Bonjour dear reader : Have you ever dreamed of being an expat ? Living in – not visiting – Paris, London, Rio de Janeiro ? Doesn’t it sound exotic, glamorous, fun-filled ? Would you be tempted?
Sure you would ! But first, please answer a few questions about matters you may not, but certainly should, know before you consider the idea. If by the end of my little questionnaire you still want to be an expatriate, please do it – at your risk and peril.
Here we go !
Did you know that the U.S. government taxes its citizens wherever they live ? With the exception of Eritrea, I believe, it is the ONLY country in the world to do so. What does that mean for you, my future expat ? You will pay taxes both in the country you live in AND declare your income to the U.S. government whether you owe money or not. If you’re over a certain threshold, you’ll pay in both places.
Did you know that a 2010 law called the Foreign Tax Account Compliance Act (FATCA,) requires all foreign banks to declare assets held by American citizens ? And that if the bank refuses, it will then be liable to a 30 per cent withholding tax ? What does this mean for you, my future expat ? It means that financial institutions are not accepting American clients and are getting rid of the ones they have. Simple as that !
Did you know that as an expat you now have to file a new form called the FBAR (Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts) ? This is a report of every single financial account that you possess or have signature authority on, what it is, where it’s located, how much you have on it. Of course this means that Uncle Sam now knows what your spouse, if foreign, has on his or her accounts if he or she was dumb enough to give you a proxy. Seriously speaking, in my book, the ability to peek into the acount of a non-U.S. citizen is called spying. The FBAR is an egregious invasion of privacy and totally discriminatory. And, last but certainly not least, do you know to whom we expats file this FBAR form ? We file it to – are you ready ? – the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network at the Department of the Treasury. Did you get that ? Financial CRIMES !!
Did you know that ? Of course you didn’t ! Why would you ? You are a « good » American living in America whereas we expatriates are, in the eyes of our government, traitors who have chosen to abandon « the greatest country in the world ».
In its own peculiar way our government has placed its citizens abroad on its Most Wanted List.
Just a couple more questions and then you can decide if you still want to be an expatriate.
Do you seriously think that a terrorist would have a bank account in his/her own name or fill out these tiresome forms ? Get real ! A bona fide tax dodger is smarter than that !
Do you think that the Average Joe and the Average Joan should be set apart and discriminated against by the U.S. government because they are living abroad ? (If you answer yes, I’ll take you off my mailing list !).
Do you still want to be an expat ? I doubt it.
And, now, here’s the question many expats are asking : in light of the scandalous way we are treated by our government, do we still want to be American citizens ?