Q&A: I’ll be working in another country but paid by my company in the US– what do I need to know?

Posted by Don W on May 13, 2010 under Expatriate Taxes, Relocation and Taxes

Q: I would like some information regarding expatriate tax as related to my somewhat unique situation. My company is planning to send me to the Dominican Republic to work with our offshore partners. Here are the specifics of my situation:

  • I will be working in the Dominican Republic for 1-3 years
  • I will be paid by my company in the US
  • My company has not incorporated in the Dominican Republic
  • I will simply be working with companies in the DR but will be working for and getting paid by my company in the US.
  • I plan to travel to the US at least twice each year, probably around Christmas and the 4th of July.
  • What are my options? Thanks again in advance for any information you can provide.


A:
The MOST important thing to remember is whether or not you will qualify for the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion. That is where the 330 day rule comes from.

All the time you return for meetings, vacation, medical emergencies, etc. count against it.  Are you going to be paying taxes in the Dominican Republic? If so, you will also be eligible for the Foreign Tax Credit.

You can also find a great deal of information on our Expat Tax Basics page on our main site.

Q&A: Is it better to be a contractor or an employee of a foreign corporation, for tax purposes?

Posted by Don W on February 22, 2010 under Business Tax Issues, Expatriate Taxes

Q: I’m an American citizen considering a 3 month contract with a Japanese company. I would be working in Japan and they would pay me as a contractor, not an employee. Right now I’m a sole proprietor.

Would it be better for tax purposes to incorporate (LLC or S Corp)? Would I pay any taxes in Japan? We’re also discussing a longer term contract where I would be in Japan for 270 days per year. Would I be better off as an employee or a contractor?

A: The short answer is an LLC or S Corp would pass through just like a sole proprietorship. Unless you would be making large sums it would not really be worth it, from a basic tax perspective. There may be legal or industry specific issues which make them attractive options.

The employee or contractor question is a tricky one. The big difference is whether you pay into US Social Security or into the Japanese system. Employees of foreign corporations are generally not required to pay into US system because they are paying into the foreign system. Those self-employed would be required to pay into the US system. Both statuses are eligible for the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, for which you must meet the Physical Presence Test to qualify. However, self-employed taxpayers must pay Self-Employment Tax. This is comprised of the employee and employer portions of Social Security and Medicare. These taxes are not eligible to be excluded. It is possible to have all of your foreign income excluded and still have to pay Self-Employment Tax. We invite you to visit the Expat Tax Basics page on our main site for more information.

Tax returns for those filing as self-employed can be more complex– something to take into consideration.