News for Americans Abroad

News from FAWCO-US Liaison

Message from the US Liaison-Good news and bad news!!


Actually, it's good news that you already knew the bad news (!), i.e. that it's tax time again (and most of us are required to file our tax forms even though we won't owe any tax).  Almost everyone now knows that the filing deadline for overseas filers is June 15, with a possible extension (you must request) until October 15, so don't panic but of course, the sooner you get it behind you, the better!
 
This year the good news is that FBARs may now be filed as late as October!  FinCEN tells us:
"Section 2006(b)(11) of the Act changes the FBAR due date to April 15 to coincide with the Federal income tax filing season.  The Act also mandates a maximum six-month extension of the filing deadline.  To implement the statute with minimal burden to the public and FinCEN, FinCEN will grant filers failing to meet the FBAR annual due date of April 15 an automatic extension to October 15 each year.  Accordingly, specific requests for this extension are not required."
 
As always, we recommend that you not use the online services that offer help in FBAR filing (and cost unnecessary money).  Go to the official site.  https://www.fincen.gov/report-foreign-bank-and-financial-accounts?utm_source=April+NIB+Draft&utm_campaign=NiB+December+2016&utm_medium=email


Lucy Laederich, AAWE Paris
US Liaison

 

AMERICANS CITIZENS ABROAD - by Dale Finlayson

In the November 2016 issue of the newsletter I wrote about the US dollar-denominated bank account Americans no longer resident in the US, many of whom have had trouble opening/maintaining a US bank account, have been enabled to open with the State Department Federal Credit Union (SDFCU). All that is required is that you join ACA for $70/year.

If you would like to know more about the SDFCU, ACA has developed a 20-minute video explaining all you need to know about the product, how it was developed, what is SDFCU, how to apply for an account, and the range of products available (from IRS accounts to car loans, even if your car is purchased overseas). “It’s an insurance policy against lock-out, as you will always have access to US-based financial services,” says ACA Director Jonathan Lachowitz.
International Investor last year awarded the account the Best International US Services Provider award, and ACA has had incredibly positive feedback from members who have signed up for the account, many citing the excellent customer service provided by the staff of SDFCU.
To view the video, go to https://www.americansabroad.org/#ACA-Member/SDFCU%20Account%20Video.


Getting a US document notarized – Safedocs

Safedocs is an online notary service made available by ACA to its members. Until now, the only options for having a US document notarized was to make an appointment at a US. Embassy/Consulate or to hire a local attorney/notary. Both options are time consuming and expensive, not to mention the travel that can be involved. It can take two days advance notice, a $60 notary fee plus shipping, which can run upward of $100 to expedite paperwork back to the US. Now with Safedocs it should only take a week from request to having your document in the hands of the requestor back in the US.

If you have an internet connection and a computer with webcam, you can have your document(s) notarized regardless of where you live. No traveling, appointment delays, or shipping expense. The process takes about 12 minutes and you’re done, at which time you can electronically deliver an original document immediately. You also retain a certified original copy at no additional cost and they are accepted in all US states.

How it works: Log into ACA’s members-only page on the ACA website and click
on the link to Safedocs. Enter your information, upload your completed but unsigned document, select a time and day that is convenient, and you’re all set. Full instructions will be returned via email, along with your confirmation.  Log in at your select time and you will be met online by a trained and certified e-notary to assist you in having your document notarized. It’s as simple as that!

Note: You can also use Safedocs directly, for a fee, without being an ACA member (https://www.safedocs.com/).

No US Private Debt Collectors for Americans Overseas: IRS

ACA had expressed concern about how the IRS program for private debt collectors – created in 2015 under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act – might impact on American expatriates, and in a letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen ACA asked for exemption for American taxpayers living overseas who, ACA feared, would not have adequate information about the program. The IRS has stated that “the companies participating in the private debt collection program are only licensed to operate in US states and territories”, the IRS said in a statement. “As a result, the IRS is excluding taxpayers who live outside the US from the private debt collection effort”. To ensure they qualify for the exclusion, overseas taxpayers must make sure the IRS has their correct foreign address.

The IRS also cautioned American taxpayers living abroad to be alert to telephone scammers posing as debt collectors. This type of scam –fraudulent calls by people pretending to be from the IRS – has been an ongoing concern for taxpayers living overseas.

 

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