Does Your Tax Home Qualify You For the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion?

Your “tax home” must be in a foreign country to qualify you for the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion.

Tax Home

Your tax home is generally the place where you have your main place of business or employment.  The focus here is on where you are permanently or indefinitely engaged to work, and is not necessarily the place that you consider your residence or your family home.

Abode

An abode is where you have your domestic ties rather than your business ties.  You cannot have a “tax home” in a foreign country if you have an abode in the US.  Once you move to a foreign country, you can establish domestic ties there by opening a bank account, getting library cards, joining local clubs, etc.  You can still retain your residence in the US to move back to when your overseas assignment is finished.

Indefinite Assignment

How long do you expect your assignment overseas to last?  If you expect it to last for more than one year or the assignment is not for a specified period, it is an indefinite assignment.  With an indefinite assignment, your new place of employment in the foreign country becomes your tax home (assuming your “abode” is not in the US).

Temporary Assignment

If you expect your overseas assignment to last one year or less, and that actually happens, your assignment is considered temporary, unless facts or circumstances indicate otherwise.  A temporary assignment overseas means you have not changed your” tax home” to a foreign country and thus cannot qualify to exclude foreign earned income from US tax.

To Summarize

To qualify for the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, your overseas assignment must be an indefinite assignment (for more than one year or for an indefinite period), your abode must be outside of the US and your tax home must be in a foreign country.