The spring se­a­son brings the pro­mi­se of war­mer we­at­her and lon­ger days. For bet­ter or wor­se, spring is al­so the time for Ame­ri­cans to file ta­xes. While the U.S. Em­bas­sy does not have a for­mal role in hel­ping Ame­ri­cans file ta­xes, I can share a few re­sour­ces that may help you. This ye­ar, the In­ter­nal Re­ve­nue Ser­vi­ce (IRS) ex­ten­ded the de­ad­li­ne to file and pay fe­de­ral in­co­me ta­xes to May 17, 2021.


Who needs to file ta­xes?

If you are a U.S. ci­ti­zen or Law­ful Per­ma­nent Re­si­dent (green card hol­der), you are res­pon­sib­le for fi­ling U.S. fe­de­ral in­co­me tax re­turns even when li­ving ab­ro­ad. If you have not fi­led ta­xes be­fo­re, you will find that this al­so re­qui­res a U.S. Tax­pa­yer Iden­ti­fi­ca­ti­on Num­ber (TIN). The TIN for U.S. ci­ti­zens is their So­ci­al Se­cu­ri­ty Num­ber (SSN). If you live in Fin­land and have for­got­ten yo­ur SSN or need to ap­p­ly for one, you can send an ap­p­li­ca­ti­on to the ne­a­rest Fe­de­ral Be­ne­fits Unit, which is hou­sed in the U.S. Em­bas­sy in Nor­way. Ap­p­li­ca­ti­on in­for­ma­ti­on and ot­her fre­qu­ent­ly as­ked qu­es­ti­ons can be found at Em­bas­sy Os­lo’s web­si­te. Our staff here at the U.S. Em­bas­sy in Hel­sin­ki can make cer­ti­fied co­pies of re­qui­red iden­ti­ty do­cu­ments, like yo­ur U.S. pas­s­port, as part of yo­ur mail-in ap­p­li­ca­ti­on.


How to get star­ted

Tax se­a­son can feel a bit daun­ting, but there are plen­ty of re­sour­ces to help you find the best way to file. The IRS part­ners with pub­lic com­pa­nies to of­fer Free File , a prog­ram that lets qu­a­li­fied hou­se­holds pre­pa­re and file fe­de­ral in­co­me ta­xes on­li­ne for free. If that prog­ram does not meet yo­ur needs, there are se­ve­ral com­pa­nies that of­fer tax pre­pa­ra­ti­on ser­vi­ces. These com­pa­nies can eit­her con­nect you to a cer­ti­fied tax pro­fes­si­o­nal or may of­fer on­li­ne plat­forms that walk you through fi­ling elect­ro­ni­cal­ly.


What about FAT­CA?

Many bank cus­to­mers in Fin­land will have no­ti­ced that Fin­nish fi­nan­ci­al ins­ti­tu­ti­ons en­for­ce gui­de­li­nes from the Fo­reign Ac­count Tax Comp­li­an­ce Act (FAT­CA). This is a U.S. law de­sig­ned to fight tax eva­si­on by re­qui­ring some Ame­ri­cans to re­port fo­reign fi­nan­ci­al as­sets like bank ac­counts and stock hol­dings. Whet­her you have ext­ra do­cu­ments to file de­pends on the amount of as­sets you hold and whet­her you file yo­ur ta­xes as a sing­le head of hou­se­hold or joint­ly with a spou­se. These thres­holds, which start at le­ast $50,000, are desc­ri­bed furt­her on the IRS web­si­te.


What to do if you have not been fi­ling U.S. fe­de­ral ta­xes?

If you are a U.S. ci­ti­zen who has not been comp­li­ant with fi­ling ob­li­ga­ti­ons, you should file any outs­tan­ding U.S. tax re­turns and any ot­her re­qui­red do­cu­ments as soon as pos­sib­le. There are a few ways to do this, de­pen­ding on yo­ur si­tu­a­ti­on. For examp­le, if you did not know you nee­ded to file yo­ur ta­xes, you may be eli­gib­le to use Stre­am­li­ned Fi­ling Comp­li­an­ce Pro­ce­du­res . Ot­her re­sour­ces that may ap­p­ly to yo­ur hou­se­hold can be found in this joint fre­qu­ent­ly as­ked qu­es­ti­ons page.

Eve­ry­o­ne’s fi­nan­ci­al si­tu­a­ti­on is dif­fe­rent. This may mean that it ta­kes time and ef­fort to find the right way for­ward for yo­ur­self, but ho­pe­ful­ly the re­sour­ces lin­ked in this ar­tic­le can help you ans­wer some of yo­ur tax-re­la­ted qu­es­ti­ons.  

Ma­ria Mate-Kod­jo has ser­ved as the Vice Con­sul at U.S. Em­bas­sy Hel­sin­ki sin­ce No­vem­ber 2020. She was pre­vi­ous­ly a Po­li­ti­cal of­fi­cer at the U.S. Con­su­la­te Ge­ne­ral in Jed­dah, Sau­di Ara­bia where she re­por­ted on so­ci­al is­su­es, hu­man rights, the en­vi­ron­ment, and the Or­ga­ni­za­ti­on for Is­la­mic Coo­pe­ra­ti­on.

Cor­rec­ti­on made 18.3.2021 on ex­ten­ded tax fi­ling due date.