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Major Myths About Tax for Expats

Author: Benedict Kemper
by Benedict Kemper
Posted: Nov 16, 2017

When it comes to taxes, most people are focused on paying what they owe and not a penny more. When you live in the United States, this is more or less straightforward. When you become an expat, however, things change. Tax for expats is a lot different than it is for anyone else, which is why it is important to understand the ways in which you can reduce your tax burden as an expat while still remaining compliant.

It is also just as important to understand the misinformation and traps that many expats accidentally fall into when doing their taxes. Here are just a few misconceptions and traps regarding tax for expats that you will want to avoid.

Myth #1: The Tax-Free Expat

It is important to note that there is a prevalent myth that circles around America’s expat community about the "zero tax expat." While there are many ways in which you can reduce the taxes you pay through diligent accounting, there is no way to reduce your taxes to zero. Tax for expats has always happened, and it will continue to do so well into the future.

Myth #2: You Can Double Dip

While there are many ways in which you can report money differently in your tax for expats to avoid unnecessary taxation, there are a few common tactics that people use that get them in trouble. These tactics are often referred to as "double dipping," and the IRS has gotten wise to these tricks.

The first major way in which people double dip with tax for expats is to claim a foreign tax credit on the same income that they’ve excluded. The thought is often that, as a result, you won’t be paying tax twice on income earned abroad and then levied, but the credit exists to help with this. Claiming it on income excluded reduces the tax further, and the IRS has changed the rules to prevent this practice. The second most common form of double dipping, one that was legal until surprisingly recently, involves the additional child tax credit and the foreign income exclusion. Before, you could use this credit and exclude income to lower your tax burden. Recent changes have banned this practice—just like with foreign tax credits on international income.

Myth #3: Marriage Means Joint Taxes

In America, joining your taxes together as a married couple has fantastic benefits. Doing so can help you reduce your tax burden and save more for you and your family. When you marry someone outside of the United States, however, filing a joint tax claim can actually do the opposite. Deductions, tax brackets, and minimum tax adjustments will all be affected by your marriage, so it is important to seek out professional advice on tax for expats when you get married while you are working in another country.

Tax for expats is always more complicated than taxes for people living inside the United States. This is why many expats turn to professional tax firms to help them sort out their taxes, remain compliant, and reduce their tax burden.

Esquire Group, a boutique international tax advisory firm specializing in tax consulting, tax planning and compliance and helping corporate and individual taxpayers with Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program, asset protection, and tax consulting for US expats ( ). To learn more about us, visit

About the Author

I'm a freelance copywriter and I write on a variety of topics.

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Author: Benedict Kemper

Benedict Kemper

Member since: Sep 26, 2016
Published articles: 46

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