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.