Topics covered:

Do I need to upload receipts or bank statements?

No, we do not need your receipts or bank statements.

However, the T.Q. will generate a list of needed supporting documents based on your answers.

Retirement & Pension Reporting

Retirement accounts come in many shapes and sizes. For U.S. tax financial reporting purposes, having a retirement account and/or receiving retirement income refers to U.S. and foreign social security distributions, pension distributions, retirement accounts like 401(k), or rollovers/transfers between retirement accounts.

Please list ALL of these accounts in the Non-US Financial Account section of the Tax Questionnaire (T.Q.).

Pension distributions, Social Security distributions - U.S. or foreign

Report on Income > Passive income > Pension tab.

Lump sum pension distribution would be reported in the same place.

I took a pre-retirement age distribution from my Retirement Account

An early distribution from the retirement account is treated as pension distribution and should be reported on the income> Passive income > Pension tab.

If you make an early withdrawal from a U.S. pension, there will be a penalty for early withdrawal. If foreign - then just regular tax.

Employer contribution to the pension

To report this,

1. Upload the annual wage statement on the income> Wages tab.

2. Answer Yes to the Were contributions made to a no-US pension plan (whether yourself or by your employer)? question.

Generally, employee contributions to foreign pension plans are not tax-deductible. In some instances (i.e., 7% employee contribution to the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund), they will be deducted as long as such contributions are spelled out in the annual wage statement.

Disability - Lump Sum or Monthly Payment

Report your foreign disability benefits in income> Passive income > Pension tab; question Did you receive Foreign (i.e., non-U.S.) retirement distributions?

Most often, disability is not earned income, but it may be taxable. It is considered earned income if the disability is reported on W-2.

As far as a foreign disability - it depends. It is never taxable when payments are proceeds from disability insurance that the employee paid for (purchased).

However, employer-paid short or long-term disability is taxable depending on the treaty country. Generally, it may be taxable because the employer deducts it as an expense. If it is taxable in a foreign country, it is likely taxable in the U.S. However, any foreign tax paid will be credited against your U.S. tax liability. If expressed on a foreign employer pay stub, it will also likely qualify for FEIE. If it is a social security type disability, then it is not qualified for FEIE.

Do I include my pension as a foreign financial account?

You don't know the value of the pension, as the value isn't computed until you retire. Thus, some practitioners assume that a defined benefit plan does not need to be reported on FBAR because the plan participant does not have an account with control or signatory authority in their name.

However, this advice contradicts the "Basic Questions and Answers on Form 8938," suggesting a "reasonable estimate" of the value of the defined benefit plan.

If you can reasonably estimate the value of the pension, enter the estimate as the maximum value.

If you cannot estimate reasonably, enter the sum of distributions during the year as the maximum value.

The account does not need to be reported if you cannot estimate and there were no distributions.

Child Support Reporting

Maternity or Paternity Pay

Please report it on Earned Income > Income Outside of the U.S. tab. Specify the employer's details, then indicate gross wages/salary earned with this employer during the tax year. Don't forget to select the currency.

I receive childcare benefits from the government

Not reportable. Alimony, on the other hand, is.

I receive alimony

Report on income> Other Income tab, question Did you pay or receive alimony during the tax year?

My employer reimburses me for my children's tuition.

Please report this in the Other Income tab by answering the Child benefits of any kind question.

Examples of other items that may affect your taxable income that should be reported on the Other Income tab are:

  • cash and non-cash allowances from the employer

  • inheritance or gift from a non-US person exceeding $100K

  • gifts you made more than $14K

  • non-custodial parent-child exemption

Reporting income from multiple employers

After completing the first employer's details, you can click the + Add Foreign Employer button.

This will allow you to provide details about the second employer (and so on if you have more to report).

I had both a salaried position and was self-employed during the year.

Our Tax Questionnaire will ask you separate questions about each type of income. Please select all types of income that apply to your situation, then complete the respective sections of the T.Q.

Do I have to provide information about my spouse's income?

Do I have to report my spouse's income?

The short answer is no. You don't have to.

However, it may be in your interest to file together. We will analyze your situation and advise you of this. This is one of the core services we offer to our clients.

My wife has an expired green card, but it has not been renounced. What are her tax return options?

Your wife is considered a U.S. resident for tax purposes until she officially renounces the green card.

Therefore she is required to file U.S. tax returns. She can file jointly with you.

I file a joint return with my husband in our resident country. We will file separately in the U.S. How should I report the tax I paid myself?

Please prorate the tax you paid yourself using the household's total tax at the income distribution rate between spouses.

Example: Your spouse earned $80,000, and you earned $20,000. You paid a $10,000 joint tax. Pro-rate the tax paid for your share using your joint tax rate of 10% - i.e., allocate $2,000 to the tax you paid.

I am married to a non-US citizen. Do I have to include their details in the T.Q. (and, by extension, my U.S. tax return)?

You must file as married and provide the IRS with basic details about your spouse if you are married.

If your spouse is not a U.S. citizen, information about your spousal income is optional and does not have to be included in your tax return (but doing so may benefit you). This can be discussed with your accountant. We will make sure to take the position most beneficial to you.

I have an interest in a Foreign Partnership owned jointly with my husband.

Husband and wife partnership can be treated on a U.S. tax return as a "qualified joint venture" (i.e., you and your husband each report their share of income/expenses on a separate Schedule C as a Sole Proprietorship).

If your spouse is a non-US citizen/green card holder and will not be listed on your tax return filed separately, please only report your share of income/expenses on the Passive Income > Interest section. To display it, click the Change Income Types button at the left, select I'm self-employed/independent contractor, click Next, select I earn interest, then click Close.

Unemployment Income Reporting.

Unemployment Income (Foreign and U.S.).

U.S. unemployment:

Report it on income> Wages> Income From the U.S. tab, question Did you receive royalties, unemployment payments, or other miscellaneous income from a U.S. source?

Non-US unemployment

Report it on income> Other Income tab, question Did you receive foreign unemployment benefits?

I have an Unemployment Electronic Payment Card from Unemployment Insurance.

This account is considered Social Security type and should not be reported.

Gambling or lawsuit settlement.

Report it on income> Other Income tab, question Did you have Lottery/Gambling winning or Law Suit Settlement?

I receive a distribution from a trust (Foreign or U.S.).

Report it on income> Corporation & Trust > Trust tab, question Did you receive cash or property distribution from a Trust (whether U.S. or Foreign)?

I received a gift or inheritance from a non-US person (non-citizen, non-GC holder).

Report it on the income> Corporation & Trust > Trust tab question During the filing year, did you receive inheritance or gifts from a non-US person?

I received an inheritance or gift from a U.S. person (Citizen or G.C. holder).

This is not reportable to the recipient. If gift donors are U.S. persons, they can gift up to $14k yearly without reporting. Any more considerable amount is reportable by the donor, not the recipient, on form 709.

Education Related Income Reporting

I receive a graduate student stipend

Report it on income> Wages > Income Outside of the U.S., question Gross wages/salary earned during the tax year. Please, specify the currency.

I am a part-time tutor

Please report it on the Income > Self-Employment tab. Indicate your service.

I received a distribution from a U.S. educational plan.

Report it on income> Corporation & Trust > Trust tab, question Did you receive cash or property distribution from a Trust (whether U.S. or Foreign)?

Farm Income Reporting

Please report it on the Income > Self-Employment tab. Indicate your service.

Farm subsidies are also considered Earned Income. They are government payments for future proceeds from farming (earned income). If a farm does not operate, it does not receive a subsidy.

Real Estate Reporting

I own a rental property

Report it on Income > Passive Income > Rental Income.

I rent my home for a few weeks a year via Airbnb (or a similar platform)

Report it on Income > Passive Income > Rental Income. Airbnb is just a marketing agent. Otherwise, it is just a rental income.

I own a timeshare, how should I report it?

Although a timeshare can be sold, it's only a transfer of the right to use the deed and is not considered a tangible asset.

Therefore, you do not report owning a timeshare to the IRS (like you would tangible real estate).

If you rent it out for less than two weeks, that income is tax-free, but the losses are not allowed for deduction.

Sale of Real Estate

Please report it on income> Home Sale.

I receive a rent subsidy

If the government pays the rent subsidy to assist a renter - this money is not reportable and non-taxable.

If your employer pays this rent subsidy, please report it on income> Wages > Income Outside of the U.S. tab in the question Did your employer provide an allowance on top of direct salary (car, education, home leave, etc.)?

Royalties Income Reporting

Royalties from publishing a book or licensing a patent or other form of intellectual property, such as computer software products.

Please report it on the Income > Self-Employment tab. Indicate your occupation.

All other royalties.

All other royalties should be reported in the income> Other income tab question Did you receive royalties (whether U.S. or foreign)?

How do I provide you with information for the preparation of Form 5471?

As you start the Tax Questionnaire, please indicate that you own more than 10% of a foreign corporation. You may also add information about your foreign corporation while working on your T.Q. Click the Change Income Types button at the left.

You should complete Income > Corporation & Trust > Foreign Corporation Tab then. You will be asked to complete a specific Questionnaire for Form 5471 and upload documents related to the company ownership.

We always refer to the "Tax Year" as the period from January 1 – December 31 for all personal tax returns.

This may be either the calendar year or the fiscal year with which your financials were prepared for corporate or trust returns.

I can't break down my host country taxes paid between self-employment income, pension & wage income.

Please provide the grossed-up amount of tax paid and your tax return from the resident country. We will break it down for you.

What is included in gross wages / gross income?

Gross wages mean the total amount earned before contributions or deductions are taken from that income.

For example, it means income before working expenses AND before taxes.

I do not get statements about my local government's Defined Benefit Scheme

Defined Benefit Schemes are not reportable to the IRS, so you do not have to upload their statements.

I am not a U.S. Citizen but have a US-sourced income

There is a different version of the T.Q. that you must complete, called the 1040NR Tax Questionnaire. Here is what you have to do:

  1. Browse to the Tax Questionnaire section, then click Create New Questionnaire.

  2. In the Create New Questionnaire pop-up, specify the year you want to create the Tax Questionnaire.

  3. Make sure to answer None of the Above questions about U.S. citizenship.

  4. Type the number of days you spent in the U.S. in three calendar years. If you do not meet the Substantial Presence Test, you will be presented with the 1040NR version of the Questionnaire (it's significantly shorter - less work for you :)

You will see an NRA next to the Tax Questionnaires Tax year (i.e., 2015 (NRA).

Severance package - either a monthly payment or lump sum

Report it on income> Wages > Income Outside of the U.S. tab, question Gross wages/salary earned with this employer during the tax year. Please specify the currency.

Sick Pay

Report it on income> Wages > Income Outside of the U.S. tab, question Gross wages/salary earned with this employer during the tax year. Please specify the currency.

Life insurance CASH payout (benefit payment is not reportable)

Report it on income> Corporation & Trust > Trust tab, question Did you receive cash or property distribution from a Trust (whether U.S. or Foreign)?

Reimbursement from Medical Care

Not reportable.

What period do you refer to as the Tax Year?

We always refer to the "Tax Year" as the period from January 1 – December 31.

The Financial Year in my resident country differs, and I can't provide a 31 December figure. What should I do?

The Financial Year may go from July 1 to June 30 in your resident country. You may have a Self-Managed Superannuation Fund, which is valued on Jun-30 each year, so you don't have a 31-December figure to give you. In this case, please provide a statement issued on the date closest to the end of the year (i.e., December of the calendar year for which the return is filed or January of the following year).

Items of Expense Reporting

I pay alimony

Report on the income> Other Income tab, question Did you pay or receive alimony during the tax year?

I pay income tax in my home country

This applies to impots sur revenus in France; Einkommensteuer in Germany, Impuesto sobre la renta in Spain etc.

Report it on Taxes & Deductions > Taxes Paid tab, question Did you pay any foreign tax on earnings (Wages, bonus) in the filing year? (i.e., January 1 - December 31 of the year you are filing for).

To calculate the taxes paid during the selected year, use Calendar Year Income Calculator. Provide the figures in your resident country calendar (for individual months or the whole year), then copy the calculated amount earned during the tax year.

Social Security Contributions

Report it on Taxes & Deductions > Taxes Paid tab, question Did you make contributions to a Social Security system during the tax year?

Personal contributions to the pension

Report it on Income > Passive Income > Pension tab question Did you contribute to a U.S. IRA or ROTH IRA account during the filing year?

I have a retirement plan with an insurance company into which I make monthly payments from my after-tax income

Please report it as an Insurance / Annuity product on the income> Investments tab.

Non-Income tax reporting

This applies to the Church tax (Germany), Wealth tax (Switzerland, France, India), Council Tax (U.K.), Zakat (Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Qatar), and Taxe d'habitation (France).

Report it on the Taxes & Deductions tab, question Please list any other item(s) of income or expense that you think may impact your U.S. taxes.

How should the Irish special Universal Social Charge (USC) be reported?

USC is an additional income tax levy on highly compensated individuals and is considered a regular income tax.

Will I be able to avail myself of the U.S.-[my country] Double Taxation Treaty to assert a Treaty position that my income is not liable for U.S. tax?

We will be able to advise on the best way to optimize your tax position in the course of your tax return preparation.

However, this is something that we discuss at the point of gathering your data in the Tax Questionnaire.

Can I deduct the interest I have paid on personal loans?

No. Personal loan interest is not deductible.

You can only deduct home mortgage and higher education loan interest.

Interest in personal expenses (car loans, credit cards, etc.) cannot be deducted.

Reporting Taxes Paid

My husband and I paid income tax on our income, salaries, and self-employment combined. How can I separate this?

If you file a joint U.S. return, there is no need to split the taxes you paid because all tax on earned income (husband and wife, wages, and self-employment) will be used for the credit together.

If one spouse is a U.S. person and only one person files, you should provide your ratio in joint earnings and report the portion of combined taxes based on that ratio. Or you can tell us how much each person earned, and we will determine the tax breakdown between the two earners.

My employment contract states that my employer pays all of my local government taxes, and my take-home pay is net of any tax they pay. How do I reflect this in my tax questionnaire?

Your employment contract may state that your employer pays all of your local government taxes and your take-home pay is net of any tax they pay. How do you reflect this in your tax questionnaire?

A. The IRS needs to know your gross pay (before any tax is withheld) and the amount of tax paid (this benefits your tax position). Your payslips, employment contract, or local tax forms should contain this information.

The employment contract states that you receive USD 150K gross pay. Your employer pays $X to your local government in taxes paid. If you provide us with what, $X is, your tax position will improve.

On your tax questionnaire, you report gross pay. If you provide us with what, $X is, your tax position will improve. Report that amount in answer to the question of Taxes paid or withheld in the resident country.

Video - Using the Calendar Year Income Calculator

I can't find where to enter my wages!

Our T.Q. is done in a way that only shows the questions about your situation. You are asked to select the characteristics that apply to you while creating the T.Q. Depending on your answers, we will show/hide certain sections of the T.Q. To see the questions that refer to your wages, please select I earn a salary, then select I have income from the U.S. and/or I have income from outside the U.S. on the next page.

Then, complete Income > Wages > Income Outside of the U.S. and/or Income > Wages > Income from of the U.S. tabs.

If you can't see these tabs, simply click the Change Income Types button at the left, then select the appropriate sections.

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