An Easy Guide for Filing Your Tax Return for American JETs

Version 2Written by: Maia Martucci and Joe Martucci

 

Hello new and current American JETs! As you already know, spring is here and that means that it is tax season. So whether you are filing for the first time or for your most recent return, the most important thing to remember is not to worry.

While your return is more complicated than it has been in the past because some or all of your income has been earned overseas, the federal government will give you an exemption amount so you will not pay taxes on the amount you earn in Japan as long as you file properly!

Below is a walk through on how to do this. Remember, it’s not hard! You can do it!

NEW JET PROGRAMME PARTICIPANTS (2014-2015 Contract Year Arrivals)

If this is your first year in Japan (i.e. you started JET in 2014) you must wait until you have been in Japan for a whole year to qualify for the exemption. So this means you should wait until September 2015 to file your return. I strongly suggest that you file for an extension.  To do this, file form 4868 which can be downloaded from the IRS site www.irs.gov . This form must be filed by June 15th and should be filled out by new JET program participants that resided in Japan on April 15, 2015.

Why should I wait to file my return if I am a new ALT?

The reason you MUST wait to file your return is because if you file before you have lived in Japan for one full year, you will not qualify for the exemption amount.

 

This extension makes your return due on October 15, 2015, and will therefore qualify you for the exemption.

 

Most of you will qualify to use form 2555EZ as long as your income is less than $99,200. If you made more than that, I strongly advise that you hire a CPA to do your return. You can afford it.

 

Form 2555EZ can be downloaded from www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f2555ez.pdf

 

1ST YEAR JET PROGRAMME PARTICIPANTS

For JETS in their first year here is how to fill out the form, line by line.

 

PART I

Enter your name and Social Security number at the top of the form

Question 1a  Check box NO

Question 2a  Check box YES

Question  2b  You should enter the date you entered Japan and then the date that is 12 months past that date.

 

For example, if you entered Japan on August 3, 2014 you should enter a date of August 4th 2015.  Make sure the date you enter is 12 month more than the date you entered Japan or you do not qualify! This is the reason why you must file for an extension to make sure you have been in Japan 12 months before, or you will be taxed on your earnings.

 

Question 3 check box YES

 

Part II

 

Line 4 Your address in Japan

Line 5 Your occupation as a teacher

Line 6 Your employer’s name

Line 7 Leave blank

Line 8 Your employer’s address in Japan

Line 9 Check box 9B

Line 10 If you filed a 2555 or 2555EZ before enter the year you filed it. If not, check box 10b (most of time, first year JET participants will check this box)

Line 11a Enter your Japan address and when you moved in

Line 11b List the country you are a citizen of

 

Part III

 

This part is if you returned back to the United States during your JET program assignment and worked and made income.

 

Do not do this part unless you were in the United States for more than 35 days in the year, or if you made income in the United States.

 

Part IV

 

Line 14 should be at least 330. Most of you will have 365 days

 

Line 15 Check Yes or No depending on the answer to line 14 and do the math

 

Line 16 should be either $99200 or some lesser number depending on your answer to line 15

 

Line 17 should be the amount you earned in Japan for the year. Make sure you convert to US dollars and DO NOT enter yen. Use an average rate for the year. For example, for 2014 I would use 115 YEN to the dollar.

 

Line 18 for almost everyone should be the same amount on line 17

 

Take the amount on line 18 of the 2555EZ and put it on your 1040 line 21 as a negative number.

 

Once this is completed, we can continue to do the rest of the return.

 

Download form 1040 downloaded from www.irs.gov .

 

Enter all the information on the form as needed. Remember to use your Japanese address!

 

Line 7 use the same amount as you did on line 17 of the 2555EZ which is your wage converted to US Dollars.

 

DO NOT WORRY if you are off a few dollars as you are getting the exact amount in the exclusion.

 

If you had wages you earned in the US prior to moving to Japan you must include those wages and pay tax on those wages.

 

Line 21 should be the amount from line 18 of the 2555EZ

 

Follow instructions from there and good luck!

 

2ND+ YEAR JET PROGRAMME PARTICIPANTS

 

Most of you will qualify to use form 2555EZ as long as your income is less than $99,200. If you made more than that, I strongly advise that you hire a CPA to do your return. You can afford it.

 

Form 2555EZ can be downloaded from www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f2555ez.pdf

 

PART I

 

Enter your name and social security number at the top of the form.

Question 1a Check box YES

Question 1B Enter the date you moved to Japan and where it says ended, put “continues”

Question 2a SKIP

Question  2b SKIP

Question 3 Check box YES

 

Part II

 

Line 4 Your address in Japan

 

Line 5 Your occupation as teacher

 

Line 6 Your employer’s name

 

Line 7 Leave blank

 

Line 8 Your employer’s address in Japan

 

Line 9 Check box 9B

 

Line 10 If you filed a 2555 or 2555EZ before enter the year you filed it (In most cases this will be your first year with the JET programme)

 

Line 10C should be checked NO

 

Line 11a enter your Japan address and when you moved in

 

Line 11b list the country you are a citizen of

 

Part III

 

This part is if you returned back to the United States during your JET program assignment and worked and made income.

 

Do not do this part unless you were in the United States for more than 35 days in the year, or if you made income in the United States.

 

Part IV

 

Line 14 should be at least 330. Most of you will have 365 days

 

Line 15 Check Yes or No depending on the answer to line 14 and do the math!

 

Line 16 should be either $99200 or some lesser number depending on line 15

 

Line 17 should be the amount you earned in Japan for the year.  Make sure you convert to US dollars and not enter YEN.  Use an average rate for the year, for example for 2014 I would use 115 YEN to the dollar

 

Line 18 for almost everyone should be the amount on line 17

 

Take the amount on line 18 of the 2555EZ and put it on your 1040 line 21 as a negative number.

 

Now that we have got that portion done we can do the rest of the return.

 

Download form 1040 downloaded from www.irs.gov .

 

Enter all the information on the form as needed. Remember to use your Japanese address!

 

Line 7 Use the same amount as you did on line 17 of the 2555EZ which is your wage converted to US Dollars.

 

DO NOT WORRY if you are off a few dollars as you are getting the exact amount in the exclusion.

 

If you had wages you earned in the US prior to moving to Japan you must include those wages and pay tax on those wages.

 

Line 21 should be the amount from line 18 of the 2555EZ

Follow instructions from there and good luck!

***

It is extremely important to file taxes every year. If you do not file taxes the Japanese Tax Office will contact you asking for form 6166 (which proves you filed a return) or they will collect taxes for the year(s) you did not file with the United States.

3 thoughts on “An Easy Guide for Filing Your Tax Return for American JETs

  1. Hey There,

    Quick Question. I was browsing Google and came across this blog. I am a first year JET in Nara. I was just wondering about Form 4868. Do you know if we are supposed to include foreign earned income in our totals/estimates for tax liability for 2014 (part two, box 4)? I am a little confused as to whether I only report the amount I made in 2014 in the US prior to JET – or if in addition to US income, I include my Japanese income as well (in US dollars). OR do I wait to report Japanese income on the Foreign Earned Income form? Sorry my mind is all over the place with all these forms and numbers. Thank you for this post.

  2. Hello, my name is Sharon. I’m a first year ALT and I’m in a bit of a pickle. My mom filed my taxes back in April and I didn’t know about it until recently. So I’m not sure how to continue from here. Should I still submit form 4868 for the income I’ve earned here in Japan? :/

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