What Is the IRS Foreign Exchange Rate for Americans Living Abroad?

What Is the IRS Foreign Exchange Rate for Americans Living Abroad?
Updated on April 9, 2024

Filing your expat taxes usually means converting your foreign income into US dollars. To do that, you must understand IRS (Internal Revenue Service) foreign exchange rates. Here’s what you need to know.

Key Takeaways

  • All US Federal Tax Return forms need you to report your income in US dollars so it is important to know the exchange rate for the currency of the country you currently reside in against the US dollar
  • The Internal Revenue Service does not have an official exchange rate. It generally accepts any posted exchange rate that is used consistently, but you must use the rate that applies to your specific facts and circumstances. 

Why Do IRS Foreign Exchange Rates Matter for Expat Taxes?

Every year, Americans living abroad are required to file a US Federal Tax Return reporting their worldwide income. Sometimes, you may have to file additional forms, such as a FATCA or FBAR.

The IRS tax code is 7,000 pages. Want the cliff notes version for expats? Let us help.

You have to report your income and assets in US dollars (USD) on all of these forms. That means converting the foreign currency you’re using to USD.

For example, if you live and work in Japan, you will likely be paid Japanese yen. In order to report that income on your US tax return, you’ll need to convert it from yen to USD. And if you own Japanese assets above a certain threshold, you’ll also need to report their value in USD.

So how do you convert a foreign currency to USD? That’s where IRS foreign exchange rates come in.

What Is the IRS Foreign Exchange Rate?

The IRS has no official currency exchange rates. However, according to the IRS website, they generally accept “any posted exchange rate that is used consistently.” When valuing a foreign currency with multiple posted exchange rates, the IRS advises that you use whichever rate applies to your specific circumstances.

For example, if you’re reporting a single transaction from one day, such as the sale of a business, use the recorded exchange rate for that date. If you’re reporting income that you received evenly throughout the year, on the other hand, you’ll probably want to use the yearly average currency exchange rate for that tax year.

In this table, you can see a list of yearly average currency exchange rates for the previous five years.

How to Convert a Foreign Currency to US Dollars

Exchanging currencies may sound complicated, but it doesn’t have to be too much of a hassle. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • To convert a foreign currency to USD, divide the foreign currency amount by the applicable foreign exchange rate.
  • To convert USD to a foreign currency, multiply the USD amount by the applicable exchange rate.

Let’s take a look at an example.

In 2023, the yearly average currency exchange rate for converting the Mexican peso to USD was 18.39 MXN per USD. So to convert pesos to USD for that year, you would divide the peso amount by 18.39 And to convert USD to pesos, you would multiply the US dollar amount by 18.39.

Thus, 1,000 pesos would have equaled roughly 54.37 USD (1,000 Ă· 18.39). In contrast, 1,000 USD would be equivalent to 18,390 pesos (1,000 x 18.39).

How to Convert a Foreign Asset to US Dollars

As an American living abroad, you may have to report the value of certain foreign assets and any income you accrue. These foreign assets may include:

  • Bank accounts
  • Investment accounts
  • Mutual funds
  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Securities
  • Interest in a foreign entity

Once again, you’ll need to report these assets in USD. Start by determining the maximum value of the asset during the calendar year in question—using the foreign currency of the country you’re living in. Then, convert that value to USD using the formula we laid out above.

For example, let’s say you own interest in a foreign corporation in Denmark. You determined that during the calendar year of 2023, the maximum value for your interest was 10,000 Danish krone. Because the krone-to-USD yearly average currency exchange rate in 2023 was 7.629, this would mean that your interest was worth roughly 1,310.79 USD (10,000 ÷ 7.629).

That’s the amount you would report to the IRS.

Take Note

When reporting assets on a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Interests (FBAR), you should calculate the maximum value of each foreign asset using the Bureau of the Fiscal Service’s Treasury Reporting Rates of Exchange if possible.

Have Questions Regarding Foreign Exchange rates? Get Expert Help! 

Hopefully, this article has given you a better understanding of how to use IRS foreign exchange rates to report your income and assets to Uncle Sam. However, US tax law is nothing if complicated—especially for Americans living abroad. If you still have questions, we can help.

At Greenback Expat Tax Services, we have years of experience helping expats worldwide meet their US tax obligations, no matter how complex they may be. Contact us, and one of our customer champions will gladly help. If you need very specific advice on your specific tax situation, you can also click below to get a consultation with one of our expat tax experts. 

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Whether you need tax advice to prepare for a move abroad, to buy property or even retire, Greenback can help. Consults upfront can help avoid costly mistakes and stress later.

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