You are here:

Tax Law (Questions About Taxes)/Filing Abroad (Follow up)

Advertisement


Question
Hello,

I hope this message finds you well. I previously messaged you about my situation that I am an American living and working abroad (as a teacher at a university in the Middle East), and am now trying to file taxes online.

I am trying to seek help online (since I cannot visit local tax clinics or call American numbers at the moment), but it is proving more difficult than anticipated.

My filing should be straightforward, however, whether I qualify for the foreign earned income exclusion is what is confusing me. I contacted two people on here on all experts and have gotten different answers. The other source I contacted said I will not qualify at all so long as my tax home is not established in another country (for one year and one day and my contract is for one year). Unless it was different situations that were being referred to. I did check out your website and other sources I look at online said nothing about the minimum for a tax home to be established, just that it cannot be abroad if your abode is in the states (and I am not sure what qualifies this or how exactly this is decided).

I am not sure who should be the person of reference because in looking at all the online material, it is either confusing, contradictory, or still leaves me confused as to what I should in my situation when I actually file. For example, I usually go with Turbo tax- when I filed with Turbo Tax it initially said I had a refund on the income I made in 2015 in the states up until I left. Once I put in my income from abroad from the last quarter in 2015 (which is less than 50,000 a year), it then changed to me owing the IRS. If I can exclude all my foreign income from the last quarter of 2015 when I was away, how exactly does that affect the income from the states for the same tax year? I tried another online tax filing program, and once I put in all my information, it said I should I have a refund.

In short, I am confused at all the information online, and I believe I must be doing something wrong online when I am trying to file if one program is saying I owe the IRS, and another is saying I have a refund from the IRS.. but I do not know what or how I find this out. I just do not want to end up owing anything or make a problem down the road. I also think part of the reason something is not accurate is my company over here that I work for does not provide pay stubs or traditional tax forms, so they tell us to use our contracts (is this acceptable to submit by the way?). When asked for certain boxes of information on the foreign income, some parts I do not know since I do not have a tax form.

I apologize for the length and I thank you for your time. Any help you can offer will be appreciated.

Answer
Hello Naomi,

Those who told you don't qualify because your contract is one year long and you need one year and one day have no clue about the expat taxes.

As long as you have spent 330 days abroad during any 12 months calendar period you qualify for the foreign earned income exclusion based on the Physical Presence test.

See http://www.taxesforexpats.com/we-help/teachers-abroad.html and http://www.taxesforexpats.com/articles/expat-tax-rules/importance-of-the-physica for more information.

Hope this helps,
I.J.Zemelman, EA
Taxes for Expats

Tax Law (Questions About Taxes)

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


IJ Zemelman, EA MBA

Expertise

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 - www.TaxesForExpats.com - for more information.

Experience

18 years professional tax experience, 12 with expatriate taxes.

Publications
Expatriate tax information on www.TaxesForExpats.com

Education/Credentials
MBA from Zicklin School Of Business, IRS Enrolled Agent

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.