Your tax return may be complicated, but chances are it doesn’t generate as many headaches as the returns cross-continental U.S. pilots and flight attendants have to file.
CNN Money explains that, unlike most other countries, the U.S. requires citizens living abroad to file and pay taxes on income above $97,600 earned in foreign countries. That sounds pretty straightforward. But the IRS rules say money made working in or over international waters doesn’t count as foreign income, so citizens must pay taxes on that income.
Which means that pilots, flight attendants, and others who work in or over international waters must keep detailed records of exactly where they were for what amount of time and what money they earned where and when.
To make things even more complicated, the U.S. definition of “international waters” is vague and even contradictory. Some accountants calculate international waters as three miles off the coast, while others interpret the definition as 200 miles offshore. Pilots, flight attendants, merchant mariners and others have to keep track of each exact location point, in case of an audit.
Suddenly, your tax return doesn’t sound so bad, does it?