A real-life story submitted to me today. Draw your own conclusions.
I am a foreigner that lived and worked in the US under a work permit. (Not even a green card)
I struggled the past years to make a living, because I was self-employed under an employee that had few jobs, and under the rules of a work permit, you can legally work only under your US employee, in the US.
In 2009 I learned via the Internet about the fbar requirements, and the vdpi.
My tax accountant that I contacted about this said that it would have nothing to do with me, as I am a foreigner and not an American citizen.
I learned again through another Internet article, that also America “persons” are required to voluntarily disclose. I checked the definition of an America “person” and realized, that is me.
I emailed my tax accountant again, forwarded again the article online, and he said that as long as my home money was just sitting there. That I don’t need to file myself to the programme. He was also the one that had never checked the box in my income return that I had assets in my home country. He had never asked me if I have one.
I called the IR to verify, and filed myself voluntarily, after they said I must do so, to come ‘clean”, and after they promised that a person like me would not be what they are looking for and I would be treated fairly.
Since than I went through hell. I learned that they would take 20% of the highest amount of my assets I ever had on my home countries’ bank account (which I opened when I was 20 years younger) away from me. And an additional 80 000 Dollar for the 8 years I hadn’t filed the fbar. Even so I was not aware about any of these requirements.
I was also not aware that in the vdpi it didn’t matter that I had that money on my home account before I even put a foot in this country, and that this money was mine, as I had paid all taxes due, in my country, where I had earned that money with hard work!
It also didn’t helped that I could proof that even my tax accountant had no idea about these requirements. So how should I know, not an expert in tax law?
I learned that in the vdpi each sub-account back home was defined as an account, counting again with it’s highest value.
In my case, I had over the years many sub-accounts, for better interest rates, at the same bank, upon advise from my bank to cover the bank fees (interest income tax for that filed in my home country). Those sub-accounts amounts went back, for example after 2-3 month being fixed, back into my main account Meaning, even so I had only 50 K in its entire, in some years it counted as if I had 250K, because I had “several (sub) accounts” that are considered by the IRS as individual accounts. So, in on year my assets have been as high as 250K. 20% of that I was to pay to the IRS. Even so I had only 50K in savings in reality.
I went through psychological torture and hell because of the following:
- I found nobody to advise me.
- I was poor, because I had for 2007-2009 no real income because of the economic crisis that started earlier than 2008 in my job-field, (remember it was illegal for me to work elsewhere and not under my employee that provided for my work-permit, but had no jobs to forward to me)
- The assets I once had back home on my account I had long time already wired to my US account and had lived from it, paying rent, and food and transportation.
- I spend 12 hours per day, distressed, desperate, for 2 years to search on the internet for help and information, to find CPA’s, and Tax lawyers
- I tried to find others in my situation, help groups, forums that share real information, only to learn that there wasn’t any useful, and those few with email addresses that I contacted seemed to be too scared to be “investigated or caught “ via the spying tools of the powerful US / IRS mechanisms that we all know violate privacy rights. That was the response that I got, if at all.
- I didn’t had the 20 to 30 000 retainer fees the Tax lawyers demanded to take on my case
- The lawyers that I consulted gave me information where I knew after 10 minutes that I knew more about the vdpi and penalties than they do. I had to pay them, even so I would not know where from, my last savings dwindling
- The IRS had no information, cruel and heartless I was left alone and scared
- I was offered to opt-out. I researched about that, and realized that people in similar situations like mine had been hit even harder with more penalties and costs than under the vdpi.
At the end, I realized one thing. I am poor. I can’t pay lawyers. Didn’t find lawyers anyhow. This is too big for me to handle, the costs would ruin me to a point that I would never ever in my old age recover. That I am not willing to pay for penalties so absurd, so unfair and therefore in my view really criminal.
This vdpi was a high price for me to pay, my true love for this beautiful, special land, and it’s people, remains intact, but my faith in the state is broken. I turned my back to the US.
I left the US, and will never go back. Now I am still in stress, because I don’t know how save I am from the claws of this country. So, my life has been partly ruined, because I lost my live in the US, many dreams, and now I am feeling as if I am still not save, even outside, and again I search for information, and it is difficult, again I seek advise in regards to what the US could now do to me, might do based on my case, and what best I should do to be protected from them.
These are heartbreaking stories. Remember this person’s story when you read the next gloating press release from the Internal Revenue Service. Shameful.