How do US nationals living abroad (Taiwan) pay taxes?

For those unaware, a U.S. citizen’s income abroad is subjected to income tax by the United States.

After I’m finished with school (June of 2021), I’m heading back to Taiwan.
The reason being that with dual-nationality both in Taiwan and the U.S., I’m legally required to serve in the ROC military.

If you’re a U.S. national living in Taiwan, how do you handle taxes? Are you able to qualify for foreign earned income exclusions or tax credit?
Do you file TurboTax yourself? Hire a tax preparer? or ignore that responsibility?

US citizens are required to file tax returns yearly no matter where they live. You can do everything through IRS, on paper or online, and/or use an app - there are many - if you want. Check the F.I.C.A for the rules governing those who aren’t in the USA.

Do yourself a favor and don’t even think about it.

Of the people you really don’t want on your back because they can make your life a living hell, the IRS is one.

I’m aware that the IRS is the agency you shouldn’t mess with, but I’ve talked to a few U.S. citizens living in Taiwan, they don’t pay taxes at all, so I decided to put that there.

They either don’t make any money, or they’re stupid. Well, actually…


There is a difference between not filling tax returns at all and not owing any taxes after factoring in the foreign earned income exclusions.


Pretty easy for many not to owe u.s. taxes as an expat due to exclusions and credits. But if you have earned income (beyond just token amounts), you still have to file.

The foreign earned income exclusion for 2020 is $108,700.

May have improved lately but TurboTax is NOT an option (though I think I tried this maybe 10 years ago)

Hiring a tax accountant can get sort of expensive, had been using the same guy in HK for ~15 yrs and he charges ~HKD10k. Guess I was always sort of lazy with my taxes and never got around to finding a potentially cheaper alternative in Taiwan after moving here

How much you will end up owing the IRS really depends on your tax bracket. At the higher end, Taiwan taxes are significantly higher than US federal tax. What I usually owed was due to investment income and business travel to the US (even though your income is earned in Taiwan, if you travel to the US, they will consider that US income).

If you’re in your early 20s, your income is below the foreign income exclusion threshold, and you don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars in capital gains or interest earned, you should not be paying anyone a cent to file your taxes.

Just download the PDFs from the IRS site, follow the directions, and your final result should be zero tax owed. Print the PDFs up and mail them in. Doing it the first time is a pain in the ass, but if you save the PDFs, it’s trivial to do every year afterwards.