US Expat Taxes for Americans Living in Liechtenstein – What You Need to Know

expat filing taxes in liechtenstein

It has been estimated that there are several thousand Americans living in Liechtenstein.

Living in Liechtenstein is an incredible experience for a number of reasons, including the hospitable locals, the cultural attractions, the countryside, and the quality of life. As an American expatriate living in Liechtenstein though, what exactly do you need to know regarding filing US expat (and Liechtenstein) taxes?

All US citizens and green card holders who earn a minimum of around $10,000 (or just $400 for self-employed individuals) anywhere in the world are required to file a US federal tax return and pay taxes to the IRS, regardless of where in the world they live or their income is generated.

The good news is if you are paying income tax in Liechtenstein, there are various exclusions and exemptions available to prevent you paying tax on the same income to the IRS too.

US taxes – what you need to know

If you earn over US$10,000 (or just $400 of self-employment income), wherever the income originates in the world you have to file IRS form 1040.

While any US taxes due are still due by April 15th, expats get an automatic filing extension until June 15th, which can be extended further on request until October 15th.

If you have overseas assets worth over US$200,000 per person, excluding your home if it is owned in your own name, you also have to file form 8938 to declare them.

If you had a total of at least US$10,000 in one or more foreign bank and/or investment accounts at any time during the tax year, you also have to file FinCEN form 114, otherwise known as a Foreign Bank Account Report or FBAR.

“Communal tax is a surcharge on the national income tax due. Communities levy a surcharge of between 150% and 250%. The surcharges are fixed annually by the local governments.”
– PricewaterhouseCoopers

If you pay income tax in Liechtenstein, there are several exemptions that allow you to pay less or no US income tax on the same income to the IRS. The main exemptions are the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, which lets you exclude the first around US$100,000 of foreign earned income from US tax if you can prove that you are a Liechtenstein resident, and the Foreign Tax Credit, which gives you a $1 tax credit for every dollar of tax you’ve paid in Liechtenstein. These exemptions can be combined if necessary. Remember though that even if you don’t owe any tax to the IRS, if your income is over US$10,000 (or $400 if you’re self-employed) you still have to file a federal return.

The US and Liechtenstein governments share taxpayer info, and Liechtenstein banks pass on US account holders’ account info to the IRS, so it’s not worth not filing or omitting anything on your return. The penalties for incorrect or incomplete filing for expats are steep to say the least.

If you’re a US citizen, green card holder, or US/Liechtenstein dual citizen, and you have been living in Liechtenstein but you didn’t know you had to file a US tax return, don’t worry: there’s a program called the IRS Streamlined Procedure that allows you to catch up on your filing without paying any penalties. Don’t delay though, in case the IRS comes to you first.

Liechtenstein taxes – what you need to know

Liechtenstein residents are taxed on their worldwide income on a scale from 2.5% to 22.4%, including communal and social security taxes. This tax is split between a national tax and a communal tax. The communal tax varies depending where in the country you live. Non-residents are solely taxed on their income sourced in Liechtenstein. There is also a small wealth tax.

Foreigners living in Liechtenstein are considered a resident for tax purposes if they spend over 6 months in Liechtenstein in a tax year.

The Liechtenstein tax year is the same as the American tax year, which is to say the calendar year. If your only source of income is from employment in Liechtenstein, your income will be taxed at source and you won’t have to file a tax return. Otherwise, tax returns are due by April 15th. The Liechtenstein tax authority is called the Landesverwaltung Liechtenstein.

We strongly recommend that if you have any doubts or questions about your tax situation as a US expat living in Liechtenstein that you contact a US expat tax specialist.

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