Is It Still Possible to Get Out of Dodge?

69 comments

Posted on 6th January 2013 by LLPOH in Economy

People have been asking me about a get out of Dodge plan. The fact is, the US government is making it increasingly difficult to get out of Dodge, and those that have not already done so may well have left it too late. The government does not want its citizens living overseas, nor do they want its citizens having assets overseas. Currently there are some 6 million Americans living overseas, and they have assets and incomes that are difficult for the US government to control and tax, and the US government does not like that.

The US is the only country in the world (except for Eritrea) that has citizenship based taxation. No matter where you live, and no matter where you draw your income, the US taxes it. Every other country has residence based taxation – you are taxed only if you reside in the country or earn income in the country. For instance, if you are a Canadian working in the US, you will have no Canadian tax obligations, unless you have income from Canada. If you are an American working in Canada, you are liable for US tax on your Canadian income. If you are an “accidental American” – and there are potentially millions of these around the world – born to an American citizen overseas, or born to a foreign citizen who was travelling through the US at the time of the birth – you are a US citizen, and may not know it. The US does not care – and will happily seek you out and punish you for failing to file and pay US taxes. No leeway is given.

The US has a whole range of laws that penalize US residents that live outside the US. One law is the FBAR law – that law requires that foreign financial assets be reported each year, and requires that all accounts where the citizen is a signatory be reported. Financial assets include bank accounts, mutual funds, CDs, gold, etc. Failure to report these accounts can, and does, result in draconian fines, from $10,000 for non-will failure, to 50% of the balance of all accounts, for failure to report even one account. Per year. Simple errors can, and do, result in the penalties being applied. The signatory provision effects persons who work for an overseas company and can sign business checks. They must report the balances of the account, even though it is not their account. And even though there may be privacy law issues – the US does not recognize the privacy laws of other nations, and can and will prosecute those individuals for failing to breach the laws of the nation in which they live. Note that citizens that live in the US have no such requirements.

Another law is FATCA. FATCA has two basic features. First, FATCA requires foreign banks to tell the US what US citizens have accounts with them. Any banks failing to provide such information will have 30% of any transaction with the US withheld as a fine for failing to tell the US what it wants to know. Banks are required to search their records and identify all US account holders, initially beginning with account holders having substantial deposits, but within a few years identifying all US account holders to the IRS. Any US account holder that does not agree to give the foreign bank his/her SS number to the IRS, along with balances and interest earned, will have their accounts closed. Many banks are simply closing the accounts of all US citizens, in order to avoid the reporting regime in its entirety. This is happening today in the UK and Switzerland especially. Americans are finding it difficult to open accounts overseas, as banks are refusing to deal with them.
The second feature of FATCA is it requires overseas Americans to report all of their assets each year. That means they must report the value of their homes, their bank accounts, their shares, their everything. Failure to so report, or to be accurate, can/will result in fines of 40% of the value of the assets. This is not, as yet, required by Americans not living overseas.

The IRS intends to make it mandatory that all of this reporting is done electronically. The IRS will then be able to instantly match an overseas person’s SS number against his/her bank account, his/her assets, etc. Any discrepancies or anomalies will be pursued.

Additionally, overseas residents are also subject to a range of other reports not required in the US – they must report any transactions with foreign trusts, they must report full financial reports on corporations where they have significant holdings, etc. Not all overseas Americans will have to do these reports, but failure to provide these reports can result in fines of 35% of the value of the asset/business for each year the report is not lodged. These reports have nothing to do with tax owed, but only have to do with failure to tell the IRS every detail about every financial asset the person owns or has influence over overseas.

To restate, an American citizen that lives overseas must report all of his or her assets, financial accounts, gold holdings, records of their business, any transactions with foreign trusts, all income received overseas, etc. Every single thing must be reported each year, or the fines approach 50% of the asset value each year. EACH YEAR. In two years, the fines can reach or exceed the person’s entire net assets.

I have been told by people who know that it is impossible for a US citizen living overseas to meet these reporting requirements in full, or to even be able to keep abreast and aware of all the reporting requirements, and that overseas residents will breach the law inevitably, and open themselves up to loss of great slabs of their wealth as a result, and potentially to criminal charges. The laws are too complex, and too pervasive to be followed, and are incredibly penal for even the most benign mistake.

Which brings me back to the get out of dodge question. An American citizen living overseas will find it very, very difficult to comply with the laws. Even if they are able to comply, the costs will be prohibitive in most cases – they will have two sets of taxes to complete and file each year – one for their country of residence, and one very complex one for the US. They will find it increasingly difficult, if not impossible to get a bank account overseas, which will effectively mean they cannot live overseas. Even if they can get a bank account, they will have to agree to be 100% monitored by the IRS. They will invariably breach a complex US reporting law, and their assets will be under threat. Most countries are falling into line, and will assist the IRS in seizing overseas assets, so hiding out and hoping the US cannot seize is not an option.

So what is an option? To me, there is really only one viable option if one wishes to remain inside the bounds of the law – the American must secure overseas citizenship (which in and of itself is not easy to do) – and renounce US citizenship, if he or she really wants to get out of dodge. The process is not easy, and the US is making it more difficult all the time. Many, many Americans are renouncing citizenship, as is their right. However, the US is making it difficult: there are long waiting lists (out over a year in many cases) to meet with a Department of State official to renounce citizenship, and it is the only way it can be done; there are exit tax regimes that affect anyone with capital gains that have not been chrystallized; there are potentially restrictions about re-entering the US after renunciation; etc etc etc.

To sum up then, the reality is that the US does not wish its citizens to leave, and is making it extremely difficult for its citizens to leave. It is also doing everything possible to penalize its 6 million citizens that have left, and to drain them of any assets that they have accumulated overseas via a vast myriad of laws that simply cannot be fully complied with, and subsequent draconian taxes for failure to comply, wilfully or otherwise. They are making it extremely difficult for citizens to set up bank accounts overseas, so as to limit or eliminate the ability of its citizens to move assets overseas. Anyone considering “getting out of Dodge” needs to fully educate themselves on the laws and realities of the situation, and make plans well in advance of the time they hope to get out of Dodge. And they also must begin to face the reality that it may no longer be possible to exit the US. The US does not want its citizens to leave, wants those overseas to return (with their assets of course), and is bringing to bear its full political power in order to prevent it.

69 Comments
  1. Eddie says:

    I’ve read that it costs maybe 75K to get a foreign passport. Not chump change.

    6th January 2013 at 8:03 pm

  2. LLPOH says:

    Some second-rate passports are available, Dominica and St Kitts. There is a possibility that these may or may not be accepted in the future as legitimate passports. I do not know the cost of these exactly, but they will not be cheap.

    6th January 2013 at 8:15 pm

  3. Micro-Be says:

    Time to start an American Mail Order Bride/Groom service for singles in other countries. To bad none of the fat Americans will get chosen /sarc.

    6th January 2013 at 8:31 pm

  4. Administrator says:

    Looks like somebody has been busy doing research.

    I hear Russia is welcoming new citizens.

    6th January 2013 at 8:40 pm

  5. LLPOH says:

    Admin – Gerard decided that paying more in tax than what he earned was simply too much. He claims to have paid around 200 million euro during his lifetime, and thinks that the new attack on the rich is a step too far. I do not blame him. Not sure Russia is a good option, but doubt he would live there – just would enjoy the passport.

    Re research, you bet your sweet ass I have been doing some. I have a plan in place, as I have been saying. Owing to some decisions re get out of Dodge I made twenty five years or so ago, I have some options that most do not. It is better to be an ant than a grasshopper – plan for the future rather than live for today.

    It is a process that needs to be carefully managed to stay legal while protecting assets best as possible. People nearing retirement who have not planned, and who have reasonable assets, have probably left it too late. Those only on SS or with few assets can make a move reasonable easily, stil, but are taking a huge risk as their incomes could dry up fast.

    6th January 2013 at 8:48 pm

  6. Administrator says:

    llpoh

    Are you moving into Novista’s extra room in New Zealand?

    6th January 2013 at 8:53 pm

  7. LLPOH says:

    ooooh – NZ sounds nice. So long as my room looks like this, count me in:

    opulent%2Bdrawing%2Broom%2Bitaly.JPG

    6th January 2013 at 9:04 pm

  8. John A says:

    Thanks for the article, LLPOH. For those of you who feel that the US government has the world by the nads and has unlimited authority/influence globally, please read the latest commentary written by Jim Willie CB (if you have not done so already).

    http://www.gold-eagle.com/editorials_12/willie123112.html

    6th January 2013 at 9:07 pm

  9. Leobeer says:

    My brother is an “accidental American”. My Canadian parents lived in Philadelphiafor 3 years while my father went to school there. After he graduated they moved back to Canada in 1955. My brother is afraid to enter the US at any time because his Canadian passport shows his birth place as Philly. He doesn’t want to take the chance that the Americans are going to claim him as a citizen and tax his ass off.

    6th January 2013 at 9:22 pm

  10. Stucky says:

    Nice article. Nice research.

    Fuck America. I’m really starting to hate this place. My “loyalty” to this shithole is fast approaching zero.

    6th January 2013 at 9:28 pm

  11. LLPOH says:

    Leobeer – they indeed could do that. They also could arrest him at the border (unlikely), as it is illegal to enter the US on a foreign passport if you are a US citizen. Currently, Canada claims they will not throw dual Canadian/US citizens to the US wolves, but there are indications that that position may change, and that indeed Canada may begin to feed duals to the wolves. Canada will likely fall into the FATCA camp, outlined above. As his place of birth will become known to the US, if Canada does sign off on FATCA, as is likely, there is every possibility your brother will either 1) have to agree to allow his details to be giiven to the US, or 2), be unable to get a bank account.

    Your brother is indeed at extreme risk. He is/has committed a number of crimes, per US law, especially as he knows he is a dual citizen. These include: failure to file income taxes, FBAR violations, and any number of assorted reporting violations.I repeat – because he is AWARE he is a dual citizen, that makes his failure to comply with laws WILFULL. And WILLFUL, if they can prove he was aware, potentially means lose everything you have and go to jail. If Canada does not provide him protection, he is in deep shit.

    There is currently an amnesty program he can enter called OVDI. He would have to 1) file many years of back tax returns, and pay any taxes, penalties, and interest owed, and 2) pay 5% of his net wealth to the IRS as a penalty (if he can convince them he did not know he was a US citizen. If he cannot, he will owe 27.5% of all of his worldly goods to the IRS, plus back taxes, plus interest and penalties). But that is all a pittance in comparison to the FBAR penalties of 50% per year of all your financial assets, etc etc etc.

    This is very serious shit, Leobeer, and the IRS is NOT fucking around. I advise he get in front of this somehow, as it is going to get worse. The IRS will, eventually, find him, as they will force banks to turn him over to them. As the info on this stuff is becoming increasingly well known, the IRS is being more and more able to establish wilfullness, and that is fucking bad news, I assure you.

    If they file criminal charges, Canada WILL most likely extradite him. Any attempt to shift assets around to protect them can result in even extremely serious criminal charges, as these are some of the worst offenses on the IRS books.

    I wish I could offer good news for him, but he is indeed in the shit. He HAS committed tax crimes, by US law, make no mistake about it – failure to file is not a felony, but is punishable by one year in prison, but some of the other ones are very serious indeed if wlfullness can be shown. He is currently protected by Canada, but that does look very likely to change, and FATCA reporting will find him, eventually. Good luck to him.

    6th January 2013 at 9:43 pm

  12. LLPOH says:

    Stuck – I hear you. When you start doing the research on this stuff, you find out some incredible things. Canada has perhaps as many as 1 million dual US/Canadian citizens. Many of them are not lodging US tax returns and documents. I would very much NOT want to be in there shoes as the IRS is indeed getting very close to being able to find any and all US citizens overseas. And when thay find them, well, the IRS does what the IRS does so well.

    6th January 2013 at 9:49 pm

  13. LLPOH says:

    “their shoes”

    6th January 2013 at 9:50 pm

  14. Leobeer says:

    Llpoh,

    He has never resided in the US. I don’t even think he has a US social security number and he certainly hasn’t ever had a US passport.

    6th January 2013 at 9:53 pm

  15. Leobeer says:

    Let me correct that. He resided in the US up until he was 2 years old.

    6th January 2013 at 9:55 pm

  16. LLPOH says:

    Leobeer- the timing does not matter re citizenship, if that is why you are clarifying. Born in the US, stay 2 minutes, 2 days, 2 decades = IRS wants your money. And will chase you to the ends of the earth for it.

    6th January 2013 at 9:58 pm

  17. LLPOH says:

    Leobeer – sorry, missed your post re no passport, etc. The answer is the same – he is a US citizen. None of that stuff matters. The IRS will chase him once they find him, and odds are they will find him. Birth conferred upon him citizenship. His Canada passport will show place of birth, most likely. To enter into the US, your passportmust show place of birth, is my understanding.

    It is total bullshit, but that is the way it is. He is an American citizen, he knows he is an American citizen, by the sounds of it, and the IRS is doing everything humanly possible to find folks like him so as to take their assets. He really needs to get together a plan for the day they show up at his door (figuratively), or take pro-active action to get out of the mess. It really sucks.

    6th January 2013 at 10:03 pm

  18. KaD says:

    I always laugh when I read stories about leaving the US. I can’t imagine when the shit finally does hit the fan and the can cannot be kicked down the road any longer, the citizens of other countries, who WILL suffer too as the global economy melts down, aren’t going to blame the rich gringos in their vicinity for their troubles the same way Americans blame immigrants (and not without cause) for many of our problems here. Many of the US expatriots may find themselves not very safe in their chosen foreign countries either.

    6th January 2013 at 10:34 pm

  19. Llpoh says:

    Rich immigrants are a lot more welcome than poor, KaD. Many places will allow you to immigrate to them so long as you bring chavos with you. Canada may still, and there are others. If you end up a poor American in another country – not so good.

    BTW – immigrated does not necessarily equal passport. Usually takes years to be granted citixenship.

    6th January 2013 at 10:48 pm

  20. IndenturedServant says:

    I know nothing about getting out of dodge as I’ll be making my stand here. One of the presenters at the silver summit this year was Jeff Berwick. Apparently he runs a company that claims to help you obtain passports and citizenship overseas. I believe its called TDV Passports.

    I only mention this because after hearing his presentation, I would be very wary of doing business with him. He may in fact be the best and most professional service out there for this kind of thing but he came across as a slacker, party boy IMO. I have met one person who has used one of his services and was very satisfied.

    If you are considering doing business with TDV Passports, contact admin for my email address and I can tell you what little I know.
    I_S

    6th January 2013 at 11:26 pm

  21. John A says:

    Maybe the 15 million illegals in the US should re-consider their desire/demand for amnesty and citizenship here. Perhaps it’s not such a good idea. To wit: maybe they should just haul ass back home to Mexico (or other points south of the border) while they still can. Good for us and even better for them.

    6th January 2013 at 11:32 pm

  22. IndenturedServant says:

    I’ve got to imagine that the govt blows through the annual tax revenue generated by the six million Americans overseas in about 2 or 3 minutes so I wonder what the reasoning is behind such aggressive actions by the IRS. I guess our ponzi economy has reached the point where every penny counts.

    I agree with KaD re Americans being seen as rich immigrants in foreign lands. You may not in fact be rich but that will not likely be perception. Simply being an American is enough to cause problems even when most of the local population accepts you.
    I_S

    6th January 2013 at 11:57 pm

  23. Llpoh says:

    IS – so far, the ovdi program described above, with only 30,000 participants to date, have collected more than 4 billion in fines and penalties.

    Not chickenfeed. Multiply that by a hundred, and voila! 400 billion in penalties would be the target. Z

    7th January 2013 at 12:03 am

  24. Stucky says:

    I was stationed in Greece in 1973. The government was overthrown. Google it if you don’t believe me. Anti-Americanism was rampant. Several dozen American GI cars were firebombed … including mine.

    Anti American hatred …. you folks who have never experienced it, have no idea how scary it is.

    7th January 2013 at 12:08 am

  25. Makati1 says:

    Canada and Mexico are going to be part of one unit soon. Wait and see. The North American Union is not extinct. It is healthy and growing. So, if you live in one, you will soon be part of it. No escape.

    If you doubt that, check out the new military/security ties being formed. That is just another step towards the Union. Eventually, getting into and out of Canada will be like getting into and out of the Us. Difficult. You WILL be hounded by the IRS no matter where you go. If you stay in any country beyond their 2-3 weeks for tourists, you will be found and the info turned in to the nearest US fort, er, Embassy. Then it is only a matter of time. Isn’t the internet great?

    7th January 2013 at 12:11 am

  26. Llpoh says:

    Makiti – I think you are pretty much right.

    Stuck – Americans are loved everywhere.

    7th January 2013 at 12:17 am

  27. Canadian citizen says:

    LLPOH, entering OVDI or OVDP has been a very bad idea for many people trying to ‘come into compliance’. Especially the ‘accidental’ US duals, or those living abroad lifelong. Minnows with no intent to evade US tax, and who are fully compliant in Canada or elsewhere outside the US would be better advised to do research first, and get experienced advice before jumping into a program designed for US residents and deliberate tax evaders and money launderers. It comes with a presumption of guilt, and does not allow for nuance or for shades of gray.

    The advice you give for Leobeer’s brother needs to be tempered with full knowledge of other options available, including compliance going forward, the full ostrich, the December 2011 factsheet for Canadian/US duals, and the ‘streamlined compliance initiative’, etc. http://renounceuscitizenship.wordpress.com/?s=compliance
    Here are some resources to consider carefully before advising someone to jump from the frying pan into the fire: http://renounceuscitizenship.wordpress.com/resources-u-s-persons-abroad/

    OVDI and OVDP 2012 have been disastrous for many who are NOT willful. ‘Willful’ is a legal term, which is better advised on by a lawyer with US tax experience.

    See this: http://isaacbrocksociety.ca/2012/01/10/press-release-isaac-brock-society/

    7th January 2013 at 12:49 am

  28. Llpoh says:

    Canadian – good advice. However, I must stress anyone who knows they are dual citizens and are doing nothing to correct their known issues are at severe risk of being deemed willful. That is because they are ignoring a known duty. Anything that happened prior to hem being aware is not wilfull, but anything after that is a different story.

    I know there are many possible options. I suspect full ostrich may not be a good idea for the long run. FATCA is likely to be a bastard for those going full ostrich.

    7th January 2013 at 1:01 am

  29. Llpoh says:

    BTW – I do not intend to give advice, other than to suggest Leoner’s brother needs tomake a decision. Way beyond my skill set to offer specific advice. Ovdi is just an option I am aware of.

    7th January 2013 at 1:05 am

  30. Canadian citizen says:

    I want to make it clear that I am not a lawyer, nor an accountant, nor have any special knowledge or intent to give tax advice. I merely think that the comment stream above needed some additional information, and some caution re a very very complicated situation, that can be made vastly worse by panicking and then making hasty decisions. I offer the links, and comments to broaden the picture, and to allow for more exploration of possible choices, rather than endorsing any one path, or any one source of information.

    Good luck to the brother in Canada.
    Know that there is a group of people there trying to make sense of this situation, and to organize to oppose the injustices currently being imposed on those the US claims as ‘taxable’ – US citizens born, or living permanently abroad, and their children.

    7th January 2013 at 1:14 am

  31. Canadian citizen says:

    Lipoh, I know what you’re saying about ‘full ostrich’. Each one must make their own decisions based on their specific facts and circumstances, and it’s complicated – takes research, getting knowledgeable advice, and thought.

    Here are two sites where people are trying to figure out this whole mess, and to organize against the resultant injustices. Might want to pass them on to whoever, and there are plenty of participants from several different countries, even if organized mainly by those in Canada:

    http://isaacbrocksociety.ca/2012/12/27/fatca-fact-finding-forum-the-human-consequences-of-fatca-peter-w-dunn/

    http://maplesandbox.ca/

    7th January 2013 at 1:26 am

  32. SSS says:

    “I can’t imagine when the shit finally does hit the fan and the can cannot be kicked down the road any longer, the citizens of other countries, who WILL suffer too as the global economy melts down, aren’t going to blame the rich gringos in their vicinity for their troubles.”
    —-KaD

    Change the words “rich gringos” to “any gringos,” and KaD is on the money, as Indentured Servant and Stucky have already pointed out. I know and Stucky knows just how quickly a foreign populace can turn on Americans. It ain’t pretty. Costa Rica and Panama, two safe havens of choice for tens of thousands of Americans who have chosen to live elsewhere in retirement, may not be quite the safe haven envisioned.

    Who knows what the future holds? I choose to stay and resist if it comes to that. If enough citizens say no more, then something has to give. I choose to see what that “something” is if it happens in my lifetime.

    Good article, LLPOH.

    7th January 2013 at 1:27 am

  33. marissa says:

    You can indeed Get Out Of Dodge. However if you are a standard middle-aged middle-class American supporting a family, it is all but impossible

    But it can more easily be done if you are a retiree. There are a number of countries that offer ‘retirement’ visas to folk who can prove they have a certain basic monthly income. The income requirement varies from country to country. It takes a lot of doing, a lot of digging, a lot of documentation, a lot of time to put together, a lot of bureaucratic hassles in a foreign language, but indeed is is still viable and do-able.

    I’m going to do it. I know other folks who have done, and are doing it now.

    You have to be clever. You have to dot all you I’s and cross all your T’s. You have to be willing to give up EVERYTHING because if you’re smart you’ll be moving to your retirement destination with a suitcase and the clothes on your back. That California king pillow top bed, grandma’s heirloom dishes, and your antique set of the Encyclopedia Britannica ain’t going with you.

    Most Americans cannot do this. FACTA or no FACTA.

    7th January 2013 at 1:29 am

  34. Llpoh says:

    Thanks, Canadian. It is a dastardly process. I suspect there are no perfect answers for those that are trapped – there is bad and worse.

    SSS – you and IS are of the same mind. I am leaning towRd a different answer. The majority of people want what they are getting – more govt, more free shit,more class warfare, more take from the productive and give to the not, less freedom, etc. the people are speaking, and have spoken. That is their right, as fucked up as it is. You can stay and resist, or you can leave them to the world they have chosen. I have been responsible and lawful, but my efforts are not appreciated nor acknowledged, and the govt and the people are working against me at every step I take. Americans arrived in America having left a place that was treating them poorly. It is not the place I want it to be, and it is the place the majority want it to be. I suspect I will leave them to it.

    Marissa – I made a similar point above. You understand what is involved. Be careful of the tax laws.

    7th January 2013 at 1:54 am

  35. Didius Julianus says:

    I’m being lawful in New Zealand, filled out the applicable forms. It is annoying but (big SO FAR) has not mattered much as only middle class living among middle class people from all over the world who now choose NZ as their home. Amazing the number of peo0le who are American or have American connections/relatives over here. So, while I acknowledge the risk, not too worried about being a pariah. Most Kiwis seem to love Americans as individuals but do not care for the American govt. A lot do thing many events were false flags.

    7th January 2013 at 2:15 am

  36. IndenturedServant says:

    @Stucky, while I did not endure a govt collapse while living in Spain, there were enough anti-American individuals for it to be on my radar. As a teenager I probably moved in and traveled through more of Spain than most Americans living there. The Communist party had a real presence in certain areas and it was best to avoid them.

    Most of my travel was via the excellent public transportation system but my wild partying ways had me out past the closing time of public transport so I put many miles on many pairs of shoes. One night while walking across the city of Torrejon de Ardoz, I was mugged, robbed and stabbed with a three inch long knife while taking a shortcut through the Communist square. I still have that knife to this day! It was not too terrible an experience and I ended up stabbing the fucker with his own knife.

    I’d bet that 4000-5000 Americans lived in that city without incident but it paid to be aware.
    I_S

    7th January 2013 at 2:21 am

  37. marissa says:

    Just running off memory here and I can’t readily supply links–google is your friend–

    I believe the Spanish government announced within the last month that anyone who buys a property in Spain valued at $125,000 or more will be given citizenship and a Spanish passport.

    Couple of years ago Latvia did the same thing which I believe is still in effect. I believe the offer was, buy a residence in Latvia costing $100,000 or more, get Latvian citizenship and an EU passport.

    Iceland is recruiting foreigners. Look into it.

    Australia (whose overbearing government is not a whit better than the US) is currently recruiting skilled labor and offering permanent residency to qualified persons.

    7th January 2013 at 2:25 am

  38. Llpoh says:

    Marissa – I think you get residency permits, not citizenship. Big difference.

    7th January 2013 at 2:37 am

  39. marissa says:

    Nope. Spain and Latvia both were offering citizenship and passports.

    7th January 2013 at 2:47 am

  40. marissa says:

    @Llpoh

    I may be just one of the little eaters in the world, but I do have my area of interests to which I pay close attention. International immigration is one of them.

    I have a very good grasp of temporary/permanent residency, passports, citizenships, work permits, visas, tax treaties–all of which are constantly shifting.

    For example, I’m guessing that TBP’ers are unaware that in November 2012 Mexico completely renovated its immigration laws making it much much more difficult for foreigners to legally reside in Mexico on a permanent basis. Lots of American retirees down there right now pissing in their pants. People will be leaving. Google it.

    This is one of the primary dangers of expatism. Governments change, regulations change, requirements change. Expats can get very screwed. It’s a risk.

    7th January 2013 at 2:55 am

  41. Llpoh says:

    Marissa – do not know about Latvia, but Spain is definitely residency. Many articles confirm it, including this one on ZH: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2012-11-19/spanish-casa-and-residency-es-su-casa-200000

    After twn years of residency you can qpply for citizenship, if you meet language requirements, etc. ireland was residency, etc.

    7th January 2013 at 2:56 am

  42. Llpoh says:

    According to the following, Latvia is also residency – five years:

    http://www.overseas-exile.com/2012/10/buying-citizenship-in-europe-latvia.html?m=1

    7th January 2013 at 3:00 am

  43. Llpoh says:

    Spain is ten years of residence prior to application for citizenship.

    Marissa, as I said previously, it is obvious you are up on this stuff. However, I know of no European country that sells citizenship. They sell residency permits that can potentially lead to citizenship sometime in the future.

    7th January 2013 at 3:03 am

  44. Llpoh says:

    BTW – Latvia residency permit obtained by buying property does not include a work permit, or so it seems. Residency only. The only two nations on earth that I am aware sell citizenship are Dominica and St Kitts, if you can call them nations.

    7th January 2013 at 3:09 am

  45. marissa says:

    You are correct, permanent residency and citizenship with passport after a couple of years as a resident.

    Even so, a permanent residency permit will get you access to [a] country’s health care system, and I do believe that permanent residency permit in an EU country allows you to work in any EU membership country.

    I think Cambodia is also selling citizenship and passport. Pricey at about $75,000.

    Much better in many places to go the permanent resident route. It gets you everything but the right to vote.

    Even if you achieve a passport and citizenship in another country which does recognize dual citizenship (some countries do, some countries don’t) in order to get out from under the onus of filing a US tax return, an American actually has to go through the convoluted bureaucratic process of surrendering US citizenship. For which the citizen is charged a bunch of money and given the runaround by the nearest local US embassy for months.

    Here is a website which may interest you. Its primary focus is on American expats in Canada but lots of other useful info for expats in other countries:

    “The Isaac Brock Society is a website, an open forum to discuss the issues of United States citizenship, extra-territorial taxation, FBAR, and FATCA”
    http://isaacbrocksociety.ca/

    7th January 2013 at 3:26 am

  46. Llpoh says:

    Thanks, Marissa. I have read some horror stories re the way people are treated at consulates in Canada. People are beginning to give up their citizenships in very large numbers, esp. In Canada and Switzerland.

    7th January 2013 at 3:38 am

  47. marissa says:

    Here’s another kick in the pants.

    When we were living overseas before, the company we were working for was US tax exempt according to the secret and unknowable provisions of whatever international tax treaty.

    Weeell….that was a FEDERAL tax exemption. Not state. I can’t tell you how many people I knew who were harassed by their states back home for income taxes when they’d been gone for YEARS. Most of them did eventually return to the US and they were all liable for the state taxes they hadn’t filed and hadn’t paid while they were gone.

    ~Note to the wise~

    If you leave the US to live overseas–BE SURE– that your official state of residency in the US before you leave, is a state with no state income tax:

    Alaska
    Florida
    Nevada
    South Dakota
    Texas
    Washington
    Wyoming

    7th January 2013 at 3:48 am

  48. Didius Julianus says:

    In New Zealand on residency, can and will make the change to permanent residency next month (which comes with the right to vote, by the way). Actually “permanent now” but would have to renew ability to travel in and out of the country. Won’t have to do that after the permanent “permanent” residency next month. After 3 more years (5 total) can and will go the citizenship route.

    Agree with Marissa re: Australia. The country is very similar to the U.S.

    By the way, Kiwi gun laws are (so far) very reasonable. Will be applying for a permit next month and should be issued no prob. They permit the person , not the gun. they don;t care how many you have if you have a permit, Can even easily buy and sell them on their version of ebay once you have a permit!

    7th January 2013 at 4:18 am

  49. napari says:

    hey Llpoh,
    I fall into the category of not enough wealth to leave. I have been front running supplies 1- 1 1/2 years out and realize that millions just like me have no choice but to stand ground right where we are. I.m picking people around me likely to stand with me or with the “other side” whatever and whoever that may be. While i wish anyone who can jump ship to a safe haven well and may they have all the comforts please dont forget those who couldnt leave and help if you can, from afar. I refuse to let evil win.

    7th January 2013 at 4:23 am

  50. Didius Julianus says:

    Don’t have to have wealth. We sold our house, paid the penalties on our 403b and shipped our personal effects over on a container. After paying for that, we have enough $ to live on for a while but the important thing was that I had a job offer and started working over here. My wife now has a job as well. Several of my co-workers (from South Africa, Philippines, Singapore, Seychelles, Germany, Tonga) came over here with very little money. the key is to have a job offer or job. It can be done.

    7th January 2013 at 4:43 am

  51. napari says:

    hmmmm, TYVM Didius I’m going to start looking into jobs. Off hand do you see any need for constructuion? or office type work(wife). Our credentials in the fields we wrk are very good.

    7th January 2013 at 5:29 am

  52. Oscar Mannheim says:

    I’ve been living as an expat for many, many years: was in Spain in 1973 (not at Torrejón, the US base town), Greece in ´74 (not as related to military), Morocco, Colombia, Mexico and now the country I’ve been living in for the past nine years, a place all the armchair expats will warn you off, although it’s gone well enough for me. It’s good to be well informed, but nothing beats feet on the ground for informing oneself. It’s also wise to remember that in less “developed” societies, the difference between “de jure” and “de facto” grows the further out into the countryside one gets. I would say, though, that if you don’t speak the language of the proposed host country, better not to go. And if you’re a bit on the inflexible side, the same applies: if you insist on doing things “by the book,” best to do lots of research to rationalize your decision to stay put.

    7th January 2013 at 6:30 am

  53. efarmer says:

    I’m going to have to make a stand. Entirely too much family here to take care of.

    But if I were to go, it would be NZ. Been there, have friends there and if you could do it, New Zealand would be a great place to go. What a paradise.

    EF

    7th January 2013 at 8:08 am

  54. Oscar Mannheim says:

    Yes, efarmer, I imagine quite a few are in your position, and you have to do what you have to do. It’s a tough row to hoe and I don’t envy you it, but respect that kind of solidarity. My family is outta there. I’m just glad to be crossing the threshold (66) of old age. Like my favorite Southern agrarians: “I’ll take my stand” here where I’ve sunk my roots. It’s good that others do the same, wherever they may be. Do not go gentle…

    7th January 2013 at 8:23 am

  55. ragman says:

    Ll: thanks for your research and diligence. I am not in a position to leave the US and start a new life overseas. At least we have a little place in the Appalachians, out of a large city. Best of luck and happy NY to all!

    7th January 2013 at 9:13 am

  56. ThePessimisticChemist says:

    I’d like to emigrate. My wife loves her family dearly, and I won’t be able to afford to move them as well.

    Guess I’m screwed.

    7th January 2013 at 11:42 am

  57. Didius Julianus says:

    The hardest thing is to leave family as we did it. We visit them. They, so far, have not visited us. If they ever do, they will not want to go back. Already had friends visit us and they want to move over. We are not sure exactly why things lined up for us to be here but, looking back, am amazing series of events opened this door to us, some of which were things that occurred over a number of years. Frankly, we don’t believe in coincidence. Living here has opened our eyes. Adjusting has not been all easy but man, getting through the home sick period was worth it. When we first got here it was like being in the twilight zone – everything seemed “the same but different”. A bit out of phase. But that feeling is long past. Kiwis are some of the most hospitable people on Earth. And Kiwis are usually immigrants or just a little removed from immigration on one or both sides of their family (at least that has been our experience).

    The food quality here is fantastic. Eggs, meats, diary of all types tastes different from typical U.S. stuff. Most beef is grass feed. They even has venison farms. My wife did not eat beef for 30 years but does again in this country (she said the U.S. beef tasted dirty – I know the taste she means and that quality is absent in the beef raised here.

    7th January 2013 at 12:43 pm

  58. Didius Julianus says:

    Hi Napari,

    Should be able to come over with good construction experience. Definitely on a work permit (which you can get for up to 5 years) and a good chance on residency. Jobs for your wife should not be too hard to get, there are openings all the time. Best bet for quick work is Christchurch.

    Go to the New Zealand immigration office web page and read all that stuff (http://www.immigration.govt.nz/). Should be several possibilities. NZ also has (should be able to find from that web site) a program where companies can hire from over seas without the normal criteria applying if the company is in the program and there are over 300 companies participating. I’d look at all of them for their open positions as well as starting a work or residency permit. Lots of hoops to go through but it can be done – we did it ourselves without any outside advisory. Just follow all the directions.

    7th January 2013 at 12:50 pm

  59. Didius Julianus says:

    Sometimes I think we were supposed to do it to show others we know in the U.S. that yes, you too can do this is you are determined and let go of your programming and increasingly temporary comforts.

    By the way, this is not to say that I am not aware that things would be a challenge for NZ as the S*** goes down in the U.S. On the other hand, Kiwis are very independent, In that regard, at least 40 years behind where the U.S. is although the same negative trends are happening here too.

    You can still have a religion class in the public schools here (optional – the school decides and parents can opt out). They still have rifle shooting clubs in high school. Need I say more?

    7th January 2013 at 12:54 pm

  60. napari says:

    Didius Julianus….appreciate your input and will take some time to chase down details.
    happy New Year and be well :)
    napari

    7th January 2013 at 12:57 pm

  61. Didius Julianus says:

    Hi Napari,

    Thanks and same to you and God bless you as you and your family decide your path.

    Cheers (as they say in NZ)

    7th January 2013 at 1:17 pm

  62. Anotherjuan says:

    LLPOH – this must be the article i requested. you were singing a different song then. i had written that the usa was making it hard to emigrate. thanks for finally enlightening everyone. i also said that it would be more pragmatic to give aliens their greencard and tax them, but americanos scream at that idea like a greencard is of any particular value. a greencard would only make them visible and traceable for tax purposes. about the only people who should fear adding 11 million greencarders to the rolls would be fsa people who fear potentially having to share ebt bennies. what indeed are you currently denying illegals, they may make less but i read here or somewhere else that after americanos pay their taxes, they actually make less than the illegals who have to accept lower pay because they do not have work permits.

    7th January 2013 at 3:59 pm

  63. llpoh says:

    Anotherjuan – by and large, working illegals pay their taxes via payroll deductions. The non-working ones suck up huge amounts of govt free shit – ask SSS about that.

    Making them legal will not increase the tax take – it may even reduce it, as they could then claim tax refunds. They would also begin to suck up SS bennies, Medicare, etc.

    7th January 2013 at 6:13 pm

  64. llpoh says:

    A couple of articles re the long arm of Uncle Sam via FATCA.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/irs-wants-canada-to-nab-us-tax-cheats-why-we-should-care/article6994760/

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/international-business/us-business/uncle-sam-wants-you-if-youre-an-american-in-canada-or-at-least-your-tax/article6799960/

    7th January 2013 at 7:11 pm

  65. llpoh says:

    http://www.irsmedic.com/2013/01/07/hsbc-irsinvestigation-claims-guilty-plea/

    7th January 2013 at 7:17 pm

  66. stalker says:

    LLPOH – looks like a case of damned if you legalize ‘em, damned if you don’t. here we have been sitting smgly on our judgemental perch never realizing – they are free to leave without a trace while we can never really say goodbye to uncle sam; like diamonds and ex-wives, an ex-despot is forever.

    7th January 2013 at 10:38 pm

  67. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) – tempo scaduto per decidere la strategia più efficace e pianificare le attività di Conformità « Light Compliance says:

    [...] Is It Still Possible to Get Out of Dodge? (theburningplatform.com) [...]

    8th January 2013 at 11:33 am

  68. nothing coming says:

    America is doomed. Everyone is leaving and the US is not reporting real numbers. A million ex-pats a year minimum. Put your money in a FATCA free bank account. There are lots, none in europe that I know of. Get citizenship elsewhere immediately.

    27th February 2013 at 4:09 am

  69. nothing coming says:

    America sucks. California looks like a ghost town and for lease is everywhere. Don’t worry about American saber rattling. Everyone has left, and you don’t want to be in America by 2015 trust me. Than should be sufficient time to get out.

    America has nothing coming. Even if the IRS tells you you owe them pay nothing. Liquidate your assets and get out now. The US can do nothing once this is done. In fact, take out a huge government loan and never pay it back. This will equal out all the taxes you have already paid, ha ha ha.

    Just remember what America has done to you over the years. Do your level best to bring the beast down when you are abroad. You see and American company boycott the SOB. Eventually the lunatic bloated government run America will fall like the Roman Empire.

    Good Riddance Tax Bastards.

    27th February 2013 at 4:14 am

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