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Tips for U.S. Taxpayers with Foreign Income

IRS Tax Tip 2014-43, March 28, 2014

Did you live or work abroad or receive income from foreign sources in 2013? If you are a U.S. citizen or resident, you must report income from all sources within and outside of the U.S. The rules for filing income tax returns are generally the same whether you’re living in the U.S. or abroad. Here are seven tips from the IRS that U.S. taxpayers with foreign income should know:

  1. Report Worldwide Income.  By law, U.S. citizens and resident aliens must report their worldwide income. This includes income from foreign trusts, and foreign bank and securities accounts.

  2. File Required Tax Forms.  You may need to file Schedule B, Interest and Ordinary Dividends, with your U.S. tax return. You may also need to file Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets. In some cases, you may need to file FinCEN Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts. See IRS.gov for more information.

  3. Consider the Automatic Extension.  If you’re living abroad and can’t file your return by the April 15 deadline, you may qualify for an automatic two-month filing extension. You’ll then have until June 16, 2014 to file your U.S. income tax return. This extension also applies to those serving in the military outside the U.S. You’ll need to attach a statement to your return to explain why you qualify for the extension.

  4. Review the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion.  If you live and work abroad, you may be able to claim the foreign earned income exclusion. If you qualify, you won’t pay tax on up to $97,600 of your wages and other foreign earned income in 2013. See Form 2555, Foreign Earned Income, or Form 2555-EZ, Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, for more details.

  5. Don’t Overlook Credits and Deductions.  You may be able to take a tax credit or a deduction for income taxes you paid to a foreign country. These benefits can reduce the amount of taxes you have to pay if both countries tax the same income.

  6. Use IRS Free File.  Everyone can prepare and e-file their federal tax return for free by using IRS Free File. If you make $58,000 or less, you can use brand-name tax software. If you earn more, you can use Free File Fillable Forms, an electronic version of IRS paper forms. Free File is available only through the IRS.gov website. Some Free File software products and fillable forms also support foreign addresses for those who live abroad.

  7. Get Tax Help Outside the U.S.  The IRS has offices in Frankfurt, London, Paris and Beijing. IRS staff at these offices can help you with tax filing issues and answer your tax questions. Visit IRS.gov for more information.

You can get more on this topic in Publication 54, Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad. IRS forms and publications are available on IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 17-Dec-2014