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Military Taxes: Doing Taxes Overseas

Income tax paperwork. Getty Images
Income tax paperwork. Getty Images

If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien, the rules for filing income, estate, and gift tax returns and paying estimated tax are generally the same whether you are in the United States or abroad. Your worldwide income is subject to U.S. income tax, regardless of where you reside.

When to File

If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien residing overseas, or are in the military on duty outside the U.S., on the regular due date of your return, you are allowed an automatic 2-month extension to file your return and pay any amount due without requesting an extension. For a calendar year return, the automatic 2-month extension is to June 15.

If you are unable to file your return by the automatic 2-month extension date, you can request an additional extension to October 15 by filing Form 4868 before the automatic 2-month extension date. However, any tax due payments made after June 15 will be subject to both interest charges and failure to pay penalties.

Where to File

If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien (Green Card Holder) and you live in a foreign country, mail your U.S. tax return to:

Department of the Treasury Internal Revenue Service Center Austin, TX 73301-0215 USA

Estimated tax payments should be mailed with form 1040-ES to:

Internal Revenue Service P.O. Box 1300 Charlotte, NC 28201-1300 USA

Taxpayers with an AGI (Adjusted Gross Income) of $57,000 or less can electronically file their tax return for free using freefile. Taxpayers with an AGI greater than $57,000 can either use the Free File Fillable Forms or efile by purchasing commercial software. A limited number of companies provide software that can accommodate foreign addresses. To determine which will work best for you, get help choosing a software provider.

Taxpayer Identification Number

Each taxpayer who files, or is claimed as a dependent on, a U.S. tax return will need a social security number (SSN) or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN). To obtain a SSN, use form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card. To get form SS-5, or to find out if you are eligible for a social security card, contact a Social Security Office or visit Social Security International Operations. If you, or your spouse, are not eligible for a SSN, you can obtain an ITIN by filing form W-7 along with appropriate documentation.

Exchange Rates

You must express the amounts you report on your U.S. tax return in U.S. dollars. If you receive all or part of your income or pay some or all of your expenses in foreign currency, you must translate the foreign currency into U.S. dollars. Taxpayers generally use the yearly average exchange rate to report foreign-earned income that was received regularly throughout the year. However, if you had foreign transactions on specific days, you may also use the exchange rates for those days. Exchange rates can be found at Foreign Currency and Currency Exchange Rates. Yearly average currency exchange rates for most countries can be found at Yearly Average Currency Exchange Rates.

How to Get Tax Help

The IRS Office in Philadelphia provides international tax assistance. This office is open Monday through Friday from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST and can be contacted by:

  • Phone: 1 (267) 941-1000 (not toll-free)
  • FAX:1 (267) 941-1055
  • Email: Email the IRS (e-mail is for general tax questions; NOT questions regarding your tax account)
  • Mail: Internal Revenue Service Philadelphia, Pa 19255-0725

The IRS has customer service personnel available to provide tax assistance in the following Embassies and Consulates abroad:

Permanent IRS Offices Outside the United States
Office Address Office Phone Numbers and Email

U.S. Consulate Frankfurt Giessener Str. 30 60435 Frankfurt am Main Germany

Taxpayer service by appointment only. Tuesdays: 9:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. To schedule an appointment, call +49 069-7535-3811
U.S. Embassy 24/31 Grosvenor Square London W1A 1 AE England Walk-In Assistance: Tu-Th: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. & 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Phone Service: M-F: 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Tel: +44-207-894-0476 Fax: +44-207-495-4224
U.S. Embassy 2 Avenue Gabriel 75382 Paris Cedex 08 France Walk-In Assistance: M-F: 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Phone Service: M-F: 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. & 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m Tel: +33-1-4312-2555 Fax: +33-1-4312-2303 Email: irs.paris@irs.gov
U.S. Embassy No. 55 An Jia Lou Lu Beijing 100600 China Taxpayer service by appointment only. To scheduled an appointment, call the Telephone number below. Tel: +86-10-8531-3983 Fax: +86-10-8531-4287

Help with Unresolved Tax Problems

If you are experiencing a tax problem that is causing you economic harm or has not been resolved through normal channels, you can contact the Taxpayer Advocate.