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Tax Tips for US Expatriates Living Abroad

Seven tax tips for US Expatriates for their 2011 taxes.
1. Filing deadline U.S. citizens and resident aliens residing overseas or those serving in the military outside the U.S. on the regular due date of their tax return have until June 15, 2012 to file their federal income tax return. To use this automatic two-month extension beyond the regular April 17, 2012 deadline, taxpayers must attach a statement to their return explaining which of the two situations above qualifies them for the extension.

2. World-wide income Federal law requires U.S. citizens and resident aliens to report any worldwide income, including income from foreign trusts and foreign bank and securities accounts.

3. Tax forms In most cases, affected taxpayers need to fill out and attach Schedule B, Interest and Ordinary Dividends, to their tax return. Certain taxpayers may also have to fill out and attach to their tax return the new Form 8938, Statement of Foreign Financial Assets. Some taxpayers may also have to file Form TD F 90-22.1 with the Treasury Department by June 30, 2012.

4. Foreign earned income exclusion Many Americans who live and work abroad qualify for the foreign earned income exclusion. If you qualify for tax year 2011, this exclusion enables you to exempt up to $92,900 of wages and other foreign earned income from U.S. tax. This exclusion does not apply to interest, dividends, social security, capital gains, etc.

5. Credits and deductions You may be able to take either a credit or a deduction for income taxes paid to a foreign country or a U.S. possession. This benefit is designed to lessen the tax burden that results when both the U.S. and another country tax income from that country.

6. Other Forms Required If you own a foreign corporation, a foreign trust, a foreign LLC, or are a member of a foreign partnership you have to file special forms or you may incur huge penalties for failing to file those forms. If you own a foreign mutual fund, you must file as an owner of a Passive Foreign Investment Company or suffer adverse tax consequences on your US taxes.

7. Failure to File Returns Many expatriates file returns in their resident country,and then believe they do not have to file in the US. This IS NOTcorrect. If you are a green card holder or US Citizen you must always file a US tax return each year if you earn above a minimum amount (which varies per year). Until you file a return the statute of limitations for failing to file (and assessments by the IRS) never runs out.

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