It has been estimated that there are several thousand Americans living in Tanzania.
Living in Tanzania is an incredible experience for a number of reasons, including the friendly locals, the exotic food and culture, the climate, and the spectacular landscapes and wildlife. As an American expatriate living in Tanzania though, what exactly do you need to know regarding filing US expat (and Tanzanian) 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 Tanzania, 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 Tanzania, there are several exemptions that allow you to pay less or no US income tax on the same income to the IRS.
“Income tax is payable by individuals resident in Tanzania (other than short-term residents) on their worldwide income. ‘Short-term residents’ and non-residents are taxable on income from a Tanzanian source.”
The 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 Tanzanian resident, and the Foreign Tax Credit, which gives you a $1 tax credit for every dollar of tax you’ve paid in Tanzania. 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 Tanzanian governments share taxpayer info, and Tanzanian 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/Tanzanian dual citizen, and you have been living in Tanzania 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.
Tanzanian taxes – what you need to know
Tanzanian residents are taxed on their worldwide income on a scale of 0% to 30%. Non-residents pay tax on their Tanzanian income at a flat rate of 15%.
Foreigners living in Tanzania are considered resident for tax purposes if they spend either at least 183 days in Tanzania in the tax year, or 122 days in 3 consecutive tax years, or if their permanent home is in Tanzania and they spend any time in the country in the year.
The Tanzanian tax year is the same as in the US, which is to say the calendar year. Tanzanian tax returns are due by June 30th. The Tanzanian tax authority is called the Tanzania Revenue Authority.
We strongly recommend that if you have any doubts or questions about your tax situation as a US expat living in Tanzania that you contact a US expat tax specialist.