The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has provided the following guidance for U.S. citizens abroad preparing for the 2015 tax filing season. This IRS guidance is posted under Federal Benefits and Obligations on www.travel.state.gov.
Who Must File?
All U.S. citizens and resident aliens must file a U.S. individual income tax return, even if they permanently live outside the United States and may not owe any tax because of income exclusion or tax credit.
When to File
If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien residing overseas, or are in the military on duty outside the U.S., on the regular due date of your return, you are allowed an automatic 2-month extension to file your return and pay any amount due without requesting an extension. For a calendar year return, the automatic 2-month extension is to June 15. If you qualify for this 2-month extension, penalties for paying any tax late are assessed from the 2-month extended due date of the payment (June 15 for calendar year taxpayers). However, even if you are allowed an extension, you will have to pay interest on any tax not paid by the regular due date of your return (April 15 for calendar year taxpayers).
If you qualify for the 2-month extension but are unable to file your return by the automatic 2-month extension date, you can request an additional extension to October 15 by filing Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, before the automatic 2-month extension date. However, if you qualify for the 2-month extension, penalties for paying any tax late are assessed from the extended due date of the payment (June 15 for calendar year taxpayers). Otherwise, if you do not qualify for the 2-month extension, penalties for paying late are assessed from the original due date of your return (April 15 for calendar year taxpayers). Also, even if you are allowed extensions to June 15 and/or October 15, you will owe interest on any unpaid tax amount from the original due date of the return (April 15 for calendar year taxpayers).
Can I Mail My Return and Payment?
You can mail your tax return and payment using the postal service or approved private delivery services. A list of approved delivery services is available on IRS.gov. If you mail a return from outside the United States, the date of filing is the postmark date. However, if you mail a payment, separately or with your return, your payment is not considered received until the date of actual receipt.
Can I Electronically File My Return?
You can prepare and e-file your income tax return, in many cases for free. Participating software companies make their products available through the IRS. E-File options are listed on IRS.gov.