time to file expat tax

If you filed for an extension, there are now just 6 weeks to go until the October 15th filing deadline. Don't leave it till the last minute! To help you out though, we've put together some check lists of what you'll need to provide your expat tax return preparation specialist in order for them to prepare your return.

If you're using Bright!Tax, you can upload everything via our website. 

Low tax US Expat
As US expats, we are obliged to file annual returns and pay taxes to the IRS wherever we live in the world. So it would make sense in a way, given the choice, to live somewhere with very low or even no domestic tax rates.

Of course most of us don't have the choice of relocating to anywhere in the world because of its low tax rates at a moment's notice. But for the lucky few who simply want to move to a place where they'll pay little or no local taxes, below are some great choices. The rest of us can but dream.

FBAR Update

The Foreign Bank Account Report (known as FBAR) obliges all US citizens and green card holders with foreign bank accounts that contain a total between them of at least US$10,000 at any time throughout the tax year to file a form (114) to the IRS.

At the end of last month, President Obama signed into law the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015. Buried rather randomly in it is a provision to reconcile the FBAR filing date with other tax filing dates.

Us Expat tax relief

Hidden deep within the proposed 2016 Federal Budget is a clause that seeks to bring some relief to so-called Accidental Americans.

Accidental Americans are people who don't know that they are American citizens, or who didn't know before adulthood. They typically fall into one of two groups: people who were born in the US to foreign parents who were there temporarily, either working, studying, or even on holiday; and children of an American citizen who were born and have always lived abroad and who have never claimed a US passport or a green card.

PictureWork, play, life - Dream big

Everyone sometimes dreams of a better life in a more exotic place, but relatively few of us actually pack up our things, sell our cars, lock up or let our homes perhaps, and take the plunge. Often moving abroad requires a particular catalyst or trigger. Below are our top 5 reasons why Americans move abroad.

Streamlined ProcedureUS expat tax. To file or not to file.
Until around a year ago, many honest, law-abiding US expats felt a real disincentive to file their historic tax returns as a result of pending and serious IRS penalties. Another large group of expats believed that as they didn't owe taxes in the US, having paid higher tax rates abroad, they didn't have to file (particularly in Canada, where there are over a million US expats). For once the IRS listened and responded sensibly, declaring an amnesty and introducing the Streamlined Procedure.

Since it came into force in June 2014, tens of thousands of expats have come forward and filed using the Streamlined Procedure, however there are still millions of US expats out there who haven't.

Young Americans AbroadYoung Americans opting to live overseas
The following is an extract from 'Survey says: 35% of Americans would expatriate' published on CNBC.com. 

As sultry summer weekends loom and Americans prep their grills and ready their ongoing outdoor activities, some citizens are packing their bags.

A recent online poll of more than 2,000 adults by TransferWise, a peer-to-peer money transfer service based in the United Kingdom, revealed that 35 percent of American-born residents and emigrants would consider leaving the United States to live in another country.

American ExpatsToby and Lauren Cleaver

Lauren and her husband both worked as criminal defense lawyers in Colorado before they decided to move abroad. In 1999, they loaded up their truck and drove south to their new home, Iguana Lodge in Costa Rica, which they have turned into an eco friendly, beach-side, tropical paradise, complete with two restaurants, yoga classes, a weekly salsa night, and strictly no TV! We asked them what inspires them, as well as about their experience with Bright!Tax.

What inspired you to leave the US to live abroad?

We were attorneys in the US with three children. We worked hard and had the American Dream, but we were looking to have more time with our children, and for an adventure. We moved down here and now have an ex-pat dream of owning a tropical beach hotel.

A lot has been written in the media about the effects that FATCA and FBAR requirements and the necessity of filing US taxes have had on expats, ranging from bewilderment and frustration at the extra paperwork and perceived government overreach, to individuals being denied opening or keeping local bank accounts, and individuals being unable to obtain mortgages due to their US citizenship.

We recently carried out an exercise to better understand our clients' attitudes towards their tax obligations before and after the filing process that yielded fascinating results. I'm not normally a fan of word clouds, however in this case they illustrate the point beautifully.

PictureOh God my wife is German
Here's our rundown of 5 of the best US expat blogs in 2015. Do you agree?

One - Banker in the sun http://www.bankerinthesun.com

After being robbed at gunpoint outside his home in Florida, Banker in the Sun re-evaluated his priorities in life and decided to pack in the bank job and follow his childhood dream of exploring exotic lands and Arabian kingdoms. He moved to Saudi Arabia, and then Thailand, no longer a banker, but now a self-proclaimed 'digital nomad'. The blog is a blend of his experiences, interviews with other expats, and advice for other would be adventurers. Boasting a massive social media following, the unusual back story alone is enough to merit inclusion on our list.

Two - Oh God my wife is German http://www.ohgodmywifeisgerman.com/

A graphic designer from Portland, Oregan, married to a German who is smarter and better looking than him, responds by blogging about her foibles and English bloopers alongside his general perplexity about German life.