USA Missionary in South Africa...what do I need to know?

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Hi there,

We flew to South Africa January 20th (from the US) and our first full day was January 22, 2012. We are planning a trip back to the States before the end of the year. We are 1099 employees with a church back in the States. We earn income thru the church for work we do both overseas and at home (mostly overseas). We do not earn income from any organizations outside the US.

With that as a frame, I am confused about our status as far as taxes. I've been unsure about how to categorize ourselves as I look thru the IRS page. It sounds like we qualify for the foreign earned income as long as we pass the physical presence test. Any exclusions or credits available to us?

Also, is it correct we have to be in a foreign land 330 days of any 365 day period to qualify for any tax breaks? If so, am I correct in understanding that, even though we left January 20th, I can begin the 12 month period anytime? We have to return to South Africa on January 9th, 2013 (arrive the 10th). Could I take the period from January 22
0, 2012 - January 19, 2013 as my 12 month period and stay in the US for a full 35 days at the end of 2012? If so, how are the dates from January 1 - January 19, 2012 reported for taxes? As taxes are filed on a calendar year, how do you report the first 19 days and then go into 2013 for 19 days?

Thanks so much for any help you can offer with my questions. Just trying to figure out anything we need to know related to taxes. We plan to be here two to three years.
 
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