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Publication 516

U.S. Government Civilian Employees Stationed Abroad


What's New(p1)

New Form 8938.(p1)
If you had foreign financial assets in 2011, you may have to file new Form 8938 with your return. See Foreign Financial Assets later for more information.
Future developments.(p1)
The IRS has created a page on for information about Publication 516 at Information about any future developments affecting Publication 516 (such as legislation enacted after we release it) will be posted on that page.


Combat zone participants.(p1)
If you were a civilian who served in a combat zone or qualified hazardous duty area in support of the U.S. Armed Forces, you can get certain extensions of deadlines for filing tax returns, paying taxes, filing claims for refund, and doing certain other tax-related acts. For details, see Publication 3, Armed Forces' Tax Guide.
Death due to terrorist or military action.(p1)
U.S. income taxes are forgiven for a U.S. Government civilian employee who dies as a result of wounds or injuries incurred while employed by the U.S. Government. The wounds or injuries must have been caused by terrorist or military action directed against the United States or its allies. The taxes are forgiven for the deceased employee's tax years beginning with the year immediately before the year in which the wounds or injury occurred and ending with the year of death.
If the deceased government employee and the employee's spouse filed a joint return, only the decedent's part of the joint tax liability is forgiven.
For additional details, see Publication 559, Survivors, Executors, and Administrators.


If you are a U.S. citizen working for the U.S. Government, including the foreign service, and you are stationed abroad, your income tax filing requirements are generally the same as those for citizens and residents living in the United States. You are taxed on your worldwide income, even though you live and work abroad.
However, you may receive certain allowances and have certain expenses that you generally do not have while living in the United States. This publication explains:

U.S. possessions.(p2)

This publication does not cover the rules that apply if you are stationed in American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Virgin Islands, or Puerto Rico. That information is in Publication 570, Tax Guide for Individuals With Income From U.S. Possessions.

Comments and suggestions.(p2)

We welcome your comments about this publication and your suggestions for future editions.
You can write to us at the following address:

Internal Revenue Service
Business Forms and Publications Branch
1111 Constitution Ave. NW, IR-6526
Washington, DC 20224

We respond to many letters by telephone. Therefore, it would be helpful if you would include your daytime phone number, including the area code, in your correspondence.
You can email us at Please put "Publications Comment" on the subject line. You can also send us comments from Select "Comment on Tax Forms and Publications" under "Information about."
Although we cannot respond individually to each comment received, we do appreciate your feedback and will consider your comments as we revise our tax products.
Ordering forms and publications.(p2)
Visit to download forms and publications, call 1-800-829-3676, or write to the address below and receive a response within 10 days after your request is received.

Internal Revenue Service
1201 N. Mitsubishi Motorway
Bloomington, IL 61705-6613

Tax questions.(p2)
If you have a tax question, check the information available on or call 1-800-829-1040. We cannot answer tax questions sent to either of the above addresses.


Useful items

You may want to see:

 54  Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad
 463  Travel, Entertainment, Gift, and Car Expenses
 514  Foreign Tax Credit for Individuals
 521  Moving Expenses
 523  Selling Your Home
Form (and Instructions)
 Schedule A: (Form 1040) Itemized Deductions
 1116: Foreign Tax Credit
 2106: Employee Business Expenses
 2106-EZ: Unreimbursed Employee Business Expenses
 3903: Moving Expenses
 4868: Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return
 8938: Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets
 TD F 90-22.1: Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts
See How To Get Tax Help, near the end of this publication, for information about getting these publications and forms.

Filing Information(p2)

If you are a U.S. citizen or resident living or traveling outside the United States, you are generally required to file income tax returns in the same way as those residing in the United States. However, the special rules explained in the following discussions may apply to you.

When To File and Pay(p2)

Most individual tax returns cover a calendar year, January through December. The regular due date for these tax returns is April 15 of the following year. If April 15 falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, your tax return is considered timely filed if it is filed by the next business day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday. If you get an extension, you are allowed additional time to file and, in some circumstances, pay your tax. You must pay interest on any tax not paid by the regular due date.
Your return is considered filed on time if it is mailed from and officially postmarked in a foreign country on or before the due date (including extensions), or given to a designated international private delivery service before midnight of the last date prescribed for filing. See your tax form instructions for a list of private delivery services that have been designated by the IRS to meet this "timely mailing as timely filing/paying" rule for tax returns and payments.
If your return is filed late, the postmark or delivery service date does not determine the date of filing. In that case, your return is considered filed when it is received by the IRS.


You may be able to get an extension of time to file your return and pay your tax.

Automatic 2-month extension.(p2)

You can get an automatic 2-month extension (to June 15, for a calendar year return) to file your return and pay your tax if you are a U.S. citizen or resident and, on the regular due date of your return, you are living outside the United States and Puerto Rico and your main place of business or post of duty is outside the United States and Puerto Rico. To get this extension, you must attach a statement to your return explaining how you qualified. You will owe interest on any tax not paid by the regular due date of your return.
Married taxpayers.(p2)
If you file a joint return, either you or your spouse can qualify for the automatic extension. If you and your spouse file separate returns, the extension applies only to the spouse who qualifies.

Additional extension.(p2)

You can apply for an additional extension of time to file your return by filing Form 4868. You must file Form 4868 by the due date for your income tax return.
Generally, you must file it by April 15. However, if you qualify for the automatic 2-month extension, you generally must file Form 4868 by June 15. Check the box on line 8 of Form 4868.
Payment of tax.(p2)
You should estimate and pay any additional tax you owe when you file Form 4868 to avoid being charged a late-payment penalty. The late-payment penalty applies if, through withholding, etc., you paid less than 90% of your actual tax liability by the original due date of your income tax return. Even if the late-payment penalty does not apply, you will be charged interest on any unpaid tax liability from the original due date of the return until the tax is paid.
Electronic filing.(p2)
You can file for the additional extension by phone, using your home computer, or through a tax professional. See Form 4868 for more information.

Limit on additional extensions.(p2)

You generally cannot get a total extension of more than 6 months. However, if you are outside the United States and meet certain tests, you may be able to get a longer extension.
For more information, see Publication 54.

Foreign Bank Accounts(p2)

You must file Form TD F 90-22.1 if at any time during the year you had an interest in, or signature or other authority over, a bank account, securities account, or other financial account in a foreign country. This applies if the combined assets in the account(s) were more than $10,000. Do not include accounts in a U.S. military banking facility operated by a U.S. financial institution.
File the completed form by June 30 of the following year with the Department of the Treasury at the address shown on that form. Do not attach it to Form 1040. If you are required to file Form TD F 90-22.1 but do not do so, you may have to pay a penalty of up to $10,000 (more if the failure to file is willful).

Foreign Financial Assets(p3)

You must file new Form 8938 to report the ownership of specified foreign financial assets if the total value of those assets exceeds an applicable threshold amount (the "reporting threshold"). The reporting threshold varies depending on whether you live in the United States, are married, or file a joint income tax return with your spouse. Specified foreign financial assets include any financial account maintained by a foreign financial institution and, to the extent held for investment, any stock, securities, or any other interest in a foreign entity and any financial instrument or contract with an issuer or counterparty that is not a U.S. person.
You may have to pay penalties if you are required to file Form 8938 and fail to do so, or if you have an understatement of tax due to any transaction involving an undisclosed foreign financial asset.
For more information, see Form 8938 and its instructions.