Who likes doing their taxes? Here in Spain we file by the end of June, in the States it is by the 15th of April.
On the second page of our American passports it says that we need to file our taxes in the U.S. as well as filing in the country that we are living in (in my case, Spain). Way back when this warning first started appearing on our passports, the American colony (of 4 or 5) around me asked the Valencian consulate and we were told not to bother filing because unless we earned more than 80.000 U.S. dollars we did not have to pay (and this amount goes up every year). I don't know anyone here who earns over 80.000 dollars so we all forgot about it (it is difficult, we haven't done it before, blah, blah -- end result -- nobody filed the U.S. tax forms).
Well, now people are going back and finding difficulty because for administrative reasons, banks and sometimes schools or landlords are requesting the tax forms to grant mortgages, enroll students, rent apartments to returning citizens. And we don't have this done -- very bad I know.
I reasearched it for myself, called the Embasy in Madrid who immediately emailed me some information, called the IRS office in Paris and spoke to a very nice young man who told me more about how to file etc. and I called a CPA living in Madrid. The CPA gave me the impression that I was owed money back for the child tax credit thingy. Well, that sounded great and I could claim 4 years so in my head I was saving and spending the $14,000 it came out to be (3 kids all under 17). Of course, when I actually calculated the taxes with the help of my accountant (who is so proud of himself for doing American tax returns), it is a tax credit not free money and if I had to pay American taxes (I don't) would reduce the amount I would have to pay.
I still have to send my tax returns to Austin, TX (don't ask me why they go to Austin, TX -- I imagine an anthill of IRS workers dealing with weird foreign-looking American tax returns). I need to get a document (from 2009 that I can't find) and take them to the post office. In the end, I am doing what the nice IRS man in Paris told me to do -- filing only three years and it wasn't so bad. I can almost do it myself.