Well, we’re now officially halfway through 2015. For some people, that’s something to celebrate as they wave a happy farewell to tax season. For the really lucky ones, they have a bit extra spending money for the rest of the year. But for a lot of people, they’re in the same worried state that they’ve been in since the new year rolled around. So, if you find yourself wondering about deadlines for filing foreign returns, this one is for you.
As of June 30th, the deadline has passed for reporting ownership of foreign bank accounts. Whenever an individual holds more than $10,000 in a foreign bank account, they are required to file a special report called an FBAR (Foreign Bank Account Reporting Form – official name FinCEN Report 114). Income from foreign bank accounts is usually taxable in the US. If you missed the deadline for filing your FBAR, it would probably be in your best interest to contact a tax expert and discuss your options.
Despite the fact that a number of important deadlines have already passed, there are still quite a few to be wary of. Knowing the deadlines is the first step towards making sure you don’t miss those that apply to you!
July 31 – Foreign life insurance
The end of July marks the deadline for those that paid for foreign life insurance premiums between April and June of 2015 and for those that have excise taxes to report. Make sure to file on time and keep the wrath of the IRS at bay.
Unfortunately, the IRS isn’t terribly fond of foreign life insurance policies to begin with. And why is that? Foreign policies take away from domestic ones, and domestic life insurance policies have a small army of lobbyists fighting for them. It’s worth noting that the IRS does not have to treat foreign life insurance as a life insurance policy for tax purposes. They hold the power to consider it an investment, which is never in your best interest.
September 15 – Third estimated payment of 2015
This one might make you scratch your head a bit, seeing as you’ll be paying the third quarter payment before the quarter is up. It doesn’t make a huge amount of sense, but you can at least find some solace in the fact that the fourth quarter payment won’t be due for another four months, making its deadline January 15, 2016.
October 15 – Extended deadline for filing individual returns
This one needs some clarification. If you were to have filed for an extension before April 15th (or June 15th for US expats), you have until the 15th of October to file your returns. I want to make it very clear though that this is for filing and not for paying your returns.
If a taxpayer is outside of the US on the extended filing date (Oct. 15), they can request another two month extension. This request is up to the discretion of the IRS, so it’s best to not count on it as a sure-fire thing.
October 31 – Foreign life insurance
Exactly the same as the July 31st deadline, but this time it’s the payment deadline (and excise reporting) for the months of July, August, and September of 2015.
December 15 – Extended deadline for certain taxpayers
As mentioned above, this deadline is for those that requested an additional two months extension past the October 15th deadline. The IRS does not have to honor your request for a deadline extension, but if you’re outside of the US at the time of filing and have a reasonable need for the extension, you shouldn’t run into any problems.
Make your life easier
Taxes are complex and all the deadlines and rules can be overwhelming. I completely understand that. But do yourself a favor and be sure to request your foreign bank account statements a good deal in advance. Not all foreign banks can provide you with a yearly statement for your tax purposes. Therefore, by contacting them early enough, you can find out if they do generate end-of-the-year statements, or – if they aren’t able to do so – if they can provide you with a statement of your highest account balance during the year. It definitely pays to think ahead and make sure your filing process is as smooth as possible.
As always, do everything in your power to make these deadlines and resolve any problems that may have delayed you from timely filing and payments. This will ensure that you stay on the good side of the IRS and put your finances on track to be as smooth and stress-free as possible. As always, if you find yourself about to pull out your hair from the stress of it all, don’t hesitate to ask someone for help. Taxes are confusing, so finding someone who can help you unravel what you need to disclose and what you need to pay can be a lifesaver.