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Do I Need to File US Expat Taxes?

Expat Tax Blog | Tax Tips for US Americans Abroad

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do i need to file us expat taxes

If you’re an American citizen who’s living abroad, you’ve probably asked yourself, “Do I need to file US expat taxes?” As long as you’re receiving worldwide income with a total that’s greater than the tax filing threshold, the answer is likely “yes.”

Still, you may be a bit confused on whether or not you need to file US expat taxes and how the process works as a whole. We’re here to help! This is your complete guide for filing your US expat taxes as an American living abroad. 

Who Needs to File US Expat Taxes?

First things first: who needs to file US expat taxes? Any US citizen living in the US or abroad. This category also includes Accidental Americans. 

Accidental Americans are:

  • Those who were born in the US to foreign parents
  • Those who were born abroad to a US parent who claimed citizenship for you
  • Those who were born abroad to American parents unaware of their American citizenship and claimed citizenship for you
  • Those who had obtained a US birth certificate or citizenship around the time of birth (even if you’ve been living abroad for longer than you’ve lived in the US)

Additionally, Green Card Holders are obligated to file US taxes, along with permanent residents, resident aliens of the US, and non-resident aliens who have US income. If you, as a US citizen abroad, fall into any one of these categories, you are required to file US expat taxes, provided your worldwide income meets the tax filing threshold.

Check Your Filing Status

The next logical question here is, “How do I know if my worldwide income meets the tax filing threshold?” You’ll need to determine your filing profile to find your answer.

You will be filing under one of five potential categories:

  • Single
  • Married Filing Jointly
  • Married Filing Separately
  • Head of Household (for those who are unmarried, have a qualifying dependent, and pay more than half of the costs of maintaining the household during the tax year)
  • Qualifying Widower (for those who have a dependent child and used to file jointly with a spouse who has passed away within the past two years)

The tax filing threshold for your category is determined by your gross income. This is the total pay you’ve earned before any taxes or deductions from your employer.

In 2021, the tax filing thresholds for 2020 tax returns are:

  • Single individuals, under 65 years old: $12,400
  • Married Filing Jointly, under 65 years old: $28,400
  • Married Filing Separately, under 65 years old: $5 (yes, you read that right)
  • Head of Household, under 65 years old: $18,650
  • Qualifying widower, under 65 years old: $24,800

If your worldwide gross income reaches or exceeds the filing profile threshold above, you are required to file US taxes. 

US Expat Tax Deadlines

Most US expats don’t owe taxes because of the Foreign Income Exclusion and Foreign Tax Credit. But if you do owe taxes, it needs to be paid by May 17.

When it comes to FILING US taxes, many American expats need to do this. You are granted an automatic 2-month extension that allows you to hold off filing until June 15. This means Americans abroad have some more time to report their worldwide income to the IRS.

If you find yourself unable to file your taxes by June 15, you can file for an additional extension. You must submit Form 4868 on the MyExpatTaxes expat tax software before your filing deadline of June 15. If you’re approved, you can file US taxes as an American expat until October 15. If that’s still not enough time, you can mail a special request to the IRS to file for the last extension until December 15. 

2021 FBAR Deadline

One potentially important deadline for US expats is the FBAR (Foreign Bank Account Report). If you have had $10,000 or more in your combined foreign financial accounts at any given point in the year, then you will need to file an FBAR. These accounts can include foreign savings, checking, and investment accounts, as well as foreign business accounts that you might share with a business partner. 

The FBAR deadline for 2021 is October 15. You don’t need to apply for an extension for this one; October 15 is the set deadline for all US expats. Luckily, you can file your FBAR in less than 15 minutes with MyExpatTaxes tax software, so it’s a simple extra step to ensure your taxes are in order. 

US Expat Tax Benefits for 2021

US expats can take advantage of some benefits in filing their taxes, such as FEIE and FTC. The FEIE, or Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, allows qualified expats to exclude some foreign income on their tax return. This deduction can help many expats avoid double-taxation and exclude up to $107,600 of income earned abroad. 

You may also be able to take advantage of the FTC (Foreign Tax Credit). This dollar-for-dollar reduction toward your income earned abroad can also help you avoid double-taxation. It’s important to note, though, that you can’t take credit from any income you’ve excluded from the FEIE discussed above. Beyond your FEIE exclusions, the FTC can help expats exclude up to $105,900 of income earned abroad.

File US Expat Taxes with MyExpatTaxes

Filing taxes can be an incredibly stressful time, especially when you’re dealing with the complications of living and working abroad. There are so many ins and outs to consider, and you want to make sure you’re getting as many deductions as possible. MyExpatTaxes makes it easy to file your taxes and claim all the deductions you can, resulting in more money and less hassle for you.

File with us today and see for yourself how easy it is to file your US taxes!

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