If you meet certain requirements, you may qualify for the foreign earned income and foreign housing exclusions and the foreign housing deduction.
If you are a U.S. citizen or a resident alien of the United States and you live abroad, you are taxed on your worldwide income. However, you may qualify to exclude from income up to an amount of your foreign earnings that is adjusted annually for inflation ($92,900 for 2011, $95,100 for 2012, $97,600 for 2013, $99,200 for 2014 and $100,800 for 2015). In addition, you can exclude or deduct certain foreign housing amounts.
Not foreign earned income: Foreign earned income does not include the following amounts:
Pay received as a military or civilian employee of the U.S. Government or any of its agencies
Pay for services conducted in international waters (not a foreign country)
Pay in specific combat zones, as designated by an Executive Order from the President, that is excludable from income
Payments received after the end of the tax year following the year in which the services that earned the income were performed
The value of meals and lodging that are excluded from income because it was furnished for the convenience of the employer
Pension or annuity payments, including social security benefits
Self-employment income: A qualifying individual may claim the foreign earned income exclusion on foreign earned self-employment income. The excluded amount will reduce the individual’s regular income tax, but will not reduce the individual’s self-employment tax. Also, the foreign housing deduction – instead of a foreign housing exclusion – may be claimed.
Figuring the tax: Beginning with tax year 2006, a qualifying individual claiming the foreign earned income exclusion, the housing exclusion, or both, must figure the tax on the remaining non-excluded income using the tax rates that would have applied had the individual not claimed the exclusions.