US Citizens working abroad - How do taxes work?

snakeoil's picture
Rank: Gorilla | banana points 596

Hi,

Can someone shed some light on how taxation works for US Citizens working abroad, especially if you cross the 100K?? foreign income exclusion.

From my limited understanding, US tax laws severely punish US Citizens working abroad, much like US companies.

So how does it work for high earners living in London let's say? You have to pay both UK and US taxes - are you screwed?

I googled this, but found no clear answer, so would appreciate if someone could explain.

Thanks,

Comments (5)

Aug 1, 2017
Most Helpful
Sep 5, 2018
snakeoil:

@AndyLouis

Pretty simple.
You pay only local taxes on the first $95 or $100k.
That's called your form 2555 deduction.
Then for every amount over, you first pay local tax, then you are responsible for federal taxes up to the amount you would have paid in USA.
You don't pay state or local US taxes when living abroad obviously.

So take myself as an example.
I live in Hong Kong, where taxes are 15%.
I used to live in California FYI.

Let's say I earn $200k per year.
I file my US tax form 1040 and 2555.
The US lets me pay only local tax on the first $100k or so.
So I pay HK government $15k (15% on the first $100k).
For the second $100k, I first pay HK gov 15%, and then I owe Uncle Sam the rest of the federal tax as if I had been living in USA.
I think US federal is about 25%.
So I get done paying a further $15k to HK gov and then I still owe 10% to Uncle Sam (because my federal tax rate would have been 25%, and I've only paid 15% to HK gov, so Uncle Sam wants his left over 10%).
I don't have to pay California state or local because I'm not in CA anymore.
So in all, on a $200k salary in HK, I pay taxes as follows:
HK gov $30k (15% of $100k + 15% of the second $100k),
US Fed $10k (10% on the second $100k tranche)

    • 4
Aug 1, 2017

I thought you only had to pay US taxes if your taxes were below what they would've been had you been working in the US. But also interested.

Sep 5, 2018
MMBanker14:

I thought you only had to pay US taxes if your taxes were below what they would've been had you been working in the US. But also interested.

see my summary above

Aug 2, 2017

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