I am a US citizen who has been living and working in Canada for the past 10 years. I have not been filing tax returns to the IRS since 2001.
My husband, a Canadian citizen, assured me years ago I should have no obligations to the IRS if I was living and working in Canada, and had no assets here (they're all in his name for reasons I won't get into here). I have come and gone to the US a number of times, voted in US federal elections, they know where I am. I even spent the first year or so paying off money I owed to the IRS for my last tax return filed in 2000. At no point did anyone mention the serious penalties I might be facing if I didn't file a yearly tax retuen, even though I probably didn't owe any money to the US.
But then this morning I heard a frightening report on the radio of a US citizen who has lived in Canada since childhood and was unaware that she needed to be filing with the IRS. They brought on a tax expert to speak on the topic, and he's talking about negligent non-filing penalties in the tens of thousands of dollars, a $30,000 penalty for not filing a foreign bank account report, etc.
seems to agree that my situation is dire; however, they're selling a service so I have to take that with a grain of salt. The IRS's website
seems to indicate that at the very least I should have been filing a 1040 each year. But why? I am living in Canada and working in Canada. What possible obligation would I have to the IRS? That is the sticking point with my husband, who thinks I'm being silly. Personally this seems a little too-scary-to-be-true to me. Until I can prove to my husband this is a real issue, paying for a lawyer or tax consultant is out of the question. I need to find a definitive answer for free. On one hand, I don't really want to open a can of worms with the IRS, and would prefer to do nothing. On the other hand, I don't want to go to visit my mom (who lives in the US) and get nabbed at the border.
Help? Any advice, particularly from tax professionals or anyone in the same situation, would be hugely appreciated.
Here's some more specific information:
My husband is Canadian and has no responsibilities to the IRS
I have been paying income tax in Canada since I began working here in 2001
My gross income in Canada is roughly $22,500 per year
My husband files both our tax returns; he earns the most money and all bank accounts and assets are in his name
I am a landed Canadian resident as of 2001
I am 42
I have no assets in the US or Canada, and no income from US sources
I hold a valid US passport (I just renewed earlier this year)