Beat the October 15 Tax Deadline: Tips for December 15 Extension

Sep 25, 2023

Tax season is a stressful time for many, but it can be especially daunting for U.S. expats living abroad. Navigating the complexities of foreign income, tax treaties, and deadlines can be overwhelming. If you’re an expat stressing about the upcoming October 15 tax deadline, you’re not alone—and we’re here to help.

The purpose of this article is to simplify the process for you. We’ll provide a straightforward, step-by-step guide on how to prepare your own additional extension letter to the IRS, effectively extending your filing deadline for your federal tax return to December 15. And the best part? If you find yourself stuck or in need of professional guidance, our firm offers this service absolutely free of charge.

So, let’s dive in and demystify the process, shall we?

When Are Taxes Due With An Extension?

The regular deadline for filing individual income tax returns for U.S. expats is June 15. However, if you file for an extension, you will have until October 15 to submit your tax return. Additionally, you can file for a second extension that will extend the deadline to December 15.

Why It Matters

Missing the October 15 deadline can result in a late filing penalty, which is separate from any late payment penalties that may have started accruing from the original April 15 payment deadline. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Late Filing Penalties: The IRS imposes a penalty for filing your federal income tax return after the October 15 deadline. This can be as much as 5% of the unpaid taxes for each month your return is late, up to a maximum of 25%.

Special Considerations for Expats

As a U.S. expat, you may have additional reporting requirements that make meeting the October 15 deadline even more critical. These can include:

Form 8938 (FATCA) is included in the regular price our personal income tax return.

Given these complexities and the potential for late filing penalties, it’s crucial to either file your taxes by October 15 or secure an extension to December 15, which we’ll discuss next.

Why Consider an Extension to December 15?

Life happens, and sometimes it’s just not possible to gather all the necessary documents and information by the October 15 deadline. That’s where extending your filing date to December 15 comes into play.

Benefits of Extending Your Deadline

  • More Time to Gather Documents: Especially for expats, gathering all the necessary tax documents can be a complicated process. A tax extension gives you two extra months to get everything in order.
  • Avoid Errors: Rushing to meet a deadline increases the likelihood of making errors on your annual income tax return. An extension allows you the time to double-check your figures and ensure everything is accurate.
  • Strategic Tax Planning: The additional time can be used to consult with a tax advisor for strategies that could potentially lower your tax liability.
  • Peace of Mind: Knowing you have extra time can alleviate the stress associated with the tax-filing process, allowing you to focus on other important life events.

Why Taxpayers Commonly Extend to December 15

  • Waiting for Foreign Tax Documents: Sometimes, foreign tax entities don’t provide the necessary documents until after the U.S. tax deadline. An extension ensures you can file accurately without penalties.
  • Complex Tax Situations: If you have multiple income streams, own property, or have other complicated tax situations, the extra time can be invaluable.
  • Personal Circumstances: Life events like marriage, the birth of a child, or a move can make meeting the original deadline challenging. An extension provides breathing room.

In the next section, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of preparing your own extension letter to the IRS. And remember, if you find this process daunting, our firm offers this service free of charge.

Step-by-Step Guide to Preparing Your Own Extension Letter

Filing for an extension doesn’t have to be a complicated process. Below, we outline the steps you can take to prepare your own extension letter to the IRS, effectively extending your filing deadline to December 15.

1. Gather Necessary Information

Before you start drafting your extension letter, make sure you have the following information at hand:

  • Your full name
  • Social Security Number
  • Current address
  • The tax year for the extension

2. Draft the Letter

Here’s a simple template you can use to draft your extension letter:

tax extension template

3. Sign and Date

Once you’ve filled out the template, don’t forget to sign and date the letter. This is a crucial step to make the request official.

4. Where to Send the Extension Letter?

Mail your signed and dated extension letter to the IRS address:

Internal Revenue Service
3651 South Interregional Highway 35
Austin, TX 78741

By following these steps, you can successfully extend your tax filing deadline to December 15, as permitted under Internal Revenue Code Section 6072(a).

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Even with the best of intentions, mistakes can happen, especially when you’re dealing with something as complex as taxes. Here are some common pitfalls to watch out for:

  • Missing the Extension Deadline: Remember, the extension only moves your filing deadline to December 15. Missing this extended deadline can result in penalties.
  • Incomplete Information: Make sure all the information in your extension letter is accurate and complete. Double-check your Social Security Number, name, and address.
  • Failure to Sign: An unsigned extension letter is like an unsigned check—it’s invalid. Always remember to sign and date your letter.
  • Incorrect IRS Address: Sending your extension letter to the wrong IRS address can delay processing. Always double-check the address, which can usually be found on the IRS website.

Understanding and meeting tax deadlines can be a daunting task, especially for U.S. expats living abroad. However, the process doesn’t have to be overwhelming. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can successfully extend your tax filing deadline to December 15, giving you the extra time you need to file accurately and avoid penalties. And remember, mistakes can happen, but they are avoidable with careful attention to detail.

If you find yourself in need of further assistance or have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We offer free help in preparing your extension letter to the IRS, ensuring that you can navigate this tax season with confidence and peace of mind. Contact us today to take advantage of this complimentary service.


Written by

Kasia Strzelczyk, EA

A certified accountant and IRS enrolled agent with over 8 years of experience working with US expats. With a deep understanding of the unique financial challenges faced by expats, Kasia is dedicated to helping clients navigate complex tax laws and regulations.

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