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A former member
Post #: 2
Hi all!
Okay, like someone else said before me, I know this isn't an exciting discussion topic, but I need some advice.
Regarding taxes, last year, I never filed a US tax return even though I probably should have, and nothing happened. I've been in Australia for a year and a half now, and have heard different things about filing tax returns. Some people say that all US citizens are required to file one each year, even if they haven't worked in the states. Some people say that ever since they moved abroad they haven't filed a tax return - seemingly with no consequences. Does anyone have any experience with this? If you filed a tax return while living abroad, did you end up owing anything to the government?
I'm not really sure what to do. I went to the H and R website, and they have a section entitled "US citizen living in Australia". I followed the link to complete my tax return online, but it keeps asking me for my W-2 information. Obviously, I never got a W-2, just a Pay G Payment Summary.
Does anyone know of someone who can help?
Any advice is appreciated.
Cheers,
Claire
Benjamin
BenGuapo
Group Organizer
Sydney, AU
Post #: 9
The US government doesn't really have the resources to track people down especially those who don't owe or don't owe a lot.

I'd still file though. If you make less than a certain amount you don't owe anything and if you've made more than that amount you can still deduct the taxes you've paid in Australia from that which you'd owe on Australian income to the US government--and Australian rates are higher so you'll never owe anything.

Goli
user 14804351
Rockville, MD
Post #: 1
Hi! I checked with a tax attorney before moving here and he said that as a US Citizen you are required by law to file in the states. But technically you are not allowed to be double taxed so as Benjamin said you'd deduct what you paid in taxes here in Australia and may owe the difference (if there is one) to the US. I haven't gone through the experience myself as I've just moved here but this is what I intend to do. Good luck!
Melissa D.
user 15039881
Sydney, AU
Post #: 1
I used Turbotax.com to do my taxes. They make it very easy for people who do not live in the US. If you have not filed already remember the last day to file for people living overseas is June 15th :)
A former member
Post #: 2
I have been here 5 years and have not filed (though I know I am legally required to). I did a back of the envelop calculation at first and realized that I would have to make a lot more money, or have significant investments in the US, to be required to pay US tax. There are generous extensions available for filing if you are out of the country but some of them require you to apply for them some are automatic and retroactive. I figure when, and if, I go back I will just file all the years I was away. There doesnt seem to be a penalty and they're not going to chase me when I wouldnt owe anything anyway.
A former member
Post #: 1
Hi all -

Having read the entire thread, some of this information is correct, and some of it is not. Since I was just audited by the IRS and had to file for the past 10 years since I moved to Sydney, I've had the crash course about this topic - so am inserting links with the facts for your handy reference. Hope it is useful!

NOTE: Unless you have really complex finances (e.g. tax haven bank accounts in multiple countries of Switzerland and the Bahamas, I think you'll be fine with the information in Publication #54 - your bible for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens filing taxes from international locations. It has sample forms and scenarios for just about every type of situation, including how to address spouse income, partial year earnings abroad combined with your partial US (w4) earnings, whether you're self-employed or on an overseas scholarship or secondment, etc.

Basically, you run the initial diagnostic on Pub#54-pp.3-4 to determine whether you make enough to file. The 2011 Pub#54 Page 3 table is as follows:

"Your income, filing status, and age generally determine whether you must file an income tax return. Generally, you must file a return for 2010 if your gross income from worldwide sources is at least the amount shown for your filing status in the following table.

Filing Status* Amount
Single . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $ 9,350
65 or older . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $10,750
Head of household . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $12,050
65 or older . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $13,450
Qualifying widow(er) . . . . . . . . . . . . . $15,050
65 or older . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $16,150
Married filing jointly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $18,700
Not living with spouse at end of year $ 3,650
One spouse 65 or older . . . . . . . . . . $19,800
Both spouses 65 or older . . . . . . . . . $20,900
Married filing separately . . . . . . . . . . . $ 3,650
*If you are the dependent of another taxpayer, see the instructions for Form 1040 for more information on area code, whether you must file a return."


If you're a salaried corporate worker and the answer is yes, you still may end up qualifying to take the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (and Foreign Earned Income Housing Exclusion-Deduction), which allows you to exclude a capped amount of USD$91,500 from your annual income earned - to determine whether you qualify for this - see the diagnostic flow chart on Pub#54-Page 12-Figure 4-A. If yes, then you'll end up filing a Form1040 + Form2555 for Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (http://www.irs.gov/pu...­) - note: there is also an 2555EZ - see the links for Foreign Earned Income and Foreign Earned Income Exclusion at the bottom of the portal page provided.

Pub#54-Page 16 also has notes how to address first year moving expenses and LAFHA (living away from home allowance) - see Allowances or reimbursements on Page 16 under the "Foreign Earned Income" section .

eFiling (online) is available if you don't have an exceptional situation - so perhaps check out the recommended TurboTax option noted in the email below. eFiling is even available for the extension form 4868, which you'll need to submit BY June 15th.

Remember that you'll need to convert your Aussie dollars into US for all submissions using the IRS-approved foreign exchange rates - they publish annual forex avgs for many countries for years 2006-2010 on the IRS web site at (http://www.irs.gov/bu...­) - but if you need years prior to 2006 then they approve using the U.S. Treasury (http://www.irs.gov/ap...­) or OANDA (http://www.irs.gov/ap...­.

All information & forms are available for download from the IRS web site. Look for this year's 2011 Publication #54 (.pdf downloand) for US Citizens living abroad - consider it your BIBLE (http://www.irs.gov/pu...­.

Regarding file dates, June 15th is the automatic filing extension given to US Citizens living abroad, however, since Australia tax year ends June 30th, our annual tax statement (equivalent to the US W4) doesn't arrive until early July - you can either submit an estimated tax statement by June 15th, or file Form 4868 .pdf (http://www.irs.gov/pu...­) for further extension until October 15th - late penalties apply however (I know, not nice and I hope they change this one soon). Here's the exact wording taken from the main web page for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad -

" If you reside overseas, or are in the military on duty outside the U.S., you are allowed an automatic 2-month extension to file your return until June 15. However, any tax due must be paid by the original return due date (April 15) to avoid interest charges.

If you are unable to file your return by the due date, you can request an additional extension to October 15 by filing Form 4868 before the return due date. However, any payments made after June 15 would be subject to both interest charges and failure to pay penalties."


Here are links to the IRS web site that may be useful:

Here's the main web portal page for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad - it has the essentials, such as filing date info and some contact info (which I would ignore until you actually read Publication #54 and your actual tax forms. At the bottom of the page, handly links to Publication #54 (.pdf) and other related sites.
http://www.irs.gov/bu...­

This IRS page is for when you can't find the answer to your international situation - it has some contact numbers to call, and an email question submission form (allow plenty of time for response and keep your expectations low, mind you).
http://www.irs.gov/he...­

Hope this is helpful.
Julie H.
user 10921802
Sydney, AU
Post #: 12
Jennifer, THANK YOU SO MUCH, for taking the time to put this all together and share it!
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