foreign housing deduction

What Is Foreign Earned Income Under The Tax Code?

IRC § 911(b)(1)(A) provides the definition of “foreign income.” For tax purposes, this provision is important because If certain requirements are met, a taxpayer may qualify for the foreign earned income, foreign housing exclusions and the foreign housing deduction. Under certain circumstances, the value of meals and lodging provided to a taxpayer by an employer may also be excluded from income.

U.S. citizens or a resident aliens of the United States living abroad are taxed on their worldwide income. However, they may qualify to exclude from income up to an amount of their foreign earnings that is adjusted annually for inflation. In 2015, this amount was $100,800. Additionally, certain foreign housing amounts may be excluded or deducted.

Which One Should I Use? The Foreign Housing Deduction? Or Exclusion?

In addition to the foreign earned income exclusion, taxpayers may also claim an exclusion or a deduction from gross income for an expenditure for housing if the home of the tax is in a foreign country and they qualify for the exclusions and deduction under either the bona fide residence test or the physical presence test.

The housing exclusion applies only to amounts which are treated as paid by an employer, which includes any amounts paid to a taxpayer or paid or incurred on a taxpayer’s behalf by his or her employer that are taxable foreign earned income for the year. In contrast, the housing deduction applies only to amounts paid for with earnings from self-employment. Thus, the source of the amounts paid typically determine use of the deduction or exclusion.

What Is Foreign Earned Income? Am I Eligible to Claim Either the Exclusion Or Deduction?

Individuals that are U.S. citizens or resident aliens of the United States living abroad are taxed on their income by more than one governmental entity. However, these taxpayers may qualify to exclude from their income an amount of their foreign earnings (adjusted annually for inflation) under I.R.C. § 911. They may also be eligible for either a foreign housing exclusion or the foreign housing deduction (this will be discussed in a future blog). To determine eligibility to claim either the foreign earned income exclusion, the foreign earned housing deduction or foreign earned housing exclusion, please consider the following analysis. Remember, that an experienced tax professional can offer assistance in making this analysis.