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Seven Tax Tips about Reporting Foreign Income

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IRS Tax Tip 2015-44, March 23, 2015

Correction on April 1, 2015: The extended due date for taxpayers who live outside the U.S. mentioned in item #6 below was corrected from June 16, 2015, to June 15, 2015.  

Are you a U.S. citizen or resident who worked abroad last year? Did you receive income from a foreign source in 2014? If you answered ‘yes’ to either of those questions here are seven tax tips you should know 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. See 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 $99,200 of your wages and other foreign earned income in 2014. 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 you paid to a foreign country. These benefits can reduce your taxes if both countries tax the same income.

  5. Use IRS Free File.  Almost everyone can prepare and e-file their U.S. federal tax returns for free by using IRS Free File. If you make $60,000 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 for those who live abroad. Free File is available only through the IRS.gov website.

  6. Tax Filing Extension is Available.  If you live outside the U.S. and can’t file your tax return by April 15, you may qualify for an automatic two-month extension of time to file. That will give you until June 15, 2015, to file your U.S. tax return. This extension also applies to those serving in the military outside the U.S. You will need to attach a statement to your return explaining why you qualify for the extension.

  7. Get IRS Tax Help.  Check the international services Web page for the types of help the IRS provides. For all free IRS tax tools and products, visit IRS.gov at any time.

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 anytime.

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Additional IRS Resources:

IRS YouTube Video:

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

IRS Podcast:

  • International Taxpayers - Filing Requirements – English (Obsolete)


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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 21-Nov-2016