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Every year, Greenback surveys US expats on key aspects of life abroad. In 2021, over 3,100 US citizens living overseas shared their opinions on US expat taxes, foreign financial reporting, the Coronavirus pandemic, remote work, and more. Watch the video above or review the infographic for key highlights—and read on for full results!
The majority of expats choose to live abroad for their career, significant other, or their love of travel and adventure.
Because the majority of the world’s nations use a system of residence-based taxation, most US expats are required to pay taxes in their host country. Despite this, most also have to pay taxes to the US government on the same income due to the US’s practice of citizenship-based taxation.
The US government has put several measures in place to help avoid double taxation, but all expats must still file an annual return—and many still have to pay a US tax bill.
The US also has rules in place that require Americans to report on foreign financial accounts. The rules were designed to safeguard against tax cheats hiding money in offshore accounts. However, these regulations disproportionately impact expats since they are more likely to have overseas accounts.
This year’s survey indicates that millions of American expats may be unfamiliar with the two main financial reporting requirements. This puts them at risk of non-compliance, which could result in steep penalties from the IRS.
For those aware of the regulation, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) has created additional filing requirements and banking challenges for 37% of expats. In addition to requirements for individuals, FATCA requires foreign banks that work with Americans to report their accounts to the US government. Rather than face the burden of these requirements, many banks have decided not to work with US citizens.
For expats who are unaware of their tax and financial reporting requirements, the IRS offers a simplified path to compliance called the Streamlined Filing Procedures. Unfortunately, 43% of the expats surveyed had never heard of the IRS’s Streamlined Filing Procedures.
When asked about the number one tax change they would like to see, most expats indicated that they’d like to repeal citizenship-based taxation or to simplify expats’ tax-filing obligations.
85% of expats feel they are not represented fairly in US government. As a consequence, many have considered renouncing their citizenship.
Survey respondents cited taxes as the top reason for considering citizenship renunciation—followed by a variety of other personal and political factors.
The events of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have made many US expats more likely to want to live abroad long-term.
Most of those surveyed do not have plans to return to the US permanently. Some indicated they were unsure due to the uncertainty surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic, future employment opportunities, and personal ties in the US and abroad.
When asked how the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has changed the way expats will work going forward, the majority indicated that they plan to work remotely at least part-time.