Filing taxes as an American abroad

Filing taxes as an American abroad

Being an American abroad comes with a lot of responsibilities and challenges that you will face in your new country. And often times as we get wrapped up in those, we start to forget certain responsibilities that still exist back in our home country…or at least I did. And that responsibility happened to be filing my US taxes.

All in all it was a prett big suprise to me when I learned that even though I have no ties with the US ( nor have I for the past decade), and I keep all my work and earnings abroad, I still was required to file my annual American taxes based on my work abroad.

It was a pretty stressful situation, but through the help of a good friend of mine I was put in contact with the wonderful team at My Expat Taxes who not only helped me get my taxes filed but even made it possible that I recieved the 2020 US stimulus check.

*If you don’t feel like reading at the moment, head to the bottom of the page for a quick & easy video option*

US Tax Filing basics

Regardless of where you live, where you work or where you keep your income, US citizens are required to annually file a US tax return. First it’s important to know that there Is always a change in threshold requirement for tax filing, so make sure to stay up to date. So for this article I will be giving the details on last years. The current threshold at this time is $12,200 in gross income.

Who is required to file US taxes abroad?

As a single person, you will need to file a US tax return if you are:

  • Under 65 years old and have a gross income of at least $12,200
  • Over 65 years old and have a gross income of at least $13,850

As a legally married person and your spouse is a US citizen or Green card holder, you both need to file a US tax return if you:

  • Are both under 65 years old with a combined gross income of at least  $24,400
  • One spouse is 65 or older, and the combined gross income is at least  $25,700
  • Both spouses are 65 and older, with a combined gross income of at least  $27,000

As an American citizen living abroad who is married to a non-US spouse, or someone who does not want to be included on your tax return, you will need to file a US tax return:

  • At any age, if gross income is at least $5 or more

Self-Employed Individuals

If you are a self-employed person, you have a separate eligibility requirement.
For self-employed individuals, the threshold is typically much lower. Currently, if you are a self-employed US citizen abroad you will need to file your US taxes if your worldwide income net earnings are a minimum of $400.
*Net earnings are the total amount of sales revenues after operating/business expenses, interest, tax, etc…

Who is not required to file US taxes abroad? ( Non-Filer)

If you are a person who has no income or your income falls below the annual threshold, you are not required to file for the year. However, it is good to know, even if you did not earn the eligible amount there are still some potential benefits that can be received if you file regularly ( I.e in 2020 the stimulus check).

There is much more information to learn about the US tax regulations for those of us abroad. For more specific questions, I would definitly urge you to check out the super helpful blog at My Expat Taxes.

But if you are interested in my personal experience, go have a look at the video I created

( Currently in process to file a decade of back taxes 😰 )

Best of luck and happy filing

xxA