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  1. Are you looking at the section of the instructions that applies to a 2014 expatriation? It sounds like you are looking at the part that applies to pre-2008 expatriations.

  2. Hi Phil,

    I am currently dealing with Form 8854 for my wife who gave up her Green Card in October 2014. From your advice above, it sounds like the form is due with the 2014 Form 1040NR. But reading the instructions for Form 8854, I get a different impression. I am bothered by the wording below: “… until you both file …”.

    What do you think?

    When To File

    File your initial Form 8854 as soon as possible after the date you relinquish U.S. citizenship or terminate your long-term residence. You remain subject to tax as a U.S. citizen or resident until you both file your initial Form 8854 and notify the appropriate authorities of your expatriating act. See the Caution under Date of Tax Expatriation, earlier.

    PS (bonus question): Can you name the omission that can potentially lead to a $10,000 fine in connection with Form 8854? (And the IRS is really a bunch of stinking sadists if you ask me.)

  3. James, you pay US income tax on your worldwide income until the day before the day you filed Form I-407. You only pay income tax on US income after that.

  4. Dear Mr. Hodgen,

    I gave up my green card and filed Form I-407 in February 2015. As I understand, I would have to file Form 8854 in 2016.
    I hold a permenant residence status in Singapore for the last 2 years.
    My question:
    (1) Am I still subject to tax for the whole of 2015?



  5. @Jennifer,

    I think the next thing you need to do is figure out the tax impact to you of filing your Form 8854 late. If you are a normal person, the biggest pain will be in the area of retirement plans — IRAs, 401(k) plans, foreign pension plans, and the like. You will be treated as if you received a lump sum payment from these plans, and face a huge U.S. tax liability.

    Then and only then should you make decisions on what to do.

    Painful, I know.


  6. Thank you, Mr. Hodgen, for your reply and information. Do you think I should send the 8854 with an amended return for 2013 or attach it to the return for 2014 ( I sold all remaining assets in the USA in 2014 so will file and pay for that year by June 15).

    You mention that : “You will be late and you will be a covered expatriate. But if your life is well-configured you may not owe any tax.” I filed and paid tax for 2013, why would I owe any more tax?

    Thanks again, it’s hard to understand why the State Department and IRS have different rules for the same thing. I feel a bit stupid!


  7. @Jennifer,

    Look at filing Form 8854. You will be late and you will be a covered expatriate. But if your life is well-configured you may not owe any tax. Then you are free. And the whole point of expatriation is to decisively cut your ties with the Land of the Free(TM), ironically.

    Can you get away with not filing Form 8854? That is a practical question and I cannot predict the future behavior of the U.S. Government. How hungry are the wolves? 🙂

    EDIT: whatever you do, filing Form 8854 with “Private” or “Undeclared” or stuff like that is . . . a Very Bad Idea. That is an invitation to an inquisition.

  8. I renounced US citizenship and received certificate of loss of nationality in February 2013. In 2014 I filed normal 1040 thinking that that was required since I was a US citizen for at least part of the year. I was unaware of the need to file Form 8854 and have not filed it yet. I had way less than $2 million in assets and my previous 5 years tax liabilities were well below the stated limits for “covered expatriate”. So, what should I do? Is the USA really going to hound me forever if I don’t file this piece of paper? I have no interests in or will ever return to the USA. Also, the Consular Officer who accepted my renunciation had no problem with me not stating my citizenship (or lack of) as a privacy matter. I see no reason the IRS should demand differently. If I file 8854 can I write Undeclared or Private in that space?

    Thank you.

  9. If she gives up her green card she must file Form 8854, even if she then elects to become a U.S. taxpayer in order to file the Form 1040 with you.

  10. I am a US citizen living in Canada with my wife who has held a US Green Card since 1995. We moved here four years ago. She plans to abandon her US Green Card in 2015 as we have become permanent residents of Canada. Does she need to file form 8854 if we will continue to jointly file a form 1040 annually as I plan to remain a US citizen?

  11. Phil, thanks again for your speedy reply and excellent advice. This whole renunciation thing is so stressful, I think I’ll do less internet and more yoga.

  12. @Pamela, the W-8CE only matters for a covered expatriate. For a normal expatriate give the pension plan administrator a Form W8-BEN. There is no time deadline except as soon as possible.

  13. Dear Phil,

    Thanks for your speedy reply. No, I am not a covered expatriate.


  14. Dear Phil,
    I renounced seven weeks ago and only just discovered in your article that I should have filed Form W-8CE within 30 days after renouncing. I left the States in 1979 and now receive a U.S. pension of $600 per month. What should I do?

  15. Hello Eda,

    Thanks for the question.

    The only way to decide about paperwork and timing for renouncing your citizenship is by doing calculations — calculate the tax cost based on different expatriation dates. From your question, it sounds like you will have zero income while you are a U.S. citizen, so there is no tax problem. But you should DEFINITELY sit down and analyze this properly.

    Your travel to the USA before renouncing — this will not create any problems for you.

    And yes, once you are a nonresident alien you can look at treaties to help your tax situation if you have U.S.-source income.


  16. Dear Phil,

    I am planing to renounce my citizenship some time this year (2015). Actually my only income is an US sourced royalty which is distributed in Dec each year. and I will not be Covered Expat.

    My question is, if I renounce in Aug. and start to take NRA position for the rest of 2015, when I file income tax return as dual, How to report the income? Since I don’t receive income untill Dec., during Jan-Aug which I am a citizen, my income is 0,during Sept – Dec which i am NRA, my income is what I receive in Dec.? Or I have to divide it 8/12 for resident status and 4/12 for NRA? If So, looks it’d be better renounce earlier than later?

    Another question is, if I go back US and spend a month in summer before renouncing (come back to my residency country), would it possibly affect my 2015 tax situation?

    and the last, As NRA, looks like I could use the Tax treaty(given there is a tax treaty )?

    Your advices are most appreciated.


  17. Hi Phil

    In read a comment on an expat forum that
    ” one can give up the us passport only if all taxes due are paid” and I have a question:

    Isnt the renunciation process separate from the filing of the income return/ fbar / fatca ?

  18. @alfonso,

    The email went out this morning on the Expatriation Only mailing list (about street address vs. filing by mail for Form 8854). It will be posted tomorrow on the website. (It needs a bit of HTML cleanup to move it from the mailing software to the web).

    Also going up tomorrow will be an anecdote from someone who used unofficial methods to actually file Form 8854 by FedEx in Philadelphia. It’s been a while and so far she hasn’t heard anything from the IRS. Silence is golden, we hope.

  19. @Alfonso,

    Stand by and we will get this answer for you. It will appear as a blog post or as an edition of the every-Tuesday “Expatriation Only” mailing list. Or both. 🙂


  20. Hi, does anyone know the STREET address to file form 8854? The instructions only listed a generic US mail address. I need a street address for FEDEX to deliver it. Please advise.

  21. For immigration status, it is the date that you do an action of relinquishment with the required state of mind (deliberate, voluntary, knowing, sane, etc. etc.). See 8 U.S.C. § 1481.

    For tax purposes, it is the earlier of the renunciation date or the date that you received your Certificate of Loss of Nationality. See 26 U.S.C. § 877A(g)(4).

  22. File Form 8854 attached to Form 1040NR or Form 1040 (whatever applies to you) and a separate copy of Form 8854 is mailed in also. The Instructions to Form 8854 will give you the precise details.

  23. Hi
    Please can I ask :
    – How do you file 8854 and 1040 together: by certified mail?
    – when am I not a us citizen anymore: the date of renunciation or the date I receive the certificate of annulment?

  24. Hi Vinit,

    This sounds like a good topic for my weekly Expatriation email list. 🙂

    But here is the basic idea. A basic principle of accounting theory is that you need a time period over which to measure income and expense. That is, by custom, a 12 month period of time. (There are exceptions that do not matter to us).

    The U.S. tax system defaults to a calendar year as this measuring time period. Humans must use January 1 through December 31 to account for their income and expense. Based on that, they pay tax.

    When you expatriate mid-year, you have to apply two different tax accounting systems to compute your U.S. tax obligations. For the part of the year that you are a U.S. citizen, you compute tax on worldwide income. For the rest of the year, you compute tax as a nonresident alien.

    That’s easy. Now the next part is what tax form you have to file. The quick answer is — look at yourself on December 31. If you are a U.S. citizen on that date, file Form 1040. If you are a “resident alien” under one of the various tests on December 31, file Form 1040. If you are a nonresident alien on December 31, file Form 1040NR.

    Back to the accounting problem. You have to somehow show — on a nonresident’s tax return — that you were a resident for a part of the year. The way you do this is by attaching a “schedule” showing your U.S. source income and computing tax properly on this. The brain-dead way of doing this is to attach a Form 1040 to your Form 1040NR, and take all of the numbers off the Form 1040 and put them on page 1 of Form 1040NR.

    That’s the dual status return, in a nutshell.

    There’s a metric tonne of extra junk required, of course. This is tax law so it has all the internal consistency and logic of sediment dropped over eons at the bottom of the lake. Because that’s how tax law is written–one layer on top of another, with a hand-wave in the general direction of consistency. 🙂

  25. Thank you for your very clear guidance on when to file your final return and form 8854: in the year AFTER the year of expatriation i.e. if I renounce US citizenship in June 2015 I will file my final return for 2015 plus 8854 sometime in 2016, but before the due date. One question, though: elsewhere on your site, I’ve read that in this scenario I’d also have to file a 1040N for the period June to Dec. 2015 (dual status return). But when I read the IRS’s description it says dual status does not refer to citizen vs non-citizen; it refers to residence. I’ve also read elsewhere it is only necessary to fill in one of the forms, in my case 1040. Could you please clarify? Thanks.

  26. Hi Stracy, I am in the same situation as you. Born in the US 60 years ago I am a dual national and never lived or worked in the US, just got a passport. I’ve lived in France ever since, pay my taxes here, and recently got the FATCA paperwork from my bank. I have no clue what to do. Renoucing citizenship is definitely the plan, but I read that the tax aspect (never filed anything in the US, would’nt even know where to start) can be tricky. Are you planning to get help, and if so, where from?

  27. Hi Phil,

    Regarding the exemption for dual citizens by birth available for avoiding the exit tax, are you still required to do the net wealth section of the 8854? It seems useless if you meet the exemption from the exit tax.


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Tax laws change over time, and the information in this post above may be less accurate today than it was at the time of the last revision. This post is not tax advice for your specific situation. Please contact an international tax professional to get personalized advice for your situation.