What will happen to me if I failed to file income taxes while living abroad?

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What will happen to me if I failed to file income taxes while living abroad?

My problem is – never realized I have to send in income tax forms every year regardless of where I live and how much I make. I have dual Russian-American citizenship and have been living in Russia for the past 8 years. So that’s how long I haven’t filed. Since I’m an English teacher and make very little money by American standards (about $5000 a year) I just never thought about it. Besides, I pay Russian taxes. How do I find out if I owe anything and what’s going to happen now? What are the possible penalties for not filing all these years? I’ll surely do it this year.

Asked on November 20, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, New Jersey

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You should seek help from a tax attorney or CPA in the area in which you legally reside in the United States.  You picked New Jersey as the state in which you live to answer this question so you should contact someone there if that is the case.  You may not legally owe any taxes in the Untied States but owing and the requirement to file are two different things.  How paying taxes in Russia will be handled is unclear to me but the CPA would surely know. If you owe there are penalties and interest that will be associated with the tax year that you are filing.  As for penalties associated with not filing, you should ask the accountant or attorney.  Good luck. 


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