I am a dual citizen, both US and another country. Early this year I was requested by my stock broker (out side the US) to file either W8-BEN or W9 forms. As I was born outside the US and have never lived there, this US issue never came to concern me as I don't live/learn what's happening in the US with regards to there laws. So I filed W8-BEN form based on my local citizen and later on sold the stocks.

Now since I learn more about this US thing that I need to do tax reports (FATCA/FBAR/???) and other issues to fulfill obligations of being a US person (now I'm filling TAX reports to the IRS), I'm now worried that filling W8-BEN was a bad mistake.

So what should I do? re-submit form W9 or do nothing? If I re-submit W9 form as a US person then the broker will find two different forms. would I still be punished by the IRS or by some other body? Please advice, thank you

  • You were born outside the US, never lived in the US and the broker is outside the US. So why did they ask for US forms? Oct 10 '14 at 10:06
  • @mhoran_psprep because of FATCA or because he was trading on a US stock exchange (or probably - both).
    – littleadv
    Oct 10 '14 at 16:00

Since you're a US citizen, submitting W8-BEN was wrong. If you read the form carefully, when you signed it you certified that you are not a US citizen, which is a lie and you knew it.

W9 and W8 are mutually exclusive. You're either a US person for tax purposes or you're not, you cannot be both. As a US citizen - you are a US person for tax purposes, whether you have any other citizenship or not, and whether you live in (or have ever been to) the US or not.

You do need to file tax returns just like any other US citizen. If you have an aggregate of $10K or more on your bank accounts outside of the US at any given day - you need to file FBAR. FATCA forms may also be applicable, depending on your balances. From foreign banks' perspective you're a US person, with regard to their FATCA obligations.

Whether or not you'll be punished is hard to tell. Whether or not you could be punished is easy to tell: you could. You knowingly broke the law by certifying that you're not a US citizen when you were. That is in addition to un-filed tax returns, FBAR, etc etc.

The fact that you were born outside of the US and have never lived there is technically irrelevant. Not knowing the law is not a reasonable cause for breaking it. Get a US-licensed tax adviser (EA/CPA licensed in the US) to help you sort it out.

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