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I'm a dual citizen, US and French. I'm working for a French company in France, and paying French taxes. Why is my French bank requesting me to fill out W-9 form?

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    It sounds like you haven't been paying attention to US taxes. While it is unlikely that you actually owe US taxes you are still required to file. Furthermore, it's very likely you need to file a FBAR form. Get professional advice on this. Expect to pay a penalty of 5% of the largest amount you have had in the bank in the last 3 years. Check this promptly, the IRS is about to get rid of the amnesty program that allows this--and then the penalty will be much higher. – Loren Pechtel Mar 20 '18 at 2:44
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    How did the French bank even find out you're a US citizen? – JonathanReez Mar 20 '18 at 4:24
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    @JonathanReez Some banks explicitly ask whether you are a US citizen or not when you're setting up an account - it happened to me in switzereland, for example – Ant Mar 20 '18 at 11:07
  • @Ant yes but it's not like you have to tell them... – JonathanReez Mar 20 '18 at 16:08
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    It is like you have to tell them. – Iguananaut Mar 22 '18 at 17:23
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You're a US citizen, subject to US tax disclosure requirements. (Even expatriates are subject to this.) US law requires banks dealing with US citizens to inform the Internal Revenue Service of certain information. In this case, the W-9 form will provide the IRS with some information about your tax obligations in France, which will help them determine if you owe any tax in the US.

The only easy way around this obligation is to give up your US citizenship, and while a few people do this, I would think most would be reluctant. :)

Only two countries require citizen non-residents to file taxes: the U.S. and Eritrea, so it's a fairly unique problem to have... but all US citizens living abroad have this issue.

  • I would note that given the high deductible for foreign residents and dual taxation treaties, the vast majority of Americans abroad pay zero tax back to the US. – JonathanReez Mar 20 '18 at 16:10
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    @JonathanReez Absolutely true, although it creates complications. For example, US citizens cannot easily use Canada's attractive Tax Free Savings Accounts, as they are considered by the IRS to be an offshore trust of some sort, and Canadian providers don't provide any tax disclosures, as the only people subject to any disclosure about them are citizens of the US and Eritrea. – Jim MacKenzie Mar 20 '18 at 16:35

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