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· Registered
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey All:

I'm an American living in Germany.
Married to a German citizen who is the sole income earner.
Since I am not working nor earning an income, wondering if I am supposed to be filing a return in the States anyway. May be a dumb question, but just wondering.

Also, I will be able to draw from my 401K account (in the States and pre-tax contributed) and don't know about any withdrawals in the future - pay tax on it here in Germany or must I file in the States?

I get so confused when it comes to tax laws and regulations.

Thanks for any help!

· Administrator
54,635 Posts
I have exercised my "magical moderator powers" and moved your post over here to the Expat Tax section.

If you are not working and have no income of your own, you probably don't need to file a US tax return. I say "probably" because, in your situation, you'd normally file as "married, filing separately" - and that category of taxpayer has a pretty low threshold for filing:

For 2011, if you are in the "married, filing separately" category, you have to file if you have $3700 in income. This includes your worldwide income - interest, dividends, salary, even lottery winnings. If you don't have this amount of income in your own name (you don't need to include your husband's income), then you don't need to file. (Just for any lurkers here, there is one exception to this - if you are self-employed and earned a mere $400, then you are expected to file. no matter what your status.)

For your 401K - you will have to file when you start making withdrawals, assuming the withdrawals are more than your filing threshold. Income tax is payable to the US (i.e. the IRS) at that time. (If you withdraw less than $3700 - or whatever the married, filing separately threshold is for the year you make your withdrawal - you don't have to file.) For German tax purposes, your withdrawal should be treated as a simple transfer of capital - but check the German tax rules on that. Because you are taxed on the withdrawal in the US, you shouldn't be charged income tax in Germany under the tax treaty terms.
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