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Reporting Foreign Income: Eight Tax Tips From the IRS

IRS Tax Tip 2016-49, March 28, 2016

Did you receive income from a foreign source in 2015? Are you a U.S. citizen or resident who worked abroad last year? If you answered ‘yes’ to either of those questions, here are eight tips to keep in mind about foreign income:

  1. Report Worldwide Income. By law, U.S. citizens and residents 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. Visit IRS.gov for more information.
     
  3. 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 $100,800 of your wages and other foreign earned income in 2015. See Form 2555, Foreign Earned Income, or Form 2555-EZ, Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, for more details.
     
  4. Don’t Overlook Credits and Deductions.  You may be able to take a tax credit or a deduction for income taxes paid to a foreign country. These benefits can reduce your taxes if both countries tax the same income.
     
  5. Additional Child Tax Credit. You cannot claim the additional child tax credit if you file Form 2555, Foreign Earned Income, or 2555-EZ, Foreign Earned Income Exclusion.
     
  6. Use IRS Free File. Almost everyone can prepare and e-file their federal tax returns for free, using IRS Free File. If you make $62,000 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. Some Free File software products and fillable forms also support foreign addresses. Free File is available only through IRS.gov.
     
  7. Tax Filing Extension is Available.  If you live outside the U.S. and can’t file your tax return by the April 18 due date, you may qualify for an automatic two-month extension until June 15. This extension also applies to those serving in the U.S. military abroad. You will need to attach a statement to your tax return explaining why you qualify for the extension.
     
  8. Get IRS Tax Help.  Check the international services site for the types of help the IRS provides, including how to contact your local office internationally. All IRS tax tools and products are available at IRS.gov.


For more on this topic refer to Publication 54, Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad. You can get all IRS tax products on IRS.gov/forms.

Each and every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are your Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Explore your rights and our obligations to protect them on IRS.gov.


Additional IRS Resources:


IRS YouTube Video:

  • Welcome to Free File – English (Obsolete)
  • International Taxpayers - Foreign Earned Income Exclusion -- English



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