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Do US Expats Have to File Taxes?

So, you’ve taken the giant leap and moved away from the US. Congrats! Honestly, it was one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made. That being said, when it comes to the financial side of things, it can be pretty tricky to get a handle of things. Primarily, do US expats have to file and pay taxes?

Do US Expats Have to File Taxes?

Let’s be honest, taxes are one of those things that they really should teach you in school, but instead, they thought algebra would be more useful. Huh. 

Fundamentally it comes down to whether you’re a US citizen or not. If you’re a US citizen, it really doesn’t matter where you live, where you work, or who you work for, you need to file a US tax return. It’s really as simple as that.

Since it gets pretty complicated tax-wise, I highly recommend MyExpatTaxes to keep it all straight between filing taxes abroad and in the USA. Here’s my full review of their services.

Disclaimer: Before I continue, I want to remind everyone this article IS NOT tax, legal, or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, or accounting advice. Vanessa M.W. is not a certified financial advisor. You should consult your own tax, legal, and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.

You might have heard of useful tax breaks for US citizens and expats living and working abroad, and while they do exist, you can only get them after you’ve filed your tax return. That’s really the be-all and end-all of paying taxes as a US expat.

For more in-depth information on expat taxes, read my Ultimate Guide to Filing Taxes as An American Expat.

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The IRS does offer an automatic two-month extension for expats or those on overseas military service, without you having to formally request it.

If you go over this time frame without requesting an additional extension, you will be in pretty major trouble as well as getting charged extra interest.

Either way, it’s not good, so it’s best to think about expat taxation as essentially the same as when you were living and working in the US.

There are plenty of sites that are expat-specific that can help you with submitting your tax return, but the IRS website is pretty straightforward when it comes to the requirements and deadlines. If you’ve done a tax return in the US before, this won’t feel too different.

Another important thing to remember is it’s not just US citizens, but those of you who hold a Green Card as well. If you’re a Green Card holder, you also have to complete and file a tax return each financial year, regardless of where you are in the world. 

When you move to another country, it can be confusing to try and navigate the red tape and financial issues of your new home country, while keeping up with the US rules and regulations, but when it comes to tax, it’s pretty cut and dry.

If you’re a US citizen or a Green Card holder living abroad, then yes, you do have to file and pay taxes. 

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