Please help me file US tax returns while abroad
October 14, 2011 5:45 AM   Subscribe

Please tell me exactly what I need to do to catch up on filing the tax returns that I didn’t complete for the last 4 years as a US citizen living abroad.

I have just spent what may have been the most frustrating ten minutes of my life on the phone with an IRS call center representative who was incapable of understanding this simple question.

I have made between £20,000 and £26,000 each year, which is nowhere close to the $90,000-ish threshold that would require me to actually pay any tax, but well above the filing threshold for a married person of my age filing singly. I just need to know what form to use, what the procedure is for filing past-due returns, and if I’ll be subject to any fines or penalties.

Seriously, this is EXACTLY what I said to the call centre representative, and she then read me a story about three sisters with similar incomes but different filing statuses and would shout MA’AM I’M TRYING TO HELP YOU whenever I would try to interrupt to tell her that I knew my filing status. When the story was over, I asked her my question again, and she asked me if I’d looked at the filing status chart. I said yes, I told her that the chart said I needed to file, and she then started reading (she was obviously reading from a script she didn't understand) ANOTHER story about tax refund status. It would have been hilarious if I wasn’t paying international call rates and I hadn't already been on hold for 30 minutes.

I’ve tried to call the IRS branch in London every day this week, but no luck at all getting through. I have also looked at the IRS website without finding a clear answer and I've Googled several iterations of my question but just seem to get spammy pages that want to charge for helping me. This can't be that difficult.
posted by cilantro to Work & Money (1 answer total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Previous Ask Metafilter question

IRS page on US Citizens and Resident Aliens abroad

IRS page on Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, including links to the forms you need, specifically Form 2555

IRS links to Prior year Forms

So: File the 1040s, File your 2555 and File your FBAR.
posted by vacapinta at 5:58 AM on October 14, 2011

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