Overseas job qualifies for tax breaks

February 10, 2013

Do you have a job opportunity that will be taking you overseas? Here's how you can reap some tax benefits.

Q: I soon will be starting a year-long fellowship overseas. Which of my expenses will qualify for tax breaks?

A: If you plan to return to the city you lived in before going  overseas, you should be able to treat this job as a business trip. You’ll be able to write off all of your travel back and forth and your lodging expenses while abroad. You also will be able to base your meals and incidentals on the foreign per-diem rates, which you can find at www.aoprals.state.gov/web920/per_diem.asp. Most likely, you will list these costs as miscellaneous itemized deductions.

 In addition, anyone who is physically present outside the United States for 330 days out of a 365-day period qualifies to exclude from his or her taxes the first $97,600 (in 2013) earned during the 12-month period. The period can straddle 2 calendar years.

To claim this foreign income exclusion, you’ll need to complete and attach a Form 2555 to your federal tax return. You can find the instructions for this form at www.irs.gov/instructions/i2555/index.html.

The answer to our reader’s question was provided by Andrew Schwartz, managing partner of Schwartz & Schwartz PC in Woburn, Massachusetts. Send your money management questions to medec@advanstar.com. Also engage at www.twitter.com/MedEconomics and www.facebook.com/MedicalEconomics.