Monday, September 9, 2019

"Accidental Americans" Get Relief! New Announcement from the IRS!!

Image from Pixabay
Stop the presses, hold the phones, drop everything you are doing! The Internal Revenue Service announced "Relief Procedures for Certain Former Citizens" on September 6th, 2019. If you are an "Accidental American" and planning on renouncing your U.S. Citizenship, you should be reading this. 

Let's dig back a bit and refresh our memories: The United States Constitution provides through the 14th Amendment that "all persons born or naturalized in the United States" are citizens of the USA. A person born abroad to a U.S. citizen parent or parents acquires U.S. citizenship at birth if the parent or parents meet conditions as specified in § 301 and following sections of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act. 

Those who have acquired U.S. citizenship in such a manner may not be aware of the obligations and consequences of this status. As you my dear readers already know from my blog, that by law, U.S. citizens regardless of where they live have to report and possibly pay tax on their world-wide income to the Internal Revenue Service. 

With the passage of the FATCA {Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act} in 2010, now foreign financial institutions are required to know if any of their customers are U.S citizens and if that is true, the customer's information is to be reported to the United States. The customer also needs to provide their Social Security Number to the foreign bank where they have their accounts. 

A U.S. Citizen may relinquish his or her citizenship by paying a fee and taking an oath of renunciation before a US diplomatic or consular officer. They also need to certify that they have fulfilled their federal tax obligations for the year of expatriation and five tax years prior to this event. The relinquishment is detailed under IRC 877A. Those who are deemed to be "Covered Expatriates" may continue to have US tax obligations even after they renounce their citizenship. 

What Are the Relief Procedures: The Internal Revenue Service is providing relief to citizens who meet certain criteria by providing an alternative means to satisfy tax compliance certification process. If the citizens qualify, then they will not be "Covered Expatriates" under IRC 877A and they will not be liable to unpaid taxes and penalties for these years and any previous years.

Who Are These Procedures Available To?: These relief procedures come with the following caveats, which the IRS plans on implementing strictly-
  1. Citizens who expatriate after March 18th, 2010 can use these relief procedures. 
  2. One should have no filing history as a US Citizen or resident. 
  3. The citizens should have a net worth of less than $2 million at the time of expatriation and submitting. 
  4. Their aggregate tax liability for the year of expatriation and five prior years should be $25,000 or less. 
  5. You have to agree to complete and submit with your submission for renunciation all required federal tax returns for 6 years at issue including all schedules and information returns. The IRS recommends filing your FBAR's as well.
  6. Their failure to file required tax returns/ gift tax returns/ and other information returns (including Form 8938) and FBAR's or FinCEN Form 114 and pay taxes and penalties for the years under question was due to non-wilful conduct. 
  7. This action of renouncing a US citizenship is irrevocable. 
The IRS does not have a specific termination date at this time for these relief procedures. The IRS also plans on letting the applicant know that the submission was received and was complete. The IRS may take upto 2 months to turn this around. 

Renouncing your U.S. citizenship is a BIG step. If you are planning on renouncing your U.S. citizenship, we highly recommend that you meet with a knowledgeable Enrolled Agent or an attorney who specializes in this area. 

Bibliography: Expatriation Tax; IRS Announcement. 

Do not forget to read my disclaimer here. Please consult an Enrolled Agent for your unique tax needs. More of my contact information is on my website,



Wednesday, September 4, 2019

A Reprieve From Revocation of Passport When You Owe Taxes!

Image from Pixabay: Munich, Germany
I have been fortunate the past couple of years to have been able to travel. I find that as I check off places on my bucket list, I keep adding on to it! I have been bitten by the travel bug! We recently went to Munich, Germany and climbed 14 stories to the top of The Kirche of St. Peter. The climb through the narrow stairway was somewhat crowded and tight at times but it was absolutely worth it! The views at the top were breath-taking. 

Of course when you travel, you need your passport. What happens when you owe taxes to the Government, can they revoke your passport? If you remember, back in 2015, there was a Law passed called the FAST Act. The Act was mostly about transportation but they got in a clause that if you owed more than $50,000 in taxes, the Government could revoke your existing passport or deny you a new passport. 

Under Section 32101 of the FAST Act, if the IRS certifies a taxpayer as having a 'seriously delinquent tax debt", which is: (1) Owing $52,000 or more in taxes and (2) Meeting certain other requirements under IRC §7345(b), the State Department must deny the taxpayer's original or renewal passport application and may revoke or limit an existing passport.

 Taxpayer Advocate Services {TAS} had been advocating on behalf of those who had been working with them before being thus certified by the IRS. TAS wanted the IRS to exclude from their lists those taxpayers who were working to determine their tax liability; or were seeking penalty abatements based on reasonable cause; or were seeking audit reconsideration. TAS felt that the taxpayers would be pressured into agreements with the IRS to avoid certification. 

The IRS recently agreed to temporarily exclude taxpayers with open TAS cases from certification and to reverse certifications for TAS who were certified before coming to the TAS. The acting National Taxpayer Advocate, Bridget T. Roberts recently said in her blog that she thinks "this is a change in the right direction that protects taxpayers who are working with TAS to resolve their liabilities from the severe consequences of passport denials and consequences". 

Obviously, the TAS wants taxpayers to work with them in good faith or they cannot recommend this exclusion.  

The Internal Revenue Service is going to be hard pressed to put the certification process into action. According to Ms. Roberts' blog post on the IRS' website, the IRS recently implemented a program to recommend revocation of passports in certain cases, however the standards in the Internal Revenue Manual for making these determinations are vague and the IRS may come across as making arbitrary decisions. Also, the technology at the disposal of the IRS is apparently preventing them from sending out certification and decertification notices. 

What does this mean for you if you have tax debts that are $52,000 or more? If you would like to arrange for a payment plan with the Internal Revenue Service or request penalty abatement for reasonable cause, work with the Taxpayer Advocate Service. How does one get in touch with the Taxpayer Advocate Service? Well, get in touch with a Tax Professional/ Enrolled Agent who knows how, find out if you qualify and take advantage of the reprieve offered by the IRS thanks to the Taxpayer Advocate Service!

Bibliography: Internal Revenue Code IRS §7345 (b); FAST Act; IRS News.

Do not forget to read my disclaimer here. Please consult an Enrolled Agent for your unique tax needs. More of my contact information is on my website,