Yeah, the tax guide itself doesn't mention the 2350, though the GIH does. Sorry about that. Last year (or the year before?) there was a question posted on the forums about the difference between the 2350 and 4868 forms and which form should be used by JETs. I emailed the IRS about it at the time and received the following reply.
Summary of the reply: file Form 4868 to receive a 6-month extension. If 6 months is insufficient, then file Form 2350.
Your Question Was:
I am an overseas taxpayer who expects to qualify for the physical presence test on the 2555ez. However, I have not resided overseas for the necessary 330 days in a 12 month period beginning or ending in 2009. I plan on applying for a filing extension beyond the 2-month automatic extension for residents overseas at the time of the filing deadline. My question is which form I should use to file for this extension. I read the instructions in Publication 54, and it appears to me that both the 4868 and 2350 can be used to apply for an extension. Is this correct? I am planning on using the 4868 to apply for a 6-month extension, which would then give me the necessary 330 days in a 12-month period. Thank you for your help.
The Answer To Your Question Is:
Thank you for your inquiry. We apologize for the delay in our response. Since you stated that the 6 month extension was sufficient, you would use the Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to request the extension. Generally Form 2350, Application for Extension of Time To File U.S. Income Tax Return, is used to request extensions beyond 6 months. Please refer to the following information.
If you are not able to file your return by the due date, you generally can get an automatic 6-month extension of time to file (but not of time to pay). To get this automatic extension, you must file a Form 4868. 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 Publication 54, Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad, and the instructions for Form 2555, Foreign Earned Income.
You should request an extension 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.
To obtain an extension, you should file Form 2350 (PDF) with the Internal Revenue Service office specified in the 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. Thank you for using this service.
That said, JETs have gotten by just fine filing either form. The 4868 is much easier to fill out, though.
I'm seeking clarification for something that may mess with more JETs this year than usual thanks to the Tohoku-Kanto Disaster. It's my understanding that US JETs who are in the US for 26 days or more in one 12 month period cannot use the foreign income exclusion form 2555-EZ. Are they still able to file using the standard 2555 form? Or must they then pay taxes on their Japanese income? This has the potential to affect any JETs who returned to their home countries in the wake of the disaster.
In order to pass the Form 2555-EZ Physical Presence Test, you have to be outside the US for at least 330 full days either during the tax year in question or during a 12-month period starting or ending in the tax year. The or during a 12-month period starting or ending in the tax year
stipulation is what allows all first-year JETs to have their income excluded even though they weren't residing overseas for the whole tax year. But this can work for 2nd-5th year JETs who made several or longer trips home during the year. Let's say you made two trips home during 2010, August 1-25 and December 15-31. This means you would have spent 42 days in the US (365-42=323 days) and would not qualify for the exemption if it were based on the entire 2010 year. What you'd need to do is enter dates on Line 2b of the 2555-EZ to give you a 12-month period starting or ending in 2010 during which you were outside the US for 330 or more full days. In this case, you could use December 15, 2009-December 14, 2010. This would give you 340 days outside the US during a 12-month period. This does decrees the amount of your foreign earned income exclusion on Part IV of the form, but as long as a sufficient portion of the 12-month period you use on Line 2b is in 2010 your exclusion will still be enough to cover one year of JET remuneration.