Well I FINALLY filed my tax return. It took about an hour or two to do it, but it's done, with three days to spare. Ex-pats get an automatic two month extension to file or something like that. I used TurboTax Basic ($37.88) to file my return. I have used TurboTax ever since I filed my first tax return back in 2006, and wanted to keep things simple. I'm sure you could do it completely for free if you looked for a different service. Which is cool, but TurboTax has never failed me. I had two things to do: the usual 1040 and then a 2555 form. I had some income from January 2012 that I needed to file with a normal W-2. Then the next thing you have to do is file a 2555 which is where you report your FOREIGN income. Do not try to do this on a 1040. If you have lived overseas for a period of 330 days, you qualify for US tax exemption on foreign income where you paid taxes. If you haven't been out of country for 330 days, you are supposed to have filed for an extension on filing your taxes. It didn't apply for me. There are plenty of other bloggers who have posted guides on filling out the forms before me, so I am not going to bother creating a guide. I'll just leave some links:
US Embassy Tokyo - Where I got my Yen Exchange Rate Conversion
An Informative Guide for First Timers (Targetted at JETs though...)
Another Guide I Found
It really isn't that difficult to do, just a pain in the a**. Just make sure you have an original of your 源泉徴収票 (げんせんちょうしゅうひょう), which tells you how much money you made in Japan. Use the same conversion rate for all the options when you convert (I only had to report the total earned income, not how much taxes was withheld). I ended up scanning it into my computer and photoshop-ing my conversions into the image. If the IRS comes calling, I can just e-mail it to them (highly unlikely).
On a lighter note, I have been watching and reading Game of Thrones. OMG! How was I missing out on this for so long?? It has greatly occupied my time these past few weeks.