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illustration of an american teacher doing us taxes for expats as a teacher abroad
How does filing a U.S. tax return work when you’re teaching abroad?

Hi there,

As an international worker, it can be confusing to understand how to file your tax returns after a year of teaching abroad. Or, maybe you plan to stay a while in your chosen country and wonder whether you owe taxes to the U.S. government during every year you stay abroad.

Even if you haven’t been living or working in the U.S. for a year or more, as an American, you should still file a U.S. tax return to avoid being audited by the IRS. Because after all – the IRS doesn’t know where you’ve gone and where you’re working otherwise.

It’s unlikely you owe any taxes to the U.S. government as a teacher abroad. Unless you happened to make over $112,000 USD (as of 2022)! This is the rule according to the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion.

And by the way, to benefit from associated tax exclusions as a foreign worker, you need to be living abroad for 330 days out of the tax year. Which you will likely be doing, as international teachers are usually contracted for at least a full school year.

You are probably already paying taxes to the country where you’re employed as a teacher. (Or, maybe not! Some schools offer tax-free salaries). These paid taxes fall under the Foreign Tax Credit, which protects you from double taxation. 

Double taxation is when you’re paying taxes on income you already paid taxes on… not fun.

And again – even if you find that tax exclusions for foreign workers will mean you don’t need to pay taxes to the U.S. government, you still need to file a tax return regardless. Do not avoid it.

Ultimately, we do advise that you get in touch with an accountant who specializes who has experience supporting international workers to understand how you should approach your next filing – both for the U.S. tax returns and returns in the country you are teaching in.

We also wrote a whole blog on filing U.S. taxes after teaching abroad or online that may provide more insight.

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