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Doing US Taxes in Korea


While I read this article on married couples doing US taxes while abroad I found it didn’t apply to me completely as my spouse is not a US citizen. And while they provided links and great information, I’ve been unsettled to do my own taxes as I really didn’t want to end up on the naughty list of the IRS especially as we were getting ready for my wife’s US visa.

And there seems to be a lot of misinformation regarding US taxes among the expat community. I heard that since I made less than $92,900 (I also heard $60,000) that I didn’t need to file taxes with the IRS. Truth be told US citizens need to file taxes each year even overseas even if they don’t owe the US any money. According the US Embassy mailer: “You may qualify to exclude up to $92,900 of your income from taxes, but you still are required to file a tax return every year.”

It turns out a lot of expats mess this up and end up delinquent for however many years they are living overseas. I didn’t want to fall into that group.

The IRS has a good chunk of info here including when taxes are due as you have more time to file while living overseas.

General: www.irs.gov for Individuals International Taxpayers, U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad

Military: www.irs.gov for Military Individuals

seoul-global-center

Seoul Global Center in Korea

The Seoul Global Center has multiple locations in Seoul and is great with answering expat questions regarding everything from taxes, the trash system, language courses, and running your own business in Korea.

With the US Tax system as complicated as it is I didn’t want to fill out the paperwork myself and risk messing something up as I had no idea that the rules are while living overseas. I needed someone who knew the system well to assist me. So I went to the Seoul Global Center in Itaewon and they told me several accountants that I could use. The list at the time only had two names and it was because those accountants dropped off their business cards. Without contacting them directly I wouldn’t know their experience or how qualified they are.

turbotax Federal State

Turbo Tax is a cheap and popular way of filing taxes and does work for those living outside of the US.

My family uses Turbo Tax and when I was living in the US I used that as well. It asks you questions and you fill in blanks or choose an answer from one of the options provided. However as I was using it I didn’t feel confident as the options didn’t fit me 100% with my job situation in Korea.

filing US Taxes in Korea

H&R Block is a popular company for filing US taxes.

I ended up going with H&R Block. They are a large tax filing company with a solid reputation and have a location on the outskirts of Itaewon in the middle of Seoul. Now I must admit that while I wasn’t impressed with the look of their office (they have since remodeled) I was impressed with the accountant. He spoke English well, been doing this job for years, and would frequently do several years of taxes for an individual in a day or two.

He explained that most of his customers believed the rumor about not needing to file and then would suddenly need to catch up several years worth of taxes. If you are in this situation ask for a discount. He does get very busy during tax filing season so try to come before the rush.

Address:

3F, Infiniti Service Center
36-27 Itaewon 1-dong Yongsan-gu
Seoul 140-201, Korea
Tel. 82-2-749-1040 (primary), 82-2-790-3941 (secondary)
Fax. 82-2-797-6586

Map A

Map B

On the maps you’ll see several subway stations on Line 6; Noksopyeong Station on the left and Itaewon on the right. If taking a bus H&R Block is behind the bus stop.


About the author

rick-n-nyo-koreaRichard Moore holds a B.A. in film production and has finished his M.A. in English
Education in Seoul. You can see other posts about the life of him and his wife in Korea at www.rickandnyo.com.

Richard was my roommate in Seoul and now is a very good friend of mine. He and Nyo are undoubtedly my guiding light whenever I am in doubt about anything related to life in Korea.

Comments (5)

  • Diana

    Hi~ I’m in almost the exact situation as you. I’ve been teaching in Korea since 2008 and I’m trying to get my husband a green card but haven’t filed for US taxes since I’ve been here. Can I ask you how much he charged for filing back taxes? Thanks.

    Reply
  • Sam

    H&R BLOCK has a new location.

    H&R BLOCK KOREA
    Tel. 02-795-7555
    Itaewon Station Exit 1 CoffeeSmith Bldg 5th Floor

    Reply
  • rich

    Since I wrote the initial article, H&R Block officially closed in Korea for a number of months. They were removed from the official international locations page: http://www.hrblock.com/offices/international-offices.html
    and I was unsure what to do.

    A friend here (US citizen married with green card holding wife) always does his filings online through H&R Block’s website. He says that is free and it has worked. The free part tickles my interest but I have not looked into it personally. And again the doing it myself leads me to believe the IRS will look closer at it. I have the view it is better to pay a consultant’s rate so it is done, and I assume the IRS will look at the letterhead, give the paperwork a glance, and then move on to someone else.

    With H&R Block closing, moving, reopening, it looks like their staff (one secretary and one licensed individual) changed into a larger (different?) staff. They answered questions well and we filed yet another year.

    I know in the past, with the previous consultant, he offered deals on catching people up for skipped/missed years as lots of people are in that boat. I would assume a similar situation is available and would definitely ask about it. Bring and tell as much information as possible. Say when you got married/plan to get married, citizenship/visa status of your partner, and bring any kind of paperwork that would show income (work contract).

    There truly is a tax season in the US where everyone tries to get paperwork together and head to a firm and the consultant gets a bit overwhelmed. The same is true here. When I caught up on years of taxes he was able to get everything done in a day or two as it was the off season. This year my timing wasn’t as good and they were a bit more busy but I believe it was done within a week.

    Reply

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