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Tag Archive for Foreign Earned Income

Americans Abroad On Self-Employment Taxes On Foreign Income

Olivier Wagner - Self Employment Taxes On Foreign Earned Income

How does self-employment tax work for those Americans, who live abroad, travel the world and work for themselves? Well, you still have to pay US taxes on foreign income if you are a freelancer, independent contractor, digital nomad or entrepreneur abroad. Yes, US tax laws apply no matter where in the world you live and perform the work.

The self-employment tax is a social security and Medicare tax on net self-employment income. You must pay this tax if your net self-employment earnings are at least USD$400 in a year. But don’t panic, we know the ways to legally minimise tax burden for self-employed Americans abroad.

1. Filing Requirements For Self-Employment Taxes 

You fall under different filing threshold category if you are self-employed US person who reside abroad. As we mentioned earlier, earning USD$400 in a year already triggers a filing requirement for a tax return. As the US is one of the two countries which practice citizen-based taxation, it’s necessary to take care of US tax obligations even while living abroad. Who does the IRS consider to be self-employed? If you belong to any of the following categories:

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South Africa Tax: Tax Free Salary Does Not Equate To Tax Non-Resident

Hugo van Zyl , Tax Free Salary

South Africans living in the UAE (Dubai) or Quatar (Doha) not paying South African tax on their foreign earned salary,  in most cases will remain tax resident in SA.

The 183/+60-day rule only speaks to the (partial) exemption of remuneration from employment. South Africans will continue to pay SA tax on worldwide income from all other income, including most retirement fund income albeit that the retirement fund is foreign based.  Immigrant South African may enjoy some limited tax exemption on foreign pension, yet the SA retirement funds will indeed pay SA taxable retirement benefits, albeit that contirbutions were made from tax exempt foreign employment income.

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What Is A Foreign Earned Income For U.S. Expats?

Olivier Wagner, Foreign earned Income For Expats

Do you want to take advantage of the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, the Foreign Housing Exclusion or the Foreign Housing Deduction? As a U.S. citizen or Green Card Holder living abroad, you still need to file annual U.S. federal tax returns. There are many different options, which American abroad has in order to cut the tax bill. However, the 3 above-mentioned ones are based on Foreign Earned Income.

So what is a Foreign Earned Income?

It’s crucial to understand what FEI is for US expats. We prepared this easy infographic to provide more clarity on this topic. The definition by the IRS states that it’s income you receive for services you perform in a foreign country:

Check out the infographic below to understand the classification of types of income and what is considered to be NOT earned income. We also included what the IRS doesn’t count as a Foreign Earned Income.

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Foreign Tax Credit For Individuals Living Abroad

As you know, the United States requires all citizens and permanent residents (Green Card holders) to report income via annual income tax filings regardless of where in the world the money was earned. As the name suggests, the Foreign Tax Credit for individuals is designed to reduce your U.S. tax burden on income that was earned and consequently taxed in a foreign country. In this way, you will not be subject to double taxation on that money.

In addition to foreign earned income (FEI), dividends, interest, and even rental income that come from foreign sources are eligible for consideration with the Foreign Tax Credit if they were taxed by a foreign entity. One benefit to using this credit is that it is available to all U.S. taxpayers who have foreign earned income or investment income from a foreign source. There are no stipulations regarding residency or time spent in a foreign country to take advantage of this reduction in taxes owed at home. Read more

Form 2555: Keep More Of Your Foreign Earned Income As A U.S. Expatriate

Living and working abroad comes with many exciting benefits. In addition to exploring new lands and learning about new cultures, expats often earn additional income beyond just their regular salary. Foreign earned income can come in many forms. In addition to the wages that are earned, those who are working outside the United States also must declare as income bonuses, tips, commissions, and the like.

It is also common for expats working overseas to have non-cash income as part of their employment package.
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How Does The Foreign Earned Income Exclusion Work?

Living and working abroad comes with many exciting benefits. In addition to exploring new lands and learning about new cultures, expats often earn additional income beyond just their regular salary. Foreign earned income can come in many forms. In addition to the wages that are earned, those who are working outside the United States also must declare as income bonuses, tips, commissions, and the like.
It is also common for expats working overseas to have non-cash income as part of their employment package.

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American Workers Abroad – How To Avoid Audit Risk On Form 2555

While Congress offers the foreign earned income exclusion (FEIE form 2555) and the foreign tax credit (FTC form 1116) to lighten the tax burden of American workers abroad, they don’t want it too light!

What Is The Revoked Exclusions Rule?          

Each year a foreign worker can choose to between FEIE and FTC to pay the lowest amount of taxes. The revoked exclusion rule is designed to prevent taxpayers abroad from switching each year between FEIE and FTC. Simply put, if you had been using FEIE then switch to using FTC, then you are prohibited from switching back to use FEIE for a period of five years.

Sadly, retail tax software products offer the choice without communicating the consequences for subsequent years. Also since the vast majority of domestic tax preparers never use form 2555, they are unaware also, of the implications of switching between the two. Revoked exclusions are, in my opinion, a senseless complexity designed to deprive foreign workers of flexibility and to entrap them in the complexity of the tax code. But it is the law. How can we protect ourselves? Let’s dissect what it means to revoke exclusion.
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A Primer On The Foreign Earned Income Exclusion

Ordinarily, the United States taxes U.S. citizens and resident aliens on their worldwide income, even when they live and work abroad for an extended period of time. To provide some relief, a U.S. citizen or resident who meets certain requirements can elect to exclude from U.S. taxation a limited amount of foreign earned income plus a housing cost amount. A double tax benefit is not allowed, however, and a taxpayer cannot claim a credit for foreign income taxes related to excluded income.

1. Exclusion versus Credit

Because the foreign earned income exclusion is elective, an expatriate must decide whether to elect the exclusion or to rely on the foreign tax credit. A key factor in deciding which option is most advantageous is the relative amounts of U.S. and foreign taxes Read more