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Tax Guide
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Accidental Americans

Accidental Americans

Many citizens of foreign countries also happen to hold a U.S. citizenship without ever residing in the U.S (or only doing so as children). They may have it because they were born in the U.S. or received it from their parents.

Regardless of how the US citizenship was obtained, they are still required to file an annual tax return with the IRS on their worldwide income. Same as all U.S. citizens who live in America.

Unfortunately many do not realize this - until one day when they discover that they are many years overdue and need to fix it ASAP. Most common occurrence is when their local bank asks them to sign Form W9 - indicating that they are a US citizen.

We have helped hundreds of dual citizens normalize their status with the IRS and are familiar with how to best execute this process.

Frequently asked questions

1. Do I have to file a US tax return even if I never lived in the US nor have any income there?

Unfortunately - yes.


According to the U.S. law, all U.S. citizens are required to file an annual tax return with the IRS on their worldwide income (if their income is over $12,000 - see for full details).


That means that you have to do this - regardless of how you came to be a US citizen or whether you live there.

2. I don't have a Social Security number - can you still prepare my tax return?

Yes - we can start work on your return while you obtain the SS number. Doing this at the same time will be more efficient than doing each process separately.


To obtain your Social Security number:

  1. Fill out an application for a Social Security card:
  2. For information about services outside the U.S visit Social Security website at


3. Since I've never filed US taxes before - how many years should I file now?

We normally recommend Americans who are behind on their US taxes to join the Streamlined Procedure:


This is a new program announced in the summer of 2014. It requires filing of 3 years of tax returns and 6 years of FBAR (Foreign Bank Account Report form).


The best part about the program is that it absolves you from any fees or penalties.

4. Will I face penalties for failure to file past US tax returns?



The new Streamlined Procedure we recommend - -  allows you to become compliant without facing any fees or penalties.

5. What if I don't have a Social Security number or never even lived / visited the US? Am I still required to file?

The answer is yes.


Regardless of whether you were given a Social Security number or how often (if ever) you visited the United States, you must file an annual tax return with the IRS.

Further reading