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October 24, 2010

YOU MUST NOTIFY THE IRS OF YOUR ADDRESS CHANGE WHEN YOU MOVE ABROAD TO AVOID PROBLEMS

When you move to Mexico or other foreign countries you MUST notify the IRS of your new address. The IRS is not responsible to keeping its records up to date with your new address, you are!  You should notify them using Form 8822.  If you fail to notify them of the address change, any notices they send to your previous address are deemed received under the law, and various time limitations, assessments, etc. , may expire even though you are not receiving the IRS notices.

One client who failed to notify the IRS of her new address  was erroneously assessed a large sum of money and only learned about it many years later when the IRS took levied and took all of the money out of her bank account.  It was very expensive and time consuming to finally convince the IRS of their error and get her money refunded.  The problem would have never happened if a Form 8822 had been filed.  The error could have been corrected immediately when the initial erroneous assessment was made.

Due to poor mail delivery in many countries, it is wise in some situations to keep using a US mailing address of a friend or relative, so your IRS notices will be delivered to a competent person who can then forward the mail by fax, email or a private delivery service.

US EXPATRIATE OFFSHORE ESTATE PLANNING

If you have assets or live outside of the USA you need to plan your estate carefully. You most likely need to do a will or,  if applicable, a trust in the country in which you live (or own the asset) which provides for the disposition of your asset in the event of your death. You also need to determine what type of taxes (inheritance or transfer tax) your heirs may incur upon your death.  In some foreign countries failure to do a will or trust could result in your offshore assets being distributed under that country's laws and could result in people inheriting the property other than those you would prefer.  Some countries may honor your US will or trust and others may not.  It is easier often have specific instruments drawn up in each country you own assets that comply with local law by a local attorney to avoid potential problems and expense later if that country does not or has difficulties honoring a US will or trust.

Remember, if you have executed a power of attorney appointing someone to handle your affairs, in most countries that document will expire upon your death. Therefore do not rely on that document to handle the disposition of your foreign assets after your death.

Of course, you must also prepare to US will or  living trust (which avoids probates and a lot of expense and time) to cover the disposition of your US assets and which also states the disposition of your foreign assets the same as a foreign trust or will you have had prepared.

The US will impose its estate tax on your worldwide assets, though it will allow a credit in most situations for any foreign inheritance tax you had to pay on assets located outside of the US.  Until Congress amends the law, starting in 2011 all estates in excess of $1 million will be subject to US estate tax which are high.  If you are married special provisions can be inserted in your US will or trust to secure estate tax savings.

October 18, 2010

Additional Extension of Time for Taxpayers Out of the Country



All taxpayers are generally entitled to an automatic 6-month extension of time to file their returns by filing Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Returnalso available en espaƱol, with the Internal Revenue Service.

In addition to this 6-month extension, taxpayers who are out of the country (as defined in the Form 4868 instructions) can request a discretionary 2-month additional extension of time to file their returns (to December 15 for calendar year taxpayers).

To request this extension, you must send the Internal Revenue Service a letter explaining the reasons why you need the additional 2 months. Send the letter by the extended due date (October 15 for calendar year taxpayers) to the following address:
Internal Revenue Service Center
Austin, TX 73301-0215
USA
You will not receive any notification from the Internal Revenue Service unless your request is denied for being untimely.
The discretionary 2-month additional extension is not available to taxpayers who have an approved extension of time to file on Form 2350 (for U.S. citizens and resident aliens abroad who expect to qualify for special tax treatment).