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Can a US citizen living abroad contribute to an IRA?

There are various considerations for paying into an Individual Retirement Account which we will delve into in this post as we answer “can a US citizen living abroad contribute to an IRA?” Certain rules must be considered, which might be confusing to some.      

We’ll also discuss the tax implications and advantages and disadvantages of contributing to an IRA while overseas as US citizen.

If you are looking to invest as an expat or high-net-worth individual, which is what I specialize in, you can email me (advice@adamfayed.com) or WhatsApp (+44-7393-450-837).

Whatever written here isn’t formal tax, legal or financial advice, and is only for informational purposes.

Can a US citizen living abroad contribute to an IRA?

Simply put, yes. But before we discuss the considerations for such payments to be made, just a bit of refresher as to what is an IRA.

An IRA is a tax-advantaged savings scheme made for self-employed people, small companies, and individuals looking to prepare for retirement.

To be eligible for IRA contributions, a US citizen abroad must have earned income that is not subject to the:

  • Foreign Housing Exclusion and Deduction
  • Or the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE)

It will not be possible to make an IRA contribution if all income is excluded by the FEIE.

Can a US citizen living abroad contribute to an IRA?

What are the contribution limits for IRAs for US citizens living abroad?

The annual contribution cap to an IRA was raised from $6,500 to $7,000 for tax-year 2024, as per the IRS. However, depending on the filing status and modified adjusted gross income, the contribution may be limited or trimmed.

The ability to make contributions to a Roth IRA is gradually lowered within predetermined modified adjusted gross income limitations too.

What is the deadline for contributing to an IRA for US citizens living abroad?

The deadline for US nationals living overseas and US residents to make contributions to their IRAs is usually the same. The final date is the same as for filing taxes which is every April 15.

So, for tax year 2023, the last day for contributing to an IRA was over. For the 2024 tax year, the deadline is next year on April 15, 2025.

However, if a tax filing extension is sought, such given date may be extended to October 15.

IRA contribution taxes while living abroad

Because it reduces taxable income, using the FEIE may affect eligibility to contribute to an IRA. After claiming the FEIE, individuals need to have US taxable income so as to be qualified for contributions to an IRA.

Tax breaks for contributions made to regular IRAs may lower taxable income, depending on income, filing status, and participation in an employer-sponsored retirement plan. But for US expats, the tax effects of IRA payments would not always be favorable, especially in low-tax areas where deductions might not have a big impact.

IRA contribution taxes while living abroad

On the other hand, money made into a Roth IRA is not tax deductible.

Unlike the FEIE, the Foreign Tax Credit does not affect the taxable income base, but it can lower overall tax load. An increase in US taxable income as a result of the credit may make it easier to make a deposit into an IRA.

The tax consequences of making contributions to a US-based IRA while residing overseas may vary depending on the tax treaties that apply to certain nations and the US. Making educated decisions about IRA contributions can be facilitated by having a thorough understanding of these treaties.

In general, US citizens residing overseas are nevertheless bound by US tax laws, which include regulations governing IRA deposits. Depending on the kind of IRA, the taxpayer’s tax residency status, and any tax deals between the US and the nation of residence, the taxation of IRAs for expats can change.

Pros and cons of contributing to an IRA as US citizen living abroad

US citizens can save money for retirement and enjoy investing freedom by contributing to an IRA, which also provides tax advantages.

Eligibility requirements, withdrawal penalties, and foreign tax implications and treaties might be complicated and hard to maneuver.

An individual might be required to pay state taxes on conventional IRA withdrawals if s/he intends to retire in the US eventually.

Pained by financial indecision? Want to invest with Adam?

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Adam is an internationally recognised author on financial matters, with over 760.2 million answer views on Quora.com, a widely sold book on Amazon, and a contributor on Forbes.

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