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FAQ

How should an expatriate that has spent years overseas and never filed a US tax return go about filing to get into compliance?
In brief, assuming that your failure to file all of these years was non-willful (for example, you received bad advice in the past or otherwise had a good reason to think you had no filing obligation), your best bet is to enter into the IRS’s Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures. Under the current Streamlined program, you’d be required to file the prior 3 years of tax returns and 6 years of FBARs and fill out a certification of non-willfulness. A taxpayer who complies with these procedures does have to fork over previously unpaid taxes with interest, but is not subject to penalties – a great deal for taxpayers who would otherwise be subject to potentially enormous penalties for non-compliance. In your case, this would work particularly well since you seemingly should owe no back taxes due to the fact that your annual income falls below the foreign earned income exclusion threshold.The Streamlined program has become quite popular for people in your situation. According to the IRS, as of October 2015, more than 54,000 voluntary disclosure requests have been processed from taxpayers around the world. When speaking recently about this program, however, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen suggested that the program will eventually be closed once the IRS determines that there’s no way a taxpayer who would want to participate couldn’t have heard about the process (rendering the taxpayer willfully delinquent by default) – so you should consider entering the program sooner rather than later.In theory, there are other potential options available to you, such as: (1) “Noisy” Disclosure (filing past delinquent returns with a statement explaining the reasons for the delinquency), (2) “Quiet” Disclosure (filing past delinquent returns without any statement of explanation), and (3) Prospective Filing (ignoring past delinquencies and complying only with respect to tax years moving forward).However, we do not recommend the above alternative approaches for a number of reasons. First, the IRS frowns upon attempts by taxpayers to circumvent the programs specifically designed to benefit delinquent taxpayers. Second, the outcomes associated with the alternative approaches can vary so greatly and can potentially lead to disastrous results. Third, we have yet to encounter a situation that justifies the risks associated with these approaches in contrast to the IRS amnesty programs, which offer the taxpayer certainty and a clean record moving forward.For more information and an in-depth analysis of solutions that we offer for delinquent taxpayers, you’re welcome to visit our website: www.expattaxprofessionals.com
I am a US citizen who has never lived in the US and never paid US taxes. I have been working for 15 years. Am I just putting off a very big bill?
You’re not “putting off” a very big bill, you may already have a very big bill that is accruing interest and penalties. As a US citizen, you’re required to file returns every year, regardless of where you live. Depending on the amount of your income, you could potentially already owe back taxes, interest and penalties.As a rule, ALL US Citizens must pay taxes on ALL global income regardless of whether they live outside the US (or have never lived in the US).However, US citizens who satisfy the requirements for “working and residing outside the US” can take advantage of the following tax breaks:Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (up to $101,300 in income is not taxed)Foreign Housing Expense ExclusionForeign Tax Credit (any US taxes you owe are offset by any taxes you paid to a foreign government)Note that the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion increases every year, so going back six years to 2010 the exclusion amount was only $91,500. There’s a great explanation of this, along with the rates for all years going back to 1998, here:How to Exclude Foreign Wages from Your U.S. TaxesSo, if you made less than the exclusion amount in each year, you should be OK. However, I’d definitely talk to an accountant just to be sure.If you’re above the exclusion amount, you still may have zero tax owed to the US based on the housing exclusion, foreign tax credit and other deductions/credits you may be eligible for.Also, keep an eye on the news from congress. The Foreign Earned Income Exclusion is often brought up as an “unfair loophole” and threatened with repeal. If it is repealed, you’d be required to pay taxes on all your income, starting from $0, even if you live outside the US.
How can a Canadian resident (dual US-Canadian Citizen) file their first tax return with the IRS under the "Streamlined Foreign offshore procedures"?
The Streamlined procedures are not that complicated, on their face. All you have to do is file 3 years’ tax returns, 6 years’ Foreign Bank Account Reports (“FBARs”) and a form indicating why you didn’t comply earlier.There are a few complications around eligibility, but even that is not that bad.My blog: The IRS Changes the Streamlined Program for Americans with Foreign AssetsMy later blog: Update o the U.S. ‘Streamlined’ Voluntary Disclosure ProgramIRS page: U.S. Taxpayers Residing Outside the United StatesBut it’s not quite so easyThe first real challenge is in filing your returns correctly. It’s important, because they’re going to get more scrutiny than a run-of-the-mill return, and not many people know how to prepare them correctly. US returns for Americans abroad are hard, but they don’t look it.For instance, if you have even a moderate amount of liquid wealth, you’re probably doing extra information reporting.If you sold a house, some of the gain may be taxable, even though it isn’t for Canadian purposes. If you have mutual funds, they are Passive Foreign Investment Companies (“PFICs”). They are taxed in a nasty, unfair way, and they require extra reporting.Stock options are taxed differently.If you own shares in a closely-held corporation, set up a trust or are a beneficiary of a trust, you’ve got extra reporting, and you may be taxed in a way that is, to say the least, counter-intuitive.If you’ve got these kinds of complications, don’t try this at home. Get a professional. It won’t be cheap, but getting it wrong can be very, very expensive.And now that you’re in the system…You need to do your tax planning in duplicate. You have the same issues as any other Canadian, but you want to ensure that you’re not dinged by the United States for doing what Canadians consider “ordinary”.So do you want to get out? Here’s how to do it:My blog: Expatriation - The Tax Aspects of Giving Up U.S. CitizenshipMy peer-reviewed academic paper (in case you have trouble sleeping): Canadian Tax Journal2013, Volume 61, Issue Number 1
Is a US citizen required to file US taxes if they have never lived in the US and what are the consequences?
As a basic rule, U.S. citizens, even those who have never lived in the U.S., are subject to U.S. tax and reporting on their worldwide income. You must annually report all of your income to the IRS, whether the income is from U.S. sources or foreign sources and whether or not the income is taxed or reported in the new country of residence. This system of citizenship-based taxation (rather than residence-based taxation) is unique to the United States (the only other country that taxes its citizens in this manner is Eritrea).The consequences for delinquent taxpayers can be steep, and with the strengthening of FATCA, the likelihood of the IRS catching up with you is greater than ever. For more on FATCA and the consequences of delinquency, please visit our website: www.expattaxprofessionals.com.That being said, the good news is both U.S. domestic tax law and U.S. tax treaties contain a number of provisions that are designed to prevent “double taxation,” or taxation on the same income in both countries (e.g., the U.S. and the new country of residence). Domestic law provisions include the foreign earned income exclusion (for 2016, you can exclude up to $101,300 of your foreign earned income), the foreign housing exclusion, and the foreign tax credit. These provisions, in many cases, can reduce or even eliminate the U.S. federal income tax that would otherwise be due by you. Keep in mind, however, that even if no U.S. tax is owed, a U.S. tax return still generally must be filed in order to benefit from these provisions, and the failure to do so can result in severe penalties.How to proceed now? Assuming that your failure to file all of these years was non-willful (for example, you received bad advice in the past or otherwise had a good reason to think you had no filing obligation), your best bet is to enter into the IRS’s amnesty program called the Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures. Under the current Streamlined program, you’d be required to file the prior 3 years of tax returns and 6 years of FBARs and fill out a certification of non-willfulness. A taxpayer who complies with these procedures does have to fork over previously unpaid taxes with interest, but is not subject to penalties – a great deal for taxpayers who would otherwise be subject to potentially enormous penalties for non-compliance. In your case, this would work particularly well if you owe no back taxes (for example, due to the fact that your annual income falls below the foreign earned income exclusion threshold).In theory, there are other potential options available to you, such as: (1) “Noisy” Disclosure (filing past delinquent returns with a statement explaining the reasons for the delinquency), (2) “Quiet” Disclosure (filing past delinquent returns without any statement of explanation), and (3) Prospective Filing (ignoring past delinquencies and complying only with respect to tax years moving forward).However, we do not recommend the above alternative approaches for a number of reasons. First, the IRS frowns upon attempts by taxpayers to circumvent the programs specifically designed to benefit delinquent taxpayers. Second, the outcomes associated with the alternative approaches can vary so greatly and can potentially lead to disastrous results. Third, we have yet to encounter a situation that justifies the risks associated with these approaches in contrast to the IRS amnesty programs, which offer the taxpayer certainty and a clean record moving forward.
I started living overseas five years ago. I periodically ask my parents and their accountant if I am obligated to file tax returns for all these years, and they have consistently told me "no," but this goes against everything that other expats tell me. Should I have been filing and paying taxes?
As a basic rule, U.S. citizens, even those residing outside the United States, are subject to U.S. tax and reporting on their worldwide income. Expats must annually report all of their income to the IRS, just as they did prior to moving abroad, whether the income is from U.S. sources or foreign sources and whether or not the income is taxed or reported in the new country of residence. This system of citizenship-based taxation (rather than residence-based taxation) is unique to the United States (the only other country that taxes its citizens in this manner is Eritrea).For some further pointers on this topic, please see our recent article on Money 101 regarding common U.S. expat tax myths:http://time.com/money/4298634/ex...That being said, the good news is both U.S. domestic tax law and U.S. tax treaties contain a number of provisions that are designed to prevent “double taxation,” or taxation on the same income in both countries (e.g., the U.S. and the new country of residence). Domestic law provisions include the foreign earned income exclusion (for 2016, you can exclude up to $101,300 of your foreign earned income), the foreign housing exclusion, and the foreign tax credit. These provisions, in many cases, can reduce or even eliminate the U.S. federal income tax that would otherwise be due by you. Keep in mind, however, that even if no U.S. tax is owed, a U.S. tax return still generally must be filed in order to benefit from these provisions, and the failure to do so can result in severe penalties.How to proceed now? Assuming that your failure to file all of these years was non-willful (for example, you received bad advice in the past or otherwise had a good reason to think you had no filing obligation), your best bet is to enter into the IRS’s amnesty program called the Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures. Under the current Streamlined program, you’d be required to file the prior 3 years of tax returns and 6 years of FBARs and fill out a certification of non-willfulness. A taxpayer who complies with these procedures does have to fork over previously unpaid taxes with interest, but is not subject to penalties – a great deal for taxpayers who would otherwise be subject to potentially enormous penalties for non-compliance. In your case, this would work particularly well if you owe no back taxes (for example, due to the fact that your annual income falls below the foreign earned income exclusion threshold).
I am an expat of 20 years. It is15 years since I have filed a tax return. I have never made enough money to be taxed. How do I proceed from overseas?
Contrary to popular belief among expats, the obligation to file U.S. taxes does not end when you take up residence in a new country, even if you don’t ultimately owe taxes on your income. For more on expat tax myths debunked - see our article: Note to Expats: No, You Didn't Dodge the U.S. Tax Bullet.Therefore, in brief, assuming that your failure to file all of these years was non-willful (for example, you received bad advice in the past or otherwise had a good reason to think you had no filing obligation), your best bet is to enter into the IRS’s amnesty program called the Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures. Under the current Streamlined program, you’d be required to file the prior 3 years of tax returns and 6 years of FBARs and fill out a certification of non-willfulness. A taxpayer who complies with these procedures does have to fork over previously unpaid taxes with interest, but is not subject to penalties – a great deal for taxpayers who would otherwise be subject to potentially enormous penalties for non-compliance. In your case, this would work particularly well if you owe no back taxes (for example, due to the fact that your annual income falls below the foreign earned income exclusion threshold).The IRS amnesty programs have become quite popular for people in your situation. More than 100,000 disclosures have been processed from taxpayers around the world. When speaking recently about this program, however, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen suggested that the program will eventually be closed once the IRS determines that there’s no way a taxpayer who would want to participate couldn’t have heard about the process (rendering the taxpayer willfully delinquent by default) – so you should consider entering the program sooner rather than later.In theory, there are other potential options available to you, such as: (1) “Noisy” Disclosure (filing past delinquent returns with a statement explaining the reasons for the delinquency), (2) “Quiet” Disclosure (filing past delinquent returns without any statement of explanation), and (3) Prospective Filing (ignoring past delinquencies and complying only with respect to tax years moving forward).However, we do not recommend the above alternative approaches for a number of reasons. First, the IRS frowns upon attempts by taxpayers to circumvent the programs specifically designed to benefit delinquent taxpayers. Second, the outcomes associated with the alternative approaches can vary so greatly and can potentially lead to disastrous results. Third, we have yet to encounter a situation that justifies the risks associated with these approaches in contrast to the IRS amnesty programs, which offer the taxpayer certainty and a clean record moving forward.For more information and an in-depth analysis of solutions that we offer for delinquent taxpayers, you’re welcome to visit our website: www.expattaxprofessionals.com.
How does an American citizen who has never filed a tax return fix the situation?
Willful failure to file a tax return is a misdemeanor, which carries a maximum fine of $25,000 and/or a maximum prison term of one year.If the IRS determines based on information reporting (from W-2s and 1099s) that a taxpayer had sufficient income to file but did not, the IRS may generate a Substitute for Return (SFR) for that taxpayer. The SFR process is automated and computes the estimated tax due from the taxpayer based on the information returns in the IRS's possession. Because the IRS doesn't have information about deductions and credits for which the taxpayer may qualify, this is likely to be the absolute worst case scenario for the taxpayer, the actual tax liability is usually less than the amount computed in the SFR. For example, if the taxpayer's most recent return shows a status of married, the IRS will compute a return using a status of Married Filing Separately. The important point here is that once the IRS generates an SFR, that's what the taxpayer will be deemed to owe unless the taxpayer files his/her own return - which is what the IRS truly wants. The other point here is that the IRS normally has 10 years to collect what a taxpayer owes - but that clock doesn't start until the taxpayer files his/her own return, so that if the IRS gets a judgment based on an SFR the IRS can attempt to collect that judgment indefinitely.The other point here is that the IRS generally attempts to get voluntary compliance from the taxpayer first, especially when the estimated liability is relatively small. Usually, this takes the form of a soft notice, basically a "Hey, we noticed you haven't filed a return lately, can you please send it in"? Only if the taxpayer ignores that notice will the IRS get tougher.So..chances are that if the taxpayer hasn't received any sort of IRS notice, it's because the estimated tax liability from the years of nonfiling is fairly small, and hasn't yet triggered the SFR program. That makes it unlikely that the IRS will try to enforce the criminal penalties for nonfiling that are allowed under the law - as long as the taxpayer shows an inclination to remedy the problem by catching up on the nonfiled years.Given the facts as stated - income under $30K, regular withholding by the employers - I'm inclined to think that the tax liability probably is fairly small and that prompt action on the part of the taxpayer to file the missing returns will forestall any IRS action. But I wouldn't recommend trying to do it without the services of a competent tax professional.
What is the procedure to fill out the DU admission form? How many colleges and courses can I fill in?
It's as simple as filling any school admission form but you need to be quite careful while filling for courses ,don't mind you are from which stream in class 12 choose all the courses you feel like choosing,there is no limitations in choosing course and yes you must fill all the courses related to your stream ,additionally there is no choice for filling of college names in the application form .