US Embassy information for Expats in the Republic of Korea March 2009

Here’s the latest news from the US Diplomatic core here in Korea for us U.S. Citizens around the country.  By the way, don’t forget to file your taxes before the April 15th deadline! :

U.S. State Department, U.S. Embassy Seoul
Consular Section, American Citizen Services (ACS) Newsletter
March 2009

The U.S. Embassy is transmitting the following monthly newsletter via its warden system as a public service to U.S. citizens in the Republic of Korea.  Please feel free to disseminate this message to U.S. citizens in your organizations or to other Americans you know.

In this issue:

1. U.S. Tax Information Resources
2. New IRS Brochure for Overseas Taxpayers
3. New IRS Regulation: Disclosure of Tax Information by Preparers
4. Next Consular Services Visit to Busan, March 17-18
5. A Message to American Communities and Organizations in Korea
6. Foreigners to Get Unified Identification
7. Recent Travel Warnings and Alerts
8. Upcoming Holidays
9. Embassy Contact Information

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1. U.S. Tax Information Resources
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Income tax season is upon us.  We recommend that you obtain your tax forms online at http://www.irs.gov/formspubs/index.html.  Please note that the IRS no longer compiles the “1040 Overseas Filers Package,” so there will be no packages available at the U.S. Embassy for the 2008 tax year.  All forms from the package are available for download from the IRS website.

For more information on U.S. taxes, please consult the list of websites and telephone numbers below to help find the forms and answers you need.

Main IRS website: www.irs.gov
U.S. Embassy Seoul tax information page: http://seoul.usembassy.gov/tax_information.html
Tax guidance for U.S. citizens abroad: http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/international/article/0,,id=97324,00.html
Tax guidance for persons in the military:  http://www.irs.gov/individuals/military/index.html
Electronic payment website:  http://www.eftps.gov/
Refund information: http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=96596,00.html?portlet=4

Phone Services:

Individuals                             1-800-829-1040
Businesses                                      1-800-829-4933
Customer Service Phone Number           1-215-516-2000
Refund Inquiries                                1-800-829-4477
TeleTax                                         1-800-829-4477
ITINs after 6 weeks                     1-800-829-1040
Exempt Organization Help Desk           1-877-829-5500
Tax Offset Program (TOP) Help Desk      1-800-304-3107
E-Services Help Desk                    1-512-416-7750

STATE TAX RETURNS:  For individual state income tax information, visit http://www.taxadmin.org/.  The Embassy does not have state tax forms or state tax information.

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2. New IRS Brochure for Overseas Taxpayers
——————————————

The Internal Revenue Service has published a new brochure to assist taxpayers: Publication 4732, Federal Tax Information for U.S. Taxpayers.  Copies are now available at the U.S. Embassy or for download at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p4732.pdf.  The IRS developed the brochure as a resource to help locate tax information in order to prepare tax returns and/or resolve tax account problems.

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3. New IRS Regulation: Disclosure of Tax Information by Preparers
—————————————————————–

The IRS asks Americans to take note of new regulations giving taxpayers
greater control over their personal tax return information.  New regulations under Internal Revenue Code Section 7216, Disclosure or Use of Tax Information by Preparers of Returns, became effective January 1,
2009.  These regulations limit tax return preparers’ use and disclosure of information obtained during the return preparation process to activities directly related to the preparation of the return.

The regulations, along with supplemental Revenue Procedure 2008-35 http://www.irs.gov/irb/2008-29_IRB/ar13.html, contain the updated rules and requirements relating to disclosure and use of tax return information.  These regulations apply to paid and volunteer preparers and the administrative staff that supports them.  Failure to comply may result in criminal or civil penalties.  See the IRC 7216 http://www.irs.gov/efile/article/0,,id=188390,00.html information page on IRS.gov for more details.  Frequently Asked Questions are available at http://www.irs.gov/efile/article/0,,id=188398,00.html on irs.gov.

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4. Next Consular Services Visit to Busan, March 17-18
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Officials from the Embassy’s American Citizen Services Unit will offer consular services in Busan on March 17-18.  Services will be provided at the offices of the American Presence Post in Busan.  A Consular Officer will be available on Tuesday, March 17, from 1:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m. and on Wednesday, March 18, from 9:00 a.m.–noon at the American Presence Post, Lotte Gold Rose Building (also known as the Job Center Building), #150-3, Yangjung-dong, Busanjin-gu, Room No. 612.

American citizens will be able to apply for U.S. passports, additional visa pages in their current passports, Consular Reports of Birth Abroad, and Social Security cards.  Consular officers will also offer notarial services and provide information regarding voting, federal benefits, and registration with the Embassy.

Any questions about requirements, particularly for Consular Reports of Birth Abroad, should be directed by email to seoul_acs@state.gov.  Please allow at least three days for a response.

If you plan to visit the ACS Unit in Busan, we strongly urge you to consult the website at http://www.asktheconsul.org for more information on our consular services and to ensure that you bring the proper forms (filled out in advance) and fees with you.  In addition to bringing original supporting documents (i.e., birth certificate, passport, Certificate of Naturalization), please bring photocopies of all documents you plan to submit.  There will not be a photocopier available on-site.

If you notify us prior to 9:00 a.m. on Monday, March 16, we can add pages to your passport in Busan while you wait.  Please complete form DS-4085, which can be downloaded at:
http://foia.state.gov/FORMS/Passport/DS4085.pdf.  Write “Busan – Extra Pages” at the top of the completed form, include a copy of your passport’s personal data page (the page with your photo), and fax it to our office in Seoul at (02) 397-4101.  Alternatively, you can email us your request.  Be sure to attach clearly scanned copies of both your DS-4085 form and your passport’s data page.  Email it to Seoul_ACS@state.gov and put “RESEND: BUSAN EXTRA PAGES” in the subject line.  Please note that additional pages cannot be added to one-year emergency passports or to damaged passports.  There is no charge for this service.  Additional information about adding pages is available on our website: http://korea.usembassy.gov/add_pages.html.

The Busan APP’s website is: http://busan.usconsulate.gov.

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5. A Message to American Communities and Organizations in Korea
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The Embassy encourages all schools, business groups, churches, private companies, and other organizations with a nucleus of American citizens to make sure that the Embassy has a point of contact for your group.  Here is what you can do to ensure that your group is kept fully informed by the Embassy:
–Sign your group up at http://asktheconsul.org/ to receive this newsletter and Embassy warden messages through your group’s generic email address;
–If you have a group that will be in Korea for a fixed period of time, register them at travelregistration.state.gov, following the instructions under “New Organizational User”;
–Send a quick email to the Embassy at Seoul_ACS@state.gov giving us the name of your organization, a point of contact (even if the person is not an American), email address, phone number, and any other contact information.  The Embassy could use this information to contact your group in an emergency or if email systems are not working.  Just type “Group Contact Info” on the subject line of your email to us, and we’ll add the information to our database.

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6. Foreigners to Get Unified Identification
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The Korea Times recently reported that a Presidential panel has advised the Ministry of Justice to change the registration system for foreign residents to help them more easily prove their family relationships.

According to the article, “The move comes as the number of multicultural families here is increasing. ‘More than 160,000 foreigners emigrated here for marriage.  In a bid to help improve the rights of multicultural families and their settlement, we will continue to improve cooperation with government offices,’ said an official of the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission (ACRC).  If the recommendation is accepted, foreign spouses are expected to easily prove their marriage and family relations, as family and foreign registration will have the same information.  The commission suggested that a foreign registration number, English names in passports, and Korean names all be written on identification documents.

“Currently, a family relations roster under the control of the Supreme Court requires foreigners who marry a South Korean national to write their names in Korean as they are pronounced.  On the other hand, foreign registration governed by the Ministry of Justice requires them to write their names, in English, and their foreign registration numbers.  What the two documents commonly ask for is the date of birth only, the commission noted.

“The commission learned that foreign spouses have had difficulties opening bank accounts or going to hospitals since personal information could prove neither marriage nor family relations.  The commission has also offered civil services in English, Japanese, and Chinese through an online petition center at www.epeople.go.kr.”

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7. Recent Travel Warnings and Alerts
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The U.S. Department of State has recently issued travel warnings or travel alerts for the following countries and regions:

Arabian Peninsula and Persian Gulf   02/11/2009
Congo, Democratic Republic of the    02/05/2009
French West Indies   02/13/2009
Mexico   02/20/2009

For additional information about these travel warnings and alerts, please go to this site:

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_1764.html

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8. Upcoming Holidays
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There are no official Korean or American holidays in March or April.

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9. Embassy Contact Information
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American Citizen Services
U.S. Embassy Seoul
32, Sejongno, Jongno-gu
Seoul 110-710, Korea

– or –

American Citizen Services
U.S. Embassy, Seoul
Unit #15550
APO AP 96205-5550

Tel: 02-397-4114
Fax: 02-397-4101
DSN: 721-4114
English:  http://www.asktheconsul.org/
Korean:  http://www.usavisas.org/
E-mail
:  seoul_acs@state.gov

End of newsletter text.

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