How To Report Retirement Income From Another Country – A Guide

by | Mar 30, 2023

Retirement is supposed to be an exciting time in your life, enjoying the fruits of years of hard work and sacrifice. Unfortunately, the prospect can become complicated if you live and work abroad.

Many people are unsure how to properly report their retirement income from another country when it comes to filing taxes here at home in the U.S., especially with the differences in laws between nations.

This blog post will give you all you need to understand how reporting retirement income functions internationally so that you can feel confident about tax season!

FATCA And Foreign Pensions 

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) is a law similar to FBAR reporting, which requires all United States citizens to report any foreign tax credit foreign financial assets that surpass the set thresholds to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

To adhere to this law and ensure compliance with its requirements, individuals must fill out and submit Form 8938. FATCA aims to help combat tax evasion by ensuring U.S. taxpayers accurately report their global investments and gross income.

In most cases, individuals need to report their foreign pensions under FATCA. Form 8938 requires reporting foreign pensions, as opposed to some foreign pension plan that needs to be reported on the FBAR.

Therefore, people must understand their obligation to report these income sources when filing taxes.

Tax Treaty Residency Issues

When determining whether you are eligible for benefits under a tax treaty, it is necessary to identify your tax residence.

The definition of a resident in this context refers to an individual who has their primary place of residence or domicile in the country that is a party to the treaty.

To take advantage of any tax breaks, exemptions, or credits that could be made available through a treaty, a person must have spent ample time in the country and stayed there for an extended period.

If these criteria are fulfilled, they can take advantage of such benefits.

Applying the domestic law of each country as outlined in Internal Revenue Code § 7701(b) in the case of the United States makes it possible to identify your residency status accurately.

This is important because your residency will dictate how the treaty article on pensions/annuities should be applied to you.

Suppose you are a citizen of one of the countries that have signed and ratified the treaty.

To understand the available benefits, referring to the relevant article dealing with pensions, annuities, foreign government service, or social security payments is important.

These benefits may extend beyond those generally provided under domestic laws. Therefore, it is important to establish your residency status and research what additional entitlements may be applicable.

Foreign Social Security Pensions

Foreign social security pensions may be subject to double taxation if no specific treaty provision applies, treating them like they were foreign annuities.

This means these payments are generally considered income tax returns, just like any other type of pension or annuity received from a source outside the United States.

Consequently, individuals who receive such payments must include them in their annual tax returns and pay taxes accordingly.

Pensions provided to individuals in other countries are not typically eligible for the same tax exemptions as those granted to an American social security pension, except when a pertinent and applicable tax treaty explicitly states that such payments should be excluded from taxable income.

This exemption is subject to the specific terms of the treaty and cannot be assumed without confirmation from relevant authorities.

Foreign Retirement Pensions Or Annuities

Income from foreign sources for retirement purposes can be procured in various ways, like using a pension plan or annuity supplied directly by an employer abroad.

A trust designed for you by your foreign employer, funds distributed from an international governing body, or even money from a foreign insurance company can all be included.

Treaty Trap

When it comes to collecting foreign pensions or annuities, the taxation of these funds will vary depending on the countries in which they are held and the type of tax treaty that has been agreed upon between the United States and those countries.

Generally speaking, if a valid tax treaty is in place, any income derived from a foreign country may be subject to different taxes than would typically apply within U.S. jurisdiction.

It is important for individuals who receive such income to familiarize themselves with the applicable laws and regulations to ensure their taxes are paid correctly and timely.

U.S. Reporting Requirements For Investments

Adhering to all applicable tax regulations when receiving foreign pensions or annuities is paramount.

Furthermore, it is essential to accurately report investments in foreign financial institutions, such as foreign bank account reports and investment companies.

Failure to do so may lead to significant penalties from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Therefore, it is important to thoroughly understand the necessary procedures for notifying the IRS about overseas assets.

The U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) is an imperative law requiring any financial institution to report account information to the United States Treasury Department if it holds a balance of $10,000 or more, regardless of location or size for any U.S. citizen.

This act was implemented to ensure that all American taxpayers comply with tax obligations and accurately report income from foreign sources.

U.S. Vs. Foreign Retirement Accounts

It is not a simple decision to make when considering whether it would be more beneficial to keep one’s retirement investments within the United States or in accounts located in other countries.

This determination relies upon where you anticipate being during your retirement years.

Ultimately, several factors should come into consideration when making this important decision, and it is wise to take the time to thoroughly research all possibilities before concluding.

Tax On Foreign Pensions

In many countries, a foreign pension typically enjoys beneficial tax treatment within the nation. However, it is generally not regarded as a qualified retirement plan under the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax code.

As a result, corporations and their employees’ contributions to this type of plan are not considered eligible for tax deductions.

Because this is generally the policy, payments you get from your pension sourced overseas will not be regarded in the same way a U.S.-based retirement plan would be.

Consequently, these payments can often be subject to different regulations and taxation rules.

Reporting Retirement Income From Another Country

Reporting retirement income from abroad can be quite a complex topic. Reporting the different types of pensions and annuities, especially if you’re living or working in two separate countries, requires a critical eye for detail.

As a best practice, keep various documentation on hand and stay compliant with all local tax laws to guarantee that you report everything to the right state or country.

Additionally, familiarizing yourself with any possible tax treaties between the U.S. and your other country might assist you in understanding more of your overall financial situation.

Lastly, it’s also helpful to talk to an expert with international and U.S. taxation knowledge, such as a lawyer or CPA.

With all these tips combined, your chances of becoming comfortable with foreign retirement pension and annuity taxes increase significantly! Thank you for reading this guide!


  • Scott Hall

    Scott realized about 5 years ago that he was woefully behind on retirement savings and needed to catch up. He began writing about it on

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