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So if it's for 18 months, and I leave in June/July, then I wouldn't be eligible for that tax credit until 2004?

That's my understanding. You might have a look here at an IRS FAQ on the subject of taxes and living/working overseas:,,id=12236,00.html

Note that there are two ways to qualify for the foreign earned income exclusion: physical presence and bona fide residence. Since you're keeping your home in MD, only the first of these (physical presence) will apply to you. (But keep in mind that I'm not an expert on foreign earned income exclusion. Though I lived and worked overseas, I didn't qualify for it, and so didn't make any effort to learn about it.) But do have a close look at the FAQ above, as well as the instructions for IRS Form 2555, which deals with the exclusion.

I still hope they'll work out a SOFA for us, but as a civilian contractor, they're apparantly not obligated to do that. Any other info will be greatly appreciated.

I don't think a SOFA does you any good for income tax purposes - it simply establishes your legal status overseas, and gives you some privileges (coming and going without too much visa hassle, shopping at commissary, importing goods duty free, etc.) Anyway, I assume there's already a SOFA in place between the U.S. and Germany, and I would think you'd fall under that if you're working as a contractor for the U.S. govt in Germany...

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