. I do maintain a permanent USA phone number just for this sort of thing (it is required or useful for many things). It only costs me about $30 per year (Skype) and is also useful for family.

I have not even thought about e-filing yet because I want to be sure all of my 1099s are in and accurate.

However, I could not buy Turbo Tax downloadable from Amazon because they require that the computer to which it is downloaded be physically present in the USA (yes this requirement is different than for things like Kindle books, etc. which you can download anywhere). So I would have to use a USA proxy server and fake my location in order to be able to download it. So I will probably just pay list price from the Turbo Tax web site and download from there.
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Re: Expats: E-Filing of Tax Returns with Foreign Address?

Postby kramer » Fri Apr 05, 2013 1:47 pm

I was able to e-file my 2012 income taxes from the Philippines using downloadable Turbo Tax. But I used my USA mailing address (a mail stop). Only form 1116 (foreign tax paid on mutual funds) indicates that I reside in the Philippines. I don't want to receive IRS mail at my foreign address, which would be unreliable. And Turbo Tax said to use my mailing address, not my residence address, for the main 1040 form.
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Re: Expats: E-Filing of Tax Returns with Foreign Address?

Postby cbeck » Sat Apr 06, 2013 12:32 am

I e-filed using Turbo Tax. I checked off Thailand as my country of residence, but the software didn't ask me for a local address since I have a US mailing address in Florida. I also have a US phone number and a US bank account. This would appear to have covered me in every respect including the ACA requirements.
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Re: Expats: E-Filing of Tax Returns with Foreign Address?

Postby marcos123 » Sat Apr 06, 2013 3:52 pm

As the OP of this thread, and specifically to revert to bpp, I wanted to confirm that I was just able, again this year, to e-file from Brazil, via desktopTaxAct.

This was on a Portuguese-language operating-system laptop, so the travails that bpp shared with us with TaxAct earlier this year may be specific to a Japanese-language operating system?

I used my local ("foreign") residential address as the filing address for form 1040 along with my local telephone number. The former is very important to me as my mail stop address (former physical address) is in a state that does levy state income taxes. Although I could easily prove that I no longer have tax domicile there, I would rather not go through those hoops.
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Re: Expats: E-Filing of Tax Returns with Foreign Address?

Postby bpp » Sun Apr 07, 2013 7:05 pm

That's good to hear, marcos. Thanks for reporting.
Good to hear from kramer and cbeck, too.
Useful to get a collection of reports on what did and didn't work for people.
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Re: Expats: E-Filing of Tax Returns with Foreign Address?

Postby fotinifili » Sat May 11, 2013 4:28 pm

Hi everyone! I'm new here.
I had moved to Greece, from Chicago, in 2000 and I was unaware that I still had to file US taxes this entire time. I need to file for the last three years a.s.a.p.!!!!! I have never filed myself using software,(since I am not tax savvy), but filing it right away and getting a receipt of filing is necessary. Can anyone tell me which forms I need to file? I don't have any income from the USA, but I have only rental income from Greece. I do not have over 10000$ in the bank and neither does my husband. I am a US citizen and my husband is a Greek National. I read somewhere that besides the 1040, I also need the 2555 and 1116. Does this sound right?

Please help!!!
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Re: Expats: E-Filing of Tax Returns with Foreign Address?

Postby asset_chaos » Sun May 12, 2013 1:30 am

Yes, you'll need to file those two. Also there's the form TD F 90-22.1 that has to be sent to the Treasury, not to the IRS with other tax forms, if the aggregate value of all accounts exceeds $10k. This is for disclosing your foreign bank and financial accounts. There are also nominally hefty penalties (fine of up to $500k and 5 years jail are mentioned on the form) for failure to file. I'm unaware of how strict the Treasury is about penalties. The only issue the Tresury has raised with me in over 10 years is once when I filed an outdated version of the form, and they told me to refile on the current form. That time there was no mention of any penalties for not filing on time.

Treasury also said there was a way to electronically file the TDF90221, and their letter directed me to a webpage. But I was not able to get the web version to work properly, so I stuck with paper.

There's a lot of extra tax paperwork filing as an ex-pat. Good luck with that.
Regards, | | Guy
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Re: Expats: E-Filing of Tax Returns with Foreign Address?

Postby plats » Sun May 12, 2013 5:27 am

You won’t need TD F 90-22.1 since your bank balance is below $10K. You won’t need Form 2555 since you don’t have earned income. You’ll need Form 1040 and the enclosed Schedule E to report rental income, and form 1116 if you paid foreign tax on that income. As you are probably filing “Married, Filing Separately,” unless your net income from your rental income is over $3,800 in 2012 you may not be required to file at all.

In addition, I don't think it will be too difficult to fill out the forms by hand or with software.
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Re: Expats: E-Filing of Tax Returns with Foreign Address?

Postby fotinifili » Sun May 12, 2013 9:03 am

Thanks for the quick response.
Instead of filing schedule E, don't I have to file schedule B instead?
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Re: Expats: E-Filing of Tax Returns with Foreign Address?

Postby marcos123 » Sun May 12, 2013 11:30 am

Great advice from Plats as usual. I would just add that the Form TD F 90-22.1 minimum threshold for reporting of $10,000 refers to the sum of your bank and/or brokerage account balances reaching that level at any time during the year, and then you would report the highest monthly consolidated balance. So you may want to double check that this balance was never surpassed. Pay attention to jointly held accounts. Also, if your spouse is a US citizen or permanent resident by virtue of having married you, then there may be reporting requirements there as well.
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Re: Expats: E-Filing of Tax Returns with Foreign Address?

Postby plats » Sun May 12, 2013 6:10 pm

fotinifili wrote:Thanks for the quick response.
Instead of filing schedule E, don't I have to file schedule B instead?

From the IRS: "Schedule E (Form 1040), Supplemental Income and Loss. Use Schedule E (Form 1040) to report income or loss from rental real estate, royalties, partnerships, S corporations, estates, trusts, and residual interests in REMICs."

Use Schedule B to report your bank interest and dividends. And be sure to read Publication 54, Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad, my favorite publication.
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