US Citizens in Greece and US Taxes— A Word to the Wise from Executive Director of American Hellenic Chamber of Commerce

It is estimated that there are at least 100,000 Greeks with American citizenship living in Greece. In addition, thousands of US citizens live and work in Greece, either on a short-term or permanent basis.
According to US law, all of these citizens, with very few exceptions, are required to file a US tax return every year, even if they owe no US tax. In addition, US citizens also have to report all bank accounts located in Greece and anywhere else outside the United States if they are listed on the account.
Most Greek Americans are surprised to learn that they may have to file US tax returns, particularly if none of their income comes from the US.
But having to file a US tax return is not the same as having to pay US tax. The US allows taxes paid in Greece, called foreign tax credits, to be applied to any tax due in the US on the same income. In most cases these tax credits are more than sufficient to offset US tax. There is also the ability to exclude up to (in 2014) $99,200 in earned income from any tax in the US. First things first – US citizens have to file tax returns every year. That is the law.
US citizens must also file an FBAR (Foreign Bank Account Report) if they have signature authority over any bank accounts located outside the US if the total of all such accounts exceeds the equivalent of $10,000 – not $10,000 per account, but $10,000 total in all accounts.
Since 2011 some US citizens are also required by the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA, for short) to file a separate form with their US tax returns to report foreign financial assets. There are different filing thresholds depending upon US tax filing status.
The penalties for not filing, particularly the FBAR, can be severe. Yet, even if a US citizen has not filed tax returns or FBARs, virtually all US citizens can avoid these penalties by coming forward now and taking advantage of a program adopted in June 2014, called the Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures (SFOP, for short).
SFOP allows those whose non-compliance has been unintentional and non-willful to file overdue tax returns and FBAR’s without any incurring penalty.
Beginning earlier this year many Greek banks have been contacting those whom they believe are US citizens and requiring them to sign forms to that effect. By the end of the year, banks will be reporting these accounts to the US IRS. Anyone born in the US is automatically a citizen and will be flagged by the banks as such even if they do not have a US passport or social security number. Greek passports and identity cards contain the place of the holder’s birth and thus identify anyone born in the US as a US citizen automatically.
To help US citizens learn about their responsibilities, the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce is hosting a free seminar by a US tax expert on March 10 at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens.
If you, or someone you know, are among the thousands of US citizens living in Greece, learn more about this seminar and what you should do to ensure you comply with US law, by visiting the chamber’s website.
Elias Spirtounias
Executive Director
American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce
More than 400 US citizens have registered for the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce Tax Seminar on March 10 for US citizens, including thousands of Greek Americans, who live in Greece.
In response to this seminar reaching capacity, the Chamber is adding a second Tax Seminar on March 9.
hosted by: The American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce Athens
March 9, 2015 from 5:00pm-8:00pm
The American School of Classical Studies (Cotsen Hall) | 61 Souidias Street, Kolonaki
Please join us for a free seminar by an expert on expatriate tax issues. This is an excellent opportunity for anyone interested in the unique tax filing and bank report obligations of U.S. citizens working or living abroad. The presentation will be followed by a Q&A session. Topics to be covered include:
•US citizenship taxation – every US citizen is subject to tax on his/her worldwide income regardless of the source of that income. Important Note: Persons born in the United States are citizens automatically. US citizenship does not depend upon getting or having a US passport or social security number
•Use of the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE) under I.R.C. Section 911 and of Foreign Tax Credits to reduce or eliminate US tax
•Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR) filing requirements for US citizens
•The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) filing requirements for individuals and foreign bank reporting of “US accounts”
•Tax return and FBAR filing compliance for delinquent US taxpayers; using the Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures (SFOP) to avoid tax and FBAR penalties
All attendees must RSVP no later than March 6th, 2015 to
SPEAKER Stephen Flott, Esq. – Flott & Co.
Stephen Flott has more than thirty-five years’ experience advising businesses and individuals on a wide range of international business and tax matters. He specializes in U.S. citizenship issues, including expatriation and associated tax issues, and the special compliance challenges associated with long term non-filing of U.S. tax returns and financial reports by U.S. citizens who live outside the United States.
American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce is pleased to provide this information as a service to its members and the U.S. citizen community. However, neither the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce nor the U.S. Embassy in Athens provides tax or legal advice. Individuals should seek professional accounting or legal advice if they have questions about tax filing obligations. The American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce and U.S. Embassy in Athens are neither affiliated with nor endorse tax advisors and disclaim responsibility for the accuracy of information provided during the seminar.

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