All Things Tax

All Things Tax

Like the title says, from the filing process and tax questions to tax policy and reform, you can search and share All Things Tax here. This is the place to find answers to all your general questions that don't fall under the other categories. And just a reminder: questions about software or online filing should be posted in DIY Products.

Posts: 1
Registered: ‎04-10-2018

Filing back taxes after living abroad for years

I'm a tax idiot, so I'm having trouble figuring out the best course of action.


For almost the last decade, I've been living abroad, mostly teaching English. My annual income has never topped 30K USD, and I have been living outside the US for almost all of this time, at least 335 days of each year.  

How do I get started? What forms would I fill out? Every time I try to look into it, I find some conflicting information. If anyone has any advice on where to start or how to put this all behind me, that would really help.

Posts: 272
Registered: ‎11-10-2016

Re: Filing back taxes after living abroad for years



Welcome to the Community. You may want to consider H&R Block's Expat tax services. You can find more information on the website here:


Regards, Harold

Council Member
Posts: 516
Registered: ‎04-06-2016

Re: Filing back taxes after living abroad for years

You can the current year and 6 years of back returns. You'll only be able to get a refund from your returns for the 3 most recent returns.  It's hard to tell what forms you'll need to file with the little information you've given.  You can start by reading Pub 54:  and the FAQ here: .


You'll definitely want to make sure to learn about the foreign earned income exclusion and the foreign tax credit. You'll have to decide if either or both apply to you and which one you're going to take.  If you've been paying income taxes in the country where you've been living, and the tax rate is higher that what you'd pay in the US, the foreign tax credit is generally more beneficial. If you haven't been paying taxes to a foreign country, or if you have but the rates are lower than in the US, the foreign earned income exclusion is probably better.  You'll also want to make sure to fully understand the term tax-home, and the bonafide residence and physical presence tests.


When you're ready, you'll get the 1040 for the year you're going to file.  It might be easier to start with more recent years and work your way back because you can probably find tax software that will help guide you in entering your info so you can learn where things belong. You will need to print and file your older returns. E-file is only available for the current tax year.