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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone,
I am a German-American dual citizen and just learned that my US citizenship also means taxes, bank account statements etc.
With this, I also learned that the banks I previously had accounts with do no longer give accounts for deposits etc. to US citizens because of the fines they are exposed to if they miss out on reporting duties. Some banks told me I could basically give up on all German banks and should search for an American bank. I am a bit hesitant, given I am an 'accidental American' and have spent my whole life in Germany.
I am not looking for something super-fancy and would prefer to have little costs for the account itself. Given I am still in education, these are just savings on which I would like to get more than the average interest in banks nowadays.
Does anyone have experiences with banks that still take (half-) American clients?

Sorry if this is posted in the wrong place or I missed similar discussions - I am new to this forum and have found it very helpful so far, reading as a guest. If someone has recommendations for a good source what to consider when investing smaller sums given the US tax system, I'd also be very greatful for any reading recommendations, URLs or books.
 

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I think you're just going to need to call every bank you can think of until you find one that allows investments of the type you want by US citizens. If you can't find one, then you might be well advised to renounce your US citizenship. On that note, don't rush into US tax compliance. Even if reported under FATCA by your bank, you are better off staying out of the US tax system.
 

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I take it you were born in the US and so can't get away from the US birthplace thing. (Although even here in France, some banks are starting to send everybody a letter asking them to declare their "tax residences.") The kids of a friend of mine have dual US-German nationality, but because they were born and raised in Germany, they're able to get by with simply not offering up any information not expressly asked for.

My friend is renouncing, but I suppose once that goes through, she'll have to present her certificate of non-citizenship to make the banks happy.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
On that note, don't rush into US tax compliance. Even if reported under FATCA by your bank, you are better off staying out of the US tax system.
Why do you think so?
I am still a student, so to me the current time with FSOP in place and an income below the taxable threshold for at least another two years seems like a very good time to become compliant before my non-compliance becomes willfull (though of course it will first take me some time to assemble the necessaary documents etc.).
Even if I would consider renouncing (about which I am not sure, given I am trying an academic career and the US might be a good place to work), getting 5 tax returns filed during the next years seems like a good option.
After speaking with my bank, it seemed to me that the pressure is mounting and though my old accounts are apparently not yet identified as possibly American, I will not be able to open new bank accounts and may well get pressure from my old accounts over the next months.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I take it you were born in the US and so can't get away from the US birthplace thing.
Yes, I was born in the US and left at a very early age, only returned once for a holiday.

[Sorry for the double post, I realized I cannot edit posts]
 

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In your situation, it's probably not really critical to get compliant. As long as you don't make use of your American nationality, there is little or no chance of suffering any consequences by just staying under the radar. However, if you think you may want to make use of your US nationality to work in the States or whatever, it's more of a convenience than anything else to get compliant now, rather than having to scramble once you decide to move to the US.

You don't need 5 tax returns filed, however. The streamlined compliance program only requires current year plus 3 years in arrears - and then, only if you meet the filing requirements for all of the years involved. As a student and single there's a big chance that you actually haven't had to file the last few years. (The threshold for filing single is somewhere around $10,000 in worldwide income.)

The key thing would be 6 years of back FBARs - but again, only if your total foreign (to the US) financial accounts exceeds $10,000 in each of those prior years.

I'm assuming, too, that you have your US Social Security number. Without that, you can't file anything anyhow. But even at that, the banks are not yet informing the IRS of any of your bank transactions or interest - their only requirement is to give them a year end balance. And it's entirely possible that even with a year-end balance, you might not have sufficient income to be required to file anyhow. (Plus, even if you file late, any penalty is a % of the amount of tax you owe - and if you owe $0, the penalty is $0.)

On the bank issue, I would first try any bank you have some sort of "connections" with - where your parents bank, ask your employer to help you get a bank account, whatever tie you can think of like that. Also, the smaller the bank, the more likely they are either exempt from the FATCA requirements or at least they may be more interested in "customer service" (though I realize this is Germany we're talking about).
Cheers,
Bev
 

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The US birthplace may be a problem for banking services. Best case, a small bank will ignore it. Worst case, you might want to renounce because you can't get a mortgage (this apparently happens). At the very least you might be told to get a social security number for the reporting forms.

Renouncing will cost you $2350 but you'll have a piece of paper that makes your banking problems go away. You aren't obliged to be caught up on tax filings etc. before you renounce. Some folks renounce without ever bothering to do the exit tax paperwork.

If you don't plan on spending time living and working in the US, you're better off not entering the US tax system, even if your account balances are eventually reported to the US under FATCA. You'll have a lot of paperwork to deal with and there's the small chance that you might one day owe them some money, which is of course ridiculous. Better to stay off the radar. If you plan on going to the US one day, that's a different story, though there's no reason to do it in a hurry. (Don't be concerned with the definition of "willful" non-compliance.)

I think your bigger problem, right now, is going to be possible denial of banking services in Germany. Be aggressive with the banks, as a German citizen (presumably from birth, with German parents) and resident you have rights under EU law. You are not some random American expat with no other citizenship. Threaten to sue them and they will probably back down!
 

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Another option is the Big Lie. Open new accounts at a bank with which you or your family have no past connection. If asked about your US birthplace, say that you are not a US citizen because your father was a diplomat, so you did not acquire citizenship at birth. It's not up to the banks to rule on immigration and citizenship questions, if they accept your explanation you'll be treated like any other German customer.
 

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Another option is the Big Lie. Open new accounts at a bank with which you or your family have no past connection. If asked about your US birthplace, say that you are not a US citizen because your father was a diplomat, so you did not acquire citizenship at birth. It's not up to the banks to rule on immigration and citizenship questions, if they accept your explanation you'll be treated like any other German customer.
That as gong to be my suggestion, I know of quite a few Americans who've been here for years and that's the route they've taken. Some have never even filed a tax return, something I don't recomend
 

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Be aggressive with the banks, as a German citizen (presumably from birth, with German parents) and resident you have rights under EU law. You are not some random American expat with no other citizenship. Threaten to sue them and they will probably back down!
I have to completely disagree with you. What special banking rights to EU citizens have?:confused:

In Germany there is something called Vertragsfreiheit and you can't compel companies to do business with you.

There are actually many economically and socially disadvantaged Germans without a bank account and I don't see any grounds for a lawsuit.
 

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I have to completely disagree with you. What special banking rights to EU citizens have?:confused:

In Germany there is something called Vertragsfreiheit and you can't compel companies to do business with you.

There are actually many economically and socially disadvantaged Germans without a bank account and I don't see any grounds for a lawsuit.
I can't be more specific in the German case - sorry - but this subject comes up on the US expat Facebook group and I've heard about dual US citizens in Belgium, France and elsewhere arguing that they can't be denied basic banking services on grounds of EU citizenship. So maybe look there.

In any case, if I were an "accidental" with German citizenship from birth I would raise a huge nasty threatening stink if any German bank tried to disallow certain investments or otherwise treat me differently. (Or lie and say I don't have US citizenship, despite the birthplace.)
 

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That as gong to be my suggestion, I know of quite a few Americans who've been here for years and that's the route they've taken. Some have never even filed a tax return, something I don't recomend
As long as they have dual citizenship and don't have US financial ties, assets etc. then they are far better off staying out of the US tax system - they should not start filing US tax returns.
 
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