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I'm a dual citizen with US and another citizen in another country. I was born outside the US but because one of my parents is an american, I was given a US citizenship also apart from my local one. I've studied, worked and lived outside the US in the past 35 years. the latest visit to the US soil was about six years ago for less than a month stay (touring). All my registrations with schools, universities, banks, brokers ... the company that I work for are registered as a local citizen (no one knows I also have a US passport)

Now I come to learn about this FATCA and TAX issues.

So my concern is that should I go out and get an US international TAX expert (who will charge me heavily) to help in the TAX filling (5 years of income and 6 years of FBAR) through the Streamline procedure and then renounce my US citizenship. Or should I do nothing and live my life as normal so not to get on the IRS's grid

If I've never filed to the IRS, would they be able to find me one day? I won't retire until another 20+ years so could they (IRS or any US government) attack me in the future?

Thank you

  • If you have a US Passport, then the State Department has already passed information about you to the IRS... – DJohnM Sep 7 '14 at 11:00
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What a lot of people are doing is dropping their US citizenship, in record levels. It is interesting because abroad, especially in the young, there are still rose colored dreams about coming and living in America as long as possible.

Since the trend of people getting rid of their citizenship has been going up this entire decade and maintaining record numbers quarter after quarter, there has been speculation (on tax blogs) that this is due to FATCA but the trend has been going up since before the FATCA treaty was even a thing.

The only misleading thing about the expatriation numbers is that only certain kinds of expatriations are reported by the IRS so the number is likely much higher. This can be done by going to any US consulate but if asked why you choose to drop your citizenship DO NOT SAY FOR TAX REASONS, thats the only answer Congress has approved further sanctions for. You can say anything else like you plan to run for office in Uzbekistan and you have to feign naturalization for the impressionable nationalists swing vote there.

Dual citizens had been able to ignore their US citizenship till now, but they've always had a US tax burden

So yes, this is what OTHER people are doing, in record numbers.

But you can also comply with US tax laws, they are very flexible, such as the $93,000 a year US income tax exemption if you earn in a foreign country most of the year. A lot of financial institutions are avoiding Americans due to the onerous regulations, but if you aren't interested in the popular banking privacy perks (since you are ineligible) but still want to participate in the global markets you can get accounts, just might be harder now.

Also, you don't have to avoid the United States no matter which route you take, this country has even more flexible and favorable tax laws if you aren't a citizen! For instance, if you owned property in a united state, it would be very easy to maintain a low tax life because you have no federal US tax burden (unlike a citizen), and only a tiny property tax to the local government (which - like every other government no matter the size - has no realistic way to collect tax, not an excuse for non compliance though as your property might have consequences... eventually... maybe).

As others pointed out, you have a conflated issue. A tax and a legal one. So hopefully I covered them, and yes the IRS can come after you in the worst way possible for your decades of noncompliance, they are the most overzealous and unfriendly agency that citizens have to deal with! I've seen a state government try to defend its citizens in federal tax court against the IRS and still lose. I would try to comply or nullify my tax burden.

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The simple answer is - yes, you need to find a tax professional specializing on clients living abroad, and more spicifically - in your country. Local US embassies usually have lists of US-licensed CPAs and EAs living in their countries. You might also need a legal consultation.

Renouncing your citizenship now won't help you, since you're already deep in trouble and broke the law numerously. Penalties for not reporting FATCA and FBAR forms are severe, and you should get yourself a very sound legal advice on what to do. You cannot renounce your citizenship until you're in good standing with the IRS, and as long as you're ignoring the problem it continues growing.

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Your question is not a financial one, it's a legal one. The only legal option is to file the tax returns you were legally obligated to file. If you live in a country with a tax treaty with the U.S., there's a good chance you don't owe any money.

Failing to do this opens you up to substantial legal risk, particularly if you ever set foot on U.S. soil again (even if not using your U.S. passport). You are already on the IRS's radar. They are aware that you have failed to file your tax returns.

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    There's a very good chance he owns money. Not filing FBAR costs at least $10K per account per year, it is not tax - it is penalty, and no tax treaty shields from it. – littleadv Sep 10 '14 at 16:02

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