If you’ve just discovered you might have an obligation to file tax returns in the USA, you might be wondering what the next steps are, and what are your options.

Luckily, you’re not alone here. We receive calls every single day from US citizens living in New Zealand who haven’t previously been filing tax returns, and in many cases, are now very anxious about what the implications of this will be.

The first item to address here, is this doesn’t need to be a scary process. Becoming tax compliant can seem daunting and nerve-wracking, especially when trying to interpret the rules from the internet. We can assure you, there is nothing to worry about here.

The good news here is that the IRS is also well aware that most US citizens around the world simply didn’t know they had to file any tax returns. To help bring individuals into compliance, numerous amnesty programs were set up, most notably being the Streamlined Filing Procedures.

Under the Streamlined Procedures, only the last three years of tax returns must be filed, regardless of however long it’s been since you last filed a US tax return (if ever). Under this program, all penalties related to late filing are waived, with only interest due on any tax owing if applicable.

In addition to the three years of tax returns, we also file six years of foreign bank account reporting (FBARs), which accompany the tax returns, however these are not tax forms (just informational).

Whether it’s been 20 years since you last filed a tax return, or you’ve never filed one, the Streamlined Program is a hugely beneficial way to come back into compliance without penalties.

At US Global Tax, we’ve assisted more than 1,000 individuals through the Streamlined Program.