US Expat Taxes for Americans Living in Myanmar – What You Need to Know
It has been estimated that there are several thousand Americans living in Myanmar.
Living in Myanmar is an incredible experience for a number of reasons, including the friendly locals, the quality of life, the landscapes and beaches, and the culture and cuisine. As an American expatriate living in Myanmar though, what exactly do you need to know regarding filing US expat (and Myanma) 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 Myanmar, 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.
If you pay income tax in Myanmar, there are several exemptions that allow you to pay less or no US income tax on the same income to the IRS.
“Resident nationals and foreigners are taxed on their worldwide income under the Myanmar Income Tax Act. Non-resident foreigners are taxed only on income derived from sources within Myanmar.” – PwC
The main examptions 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 Myanma resident, and the Foreign Tax Credit, which gives you a $1 tax credit for every dollar of tax you’ve paid in Myanmar. 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 Myanma governments share taxpayer info, and Myanma 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/Myanma dual citizen, and you have been living in Myanmar 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.
Myanma taxes – what you need to know
Myanma residents are taxed on their worldwide income on a progressive scale from 1% to 25%. Capital gains and rental income are taxed at a flat rate of 10%. Non-residents are solely taxed on income sourced in Myanmar.
Foreigners living in Myanmar are considered a resident for tax purposes if their are domiciled in or have a permanent abode in Myanmar, or if they are physically present in Myanmar for at least 183 days in a tax year.
The Myanma tax year runs from April 1st to March 31st. Myanma tax returns are due by June 30th. The Myanma tax authority is called the Inland Revenue Department.
We strongly recommend that if you have any doubts or questions about your tax situation as a US expat living in Myanmar that you contact a US expat tax specialist.