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I currently live in the united states on an L1 visa. There is a chance that I'll quit my job and travel around central/Latin america for quite some time. With L1 visa, If I leave my job, I have to leave the US and lose my residence status. I called my bank(Wells fargo) to check whether I can keep my US bank account open after leaving the US, and they said it's fine as long as there is a minimum amount of money in the account and activity every month. I'm fine with that.
What I would like to do is to get a remote job while travelling, so I can travel and work at the same time. I wonder if it's possible/legal to give the company my US bank account information, so they deposit my salary on that account?

The issue I see is a tax one. I'm going to receive money in a US bank account, but I'm not going to pay taxes as I'm not resident. And also, I won't be a resident in any of the countries I'm planning to visit. Do I have to pay taxes at all?

The reason for which I like to get paid on my US bank account is that my country doesn't allow me to open an account in dollars/euro

  • It is pretty unlikely that you wouldn't owe taxes to someone. If you're not sure who you need to pay taxes to, you'd want to consult a CPA or other tax/ accounting professional. The US doesn't care if you have a bank account but aren't a resident. Your country might, however. – Justin Cave Apr 19 at 19:10
  • but you need to be resident somewhere – Alexan Apr 19 at 21:55
  • Your customer, if they have presence in the US, might not like that arrangement because it might expose them to liability for taxes. Otherwise, I don't see a problem. – Spehro Pefhany Apr 19 at 21:59
  • You might want to also google "perpetual tourist" or "perpetual traveler" if you haven't already. That's kind of what you're looking to do. – blm Apr 23 at 22:18
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Yes, it is possible for foreigners to have/keep a US bank account*.

For the remainder: IANAL (nor tax advisor), and have never been resident to the US. So everyone, if my guesstimates are off, please let me know.


I have a US bank account which I opened as a foreigner with tax residency somewhere else.

I regularly hand in forms (via the US bank) that I have foreign status and where I'm tax resident, i.e. which double-taxation treaty applies for me. The bank then deducts e.g capital gains taxes according to the tax treaty and sends me a tax certificate that I submit with my "home" income tax declaration.

I'm not going to pay taxes as I'm not resident.

My guesstimate is that you are going to pay taxes: the bank will automatically subtract them (at least that's what my bank does). If you have your tax residency in a country with whom the US have such a tax treaty, you're paying lower US taxes (and they may be accounted as taxes already paid by your tax residency country - all this depends on the particular tax treaty). If not, you'll be paying full taxes.


Income tax (and sales tax) for digital nomads is difficult: the laws can differ widely from country to country.

  • If we're talking salary, the country of the employer will be important: at least a whole lot of European countries I'm familiar with will have the employer make automatic withholdings. If you're not resident there (which you'd show by establishing where your tax residency is)

  • If we're talking freelancing/your own business: Things may get complicated as strictly the country where you are when doing the work is usually(?) the country whose e.g. sales tax is due, and there are countries that say income generated here are subject to our tax (and be careful what your visum allows).
    What I've encountered when working with foreign customers at their place: you may need a sales tax number there, or the customer can take care of that for you. Some countries allow a flat taxation of what sales you made there. In any case, the declarations I've met so far ask for your tax residence. If you don't have any, you need to have one of their tax numbers. Guess what that means? Doing tax declaration there in addition.
    Nowadays, even if you as a foreign seller sell via a marketplace like Amazon in my country, you'll need a VAT number here.

  • For digital nomads, there are discussions in the internet whether (how) one can be "tax homeless" and thus not subject to income tax anywhere. However, e.g. my home country says that commercial income generated here is subject to income tax regardless of whether you are tax resident or not. If you are tax resident here, you have better conditions in terms of what you can deduct, so income tax being due but not being tax resident can very well mean that the income tax due is higher.

You may think that anyways noone will notice: but at least over here B2B customers wouldn't consider you if you don't have a tax number and proper address (and if it's a tax number that says your VAT exempt) - otherwise your bill is not considered proper which has consequences for their taxes... And private customers would be very careful if your business doesn't have a proper address.


* I don't know whether there are trade embargos for particular countries in that respect.

  • what will the bank subtract taxes from? Your deposits? No way. Please clarify. – Kate Gregory Apr 20 at 12:38
  • @KateGregory: in my case: capital gains tax. For a deposit they of course cannot know whether or where it would be subject to income tax. – cbeleites Apr 20 at 12:46
  • In the US, banks won't deduct for taxes even on income earned at that bank, except in the special situation where the IRS has told you you're subject to backup withholding. I don't think there's any situation where they'd withhold taxes on deposits. The source of the money being deposited might, but not a recipient bank (or other financial institution). – blm Apr 23 at 22:16
  • @blm: in that case, the underlying reason is probably the double taxation treaty: the relevant one for me specifies a percentage that goes to US IRS and another percentage that goes to "my" government. US bank automatically subtracts the first part (and sends me a tax-has-been-paid-form), I take care of the 2nd part in my tax declaration. Deposits are certainly different in that for normal deposits it is impossible for the bank to know whether and how much should be withheld (of course with the exception of taxes on the transaction/deposit itself - looking at you, Italian marca di bollo...). – cbeleites Apr 24 at 10:10
  • I mean it's fine if a South American customer prefers to pay their European (non US citizen) contractor via US "domestic" transaction in case both contractor and customer have US bank accounts. But unless there's a transaction tax in the US (which would be something superbly suitable for automatic deduction by the bank...) the IRS hasn't a single thing to do with such a deposit. – cbeleites Apr 24 at 10:20

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