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Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE)

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Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE)

Living and working abroad comes with a unique set of financial considerations, and understanding how to navigate international tax obligations is essential for expatriates. One valuable tool that can significantly impact an expat’s tax liability is the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE). In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the details of the FEIE, its benefits, eligibility criteria, and how you can maximize its advantages to optimize your tax situation while living overseas.

Understanding the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE)

The Foreign Earned Income Exclusion is a provision provided by the IRS that allows eligible U.S. citizens and resident aliens living and working abroad to exclude a certain amount of their foreign earned income from their taxable income. This exclusion helps expats reduce their U.S. income tax liability on income earned while abroad.

To qualify for the FEIE, expatriates must meet certain requirements:

  1. Physical Presence Test: You must be physically present in a foreign country for at least 330 days within a 12-month period. This period doesn’t have to align with the calendar year.
  2. Bona Fide Residence Test: Alternatively, you must establish a bona fide residence in a foreign country. This requires a genuine intent to make that country your home and involves factors such as the length of your stay, ties to the country, and more.

The Foreign Earned Income Exclusion offers expats several benefits:

  • Reduced Tax Liability: By excluding a portion of your foreign earned income from taxation, you can significantly reduce your U.S. income tax liability.
  • Potential for Tax-Free Income: Depending on the amount of foreign earned income you earn and the exclusion limit, you may be able to enjoy tax-free income up to the exclusion limit.
  • Support for Expatriate Lifestyle: The FEIE recognizes the additional costs associated with living abroad and hence offers Foreign Housing Deduction

To make the most of the FEIE, consider these tips:

  • Document Your Eligibility: Keep thorough records of your physical presence or bona fide residence to substantiate your eligibility for the exclusion.
  • Plan Your Time Abroad: Understand the requirements of the physical presence test and plan your travel accordingly to maximize your days in a foreign country.
  • Income Types: Understand which types of income are eligible for the exclusion and which are not.

Foreign-earned income includes wages, salaries, professional fees, or other amounts paid to you for personal services rendered by you.  It does not include income such as interest, dividends, or any other passive investment income. Self-employment income may also be excluded reducing your regular income tax but not self-employment tax.

Contact Us Today

The Foreign Earned Income Exclusion is a valuable tool that can significantly impact the tax liability of expatriates. By understanding the eligibility criteria, benefits, and tips for maximizing its advantages, you can optimize your tax situation while enjoying your expatriate lifestyle. Luckily, our team of international experts is here to assist you in determining the most optimal tax strategies as you work and earn income from overseas. Simply contact us below and we will be happy to assist.

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