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Foreign Housing Deduction

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Foreign Housing Deduction

If you do not have self-employment income, you cannot take a foreign housing deduction.

How you figure your housing deduction depends on whether you have only self-employment income or both self-employment income and employer-provided income. In either case, the amount you can deduct is subject to the limit described later.

Self-employed — no employer-provided amounts.   If none of your housing amount is considered paid for with employer-provided amounts, such as when all of your income is from self-employment, you can deduct your housing amount, subject to the limit described later.

Take the deduction by including it in the total on line 36 of Form 1040. On the dotted line next to line 36, enter the amount and write “Form 2555.”

Self-employed and employer-provided amounts.   If you are both an employee and a self-employed individual during the year, you can deduct part of your housing amount and exclude part of it. To find the part that you can exclude, multiply your housing amount by the employer-provided amounts (discussed earlier) and then divide the result by your foreign earned income. This is the amount you can use to figure your foreign housing exclusion. You can deduct the balance of the housing amount, subject to the limit described later.


Your housing amount for the year is $12,000. During the year, your total foreign earned income is $80,000, of which half ($40,000) is from self-employment and half is from your services as an employee. Half of your housing amount ($12,000 ÷ 2) is considered provided by your employer. You can exclude $6,000 as a housing exclusion. You can deduct the remaining $6,000 as a housing deduction subject to the following limit.


Your housing deduction cannot be more than your foreign earned income minus the total of:

  • Your foreign earned income exclusion, plus
  • Your housing exclusion.

Carryover.   You can carry over to the next year any part of your housing deduction that is not allowed because of the limit. You are allowed to carry over your excess housing deduction to the next year only. If you cannot deduct it in the next year, you cannot carry it over to any other year. You deduct the carryover in figuring adjusted gross income. The amount of carryover you can deduct is limited to your foreign earned income for the year of the carryover minus the total of your foreign earned income exclusion, housing exclusion, and housing deduction for that year.

Additional child tax credit.   You cannot take the additional child tax credit if you claim the foreign housing deduction.

Married Couples

If both you and your spouse qualify for the foreign housing exclusion or the foreign housing deduction, how you figure the benefits depends on whether you maintain separate households.

Separate Households

If you and your spouse live apart and maintain separate households, you both may be able to claim the foreign housing exclusion or the foreign housing deduction. You both can claim the exclusion or the deduction if both of the following conditions are met.

  • You and your spouse have different tax homes that are not within reasonable commuting distance of each other.
  • Neither spouse's residence is within reasonable commuting distance of the other spouse's tax home.

Housing exclusion.   Each spouse claiming a housing exclusion must figure separately the part of the housing amount that is attributable to employer-provided amounts, based on his or her separate foreign earned income.

One Household

If you and your spouse lived in the same foreign household and file a joint return, you must figure your housing amounts jointly. If you file separate returns, only one spouse can claim the housing exclusion or deduction.

In figuring your housing amount jointly, you can combine your housing expenses and figure one base housing amount. Either spouse (but not both) can claim the housing exclusion or housing deduction. However, if you and your spouse have different periods of residence or presence and the one with the shorter period of residence or presence claims the exclusion or deduction, you can claim as housing expenses only the expenses for that shorter period.