I think I am having an anxiety attack. I can't tell cause I am trying so hard to suppress it. Wolfing down hot beverages helps? I don't know. I've never bee very good at coping with emotions like this. I briefly touched on this problem in the comment section of GMM's Thursday Tursday post. In short, being an ex-pat living and working legally abroad is a nightmare.

Primers on the problems, on both sides of the political bias divide:

Forbes:

NPR:

You need to make above a certain annual income when living abroad in order to pay any taxes. However, even if your income is beneath the threshold, you must file taxes in the US as well as in your country of residency (for me, that's Costa Rica). The US is the only country that taxes citizens who are living abroad, or put differently, American citizens living abroad are the only people double taxed. I make less than the threshold so I don't have to pay anything, but the paper work is laborious and has increased with the passing of FATCA (mentioned in the articles above). If you make an honest mistake, it can be charged as a felony. You have no idea how much anxiety this causes me. I am fucking terrified of my own government simply because I chose to live abroad. I feel hunted and like I am being made into a criminal because the government cast a net far too wide. There are tax evaders tucking away large sums of money in foreign banks while living in the US. That is a thing that exists. But there has to be a better way to catch them than this, because there are also millions of Americans out there who are living abroad and earning modest wages who are in the same boat as me.

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Also the US forces other countries and foreign banks to enforce their FATCA law. It's so tedious that several banks in Europe (where this is already enforced, Costa Rica is just starting to enforce it this month, hence my dread today) have started to reject American-citizens as clients (the NPR article touches on this well). That's a big part of why those 3,000 Americans living in Europe renounced their citizenship. It wasn't tax evasion (most of them didn't earn enough to pay a cent), it's that their European banks would no longer serve them because they are American citizens. Not having a bank in your country of residence makes living extremely difficult.

I may qualify for a Spanish citizenship on my father's side. I am considering getting my Spanish citizenship and renouncing my American citizenship because I cannot live like this. This is too much. My pension manager in Costa Rica is hounding me at the moment and I am scared they will force me to liquidate so they don't have to deal with this. I'm on the verge of tears and dreading a phone ring. I keep asking the woman questions about what's going on but she just takes down info, says she will get back to me later, hangs up. I have no clue what is going on and they won't tell me. This does not help with the anxiety.

EDIT: Keep in mind that with FATCA, foreign banks operating in countries who signed onto FATCA are required to send their American citizens' bank data to the US. How does the US enforce this? "The U.S. says it will find out, label the banks "recalcitrant," and impose a 30 percent fine on the aggregate volume of said bank's US-based transactions and/or U.S. clients." - Michael Scaturro for The Altantic

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