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Everything posted by Straightpoop

  1. Another question regarding Tax residence and 183 day-rule

    The "183-day rule" found in subparagraph 2 of Article 14 of the Germany-Netherlands is an exception to the general rule set forth in Subparagraph 1 of Art. 14 that states that employment income is taxable only in the state where the employment is exercised.  Your facts do not qualify you for the 183-day exception because although your Dutch employment lasted less than the 183 day maximum your wages were borne by a Dutch employer.  Thus, even if you were a resident of Germany and employed there by a German employer through 31.12.2018, your subsequent 181-day Dutch employment would be fully taxable in the Netherlands and non-taxable in Germany.   Without knowing where you were resident and employed through the end of 2018, we cannot know when your German tax residence began but from your facts it began (probably) not later than 1 July 2019.  (You also don't say whether it continued into 2020 but your profile says "Munich" so we'll assume you are still here.)   If your German residence began in 2019, you pay taxes on your German wage income and world-wide income from any source as a tax resident in 2019 and report your Dutch and other non-German income for purposes of computing Progressionsvorbehalt.  Your German-source income for the first 181 days of 2019 would be subject to German non-resident taxation (beschränktsteuerpflichtig).   The instructions to Anlage WA Est indicate that if you did have German-source income during your period of German non-residency you apparently do not file a separate non-resident return (ESt 1 C) to report that income. Instead you apparently are supposed to simply include that income on your resident return and somehow (I don't know quite how) your non-resident tax on that income will be computed.   If your German residence began prior to 1.1.2019 (i.e. you were only temporarily in Holland for 181-days), then the only difference would be that your worldwide non-wage income in the first 181 days of 2019 would be fully taxable in Germany, i.e. you would be unbeschränktsteuerpflichtig the entire year - including, of course, your German source income - but not still not taxable on your Dutch income - except for Progressionsvorbehalt.   In either case you will report your Dutch wages on Anlage N-AUS and you will file Anlage WA ESt to report your comings and goings to Germany in 2019 and the income attributable to these periods.    
  2.   OK.  You have added facts that were not apparent from your first post.   Evidently, the proposal does not require your husband to actually buy a property with his siblings but rather to assume an ownership interest in an existing "family-owned" property that appears to already include multiple generations some of whom are seeking to exit even as it has been proposed that your husband "enter" into the co-ownership arrangement.   I'm afraid it is not at all clear what the status quo is much less what it is you (or someone else?) wants to do or the economic rationale for doing so. The notion that earning Euros in this fashion and location will somehow be useful for when your children eventually go to university here makes little or no economic or practical sense.  I suspect that the USD or any other currency earned from your US rentals or from any other source will be freely exchangeable for Euros when and if the need for them arises; assuming, of course, the Euro is still in existence. Nor is there anything convincing about the assertion that - something undisclosed - "worked for the older generations for 60 years".  A lot has happened in 60 years and will likely happen in the next 60 and as you note: the older generation is looking to get out of this arrangement.   There are far too many undisclosed facts, variables and circumstances that would need to be explored in depth before anyone could hope to offer you the useful advice you seek.   You will likely need a team of - competent & preferably bilingual - legal and tax experts on both sides of the Atlantic and a real estate professional in Germany working together.  That is going to be very expensive.   Good luck.        
  3. Double Taxation Agreement conundrum

    @pampuero   There may be some confusion as to which of two treaties you are concerned with.  You mention two:   1.  The "Double Taxation Agreement" (Ab­kom­men zwi­schen der Bun­des­re­pu­blik Deutsch­land und der Volks­re­pu­blik Chi­na zur Ver­mei­dung der Dop­pel­be­steue­rung auf dem Ge­biet der Steu­ern vom Ein­kom­men und vom Ver­mö­gen)   and   2.  The Deutsch-Chinesisches Abkommen über Sozialversicherung*%5B@attr_id=%27bgbl202s0082.pdf%27%5D#__bgbl__%2F%2F*%5B%40attr_id%3D%27bgbl202s0082.pdf%27%5D__1596200769470     Two different treaties.  Two different topics.  Two different results.   For income tax purposes your wages were German tax free because you were employed in China in excess of the 183 day limit provided by Article 15 (2) of the DTA. Consequently, those wages were taxable as provided by Art. 15 (1):  in China only.   Social security contributions are a different story and are governed by the social security treaty. That treaty provides as follows:   Article 4 Compulsory coverage in case of detachment   When an employee who is employed in one Contracting State is sent by his employer to the territory of the other Contracting State in the context of that employment to perform services there for that employer, only the legislation on compulsory coverage of the first Contracting State shall continue to apply with regard to that employment during the first forty-eight calendar months as though the employee were still employed in the territory of the first Contracting State.   So, German income tax free but you still have to fork over the Sozialabgabe to Germany on the tax-free income.    
  4.   The technical legal term we lawyers use for a family co-ownership/co-management arrangement of the type proposed by your H's (no doubt well-meaning) father is:  crazy.   What possible economic purpose would be served by such an arrangement?   In my view, assuming that the right property can be found at all, the only financial structure that makes any sense would be one in which each sibling buys their own property and manages it independently.  That will eliminate the need to obtain coordinated agreement on object, purchase price, financing, management, capital improvements, landlord-tenant relationships, taxation, accounting, exit strategy (i.e. buyout, sale, death), etc, etc. ad nauseum.   And why, for the love of all that's sainted and holy would your husband want to buy and participate in the management of property on the other side of the planet rather than where he actually lives?   Unless H's Dear Old Dad is threatening to disinherit him if he doesn't agree to participate in such a cockamamie scheme, my advice would be to find some way to gently let the Auld One down and find a more sensible way of investing your money.        
  5. Working in Germany for UK Ltd with >1 shareholder

    I am no expert on German-UK tax and social security relationships but I can say with confidence that Brexit is likely to have some serious disruptive effects on the current status quo.   Some things to be mindful of:   1.  After Brexit, the Germany-UK tax treaty will likely become highly relevant.  In particular, the character and scope of your activities in Germany on behalf of your UK Ltd may give rise to what is defined in most bilateral tax treaties as a "permanent establishment" of the UK Ltd in Germany the allocable share of whose profits may become taxable in Germany.   For the current history of this treaty see:   2.  The future of Social Security (retirement, health, unemployment, etc.) contribution liability and rights appears to be highly uncertain at this point.  Here is what I think is a brief useful summary of the possibilities:    
  6. German VAT when invoicing clients in the U.S.

    No.   Generally speaking goods and services exported outside the EU are VAT free.
  7. Is U.S. Self-Employment Tax Prorated in a Split Year?

      In my reply above just substitute "K-1 Form 1065" for "Sched. C USA" and "K-1 Form 8865" for "Sched. C DE".  Just like a Sched. C, the only thing on the K-1s that indicate the foreign source of the income will be the address of the respective partnership.   I doubt the DR will doubt your word on your application since it's no sweat off their back one way or the other. But, in the unlikely event they do, just send them something official looking from the Einwohnermeldeamt or something from the KSK showing your registration.   PS   Would you care to share your reasons for organizing your business as an LLC/GbR with all the associated compliance costs instead of simply as a sole proprietorship?    
  8. Is U.S. Self-Employment Tax Prorated in a Split Year?

    You pose an interesting question that I am surprised to realize I have never had to answer before.   Yours is not so much a question of "How much" as "how?".   I assume that whatever business you were in in the USA in 2019 was the same business you were in in Germany.  The only change involved a removal of the situs/seat/domicile of your business from the USA to Germany.    The tax consequences of that change can be roughly summarized as follows:   1.  Your US income (self-employed and other) prior to the commencement of your German residence in May 2019 is directly (income and Self-Employment) taxable only by the US but that income must be reported on your 2019 German income tax return for purposes of Progressionsvorbehalt.   2.  Your German income (self-employed and other) after commencement of your German residence in May 2019 is directly taxable by BOTH the US and Germany but, the SE business income is eligible for a (prorata) FEI exclusion and/or foreign tax credit on your US return and, as you correctly noted, you may also exclude that SE business income from US SE taxes.   So far, so good.  The next question is how do you show this on your US return?   After some thought I would suggest to you the following:   1.   You absolutely must prepare two Schedules C, one for your US business and one for your German business.  (NB:  if your business activity continued after your arrival in May, the date of your "coverage" under the German system began the day of your arrival and commencement date of residence, not in August when you registered your GbR and/or started paying into the KSK. The fact of payment to KSK is of no relevance to "coverage".)  Since you are a probably a "cash-basis" taxpayer, keep it simple:  cash in and cash out Jan-May on the USA Sched. C and the same for May-Dec on the DE Sched. C.   2.   You now are faced with a quandry:         You have to file Schedule SE to report your net SE income on the USA Sched C and compute your SE taxes on that form.       Ordinarily, Sched SE would require you to aggregate all your sources of net SE income so as to compute the SE tax but, in your case, only one of those two sources (Sched C USA) is subject to tax.         There are two possible solutions; neither is foolproof but neither is fatal either:         Solution 1:    File 2 Schedule SEs one for each Sched. C.  The SE for Sched. C USA shows the computation of SE tax and the SE for Schedule C DE shows a zero and a reference declaring "Treaty Exempt per IRC §1401(c). Certificate of Coverage attached."          Solution 2:   File 1 Schedule SE.  Show only the income from Sched. C on Line 3.                            On Line 2 of Sched. SE show the same amount but in the space (fortunately generous) above that number overprint the form as follows:                                Total of both Schedule Cs:                       XXXX                          Less "Treaty Exempt" Sched C DE:    -   xxxx                                                 Both solutions have their advantages and disadvantages but both have a crucial element in common:  They include the figures from BOTH Schedule C's on at least 1 Schedule SE and account for the exclusion of one of them from the SE tax base.   The IRS and most commercial software will automatically carry all Schedule C net income to a single SE for each filer.  If you include 2 Sched. SEs per solution 1, the SE with the Sched. C DE may get ignored and the other will be deemed to have a "computational math error" that may cause the IRS computer to spit out a "notice of adjustment".  On the other hand, 2 Sched. SE's may be more attention-getting than the more subtle approach of Solution 2.   If, on the other hand you use the single SE (Solution 2), the computations will at least be in one place on a single form SE where the IRS will theoretically be looking for it and hopefully one of its carbon-based units will actually see it and override their computer.  But if they don't then you may get the same "notice of adjustment".   In either case the likelyhood that what you have will actually be "seen" by a real live human being is enhanced by the IRS requirement that returns that claim the treaty exemption and include the certificate of coverage must be paper-filed.   There are, of course, technical challenges to both approaches:   Solution 1 requires you to crank out 2 Schedule SE's for a single taxpayer.  Your software may not cooperate and you'll have to download a .pdf from the IRS website.   Your return preparation software is not going to cooperate with Solution 2 either.  You will have to put the "bottom line" entries on Lines 2 & 3, print it out and then scan it to .pdf and electronically add the info in the space above the bottom line figure on Line 2 or just do the same with pen & ink on the paper printout.     Quite frankly, I cannot tell you which approach is more likely to save you the hassle of having to respond to an IRS adjustment notice.  (You will not, of course, let the IRS computerized notice bully you into paying more than you owe in SE taxes unless, of course, you don't mind unnecessarily adding a little bit of value to your future US Social Security retirement check.)  
  9. @Su_Ba   The US rules for determining the source of employment income ("US sourcing rules") are (I believe) the same as the German ones:   The "source" of wages is the geo-political place where the labor is performed upon which those wages are paid. (In other words if you are doing work on a project located in Bangladesh for an employer based in Botswana for wages paid in Rupees to a bank account in Bogata via a computer terminal in place where you can take a break and go out the door and shop at REWE where while standing in line you hear customers arguing the merits of Bayern München vs. Armenia Bielefeld in German it is highly likely that the geographical source of your wages earned from that computer work is Germany.)   However, these "sourcing" rules have limited impact on a US citizen who is tax resident in Germany.   Generally, (s)he will be taxed on those wages by the US based on his/her citizenship and by Germany based on his/her residence.   Art. 15 para. 2 contains rules that are designed to trump the respective treaty country's source rules on wage taxation jurisdiction (set forth in Art. 15 para. 1) where a short-term assignment would otherwise lead to the necessity of filing a tax return in more than one place.   Thus, if the wages meet the conditions of Art. 15 2 ) or 3 ) then only one of two treaty countries has the exclusive right to tax.   But, because of the so-called "Savings Clause" (Art. 1 4), Art. 15 2) or 3) has NO EFFECT on the right of the US to tax its CITIZENS or lawful residents (or former citizens or former residents) on income that according to Art 15 of the treaty could only be taxed in Germany.    The end result is that:   1.  If Art. 15 2) gives the US the exclusive right to tax wages, Germany will exclude the wages from its tax base (but apply Progressionsvorbehalt to the otherwise taxable income of its tax resident).   2.  If Art. 15 2) gives Germany the exclusive right to tax wages, both Germany and the US will tax them as it normally would but the US will allow the US taxpayer to claim a foreign tax credit for whatever taxes may be owed to Germany.   3.  If Art. 15 1) gives both countries the right to tax - one on the basis of residence and the other based on source - then the residence country will give its taxpayer a credit for taxes paid to the source country.        
  10. Guidance requested for investment in Germany

    @BethAnnBitt   You are exactly right.   Until the qualifications are affirmed by the issuance of a US passport in response to an application for same, the OP is in no US tax and compliance danger.   However, if at some time in the future the possibility of having guaranteed entry to the US starts to look irresistible, he can always make the application (provided the law has not changed - again - in the meantime).        
  11. Guidance requested for investment in Germany

      @ahammed   Depends upon what you mean by "helps":   Your father's citizenship may have made you a US citizen at birth:   8 USC §1401. Nationals and citizens of United States at birth The following shall be nationals and citizens of the United States at birth: (a) a person born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof; (b) a person born in the United States to a member of an Indian, Eskimo, Aleutian, or other aboriginal tribe: Provided, That the granting of citizenship under this subsection shall not in any manner impair or otherwise affect the right of such person to tribal or other property; (c) a person born outside of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents both of whom are citizens of the United States and one of whom has had a residence in the United States or one of its outlying possessions, prior to the birth of such person; (d) a person born outside of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents one of whom is a citizen of the United States who has been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for a continuous period of one year prior to the birth of such person, and the other of whom is a national, but not a citizen of the United States; (e) a person born in an outlying possession of the United States of parents one of whom is a citizen of the United States who has been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for a continuous period of one year at any time prior to the birth of such person; (f) a person of unknown parentage found in the United States while under the age of five years, until shown, prior to his attaining the age of twenty-one years, not to have been born in the United States; (g) a person born outside the geographical limits of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents one of whom is an alien, and the other a citizen of the United States who, prior to the birth of such person, was physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions for a period or periods totaling not less than five years, at least two of which were after attaining the age of fourteen years: Provided, That any periods of honorable service in the Armed Forces of the United States, or periods of employment with the United States Government or with an international organization as that term is defined in section 288 of title 22 by such citizen parent, or any periods during which such citizen parent is physically present abroad as the dependent unmarried son or daughter and a member of the household of a person (A) honorably serving with the Armed Forces of the United States, or (B) employed by the United States Government or an international organization as defined in section 288 of title 22, may be included in order to satisfy the physical-presence requirement of this paragraph. This proviso shall be applicable to persons born on or after December 24, 1952, to the same extent as if it had become effective in its present form on that date; and (h) a person born before noon (Eastern Standard Time) May 24, 1934, outside the limits and jurisdiction of the United States of an alien father and a mother who is a citizen of the United States who, prior to the birth of such person, had resided in the United States.   Whether this is a curse or a blessing will depend on your circumstances.      
  12. Depending upon what it really is - rather than how you or the UK institution label it - the US tax consequences will likely be somewhere between zero (not reportable or taxable) or a tempest in tea cup (reportable, taxable and 100% FEI excludable) .   For your reading pleasure:      
  13. Guidance requested for investment in Germany

    @john g.   Thanks for the tip.  I'll check next time.   But . . . my caution also applies - with qualifications - to US lawful permanent residents ("Green Card" holders).
  14. Guidance requested for investment in Germany

    If you are a US citizen, that will play a major role since US tax treatment of many garden variety German investments may make them prohibitively expensive both in terms of tax and compliance burdens.    
  15. Living in Germany with US Retirement Accounts, 401K, IRA, Roth

    @SnowedIn   Just to dot the i and cross the t on the issue of whether an IRA can theoretically exist in Germany:   IRS Reg. §1.408-2(b) reads:   § 1.408-2 Individual retirement accounts. (a) In general. An individual retirement account must be a trust or a custodial account (see paragraph (d) of this section). It must satisfy the requirements of paragraph (b) of this section in order to qualify as an individual retirement account. It may be established and maintained by an individual, by an employer for the benefit of his employees (see paragraph (c) of this section), or by an employee association for the benefit of its members (see paragraph (c) of this section). (b) Requirements. An individual retirement account must be a trust created or organized in the United States (as defined in section 7701(a)(9)) for the exclusive benefit of an individual or his beneficiaries. Such trust must be maintained at all times as a domestic trust in the United States.   Besides Germany not being in or part of the United States, trusts as such cannot be created under German law.
  16. Filing Übungsleiterpauschale/Ehrenamt on U.S. taxes

      Yep.   But excludable as foreign earned income IRC §911. (Form 2555).   Moreover, if you are single and your total gross income - including the €2,400 - (in 2019) was $12,200 or less, you don't even meet the threshold for filing a return.   See the IRS " Do I gotta file?" tool:   On the other hand, you may want to do so anyway if you have not yet received your $1,200 EIP for 2020.        
  17. Living in Germany with US Retirement Accounts, 401K, IRA, Roth

      You cannot roll over your IRA or Roth IRA to a German IRA because that it is simply impossible.  There is no such thing as a German IRA - Roth or otherwise.  I suppose it is theoretically possible that an individual or corporate IRA custodian could be domiciled in Germany but I cannot conceive of the possibility that there would be a German financial institution capable or willing to maintain an IRA account for such a custodian.   If you take a premature distribution from your IRA you are subject to a US excise tax of 10% - not 20%.  The distribution will be otherwise US (income) tax-free because the Germany-US tax treaty gives Germany the exclusive right to impose an income tax on it.  The 30% withholding tax can also be avoided by first submitting a Form W-8BEN to the IRA trustee.  If properly respected a Form W-8BEN will eliminate the need to file an nonresident alien return (1040-NR) to obtain a refund of any income tax withheld. (That will not apply to the 10% early withdrawal penalty.)   As noted, you will have to declare the distribution and be taxed on it in Germany.  How much of the distribution will be taxable in Germany will depend upon when and under what circumstances you contributed to the IRA.  Germany's system for taxing US IRA (or 401k) distributions is mathematically similar to the US method applied when a US taxpayer has made non-deductible contributions to the IRA.  So, if at the time you made your contributions you were ineligible to claim any reduction in your current German taxable income (most likely because you were a German tax non-resident when you made the contributions), then a portion of whatever is distributed to you will be deemed a non-taxable return to you of your cost basis in the IRA.   See this Merkblatt from the OFD Karlsruhe:  
  18. Impact of COVID-19 Stimulus Check on German Taxes

      My preferred source of clarity would be at the bottom of the glass of a good scotch.   In this case I would recommend that as a cheaper alternative to a Steuerberater who is unlikely to have any better idea than John Walker & Sons but the tapping of whose ignorance will be a good deal more expensive.  
  19. Currency hedging

    I'm afraid I can't help with that.  You'll have to explore this with your broker.
  20. How to legalise foreign divorce in Germany

    I am not sure from your post whether you understand what an "apostille" is - or is not.   An apostille is an authentication of a document issued by an official in a foreign country attesting to the genuineness of that official's status and thus the validity - under local foreign law - of the document the official has issued.  An apostille follows a form prescribed under a multilateral treaty (to which Germany is a signatory) called The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents (AKA:  Hague Legalization Convention).   For greater detail:   If you need to prove the fact of a foreign marriage and subsequent foreign divorce, a copy of a marriage certificate and divorce decree certified as genuine by a foreign official may require the addition of a foreign apostille to satisfy whatever documentary requirements are imposed by German law for whatever it is you are attempting to accomplish.   It does not necessarily mean that either the marriage or the divorce itself will be entitled to legal recognition by German officialdom; only that the foreign document offered as evidence of these events is genuine.    For example, if you satisfactorily prove a marriage in France that seems entirely proper and recognizable under German law, a properly authenticated decree of divorce issued by an official of the Dominican Republic (a Hague Convention signatory) even with an apostille may inadequate in the eyes of German law to effectively return you to unmarried status in Germany. That is because German officialdom may challenge the DR's jurisdiction to validly divorce you if your connections to the DR are deemed insufficiant to compel recognition in Germany. (The DR is notorious for its "quickie divorces" issued with little or no residence requirements by either party.)                
  21. Currency hedging

      Try this: or this:     If I read it correctly the symbol for the CME EUR/USD December 2021 contract would be:   6EZ1   Good luck.
  22. Currency hedging

    The volumes you are interested in hedging are likely far too small to interest a bank - at least not at any reasonable cost.   The only standardized future contracts known to me are those offered by but their standard contract is for EUR 125,000.  You can, of course, trade options on those contracts but that is more in the realm of speculation than hedging.   If despite the low volumes involved you nevertheless regard currency risk to be worth the cost and effort of hedging, I suggest the most practical way of doing so is to restructure your equity or debt holdings to reduce what you regard as an overexposure to the USD or the US economy.  
  23. Currency hedging

      The currency a stock is denominated in (the functional currency of the portfolio) has little relevance to your own functional currency (presumably EUR).  You could, for example, trade a US stock on a German exchange and the comings and goings would all be in EUR or vice versa. Same company. Same profitability.  A mile is a mile is a mile - or 1.6 Km. The only difference is whether its value is expressed in metric or imperial units.   Assuming the validity of the "efficient market theory", the price you paid for the stocks in your portfolio probably already take into account that company's foreign currency risk whether that risk is in the cost of goods/services it purchases or the revenues from markets it sells into.   So, actually, the cheapest way to hedge your currency risk is to start with an analysis of your US$ denominated portfolio to see whether the companies in which you are invested have exposure to currency risk and to what extent they are already hedging that risk at your, the shareholder's expense. If the company's functional currency is the USD, then its foreign currency gains or losses will be reflected on its balance sheet and income statement in USD terms.  Its market price - expressed in any currency - will/should reflect that impact on its future profitability.   If, however, you are interested in speculating rather than hedging, you may find what you are looking for at either of these organisations.  No doubt there are others but I have used both for their convenient and free historical exchange rate information. But you may find their forex trading platforms and products of greater interest:      
  24. Versorgungsausgleich and US Social Security

    @lunasuenos is correct.    The SSA explanation is clumsy. The most a former spouse can receive is the greater of 50% of the former spouse's benefit or the benefit based on their own earnings.   It is relatively clear that US Social Security benefits may not be distributed by US state courts as marital property.  A fortiori neither can German courts.   In those states that apply the doctrine of "equitable distribution" at divorce, there appears to be an open question whether the court can order the party with the greater SocSec. benefits earned during marriage to make a compensatory "equalization" payment to the other.   Here is a - somewhat dated - overview of the US legal situation:   And a more recent albeit academic review:   A more basic question is whether the German substantive law governing the marital property regime (Zugewinngemeinschaft) applies to your situation at all.   If as @Space Cowboy says they were married and lived - and aquired marital property -  for the majority of their married life while domiciled in a state of the USA, then it may very well be that under German choice of law rules (Internationales Privatrecht), the marital property law of that state will govern how your property is distributed at divorce; at least that portion of your marital property acquired before a change of domicile to Germany.   Depending upon the state, that could produce a better or worse result than the German Zugewinnausgleich.  
  25.   I meant no offense.   My purpose was to draw your attention to 18 USC §1001, sometimes referred to as the Federal "prosecutor's handmaiden".   Any time you make an oral or written assertion of fact to an agent of the United States that is material to some subject matter that is within the agent's purview, you are putting your freedom and/or finances in jeopardy.  It is not ordinarily a great risk, mind you, but a risk nevertheless.   You don't have to lie, misrepresent or even be wrong about something to be at risk; it is sufficient if the agent to whom you make the statement for whatever reason simply does not believe you.   If, however, your statement turns out to be actually and materially wrong either because you misspoke, wrote imprecisely, did not remember correctly, or were honestly mistaken, your risk of running afoul of 18 USC §1001 is elevated.   Add to that the (usually very remote) possibility that the agent to whom you make the statement suspects you of something worse and/or is otherwise hostile to you - or is simply having a bad day - and the risk gets really serious.   (A recent case in point:  United States v. LTG Michael Flynn, US District Court for the District of Columbia, Crim. No. 17-232 EGS.  Whatever you think about this guy or whatever your politics are generally, the case is a rare public disclosure of how arbitrary and capricious a prosecution under 18 USC § 1001 can be.  It is also vitally important to understand that a prosecution need not result in a conviction in order to inflict punishment on a defendant.  The US legal system - both civil and criminal - generally provides no compensation in the form of reimbursed attorney fees or costs of defense to those acquitted or unjustly accused or to those who "win" their civil litigation. The so-called "American Rule" that does not allow a prevailing party to recover their fees is another example of "American exceptionalism".  It is a system designed by the strong to punish the weak.)   As previously noted, if you decide to participate in the IRS's "Streamlined Procedure" you will be required to confess your guilt and simultaneously apply for mercy.   As part of the procedure you will be required to submit a Form 14653:   Besides a laundry list of acknowledgements, admissions and confessions, that form requires you to write a narrative in your own words that includes the "specific reasons" for your transgressions.    Besides compliance with all the other "objective" requirements of the Streamline Procedure the adequacy, accuracy and credibility of this "Full Monty" statement will determine whether your confession of guilt gets you an "ego te absolvo" or an "autodafé".   To enhance the probability that the IRS will read your 14653, yawn and let you go, it would be a good idea to let someone read your narrative critically, cross-examine you in private for possible weaknesses, unexplained incongruities, etc.   Alternatively, you could simply forget about your past transgressions, hope they remain undiscovered and simply "Go and sin no more" by just filing your 2019 return and FBAR on time and then continue to do so until the 6 year statute of limitations runs on the last 5 of your unfiled FBARs on June 15, 2025.   Another possible approach is known as "quiet disclosure".   This involves filing a few (maybe 3-4) back tax returns - there will be no penalties for late filing if no tax is owed - and your FBARs for the preceding 5 years (i.e. 2014-2018).  When you file your FBARs late instead of checking "Streamlined procedure" as the "reason for late filing", you simply check "did not know I had to file" as your reason; assuming, of course, that is the truth.   How will the IRS react to the "Go and sin no more" tactic?    No guarantee, but consider how have they reacted to your years of non-filings to date? Right.  They haven't even noticed. That is because without income reported by a 3d party to the IRS's computer under your Social Security number, you simply do not exist for the IRS.   In addition, your foreign "accounts" (i.e. your 2 insurance/retirement plans) are also probably not being reported by Allianz or Gothaer.  Did they ever ask you whether you were a US person?  Probably not.  And, if not, the IRS has no independent source of information that you ever owed them an FBAR and even if they did report the existence of the policies does the IRS conduct an analysis to determine if an FBAR was required?  There is no indication that they do so; maybe they do a FATCA analysis but even that is doubtful.     How will the IRS react to a "quiet disclosure"?   Again, no guarantee but there is little anecdotal evidence to indicate that the IRS will notice or do anything nasty even if it does notice.   When you file a return - even a late one - that shows no tax due, the IRS computer will know you exist but is not programmed to care.  It is not going to select you for a so-called "correspondence audit" where there is a near zero chance that the audit will provide additional revenue to the US. Real, live flesh and blood auditors are in increasingly short supply at the IRS and they have next to zero travel budgets for foreign junkets/wild goose chases.  The IRS has now closed its last 4 overseas offices.   But what about the FBAR?   Here I must confess ignorance.   The FBAR statute and regulations make no penalty distinction between late filing and non-filing. So, technically, a late filing amounts to an admission of guilt together with the information needed to successfully prosecute you.   Whether the IRS electronically selects FBAR filings - especially late ones - for additional scrutiny and possible follow-up for penalties I simply do not know.  However, I strongly suspect it does not, for no other reason that, unlike FATCA penalties, if you refuse an IRS demand to pay an FBAR penalty, it will then have to persuade someone at the Justice Dept. to initiate a civil suit against you in a Federal court to impose and collect the fine.  Way too much effort for the limited returns involved.   Nor is there any anecdotal evidence to indicate that the IRS is doing this. If there is any FBAR focus it is likely on US residents with foreign accounts rather than on Americans abroad. (The IRS has belatedly albeit grudgingly come to accept that US citizens living in foreign countries probably do not have foreign accounts for nefarious reasons.)   Before the FBAR hysteria began in earnest in 2008 and even during its peak when the IRS (and tax professionals) were baying like hounds with the scent of blood the IRS never, never abandoned its long-standing official position that encouraged "quiet disclosures".  I am personally aware of dozens of cases where delinquent taxpayers (so-called non-filers like yourself) made quiet disclosures and there was no IRS reaction either to their late returns or late FBARs (other than the computer-generated demands for payment of penalties and interest when there actually was some amount of tax due).  Amended returns, on the other hand, that reported INCOME from previously undisclosed foreign accounts that was not reported initially were rumored to have been more carefully scrutinized but I am not actually aware of any specific example where that was true.   So here are your choices:   "Streamlined Procedure" "Go and sin no more" "Quiet disclosure"   Each is a shot in the dark.   Good luck.