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Extension of Time to File in Order to Qualify for the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion

You generally cannot get an extension of time to file of more than 6 months. However, if you are outside the United States and meet certain tests, you may be able to get a longer extension.

You can get an extension of time to file your tax return if you need the time to meet either the bona fide residence test or the physical presence test to qualify for either the foreign earned income exclusion or the foreign housing exclusion or deduction. The tests, the exclusions, and the deduction are explained in Foreign Earned Income Exclusion.

You should request an extension of time to file if all three of the following apply:

  • You are a U.S. citizen or resident alien,
  • You expect to meet either the bona fide residence test or the physical presence test, but not until after your tax return is due, and
  • Your tax home is in a foreign country (or countries) throughout your period of bona fide residence or physical presence, whichever applies.

Generally, if you are granted an extension, it will be to 30 days beyond the date on which you can reasonably expect to qualify under either the bona fide residence test or the physical presence test. However, if you have moving expenses that are for services performed in 2 years, you may be granted an extension to 90 days beyond the close of the year following the year of first arrival in the foreign country. You may file Form 1040 any time before the extension expires.

How To Get An Extension

To obtain an extension, you should file Form 2350, Application for Extension of Time To File U.S. Income Tax Return, with the Internal Revenue Service office as specified in the instructions for Form 2350.

You must file Form 2350 by the due date for filing your return. Generally, if both your tax home and your abode are outside the United States and Puerto Rico on the regular due date of your return and you file on a calendar year basis, the due date for filing your return is June 15.

Form 2350 does not extend the time to pay taxes. If you do not pay the amount due by the regular due date, you will owe interest. You may also be charged penalties. You will owe interest on any tax not paid by the regular due date of your return, which is normally April 15 – even if you qualify for the 2-month extension because you were out of the country. The interest accrues until you pay the tax. Even if you had a good reason for not paying on time, you will still owe interest.

What If Tests Are Not Met

If you obtain an extension of time and unforeseen events make it impossible for you to satisfy either the bona fide residence test or the physical presence test, you should file your income tax return as soon as possible. You must pay interest on any tax due after the regular due date of the return (even though an extension was granted).

References/Related Topics

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 02-Jun-2014