By law, Americans living abroad, as well as many non-U.S. citizens, must file a U.S. income tax return. In addition, key tax benefits, such as the foreign earned income exclusion, are only available to those who file a U.S. return. These online resources and videos are designed to help affected taxpayers understand how these rules apply to them.
U.S. citizens and resident aliens must worldwide income
Federal law requires U.S. citizens and resident aliens to report worldwide income, including income from foreign trusts and foreign bank and securities accounts. In most cases, affected taxpayers need to complete and attach Schedule B to their tax return. Part III of Schedule B asks about the existence of foreign accounts, such as bank and securities accounts, and usually requires U.S. citizens to report the country in which each account is located.
Paying U.S. Taxes on Worldwide Income
If you are a U.S. citizen or a resident alien of the United States and you live abroad, you are taxed on your worldwide income. However, you may qualify to exclude from income up to an amount of your foreign earnings that is adjusted annually for inflation ($92,900 for 2011, $95,100 for 2012, $97,600 for 2013, $99,200 for 2014 and $100,800 for 2015). In addition, you can exclude or deduct certain foreign housing amounts.
US Taxpayers with Foreign Accounts
Taxpayers with an interest in, or signature or other authority over, foreign financial accounts whose aggregate value exceeded $10,000 at any time during 2015 must file with the Treasury Department a Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR). It is due to the Treasury Department by June 30, 2016, must be filed electronically and is only available online through the BSA E-Filing System website. For details regarding the FBAR requirements, see Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).
U.S. taxpayers with foreign accounts should also understand their reporting requirements under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). Third-party information reporting from foreign financial institutions or through intergovernmental agreements began in 2015.
Information about FATCA Law
In addition, under FATCA, certain U.S. taxpayers holding financial assets outside the United States must report those assets to the IRS on Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets. Generally, U.S. citizens, resident aliens and certain non-resident aliens must report specified foreign financial assets on this form if the aggregate value of those assets exceeds certain thresholds. Reporting thresholds vary based on whether a taxpayer files a joint income tax return or lives abroad. See the instructions for Form 8938 for more information.
Filing Taxes as an American Expat
To help avoid delays with tax refunds, taxpayers living abroad should visit the Helpful Tips for Effectively Receiving a Tax Refund for Taxpayers Living Abroad page.
The IRS has also added two new international tax topics to Tax Trails, the agency’s interactive online tool that helps taxpayers get answers to their general tax questions. The two topics involvefiling requirements and filing status of a U.S. citizen or resident alien married to a nonresident alien.
Information for US Expat Taxpayers
The International Taxpayers page on IRS.gov is packed with information designed to help taxpayers living abroad, resident aliens, nonresident aliens, residents of U.S. territories and foreign students. The web site also features a directory that includes overseas tax preparers.
“These resources provide critical information to assist taxpayers with many different needs,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Tax issues can be even more challenging for international taxpayers, and IRS.gov provides important details they need to understand their obligations.”
IRS Forms for Expat and International Taxpayers
- Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate (PDF)
- Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (PDF)
- Form W-8BEN, Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding and instructions (PDF)
- Instructions for Form W-8BEN, Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding (PDF)
- Form W-8CE, Notice of Expatriation and Waiver of Treaty Benefits (PDF)
- Form W-8ECI, Certificate of Foreign Person’s Claim for Exemption from Withholding on Income Effectively Connected With the Conduct of a Trade or Business in the United States (PDF)
- Instructions for Form W-8ECI, Certificate of Foreign Person’s Claim for Exemption from Withholding on Income Effectively Connected With the Conduct of a Trade or Business in the United States (PDF)
- Form W-8EXP, Certificate of Foreign Government or Other Foreign Organization for United States Tax Withholding (PDF)
- Instructions for Form W-8EXP, Certificate of Foreign Government or Other Foreign Organization for United States Tax Withholding (PDF)
- Form W-8IMY, Certificate of Foreign Intermediary, Foreign Partnership, or Certain United States Branches for United States Tax Withholding (PDF)
- Instructions for Form W-8IMY, Certificate of Foreign Intermediary, Foreign Partnership, or Certain United States Branches for United States Tax Withholding (PDF)
- Instructions for the Requester of Forms W-8BEN, W-8ECI, W-8EXP, and W-8IMY (PDF)
- Form 1040C, United States Departing Alien Income Tax Return (PDF)
- Form 1040-ES(NR), U.S. Estimated Tax for Nonresident Alien Individuals (PDF)
- Form 1040NR, U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return (PDF)
- Form 1040NR-EZ, U.S. Income Tax Return for Certain Single and Married Nonresident Aliens With No Dependents (PDF)
- Form 1042, Annual Withholding Tax Return for U.S. Source Income of Foreign Persons (PDF)
- Form 1042-S, Foreign Person’s U.S. Source Income Subject to Withholding (PDF)
- Form 1042-T, Transmittal for Forms 1042-S (PDF)
- Form 1116, Foreign Tax Credit
- Form 2063, United States Departing Alien Income Tax Statement (PDF)
- Form 2555, Foreign Earned Income
- Form 8233, Exemption From Withholding on Compensation for Independent (and Certain Dependent) Personal Services of a Nonresident Alien Individual (PDF)
- Form 8288, U.S. Withholding Tax Return for Dispositions by Foreign Persons of U.S. Real Property Interests (PDF)
- Form 8288-A, Statement of Withholding on Dispositions by Foreign Persons of U.S. Real Property Interests (PDF)
- Form 8288-B, Application for Withholding Certificate for Dispositions by Foreign Persons of U.S. Real Property Interests (PDF)
- Form 8802, Application for U.S. Residency Certification (PDF)
- Form 8804, Annual Return for Partnership Withholding Tax (Section 1446) (PDF)
- Form 8804-C, Certificate of Partner-Level Items to Reduce Section 1446 Withholding (PDF)
- Form 8804-W, Installment Payments of Section 1446 Tax for Partnerships (PDF)
- Form 8805, Foreign Partner’s Information Statement of Section 1446 Withholding Tax (PDF)
- Form 8813, Partnership Withholding Tax Payment (Section 1446) (PDF)
- Form 8833, Treaty-Based Return Position Disclosure (PDF)
- Form 8840, Closer Connection Exception Statement (PDF)
- Form 8843, Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals With a Medical Condition (PDF)
- Form 8854, Initial and Annual Expatriation Statement (PDF)
- Form 8898, Statement for Individuals Who Begin or End Bona Fide Residence in a U.S. Possession (PDF)
- Form 13930 Application for Central Withholding Agreement (PDF)
International Contact for IRS
Taxpayer service, formerly offered at the foreign posts of duty, is no longer available. Please send your tax forms and correspondence to the applicable address indicated below.
Individual taxpayers located outside the U.S. may also contact the IRS by mail at:
Internal Revenue Service
Philadelphia, PA 19255-0725
Business taxpayers located outside the U.S. may also contact the IRS by mail at:
Internal Revenue Service
Ogden, UT 84201-0038