Expat Forum For People Moving Overseas And Living Abroad banner
1 - 20 of 27 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have to rant...
I am British citizen and lived in US for 20 years and became a citizen. 7 years ago returned back to UK. Last year I sold my US house. A lovely tax bill from my accountant to the Fed for $15k (been filing taxes for last 7 years). Am struggling to find the funds to pay it all.

Anyway,..I know of several US citizens that now live in UK but not paying taxes nor knew anything about it!!!! I've told them, but they choose to ignore me. So annoying when I have to pay this money and they get away with it.

Will they ever get found out and how would they....is their concern?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,021 Posts
I have to rant...
I am British citizen and lived in US for 20 years and became a citizen. 7 years ago returned back to UK. Last year I sold my US house. A lovely tax bill from my accountant to the Fed for $15k (been filing taxes for last 7 years). Am struggling to find the funds to pay it all.

Anyway,..I know of several US citizens that now live in UK but not paying taxes nor knew anything about it!!!! I've told them, but they choose to ignore me. So annoying when I have to pay this money and they get away with it.
The US, like other countries, has limited powers of enforcement beyond its borders. Some countries have mutual tax collection agreements with the US; the UK does not. The UK, like most countries, has signed a FATCA IGA, so your bank account may well be reported to the IRS; beyond that, whether you file US taxes and pay US taxes is up to you. If you have US source income, e.g. from the sale of US property, you may not have any choice, but as far as your UK income is concerned, you have a number of options:

- comply, either fully or in part
- ignore
- renounce US citizenship

Which is best, depends on your particular circumstances.

Will they ever get found out and how would they....is their concern?
In theory, the IRS could use the FATCA reports to identify those not filing FBARs, and bring legal action against them in a US court. In practice, the IRS doesn't seem to be bothering.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,021 Posts
Boris Johnson was in a somewhat similar position, by the way. While he was London Mayor, he started a dispute with the US London Embassy over their refusal to pay the Congestion Charge. Unwise, like a lot of Johnson's decisions. When he sold his London property the IRS sent him a bill (tipped off by the Ambassador? who knows :) )

Johnson, in another unwise move, shared the news that he owed US taxes, on air, on US radio, and also declared on air that he was not going to pay.

Eventually, he paid and renounced.

His property was not in the US, and it seems quite likely that he would never have got the bill if he hadn't (a) annoyed the US over the Congestion Charge and (b) shot off his mouth and uttered defiance over the American airwaves.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,021 Posts
Wonder if I stop filing after paying this horrendous bill, they'll notice? Though they do have my address!!
For peace of mind, my recommendation would be to comply (to whatever extent) or renounce. You never know when laws may change in future, perhaps making the situation much worse.

Personally, I renounced. Expensive ($2350), but it solves the citizenship-based taxation problem cleanly. But it does depend on personal circumstances. Those with US assets/income might not find it the best solution.

Also, bear in mind that you would have been taxed by the US or the UK or both on the sale of the US property, even if you didn't have US citizenship. Depends what the treaty says.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
53,146 Posts
Wonder if I stop filing after paying this horrendous bill, they'll notice? Though they do have my address!!
As iota says, it depends on lots of factors. One of the main one is if you have US assets - because those they CAN access (and simply impound) pending settlement of whatever amounts they decide are due.

The other big factor is whether you have US source income - especially anything subject to US withholding. You say you lived for 20 years in the US - that means you will probably be eligible for US Social Security benefits when you reach retirement age. Although US SS is taxable only by the UK (assuming you remain in the UK in retirement), they could very well withhold taxes from your payments if they had reason to believe that you owed taxes you had not declared/paid.

Though, on the other hand, there are lots of US taxpayers living below the radar and at the moment there does not seem to be any sort of "campaign" to find them out.
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,021 Posts
Also, bear in mind that you would have been taxed by the US or the UK or both on the sale of the US property, even if you didn't have US citizenship. Depends what the treaty says.
Here you go - Article 13.1:

Gains derived by a resident of a Contracting State that are attributable to the alienation of real property situated in the other Contracting State may be taxed in that other State.
In English: Gains derived by a UK resident from the sale of real property situated in the US may be taxed in the US.

You should report the sale to HMRC, claiming credit for the tax paid to the US.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,021 Posts
Although US SS is taxable only by the UK (assuming you remain in the UK in retirement), they could very well withhold taxes from your payments if they had reason to believe that you owed taxes you had not declared/paid.

Fifteen per cent per month until the debt is paid, apparently.
https://www.irs.gov/individuals/soc...eligible-for-the-federal-payment-levy-program
I think I see an obvious flaw in that repayment plan if the debt is very large and the debtor is very old and the benefit is very small. :D

Never mind. It's the thought that counts.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
53,146 Posts
I think I see an obvious flaw in that repayment plan if the debt is very large and the debtor is very old and the benefit is very small. :D

Never mind. It's the thought that counts.
Nobody ever accused taxes of being "logical" - all I'm doing is pointing out the various risks one might be subject to. Plenty of folks just skate under the radar for year and never wind up settling up.
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
359 Posts
Also, bear in mind that you would have been taxed by the US or the UK or both on the sale of the US property, even if you didn't have US citizenship. Depends what the treaty says.
Absent US citizenship, the US tax on sale of a US house by a non-resident alien would probably have been even worse thanks to FIRPTA. This taxes US real estate gains(*) made by non-resident aliens at normal US income tax rates rather than lower capital gains rates. Including AMT if applicable.

So in this case, holding US citizenship might well, for once, be a bonus. And anyone in this situation would probably want to sell US property before renouncing, rather than afterwards.

(*) Worth noting that when enacted, FIRPTA was a US unilateral tax treaty override. Only subsequently has it been adopted into most US tax treaties.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
255 Posts
Some of these US citizens you know may have never earned any income in the States and do not know about these rules, how could they? The internet changed this a little but where were they supposed to find out? The US does not educate their taxpayers.

Another group may have stopped filing when they left the US because they genuinely did not know that they needed to continue to file. There is no logic to filing where you don't live so, they just carried on with their lives abroad.

For some now to enter the US tax system is a huge mistake. This is what I found out. I was one of those that didn't know but I was also an accidental American. I filed when I learned of this to do the right thing and it caused me to renounce. Filing wasn't the problem. Maintaining the filing going forward would have caused me huge hardship in a number of ways. I had a pending directorship this year that would have caused a mess.

Anyone who has been working and earning in the US would of course be filing and if you were going to sell a US property, I would expect the IRS to have a paper trial of it being sold.

Fatca of course is changing the landscape and there may be ways for them to find out what transactions you are doing overseas now. but will anything come of it? I was a recalcitrant account holder and have yet to hear from anyone. Not out of choice. I didn't have a clue what my social security number was for the tax form and by the time i had to look it up and got all my back filing done i had completely forgotten to send the form back. I haven't heard anything yet.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,021 Posts
Fatca of course is changing the landscape and there may be ways for them to find out what transactions you are doing overseas now. but will anything come of it? I was a recalcitrant account holder and have yet to hear from anyone. Not out of choice. I didn't have a clue what my social security number was for the tax form and by the time i had to look it up and got all my back filing done i had completely forgotten to send the form back. I haven't heard anything yet.
Interesting.

Somewhere there must be an awful lot of FATCA data that will never be looked at by anyone.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
255 Posts
And I am still happily banking there too. They sent the Fatca form over a year ago, Jan 2016. and I never returned it and they never chased for it either. The notice said they "might" have to report me anyway if I didn't send it back. I thought at first this was a HMRC thing until the bank informed me of US tax resident tax rules and this insane reporting requirement. It was a complete shock to me and even today I am still shocked on how these laws have survived into 21st century.

I also think i might have got the form because we switched to a higher interest account.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,021 Posts
And I am still happily banking there too. They sent the Fatca form over a year ago, Jan 2016. and I never returned it and they never chased for it either. The notice said they "might" have to report me anyway if I didn't send it back. I thought at first this was a HMRC thing until the bank informed me of US tax resident tax rules and this insane reporting requirement. It was a complete shock to me and even today I am still shocked on how these laws have survived into 21st century.

I also think i might have got the form because we switched to a higher interest account.
It is an HMRC thing. Everyone with an "off-shore" account is subject to the reporting now, under CRS. It's the US law that crazily deems UK-resident USC accounts "off-shore", but it's UK law that implements the reporting - for FATCA, CRS, and CDOT, all in one big jumble of rules.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
255 Posts
It is an HMRC thing. Everyone with an "off-shore" account is subject to the reporting now, under CRS. It's the US law that crazily deems UK-resident USC accounts "off-shore", but it's UK law that implements the reporting - for FATCA, CRS, and CDOT, all in one big jumble of rules.
Thanks Iota, I vaguely heard about this CRS thing and yes it does appear it's all related. I just felt like a second class citizen once I understood the implications of what Fatca meant especially as I have never identified as American. My whole family is British and it was just by chance I was born there. Had my parents known what was going to happen, they would have returned to the UK just to have me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,021 Posts
Thanks Iota, I vaguely heard about this CRS thing and yes it does appear it's all related. I just felt like a second class citizen once I understood the implications of what Fatca meant especially as I have never identified as American. My whole family is British and it was just by chance I was born there. Had my parents known what was going to happen, they would have returned to the UK just to have me.
I see citizenship as a bureaucratic thing. A dual US/UK citizen is two citizens in one. The US is causing problems for my US citizen, and the UK is defending the interests of my UK citizen. I'm pulling for the UK. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,105 Posts
Anyway,..I know of several US citizens that now live in UK but not paying taxes nor knew anything about it!!!! I've told them, but they choose to ignore me. So annoying when I have to pay this money and they get away with it.
If those dual citizens never lived or worked in the US, never acquired US assets or paid into social security, then there's absolutely no reason for them to become compliant. Best thing they can do is continue to pretend they know nothing about it.

Despite FATCA, the US may never find them, and has no ability to collect anything from them.

Your friends aren't "getting away" with anything if the US has no leverage over them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
255 Posts
I see citizenship as a bureaucratic thing. A dual US/UK citizen is two citizens in one. The US is causing problems for my US citizen, and the UK is defending the interests of my UK citizen. I'm pulling for the UK. :)
Iota, this is so true and I totally agree

My advise now with hindsight is that an Accidental American should not enter the US tax system, The fear and scaremongering got the better of me and some unfounded sense of doing the right thing or getting hit with penalties. Now I know all this is a lot of bark, not bite. To enter the US tax system as an accidental will have serious repercussions. The risk is much greater entering the US tax system than not.

Only enter if there is a good reason and no other alternative. hopefully laws change in a more positive way.

Sadly the OP is already in the system, this advise is not for people already in the system. those should renounce if they can, sooner rather than later.
 
1 - 20 of 27 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top