Since many Texas companies send employees on international assignment, they should be mindful that the U.S. federal income tax rules don’t apply to everyone in the same way. A case in point is a recent Tax Court Memorandum decision, Qunell v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue. In that case, the Tax Court held that even though the taxpayer was employed in Afghanistan for 16 months, he was not entitled to exclude his income earned in Afghanistan for 2011 from U.S. tax because he was deemed to have a U.S. abode. For those who have only a high-level understanding of the foreign earned income exclusion under Section 911 of the Internal Revenue Code (see previous post here), this result may not be obvious. But the statute is clear that even if a taxpayer otherwise qualifies to exclude foreign earned income under Section 911, that exclusion is not available if the taxpayer has an abode within the United States.
Texas companies that send their employees on international assignment shouldn’t let their employees figure out their US federal income taxes by themselves. A case in point is a recent Tax Court Memorandum decision, Gerencser v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, where the taxpayer not only lost to the IRS but was assessed with penalties as well. A well-written global mobility policy that requires expats to use the company’s designated tax return preparer is best practice, but surprisingly not all companies take this approach. Because a failure by the expat to properly compute taxes could, in fact, subject the employer to liability, it is important that companies review their global mobility policies.
Continue Reading Expatriate Taxation – Don’t Be a Cowboy!