US Taxes in Norway for Americans Abroad

May 2, 2022 | | 9 minute read
Expat Tax Blog. Tax Tips for US Americans abroad.

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Image showing beautiful norway fishing village. Perfect place for American expats abroad to file their us taxes.

Norway is home not only to lutefisk but to hundreds of fjords and the Northern Lights, and the late Roald Dahl. You’ll find wild moose, all-encompassing mountains, and a strong passion for history in this Scandinavian country best known for its red cabins and top-tier skiing. Norway is not only an excellent destination for anyone looking for an adventure vacation but for Americans looking to live abroad. But what about filing US taxes as an expat in Norway? 

While you may be dreaming of your new life in Norway, let’s not forget that you are still responsible for filing taxes back home in the states as a US citizen. Yes, even when you’re out exploring the Lofoten Islands! But just because the IRS wants to keep tabs on you doesn’t mean that it must be a stressful affair each April.

To help you better understand when, how, and where to file, we’ve put together this guide for expats just like you!

US Taxes in Norway: Jump to a Topic

Who needs to File? Expat Tax Deadlines Expat Streamlining
Your Tax Filing Status Child Tax Credits Avoid Double Taxation
Report Foreign Assets Self-Employment Taxes Investing from Norway
Buying vs Renting Retiring in Norway MyExpatTaxes Can Help

Who should File US Expat Taxes in Norway? 

If you’re a US citizen or hold a Greencard, you may need to file US Expat taxes from Norway yearly. 

Now that you’ve established that you may need to file let’s dive into what determines who needs to file a tax return. According to the filing requirements that the IRS provides, anyone who is either a US citizen OR a Green card holder and meets or surpasses the minimum income threshold must file a tax return. 

If you exceeded or met the minimum income filing threshold in 2021, you would need to file a US tax return from Norway. Remember, if you file as Married Filing Separately and earned even $5 of income in the past year, you would also need to file. 

Filing Status Income Threshold
Single $12,550
Married Filing Jointly $25,100
Married Filing Separately $5
Head of Household $18,800
Qualifying Widow(er) $25,100
Self-Employed* $400
*Anyone who is self-employed with more than $400 of net self-employment income must file. Source
Link to Expat Tax Calculator which helps you calculate if you need to file an expat tax return from Norway.

IRS Deadlines for US Expat Taxes in Norway

As an expat in Norway, you should know the different filing deadlines for Americans Abroad. While back in America, you were required to file by April 15th of the tax year, expats should take caution and be aware of other Tax Deadlines. 

April.15 Traditional Tax Filing Deadline. You’re probably familiar with April 15th. For Expats, anyone who owes US Taxes must file by then as well.
June.15 Automatic extended deadline to file US Taxes in Norway. Expats can file by June 15th without having to request an extension. It’s automatic.
Oct.15 Additional Extension Deadline. Anyone who still needs more time can request an additional extension. Request the extension for free before June 15th. 
Dec.15 Last Extension Deadline. Do you need a lot of time to file? You can write to the IRS and request an even later deadline. You’ll have to give a good reason and need to file by then. There are no further extensions! Everything after December 15th is officially late.

If April 15th falls on a weekend or holiday, that deadline, as well as the corresponding extensions, are pushed forward. An excellent example of this is in 2022, April 15th fell on a US Holiday, so the official date was April 18th. A good way to remember is to check the calendar on your phone and set a reminder for yourself a few weeks ahead of time! 

Haven’t Filed Before? Time to Get Caught Up

As mentioned earlier, if you are a US citizen or a US Greencard Holder, you’ll likely need to file your US taxes each year, even when living in beautiful Scandinavia. If you’ve lived abroad before, or for some time, this won’t come as a surprise. But what if you are an “Accidental American“? 

An Accidental American is a US citizen who has never lived in the United States. For example, a child born and raised by a US expat in Norway may hold US citizenship but never live outside of Norway. If you’re hearing about this for the first time, let us help you learn about your obligations to file a US tax return without stress. 

Getting Caught Up via The Streamlined Procedure 

The IRS created The Streamlined Procedure to help Accidental Americans and Americans who have moved abroad without realizing they still need to file US taxes. 

The goal of the Streamlined Procedure is to provide amnesty and a grace period for Americans to catch up on their taxes by filing a limited number of past returns and FBARs, without any penalties. 

It is essential to note you will need to use The Streamlined Procedure BEFORE the IRS starts wondering where you have been. Otherwise, you will not qualify to use the program and could face fines. 

While it may come as a surprise that the IRS offers this process, it also helps the IRS lightens its burden of having to chase down accidental “tax evaders.” It is also encouraging to anyone who hasn’t realized they need to file to report their income and foreign assets. 

Get Ready for The Streamlined Procedure in 3 Steps
Get a US Passport
Get a US Social Security Number
Use the Streamlined Procedure to get caught up

MyExpatTaxes offers the most affordable and transparent pricing for the Streamlined Procedure. At just 696 euros (about 6,661 NOK at the time of writing this), it would be hard to find a better offer. It includes all the necessary tax returns and FBARs required and a tax professional to support you and sign off on your submission. 

Filing US Taxes for Your Family Abroad 

Now that you’ve established that you need to file US income taxes based on the minimum income threshold, it’s time to discuss which filing status you should use. 

Are you married? If yes, you’ll need to determine if you plan to file jointly or separately from your spouse. Are you married and residing in the US? At that point, you’ll likely file Jointly. This way, you’ll typically receive the best tax breaks. However, if you’re married and living in Norway, you may wonder how you should file? 

That depends. Is your spouse a US citizen? 

When your spouse is a US Citizen or Greencard Holder: Your best option is probably Married Filing Jointly. To the IRS, as a married couple, you’re earning money or own assets together, and it makes very little difference in which country you live, including Norway.
When your spouse is a non-US Citizen: If you’re married and living in Norway and your spouse is not a US citizen or Greencard holder, they are NOT required to file a US tax return. In this case, it’s usually best to file as Married-Filing-Separately. Doing so will keep your spouse’s financial information out of the prying eyes of the IRS. If you have a US child, Head of Household may also be a filing option for you.
Head of Household: Do you pay more than half to maintain your home/household during the tax year with a qualifying child? You can claim this status! 

Child Tax Credits for Families Living Abroad 

Regardless if you’re filing as Married or Single, if you’re a parent abroad, you may be able to claim the Child Tax Credit. When living abroad, you can claim up to $1,400 per child in refundable tax credits when living in Norway. Since most expats won’t owe US taxes, there is a good chance you will be able to receive the total amount as a tax return. That means more money for Kvikk Lunsj! 

However, the new, higher Child Tax Credit requires parents to live within the US for at least half of 2021. Find out if you qualify for the Child Tax Credit and how much you may be eligible to receive.

Good to Know: MyExpatTaxes’ tax software will automatically calculate if you are eligible for the refund. You can always ask one of our tax professionals to review your prior US tax return to see if they are worth amending. 

If you don’t qualify as married according to the IRS but still have dependent children, you may also be able to file as Head of Household. 

Tax Forms Expats in Norway Should Know 

You probably know about filing a 1040, but for Americans in Norway, there are several other tax forms expats need to be aware of. In typical IRS fashion, they are all acronyms: FEIE, FATCA, FTC, or FBAR. These are just some of the documents that you may need. 

There are two main tax form categories are forms that help expats should know.

First are forms that help expats avoid double taxation.

Second are forms that allow you to report your foreign assets. 

Self-Employment in Norway

So you’re living in Norway and have learned their favorite saying: “Ut på tur aldri sur,” while being self-employed! It’s time to pat yourself on the back. That’s something to celebrate! By now, you’ve probably learned that Norway loves its regulations for the self-employed. 

While you shouldn’t forget to file the necessary forms in Norway for your work, you also shouldn’t ignore your US tax return. 

3 Things to Know About US Taxes for the Self-Employed in Norway: 

  1. Anyone who earns $400 or more per year from self-employment needs to file a US Tax Return
  2. You may have to pay 15.3% of net profit in Self-Employment taxes to the US Government
  3. Norway has a totalization agreement with the US, so you can use the treaty benefit to offset US Self-Employment taxes

Does your tax software ensure you only pay the minimum self-employment taxes to the US? MyExpatTaxes helps prevent you from paying more to the IRS than you actually should! 

Basics of Investing for Americans living in Norway

Like in the US, there are several ways to invest your money while living abroad in Norway. Also true is that the US has strict rules regarding expats and their investments. It isn’t impossible. Actually, it’s relatively simple once you know how you should (and should not) invest your money. 

Common Ways Expats Invest in Norway: 

  • Property: Americans living in Norway can legally buy property either for personal use or as an investment. 
  • RAs/ Roth IRAs: Are you thinking of saving for retirement? It’s never too late! Expats are eligible to invest up to $6,000 per year in a Retirement Account. 

US Stocks & Bonds: To make your life easier (and wallet fuller), keep your portfolio US-based. Americans investing in foreign investment products like mutual funds based outside of the US will incur higher fees and even higher tax rates! 

However, if you invest in Norwegian mutual funds, don’t run off selling them all now! MyExpatTaxes is the only software that will help walk you through how to report these investments to the IRS on Form 8621 (PFICs).

All investment guidance above is based on US tax law, so you’ll need to make sure to check with your local tax advisor to see the benefits of cons of having US-based investments in Norway.

Property in Norway

A common way to invest your money is buying property. If you’re still saving to purchase, renting is a great solution. 

Buying & Selling Property

Buying: Whether you want to live near Oslo or even up in Bergen, it is essential to consider whether it makes sense to purchase property in Norway. It is important to remember prices will likely be higher than in the US, with higher taxes. 

Houses in Norway

Purchasing a home in Norway will not trigger a US taxable event. However, if you have a large deposit made into your Norwegian bank account for your new mortgage, be prepared to report that on the FBAR and potential Form 8938. 

Read more: 8 Things to Consider When Buying Property Abroad.

Selling: When it is time to sell your foreign property, you will need to document the cost basis and selling fees accurately to ensure you only pay taxes on the profits from the sale. As with US properties, you may be able to exclude up to $250,000 or more of gain from the sale of your Norwegian property if you satisfy the Section 121 Exclusion requirements, which basically requires you to have lived in and owned that home for 2 out of the last 5 years prior to sale.

Benefits of buying in Norway: 

  • Owning your own home allows you the freedom to truly make it yours
  • Potentially a good return on your investment if done correctly
  • The Norwegian property market is relatively stable 

The downside of buying in Norway: 

  • If you plan on selling your property, for Norweigan tax benefits the sale needs to take place no sooner than 12 months after acquiring the property, AND you must have used the property as your own home for at least 12 months in a 24-month period before the sale (source).
  • HOWEVER, this will mean you don’t get the Section 121 Exclusion benefits from the US side. So something to consider.
  • Cost of living in Norway is about 40% higher than in the US. 

Renting Property

Renting: It may surprise you that some 76.4% of Norwegians own their own home or apartment – leaving the other 20-something-percent as renters. With high incomes, Norwegians prefer to buy a house and settle in.

Perks of Renting in Norway: 

  •  It isn’t permanent! If you’re coming to Norway as an expat for work, renting gives you the option to leave easier when your expat work contract finishes or if you decide Scandinavia isn’t for you. 
  • Renters can rest easy knowing that the rent can only be increased after one year, at the very earliest, in accordance with the consumer price index.

Downsides of Renting in Norway: 

  • As in the US, you’ll need to return the property in the same condition as you received it. 
  • Deposits for an apartment or property rental in Norway can be extremely high and are generally non-negotiable. 

For those that are landlords, keep in mind that you will need to claim your rental income and associated expenses from your Norwegian properties on your US Tax Return.

The Foreign Housing Exclusion: 

We would be amiss if we didn’t share another way to reduce your US tax bill. Using the Foreign Housing Exclusion can help to account for expenses associated with your foreign housing, such as:

  • Rent
  • Utilities
  • Property Insurance
  • Household repairs… and more! 

Retiring Abroad in Norway

Shh… did we catch you daydreaming about retiring? We get it. We all like to daydream of the days when work is just a far-off memory, and we can spend our time focusing on family or hobbies. In Norway, as a retiree, you’ll be referred to as a “penjonsiter,” someone receiving their pension! 

Retiring abroad is an enriching way to dive head-first into a new culture, language, and traditions. Plus, if you retire in Norway, you’re close to the rest of Europe, which means plenty of opportunities to travel! 

Before you get that far, it’s important to investigate ways you can save for retirement with these accounts: 

  • Norwegian pensions through your employer. These plans’ contributions and earnings are NOT deferred from US taxation, so make sure you report them annually as needed. MyExpatTaxes will walk you through what you need to report and when.
  • Norwegian State Pension – Norwegian and US tax-deferred
  • US Individual Retirement Account (IRA)
  • US Social Security Benefits 

Get Help Filing From the Experts 

We here at MyExpatTaxes are here to help. After reading almost 3,000 words in this guide to expat taxes in Norway, we realize that you may feel overwhelmed. That’s why we are the experts! You can read through Help Center, get in touch with a tax professional, or start filing your tax return and reach out to us via our live chat for any support. 

File your US expat taxes with MyExpatTaxes

Made by expats for expats! We relate to how difficult it can be to tackle your taxes while living abroad. We built MyExpatTaxes to help expats living abroad. Expats like ourselves!

Transparent Pricing: You won’t find any surprises with us! We are clear and open about how our pricing works and what you’ll need to pay. 

E-Filing made easy. We can e-file 99% of expat tax returns, which means not only will your printer thank you, but it is less stressful! With us, it’s easy to e-file online. 

Written by MacKenzie P

May 2, 2022 | | 9 minute read

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