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March 27, 2009


Do Americans Living Abroad Have to Pay U.S. Taxes?

Q: I am a U.S. citizen who moved to the U.K. several (or many) years ago and thought I did not have to file U.S. tax returns any longer. Now I have learned that information was incorrect. What do I do?

A: American citizens living outside of the U.S. are subject to the same filing requirements that apply to American citizens living in the U.S. The U.S. tax filing requirement is based on worldwide income from all sources irrespective of residence.

Taxes Sign

Photo: Paul Keleher on Flickr

Filing a past due return may not be as difficult as you think. Taxpayers should file all tax returns that are due, regardless of whether or not full payment can be made with the return.

For more information, please see p.10 (or click on Returns for Prior Years in the Topical Index) of the Tax Assistance Information Booklet for Tax Year 2010 [PDF, 650kb] put together by the U.S. Embassy London’s IRS Office.

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  1. Nidhi
    Oct 1 2009

    Does the same apply to permanent residents living abroad? I am living outside the US until my husband’s green card is approved. I ave filed one recently for the year 2008 only. WOuld that be acceptable allowing me to file the Affidavit of Support?

  2. Christine Tomas
    Nov 3 2009

    I have just read the above and am now in the process of preparing my taxes for the last 3 years. I was married this year to a UK citizen and am wondering what impact this has on filing for 2009? Does this change my status? Presumably, my husband has no obligation to file in the US as we are both living in the UK and he does not have any residency or citizenship in the US.

    • American Citizen Services
      Nov 3 2009

      Questions regarding U.S. taxes should be directly to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) office at the U.S. Embassy in London. Their contact details can be found at:

  3. Martin
    Nov 14 2009

    I am an American citizen with of course a Social Security Number. I have lived and worked in the UK since 1984. I have been paying all appropriate UK taxes but nothing for the US. Can I just get on a plane, get a job, and start working in the US ?

    • American Citizen Services
      Nov 17 2009

      As your questions relates to U.S. tax issues and whether or not they would prevent you from working in the U.S., you should contact the IRS office directly. Please use the link in the blog post above for their contact details.

  4. alice mcgill
    Nov 17 2009

    I have lived in the uk for 9 years and have no property back home and filed taxes before I left should I still be paying taxes there???

    • American Citizen Services
      Nov 17 2009

      The answer to your question is in the blog post above: Generally, you should file returns for the past three years, taking the foreign earned income exclusion, the foreign tax credit, or both. It would be extremely unlikely that there would be any late penalties assessed, since penalties are computed as a percentage of tax owed, and only the rare taxpayer would actually owe tax in this situation.

      You may contact the IRS office at the U.S. Embassy in London for prior year tax forms, or download them from the IRS website. To find older forms, enter the year required in the Search for… box on the top-left of the page. The search typically returns Forms and Publications for the year on which you will have seached.

  5. Mary Paul
    Dec 22 2009

    First question – I don’t get back to US often to take my forms to a tax preparer in the US. As a result they are often late getting my completed tax form to the IRS. Are there US tax preparers in the UK? How do I know they are reliable and know US tax law?
    Second question – I am a UK resident married to a UK citizen. Do I have to pay UK taxes on my US income?

    • American Citizen Services
      Dec 23 2009

      For U.S. tax preparation services, please use the following link to visit our website and click on “Tax Preparation Services”.*

      For questions regarding UK taxes, you will need to contact HM Revenue & Customs directly.

      *Note: This list is provided as a service to the public and does not constitute a recommendation by the U.S. Embassy. The Embassy cannot accept any responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons whose names appear below. Fees are entirely a matter for agreement between the individual and the firm. It is not intended to be a complete list of tax preparation services. For additional companies, refer to the list of “Tax Consultants” in the Yellow Pages telephone directory. Further advice and information regarding certified accountants can be obtained by contacting the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, PO Box 433, The Chartered Accountants Hall, Moorgate Place, London EC2P 2BJ, Tel: 020-7920-8100, .

  6. Brandon
    Mar 3 2010


    I am an American citizen, am 27 years old but have lived in the UK for 21 years and have a British passport. Do I still have to pay US taxes and if so where do I seek advice on how many years to declare?

    • American Citizen Services
      Mar 4 2010

      Brandon – If you have a specific question about paying U.S. taxes, you should contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) office at the U.S. Embassy in London. Their contact details can be found at:

  7. Nita Bakay
    Apr 10 2010

    My daughter is living in the UK since July 09. Does she have to pay US taxes and UK taxes?

    • American Citizen Services
      Apr 12 2010

      Nita – your daughter should contact the Internal Revenue Service for more information about U.S. taxes. Contact information is available from the IRS website

  8. Roger Sebastian
    Apr 16 2010

    I find myself in the exact situation you described as a US citizen in the UK, having just found out about all these issues. Of course this year I will contact a tax preparer and make all haste to straighten things out. With the $85K exemption and the taxes i pay here I do not anticpate having an outstanding tax bill, and my US income is under the filing limit.

    My worry is that I might be fined considerable amounts for non-filing and for non-disclosure of foreign bank accounts (as I have also recently discovered that these have to be reported). Is it usual to apply fines to people who legitimately had no idea of their responsibility to file as a US citizen living abroad?

    • American Citizen Services
      Apr 20 2010

      Roger – if you are concerned about any aspect of your U.S. tax return, you may wish to contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) office at the Embassy in London for more information. Contact details for the IRS in London is available from the Embassy website, here.

  9. Margaret UK
    Apr 18 2010

    My partner and I are UK Citizens, but have 401(K), savings, and a home in the US, where we lived for 6 years. I am assuminig that we have to complete a tax return, and had an appointment with our CPA in the US. However, because of the ‘no fly’ situation here in the UK we need to find someone to complete our tax form, and i cannot find a firm over here.

    • American Citizen Services
      Apr 20 2010

      Margaret – A list of tax preparation services is available from the Embassy website, here.

      Please note that inclusion on this list is in no way an endorsement by the Department of State or U.S. Embassy London. Names for firms are listed alphabetically, and the order in which they appear has no other significance. The information in the list on professional credentials, areas of expertise, and language ability are provided directly by persons/firms

  10. colette
    Jul 12 2010

    I am a US citizen who has lived in the UK for the past 23 years and has not yet filed any tax returns. I am in the process of securing an immigrant visa for my husband, and we have been told that we need to provide my 2009 tax return. I have got in contact with a tax accountant who has told me that in order to do this, I need to also get tax returns dating back to 2004 to get up to date. Is this really the case or can I simply file a tax return for 2009 on its own?

    • American Citizen Services
      Jul 15 2010

      colette – you may wish to contact the IRS office at the Embassy for assistance in filing tax returns. Please note that all U.S. Citizens are required to file a tax return, even if they are not resident in the United States or not earning any income from the U.S.

  11. Alastair
    Aug 4 2010

    I have dual nationality UK and US and have lived soley in the UK for the last 17 years. I have not previously worked in the US. Do I need to pay US taxes and/or file US tax returns?

    • American Citizen Services
      Aug 5 2010

      Alastair – you may wish to contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for more information about the requirements for filing tax returns while living abroad. Contact information for the IRS office at the Embassy is available from our website, here.

  12. Anna
    Aug 14 2010

    I’m a US citizen and I’ve lived in the UK since 1997. I filed returns from 1997-2002. I have not filed since 2002. I was thinking I should get caught up for all previous years. Should I really only file for the last 3 years?

    • AmericanCitizenServices
      Aug 17 2010

      Anna – if you are concerned about filing U.S. tax returns, you may wish to contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) office at the Embassy directly for more information and assistance. Contact details are available here.

Comments are closed.