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  #11 (permalink)  
Old 17th February 2015, 09:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by awkwardpeach View Post
I don't think I can file anyways until I get my name on my SSN changed as I got my married in 2012 and my SSN still has my maiden name on it.
No, you're OK. Sure, do take care of that, but you can still file before, after, or the same day you take care of that update. As long as you're using the correct SSN, you're fine.

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Old 17th February 2015, 09:36 AM
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Thank you for laying out for me BBC Watcher... definitely a life lesson but now I know I feel more confident with it and will stay on top of it... glad I am sorting it now as I finally have my career in the prison service over here I need to sort out my past life in the US

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Old 17th February 2015, 10:18 AM
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Yes, that makes perfect sense. Also, if you ever wish to sponsor your husband for immigration to the U.S., you'll need to submit some past tax returns. You never quite know what curveballs life throws at you, so getting caught up and staying caught up is one less thing to worry about if/when you need to be a visa sponsor.

Looking ahead a bit, here are a couple things you'll want to watch out for as a U.S. person:

1. To the extent you can save (e.g. for retirement), it's a good idea for U.S. persons like you to do that in the United States. To keep things simple it's a good idea to stick to ordinary, plain vanilla bank accounts overseas and do anything fancier (like a low cost Vanguard index fund) in the U.S. Given that you're likely to want to save for a U.K. lifestyle, you can choose U.K.-oriented investments available in the U.S. like U.K. and European index funds, though I wouldn't recommend putting all your savings in "Europe." Mix it up at least a little bit. There are some U.S. investment firms that have offices in the U.K. that should be able to open a genuine U.S. account for you. Maybe you're not in a position to do that yet, but hopefully you can start saving in the near future, even if it's a few pounds per week.

2. If/when you and your husband ever buy a home, be aware that the U.S. could tax your share of the gains on the home when you turn around and sell it and if you've been very lucky and had big gains. (The U.S. does exempt a lot of gains from tax.)

3. Assuming your husband loves you (!), let your husband buy the lottery tickets. Not that I'm necessarily recommending lottery tickets, but lottery winnings are U.S. taxable. They may not be U.K. taxable.

4. Again, if you become extraordinarily lucky and in a position to give your husband a big gift, bear in mind there's a limit: $147,000 in tax year 2015. (The limit increases each year for inflation.) If you give something bigger than that there are potential U.S. tax consequences. Note that if you directly pay household expenses that's not considered a gift to your spouse. I wish I could afford to give my wife that much money or more every year, but sadly no, not yet. I just mention it for the record.

5. When/if you decide to have children they'll be born U.S. citizens since you evidently lived in the U.S. for more than the minimum required time to qualify to pass citizenship to them. You can register their births through the U.S. Embassy and get them their CRBAs, U.S. passports, and U.S. Social Security numbers. They will also presumably be born U.K. citizens as well. That's a great pair of passports to have.

There's at least one really great reason to make sure your children are promptly documented as U.S. citizens: they can make excellent little tax reducers for mommy.

In my view when they're 18 they can decide for themselves whether they want to retain their U.S. citizenships and the rights, privileges, and obligations (including tax and financial filing, and Selective Service registration) associated with that citizenship. In the meantime, the U.S. tax code grows kinder to parents who have little ones, so I'd take that deal. (The President just proposed a big bump in child-related tax benefits, so the tax code might get even kinder than it is now, especially after the next U.S. election.)

6. If you're not yet voting in U.S. elections, you might as well start. Visit FVAP.gov for more information. It's dead simple to register, and you'd register in the state where you last lived in the U.S. Many states also allow U.S. citizen-children born overseas to register in the same place when they turn 18. If you're subject to U.S. laws you might as well try to influence them in the most basic way: democratic voting. Otherwise you won't have the moral right to complain.

Optionally you can also join a U.S. political party's overseas group. Both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party have overseas organizations ("Democrats Abroad" and "Republicans Abroad"), though the Democrats are frankly better organized overseas and even have a "Global Primary" every four years that elects voting delegates to their party convention to select the Democratic nominees for President and Vice President. (Good idea!)

7. You're at least near satisfying the minimum required residence time to acquire U.K. citizenship if you wish. In my view that would be a good idea.

8. Some rainy day I'd recommend checking your U.S. Social Security earnings history at ssa.gov. Believe it or not if you have non-trivial earnings recorded for at least two calendar years then you'll likely qualify for a very modest U.S. Social Security retirement benefit in the future (since you've also paid in to the U.K. system, and since the U.S. and U.K. have a social security treaty), even if you never step foot in the U.S. again. Wouldn't that be nice! Maybe 2010 and 2009 were those two magic years for you depending on the summer jobs and part-time work you did, if any.

Welcome back to Club U.S.A.

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  #14 (permalink)  
Old 17th February 2015, 10:45 AM
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For the time being, don't worry about all the tax planning strategies suggested. For right now, you need to look into getting your 2014 filing done - then use that to guide you through the prior years' (just the 3 years - 2011, 2012 and 2013).

Don't get hung up on trying to report every time someone paid you $10 to help them out or babysit their kids. You want to focus on getting the main sources of income straight: salary, any interest income from bank accounts or other investments - and that's usually it for most "normal" folks.

As long as the non-salary income doesn't exceed about $10,000 in a year, the chances are you'll owe precisely $0 in taxes. You still are supposed to file, but the $10,000 represents the combined total of the personal exemption and then the standard deduction that you get no matter what. (Varies a bit by filing status.)

For most folks, without fancy or complicated investments or complex income sources, filing from overseas comes down to about 20 minutes of filling out the forms each year (and that's if you do it manually). Probably best in your first year to mail in all the forms together (in paper form) rather than to try to e-file, but see how it goes. (I don't believe you can do the backfilings via e-file in any event - so this way you mail everything in together.)

After you mail the package off, you can think about how you want to handle your finances going forward. But feel free to ask questions as they come up. We're open around the clock!
Cheers,
Bev

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Old 17th February 2015, 11:02 AM
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Streamlined requires mailing anyway if that program is chosen.

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Old 17th February 2015, 12:05 PM
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Everything seems to be making sense now and I'm going to make a start with it... Hopefully I do it right.. Thank you again for all your in depth knowledge and I will tell you of my progress x

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