I am reading this from the IRS site:


… which says the following:

Where to File

If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien (including a green card holder) and you live in a foreign country, mail your U.S. tax return to:

Department of the Treasury Internal Revenue Service Center Austin, TX 73301-0215 USA

The above would seem to suggest that electronic submission is not possible in this case.

E.g. in the following scenario:

Consider someone who met the substantial presence test for the last year of their VISA (say 2019) and then moved back to their native country and needs to file the 2019 tax return (in the Spring of 2020). According to the above, it would seem that they need to physically mail the tax return and cannot submit electronically (either directly or through their accountant).

Am I reading this wrong or can one electronically submit both the federal and the state tax returns for the last year of their presence in the US, during the tax season of the Spring of the year that follows (when they've already left the States)?

  • 1
    Technically speaking, there is no way to personally file electronically unless you are below a free filing threshold, in which case you get a free TurboTax equivalent, or are a tax preparer/accountant, in which case you get access to some system I do not know much about. That is why the wording might be confusing. If you try to file completely by yourself, mail is still the only way, regardless of where you live .The only way to file directly is by mail. The question is if you can file via TurboTax while abroad, I can't see why not, or via an accountant, also cannot see why not. But, IANAL
    – crasic
    Nov 2, 2019 at 3:54
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    @crasic Does Free Fillable Forms not count for some reason? Or if you pay for tax software?
    – Matt
    Nov 2, 2019 at 13:39
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    @Matt free fillable forms are for mailing, and paying for tax software counts, but that is a third party. There is no way to file electronically directly with the IRS without a third party. This is why their instructions focus on mailing, not because e-filing is banned, but because that is a third party issue.
    – crasic
    Nov 2, 2019 at 19:55
  • @crasic that's very interesting. I was under the impression that my accountant uses some form of professional TurboTax edition (or equivalent). I realize from your answer that they apparently enjoy direct access to some IRS system that's not open to ordinary taxpayers. Nov 2, 2019 at 23:06
  • I would think it is very common that the professional software does handle that for them. To whatever extent direct access is used , and that is opaque to me, it is not available for individuals to be used was my point. Compare to e.g. California income tax where it is basically a web form to file.
    – crasic
    Nov 2, 2019 at 23:17

2 Answers 2


The internet (and the IRS) don't care where you are physically while you file electronically.
The point being made is more that if you cannot file electronically, because you don't have the technical infrastructure available, you can mail it to the given address.

  • 1
    Yes, it is important to note that the mailing address is different for every region of the country. So the purpose of specifying this particular address is to indicate where tax return should be delivered by mail for those abroad
    – crasic
    Nov 2, 2019 at 23:19

The very next paragraph on that same webpage says

Electronic Filing (e-file)

Taxpayers with an AGI (Adjusted Gross Income) within a specified threshold can electronically file their tax return for free using Free File. Taxpayers with an AGI greater than the specified threshold can either use the Free File Fillable Forms or e-file by purchasing commercial software. A limited number of companies provide software that can accommodate foreign addresses. To determine which will work best for you, get help choosing a software provider.

So yes you can efile with the same limitations that apply to someone actually in the US, plus the additional limitation that only some commercial software products are suitable.

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