IRS offers a brochure with information for Americans living abroad.

Form 4732, hot off the presses, is a two pager that lists the different publications available to overseas Americans (incl. Canada and Mexico) who aren’t disregarding (blowing off?) the tax return.

I have been trying to come up with a business model to do tax advisory for folks who want to fulfill their filing obligation. It’s surprising that those big businesses, like HR Block, haven’t done anything with that. My sense is that the foreign-address tax return is a little bit esoteric for these mass producers. (It isn’t a $29.95 return.)

[Update 1/14/13: Per comments below, I can only emphasize that it’s not as straightforward as you think. I can tell you, there are flaws in the packaged programs, especially when it comes to items beyond cash income (paycheck income) in Japan. As I say, it’s not surprising that small firms are the ones that make a boutique of it.]


  1. Inflames · January 11, 2013

    The IRS has a Free File program – my memory is a bit fuzzy but there’s a list of providers to choose from (based on your requirements, such as an overseas address and claiming the foreign earned income exclusion) that let you use their software (for free if your AGI is less than approximately $50,000). You can’t e-file but they fill in the forms electronically for you for free (or, if your AGI is too high, for a minimal fee).

    • Plats · January 13, 2013

      TaxAct is free for everyone. For Vanguard customers TurboTax is discounted or free for high rollers. E-filing may be problematic depending on your situation. I always print and send. I do think there may be an opportunity for a reasonable expat tax service for those too confused to do it themselves.

      I appreciate Hoofin for keeping me up-to-date on pension issues. I thought at first that this 10-year payback option would, by totalization, get me into the USA Medicare program. Unfortunately, a one-second Google search confirmed that Japan/USA totalization doesn’t count toward Medicare enrollment. As of now I’m looking at Medicare fees of over $800 a month for the wife and I, and my $100,000 of JPN Kenko Hoken payments will go down the drain.

      • hoofin · January 13, 2013

        1) Would coverage under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in 2014 be less expensive than the full price Medicare?

        2) When you are stateside, is it possible to obtain the 40 credits you need to qualify for Medicare? You would only need covered income of about $5,000 a year, maybe through casual employment or a small sole proprietor business.

        • hoofin · January 13, 2013

          P.S. I paid about $21,000 into the Japanese health care system, and it was useless to me the day I stepped into the plane at Narita–including the long-term care portion, of course. However, I think it would have cost me a lot more to have been covered in the U.S., with the 18% of GDP going to health care.

          • Plats · January 13, 2013

            Mr. Plats,

            1) I am hoping for some relief from Obamacare. I figure Medicare A~D plus supplemental insurance to be fully covered might run around $2,000 a month.

            2) I am always thinking of some way to game the system, I mean work something out. My sister could hire me do do her lawn, for example.

            • hoofin · January 13, 2013

              Plats, if you qualify for Obamacare, it would not be $2,000/month, unless you weren’t under 400% of MAGI (so maybe $60,000 for a family of two.)

              Working for pay, even for a relative, is not “gaming the system”. It’s fair under the rules.

  2. Plats · January 13, 2013

    I’d be interested in finding out how much 100% coverage for two would be under Obamacare in my situation. I’ll look around.

    • hoofin · January 14, 2013

      I’d like to help, but now I am also working for a tax advisory firm. I have to start doing things for a fee!

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