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Old 16.02.2011, 09:30
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Quick U.S. Tax Question

Hello,

I am American and married last February 2010 and became a "bona fide resident" in last June 2010 (when I received my permit). I was looking at the U.S. tax forms and I am not sure which one I am to file. I believe I just want to file for myself. My husband is Swiss and he earns a full-time salary. I teach English for a language school and only work part time. My income was only about $7,000 CHF last year. What is the best way to file this small income? And what tax breaks can I file (meaning to get some $ back). Also, because I wasn't living here legally in a whole year can file the 2555EZ form? Any help is greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
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Old 16.02.2011, 09:44
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Re: Quick U.S. Tax Question

The US tax information is really pretty simple to read so I suggest that you do just that. Here is some useful information: http://france.usembassy.gov/irs.html (links to forms, FAQs, exchange rates etc). And there is always the IRS itself: http://www.irs.gov/faqs/content/0,,id=199953,00.html. This is a link to the irs FAQs page for citizens living abroad.

It could be that having made only CHF 7000, that you don't have to file (minimum is aroung $9000, I think) but as you are married, there might be other rules applied.

It is all good and well to ask for other people's advice, but laws are laws and it is best to read up for yourself and find out exactly what applies in your situation. You might also have to get an ITIN number for your husband: http://www.irs.gov/faqs/faq/0,,id=199673,00.html. Like I said, the information is not that difficult to read.
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Old 16.02.2011, 10:02
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Re: Quick U.S. Tax Question

you likely don't have to file because you don't meet the minimum income threshold. also you won't get anything back from the IRS because you haven't paid them anything in 2010.
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Old 16.02.2011, 10:49
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Re: Quick U.S. Tax Question

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you likely don't have to file because you don't meet the minimum income threshold. also you won't get anything back from the IRS because you haven't paid them anything in 2010.
You definitely have to file. As a US citizen living abroad, it doesn't matter if it is $1 or one million earned from a foreign source, the IRS wants to know about it. period.

And if you don't qualify for the foreign income exclusion, then you don't want to file form 2555. I think all you can do is take a tax credit on whatever tax you already paid over here and then pay whatever tax you missed from the US (i.e.--most likely, you won't be getting any money back...sorry).

The suggestion from another source is similar to mine (just searched: "what to do with foreign income when you don't qualify for the exclusion?" in google)...

When in doubt, talk to an accountant. I am going that route this year even though I do qualify for the (federal) exclusion because I am a previous resident of a state that doesn't allow me to "defect" easily. So if I have *any* tie to the state in the past five years, I have to pay state taxes on the foreign income... It may be worth it to get an accountant in your case as well just in case--especially if you think you are ever going to return to the US and want to be compliant when you do.
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Old 16.02.2011, 11:33
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Re: Quick U.S. Tax Question

I was reading everything online, but I wasn't sure to do with my low income. I know I have to file, everyone does! Either way, it looks like I have 2 extra months to file in the U.S. I didn't want to have to get an accountant, because right now I can't afford one. (you saw how much money I made). I guess, I have to file here first. Thank you for your answers. I will have to look into it more.
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Old 16.02.2011, 11:40
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Re: Quick U.S. Tax Question

I thought of doing the tax stuff myself last year but got a bit confused with it all. I decided to use a tax accountant in the end. I'm glad I did. He did it a different way to what I was contemplating and I was very happy with the outcome.

I'm using him again this year.
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Old 16.02.2011, 12:12
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Re: Quick U.S. Tax Question

If you file in the US and are married to a foreigner who doesn't have US income, you file "married filing separately". Your filing status is not single, since you're not single.
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Old 16.02.2011, 12:20
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Re: Quick U.S. Tax Question

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You definitely have to file. As a US citizen living abroad, it doesn't matter if it is $1 or one million earned from a foreign source, the IRS wants to know about it. period.
that's why i often use hedging words such as "likely"
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Old 16.02.2011, 13:58
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Re: Quick U.S. Tax Question

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I was reading everything online, but I wasn't sure to do with my low income. I know I have to file, everyone does! Either way, it looks like I have 2 extra months to file in the U.S. I didn't want to have to get an accountant, because right now I can't afford one. (you saw how much money I made). I guess, I have to file here first. Thank you for your answers. I will have to look into it more.
I don't know how much kevlegs has to pay, but I am only being charged about $100 for all tax-related paperwork. Sometimes the peace of mind and the time it actually saves not to have to figure it out is worth the money spent...

In 2009, I was only here for two months, so I had to claim all the money I earned on last year's tax forms. We just put the amount of money earned (gross) on one line and then claimed the tax I already paid as a deduction or a credit (you have a choice between the two) and then continued with normal paperwork (on the 1040 I think). So just consider it "other" income on the standard tax form. You should receive an end of the year statement from your employer here that details all that you should report to the IRS.

HTH.

By the way, you only have to be here 330 days to qualify for the income exclusion, so if you came here at the beginning of February, you may qualify... If you do, it is as easy as filling out the 2555 and owing zero. If you file for the exclusion, there are no deductions/credits to take--one or the other, not both.

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that's why i often use hedging words such as "likely"
lol. nice.
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Old 16.02.2011, 15:02
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Re: Quick U.S. Tax Question

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You definitely have to file. As a US citizen living abroad, it doesn't matter if it is $1 or one million earned from a foreign source, the IRS wants to know about it. period.
Interesting. The IRS doesn't seem to quite agree:
Filing Requirements

If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien, the rules for filing income, estate, and gift 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 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 whether you must file a return.

This is from: Publication 54, Tax Guide for US Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad.

This is why I recommended reading up for yourself. Good intentions do not equal good or correct advice for your specific situation. So, if you were single and had only earned $7000, you would not have to file. As you are married and filing separately, you meet the minimum amount and have to file.
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