Take the 2-minute tour ×
Personal Finance & Money Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people who want to be financially literate. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I'm 26 and have lived outside the U.S. all my life. I never filed a U.S. income tax return. I know nothing about doing my taxes, and would like to file for the years that I neglected to before the penalties become more serious. Here are some questions I have:

  1. What exactly are the penalties, if any, for not declaring my income in the past 6 years?

  2. How do I file for all the years that I didn't?

  3. Can I do this myself or should I get a professional to help out?

share|improve this question

2 Answers 2

Do NOT talk to the IRS on your own. Get a EA/CPA licensed in the US and operating in your home country to help you catch up. US embassies have lists of some of those, check the embassy in your country.

The penalties for US citizens living abroad are DRACONIAN. Where a US resident would get a slap on the wrist - you may be driven bankrupt and thrown into jail (if you ever set foot in the US). You can get a $100000 penalty each year for each bank account you own (even though you may not be liable for any taxes at all) just for not reporting it to the US government.

Being a US citizen and not living in the US is essentially a punishable offense through the tax laws. be aware of it and prepare to handle it as such.

share|improve this answer
  1. Where you live doesn't matter to IRS. So the same penalties apply.

2, 3. Get professional help in filing the taxes for the past few years to get you up to speed to current

Here are the details from the IRS website

Also here is IRS phone number aimed at assisting taxpayers

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.