U.S. taxes explained for Accidental Americans

Jun 8, 2018

An Accidental American is a citizen of a foreign country other than the U.S. who may be considered an American citizen under the U.S. nationality law. This rule leaves an opportunity to pass citizenship through a few generations without people realizing it. You do not have to register with the U.S. government or apply for a passport to become a U.S. citizen.

Are you an Accidental American?

Typically, you only discover as an adult that you are a U.S. person. There are different ways that you could have obtained American citizenship without being aware of it, which are:

  1. By being born in a foreign country to one U.S. citizen parent who emigrated from the U.S.
  2. Or you were born in the U.S. to foreign parents who were temporarily residing in the country for work, study, or other reasons, and then returned to their home country shortly afterward.
  3. Or by acquiring another citizenship, thinking that it ended the American one. 

At the same time as finding out about their new status, many Accidental Americans also become aware of the U.S. tax filing requirements. They are scared of the penalties they can face for being non-compliant. But it’s important to understand that Accidental Americans have non-willfully violated tax laws. It means they were previously unaware of their obligation to pay U.S. taxes.

Because of that, they are eligible to use the Streamlined Procedures! This IRS tax amnesty program allows them to become tax compliant without facing penalties. You will need to file the last 3 years of U.S. tax returns and six years of FBAR. You report your financial accounts abroad if they have had an aggregate value of $10,000 or more at any time during the tax year.

Before 2019, obtaining a Social Security Number (SSN) was a prerequisite to renouncing citizenship, but this is no longer the case. This change in the process has made it much easier for Accidental Americans to renounce their citizenship and become compliant with U.S. tax laws. Additionally, you can include the benefits of these relief procedures and how they can help individuals resolve their accidental American status. It’s also important to mention that renouncing citizenship is the best solution for accidental Americans who want to avoid the potential financial and legal consequences that come with holding dual citizenship. Additionally, you can also discuss the process and the steps that an individual should take to renounce US citizenship.



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