Tax Tip 2023-23: Common mistakes international filers make using Free File Fillable Forms

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IRS Tax Tips February 22, 2023

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Issue Number: Tax Tip 2023-23

Common mistakes international filers make using Free File Fillable Forms

Free File Fillable Forms are electronic federal tax forms taxpayers can fill out and file online for free, enabling them to:

  • Choose the income tax form they need.
  • Enter their tax information online.
  • Electronically sign and file their return.
  • Print their return for recordkeeping.

International filers can also share in the benefits of Free File Fillable Forms. However, international filers should use extra caution to avoid common mistakes that occur when taxpayers fill out these forms. These mistakes can lead to transmission failures, rejected tax returns or issues in creating or accessing an account.

Here are some of the common mistakes international filers make while using these forms.

Special characters, hyphens and spaces
When creating an account or entering information on a form, taxpayers shouldn’t use any hyphenates or special characters such as ñ, ü, ó, and they shouldn’t leave spaces in first or last names.

International addresses
Many forms require taxpayers to use a U.S. mailing address. Entering an international address, including military addresses, APO, DPO and FPO, may cause the return to be rejected. Unfortunately, there isn’t a universal solution for this issue.

International phone numbers

  • Taxpayers should use a U.S. phone when creating an account. Filers that use international phone numbers may not be able to create, access or recover their account.
  • Certain forms only accept a 10-digit number, and international filers shouldn’t use these forms if they don’t have access to a U.S. phone number.

Banks outside of the U.S.

  • Direct deposit is available only for bank accounts located only in the United States.
  • IRS Direct Pay requires a U.S. bank routing number.
  • If the international filer has an account with an international bank that has a U.S. affiliate, the bank may be able to provide a U.S. bank routing number.

Unsupported or prohibited forms for e-filing
All taxpayers should familiarize themselves with the forms they need before starting a return. This will help them understand the information about a form and its limitations, which could prevent the taxpayer from filing electronically.

The most common instances of unsupported or prohibited forms for international filers include:

  • Form 1116 – Foreign Tax Credit
  • Form 2350, Application for Extension of Time to File U.S. Income Tax Return
  • Form 2555  Foreign Earned Income
  • Foreign Employee Compensation form

More information:
Line-by-Line Help Free File Fillable Forms
Foreign Electronic Payments


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