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Old 05.08.2014, 18:44
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Consequences of non disclosed US status at bank

I'm a German with US Green Card living in Switzerland. When I applied to open my Swiss bank accounts, I only disclosed my German citizenship and not my holding a Green Card as the card was already expired.

Is that a problem? Can the bank charge me anything if they find it out or if they get a fine from the IRS finding out about this?
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Old 05.08.2014, 18:46
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Re: Consequences of non disclosed US status at bank

I think that might be fraud. It's probably not your best idea.
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Old 05.08.2014, 18:54
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Re: Consequences of non disclosed US status at bank

For more info/background on OP's situation, see this thread. Seriously dude, hire a professional or ten to help you with these questions. There are potential legal and financial implications none of us here (as helpful as we might want to be) can answer.
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Old 05.08.2014, 19:19
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Re: Consequences of non disclosed US status at bank

Don't blame me. The US could be a bit clearer on the status and the tax consequences of their green cards. I am sure a lot of other people have the same problem finding out about their green card "double status" .
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Old 05.08.2014, 19:32
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Re: Consequences of non disclosed US status at bank

I've taken the time to read through both threads while on lunch break. If I was the OP, I would be more concerned about the IRS rather than the potential fine assessed by a Swiss bank.

OP, I read that you gave up your green card, but I did not understand whether you did that according to the established procedure (i.e. making sure your tax obligations with Uncle Sam were settled) or you gave it up "in your head", i.e. you stopped living in the US and thought that, just because you left, you had given it up, which is not really how it works.

If you followed procedure and settled your tax matters, I don't see that you have any other obligations with Uncle Sam, or any other obligations to the Swiss bank. If asked, there should be no issues showing that you indeed held a gc for a number of years, surrendered it, settled your matters, and are no longer a U.S. person (in the tax definition).

If you did not, I go back to my first point: I'd would worry about coming clean with the IRS and the potential implications of being non-compliant. I would hope in some kind of leniency/break for spontaneously coming clean (not at all a guarantee), and hire a good U.S. tax lawyer to represent the case. Once you cleaned that up, that should also solve your issue with the Swiss.

If you are aware of all this but are trying to play the system, well, then the only thing I can tell you is that the IRS is not an agency I'd want to p*$$ off, especially not these days.
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Old 05.08.2014, 19:43
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Re: Consequences of non disclosed US status at bank

A Swiss friend of mine got kicked off the board of the family company because he had an expired green card that had expired ten years or more earlier.

He went to Bern and got rid of it properly (at the US embassy), and got his position back.

Get rid of it properly.

P.S. Pretty bizarre that with an expired Green Card one is a US person, but can't enter the US on it and would have to apply for a new one.

Tom
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Old 05.08.2014, 19:47
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Re: Consequences of non disclosed US status at bank

I sent back my gc in Mai this year together with form I-407 getting a return of the embassy after a friend told me about the problem. At the same time I filed all FBAR and income tax stuff for the last 5 to 8 years. As I earned a little more than the FEIE there are taxes and fines which I will have to pay.
I have some bank accounts which I opened years ago when I did not know about my gc status. And I think of telling the banks now about the correct status or closing the accounts.
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Old 05.08.2014, 20:18
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Re: Consequences of non disclosed US status at bank

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I sent back my gc in Mai this year together with form I-407 getting a return of the embassy after a friend told me about the problem. At the same time I filed all FBAR and income tax stuff for the last 5 to 8 years. As I earned a little more than the FEIE there are taxes and fines which I will have to pay.
I have some bank accounts which I opened years ago when I did not know about my gc status. And I think of telling the banks now about the correct status or closing the accounts.
Thanks for clarifying - it seems that you are clearing your U.S. obligations, which is a good thing.

On the Swiss side, the potential pushback from the bank could be, as you pointed out, because you held the accounts and did not tell them you had a gc. Now, I recall my bank specifically asking me "are you a US green card holder, yes or no?" which has a pretty straightforward answer - if you explicitly said no and you did, then it might be another issue as you are actually making a false declaration. If the bank never asked you, they never asked you - why would you volunteer this info to them?

(Diclaimer: I am no lawyer) I see the following scenarios - should the IRS come back to the bank and inquire why they did not pass on your info as you were a gc holder, they either have at hand something signed by you that says "no" to the question above (in which case you might be in trouble for making a false declaration and the bank might pursue this case against you) or, they have nothing (i.e. they did not do the proper due diligence), in which case it's the bank's problem with the IRS. As far as I understand it, the bank being unaware is no excuse as they should have inquired - but again, I am no lawyer!

If the bank asks you now (most banks nowadays require you to sign some kind of U.S. person declaration), I'd tell them what you told us - that you are clearing your US tax obligations, and then it's up to them whether they want to keep you as customer, or let you go.

I'd be happy to stand corrected by a lawyer among you all, but I don't see the bank having much leg to stand on if they are assessed a fine by the IRS for non-declaration of the OP's status, if they never asked him.
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Old 06.08.2014, 09:00
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Re: Consequences of non disclosed US status at bank

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As I earned a little more than the FEIE there are taxes and fines which I will have to pay.
Don't forget about the housing allowance.

Tom
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Old 06.08.2014, 10:41
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Re: Consequences of non disclosed US status at bank

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Don't forget about the housing allowance.

Tom
See page 21 of this document. I think this is what st2lemans is referring to.

It is going to take a nice bite out of my obligation above the FEIE.
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Old 07.08.2014, 09:22
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Re: Consequences of non disclosed US status at bank

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Don't blame me. The US could be a bit clearer on the status and the tax consequences of their green cards. I am sure a lot of other people have the same problem finding out about their green card "double status" .




I couldn't agree with you more!! My husband has a green card but has never lived in the US. After reading pages and pages of IRS documents I decided to visit the local IRS office in the US in hopes to find out if he is required to file. I was told by the IRS officer that he could not provide me with an answer unless it was from Jan-April and I would need to contact a US tax representative or a CPA. I could not believe it. Not very transparent.
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Old 23.09.2015, 21:01
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Re: Consequences of non disclosed US status at bank

All turned out quite well. I informed all banks about my green card state, had to fill out some forms and I only had to close an empty stock deposit.

I also made an official inquiry by the Swiss Secretariat for International Financial Matters and it turned out that US-CH treaty tie breaker rules exempt green card holders from us tax. I do not have to pay US taxes when I live in Switzerland as long as I have no US income.
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