US Expats Tax Basics

January 17, 2022 | | 3 minute read
Expat Tax Guide | Everything you need to know about filing taxes abroad in 2022

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It’s a fact that every American and Green Card Holder living abroad must report their worldwide income if the gross income is over the tax filing threshold. US taxes are essential to take care of if you are responsible for paying or filing them. In this guide, you’ll learn US expat tax basics like who needs to file US expat taxes, your tax profile, filing thresholds, tax deadlines, and more.

Who Needs to File US Taxes in 2022?

  • US citizens (living in the US or abroad) including Accidental Americans
  • Green card holders
  • Permanent Resident / Resident Aliens of the USA
  • Non Resident Aliens who have US income
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Are you an Accidental American?

You may be an Accidental American and file US taxes if you were or are in the following situations:

  • Born in the US to foreign parents
  • Born outside the US to American parents who were unaware of their status as US citizens and claimed US citizenship for you
  • Born abroad to at least one US citizen parent who claimed citizenship for you
  • Obtained a US birth certification or citizenship around the time of your birth, even if you have been living abroad more than in the US

If you fall within any of the above points, you are a US citizen abroad and may be obligated to file and pay US taxes. Keep reading to learn the rest of the US Expat tax basics you’ll need to know as an accidental American.

Your Tax Profile

As a US citizen abroad, you may or may not need to file US expat taxes as an American abroad. Depending on your status and gross income, this tax filing threshold will help you determine whether you need to file or not.

Pick Your Filing Profile:

Single:
Not married (to a US Citizen or non-US Citizen), and filing by yourself.

Married Filing Jointly:
Legally married (including common law), and your spouse files US taxes with you using either an SSN or ITIN 

Married Filing Separately:
Married, however, not filing with your spouse (i.e., they are a non-US Citizen and don’t want to file US taxes) 

Head of Household:
You are considered unmarried* and responsible for paying more than half in maintaining your household during the tax year (including paying more than half for rent/mortgage, groceries, household bills, repairs, etc.). You must also have a qualifying child or dependent, who is either your biological or adopted child, and the child has lived with you for more than six months during the tax year, etc. (click here for more information via the IRS page).
*You would still qualify as unmarried under this requirement if your spouse is a Non-Resident Alien (NRA).

Qualifying Widower:
You have a dependent child and retain the benefits from the Married Filing Jointly status for two years after your spouse, who you usually filed jointly with, passed away. 

Check Your Gross Income:

Gross income usually is the total pay of what you gained from your employer (salary or wages) before taxes and other deductions. Your gross pay includes all other compensation sources such as business income, pensions, dividends, interest, rental income, etc.

Once you know your tax profile and gross income, check if you need to file.

US Tax Filing Thresholds for your 2021 Tax Return

As an American abroad, you must file a 2021 federal tax return in 2022 if you are:

Single:

  • Under 65, and gross income is at least $12,550
  • Over 65, and gross income was at least $14,250

Married Filing Jointly:

  • Under 65 (both spouses), and gross income was at least $25,100
  • 65 or older (one spouse), and gross income was at least $26,450
  • 65 or older (both spouses), and gross income was at least $27,800

Married Filing Separately:

  • at any age, and gross income was at least $5 (yes, five US dollars – no typo here)

Head of Household:

  • Under 65, and gross income was at least $18,800
  • 65 or older, and gross income was at least $20,500

Qualifying widow(er):

  • Under 65, and gross income was at least $25,100
  • 65 or older, and gross income was at least $26,450

Once you are sure you need to file US taxes and you’re ready to start filing through our app, please collect the following materials:

  • Your Social Security Number. If you memorized it and don’t have the card that is fine too.
  • All documents with your sources of income (monthly payslips, invoices, receipts, etc)
  • Monthly statements or end-of-year statements of your bank account to see if you had over $10,000 combined from all your foreign financial accounts at any one time during the year.

Know the US Tax Deadlines

Owe taxes? If you have taxes owed, you usually need to pay by April 15th. Because the 15th of this year falls on a US Holiday, you will have until April 18th, 2022, to pay your 2021 taxes.

Need to file US expat taxes? American expats have the opportunity to file later in the game due to an automatic extension to June 15th, 2022. This automatic extension is only filing, not for payment of taxes owed.

Need an Extension? If you can’t file by that date or need more time, you can file for a free tax extension (Form 4868) at MyExpatTaxes (do so before your filing deadline!) for the October 15th, 2022 deadline.

Final tax deadline for US expats? That would be December 15th, 2022, which you can apply for before the October 15 deadline. This extension requires a special mailed request to the IRS.

Beyond US Expats Tax Basics

Do you need more information beyond the US Expats Tax Basics? Read our Expat Tax Guide here.

Written by Michelle H.

January 17, 2022 | | 3 minute read

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