IRS Publication 54

Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad

If you’ve ever felt lost when it comes to taxes for U.S. expats, IRS publication 54 will be your new best friend.

Publication 54 (or just Pub 54, for short) is the IRS’ North Star for expat taxes, and the guide focuses on U.S. tax benefits, issues, and situations for U.S. taxpayers living outside the U.S.

man reading IRS publication 54

It also covers U.S. Social Security agreements with other nations (Totalization agreements), filing deadlines, marriages to non-U.S. persons, and the foreign earned income exclusion (FEIE) on Form 2555. The bulk of the publication is dedicated to the requirements of the FEIE and the foreign housing exclusion, and also how both exclusions interact with deductions, credits, and other income on the 1040.

What’s included in Pub 54?

Within Pub 54 are seven chapters, each dealing with specific provisions and guides on U.S. taxes for resident aliens and citizens living abroad:

  • Chapter 1: Filing information — Chapter one contains information on filing information, including:
  • Chapter 2: Withholding tax — Chapter two details withholding tax on things like income, Social Security, and Medicare.
  • Chapter 3: Taxes for the self-employed
  • Chapter 4: Foreign earned income exclusion and housing exclusion and deduction — Chapter four deals with your exclusions and housing deductions. It goes into detail about the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (Form 2555) as well as the foreign housing exclusions for Americans overseas.
  • Chapter 5: Exemptions, deductions, and credits — Chapter five details exemptions, including contributions to foreign organization, contributions to retirement vehicles, and foreign taxes paid.
  • Chapter 6: Tax treaties — Chapter six details how tax treaties work and how you can benefit from them.
  • Chapter 7: How to get help — Chapter seven includes instructions on how to get help with your expat taxes from the IRS.

Need help understanding IRS Pub 54? Ready to file? H&R Block Expat Tax Services is here to help

The IRS Publication 54 has a lot of information to digest, and you probably have questions about specific issues that arise with living abroad. Check out our Expat Tax Resource Center and Country Tax Guides to learn more about your U.S. expat taxes. Ready to file? Get started with H&R Block’s Expat Tax Services today.