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Tax Law (Questions About Taxes)/Foreign Earned Income Exclusion



My husband works for a company that has a contract with the Department of Defense. He has worked on a military base in Afghanistan since September of 2011. His normal work schedule is 91 days in Afghanistan with his company requiring him to come back to the states for 40 days. Therefore he continually rotates on a 91 day overseas/40 days off basis.

All of his income is earned overseas during those 91 day rotations. Last year from Jan 1st through Dec 31st he spent 251 days in Afghanistan.

Several of his co workers are filing form 2555 based on a pro rated amount of days using paid tax preparers. Because of the continual mandatory 91 days on/40 days off I do not see how to qualify for the exemption because it would seem impossible to be there 330 days in any twelve month period.

My question is can we prorate his days overseas and if not are some of his co workers filing incorrectly. There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding the waiver on the foreign earned income exclusion.

I look forward to hearing from you and will wait to file our taxes until I understand what we legally qualify for.

Thank you,

Dear LaDonna,

Unfortunately, even experienced CPAs are unprepared to deal with expatriate taxation rules. Claiming foreign earned income exclusion should be based on no less than 330 days within 12 month calendar period.

Certain unscrupulous tax practitioners file form 2555 based on the Bona Fide residency claim - which is unequivocally wrong for the independent contractors serving in Combat Zone.




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IJ Zemelman, EA MBA


I am an IRS-authorized EA and principal of a Tax Preparation firm focusing on U.S. Expatriates. We specialize in all tax issues faced by American citizens living abroad - such as foreign earned income, tax treaties, foreign spouse, etc. Visit our website - - for more information.


18 years professional tax experience, 12 with expatriate taxes.

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MBA from Zicklin School Of Business, IRS Enrolled Agent

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