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Tax Introduction for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad

Tax Introduction for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad

If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien, the rules for filing income tax returns and for paying estimated tax are generally the same whether you are in the United States or abroad.

Your income, filing status, and age generally determine whether you must file an income tax return. Generally, you must file a return for 2019 if your gross income from worldwide sources is at least the amount shown for your filing status in the following table.

Filing Status


Single under age 65


Single age 65 or older


Married filing jointly, both spouses under 65


Married filing jointly, one spouse age 65 or older


Married filing jointly, both spouses 65 or older


Married filing separately, any age


Head of household under age 65


Head of household age 65 or older


Qualifying widow(er) under age 65


Qualifying widow(er) age 65 or older


There are several exemptions may apply when file your US tax return:

  1. The Foreign Earned Income Exclusion

    If your tax home is in a foreign country and you meet the bona fide residence test or the physical presence test, you can choose to exclude from your income a limited amount of your foreign earned income.

    You may be able to exclude up to $105,900 of your foreign earned income in 2019. Foreign earned income includes salaries and wages, commissions, bonuses, professional fees, and tips. You cannot exclude more than the smaller of:

    (1) $105,900, or
    (2) Your foreign earned income for the tax year minus your foreign housing exclusion.

  2. Foreign Housing Deduction and Exclusion

    The foreign housing exclusion applies only to amounts considered paid for with employer-provided amounts, which includes any amounts paid to you or paid or incurred on your behalf by your employer that are taxable foreign earned income to you for the year (without regard to the foreign earned income exclusion).

    The housing deduction applies only to amounts paid for with self-employment earnings. Your foreign housing deduction cannot be more than your foreign earned income less the total of:

    (1) your foreign earned income exclusion, plus
    (2) your housing exclusion, if any.

    You would not have both a foreign housing deduction and a foreign housing exclusion unless during the tax year you were both self-employed and an employee.

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