Free money for USA kids abroad. Scam?
November 26, 2009 1:56 AM   Subscribe

My wife's from the USA and she got this on a mailing list she reads. I know nothing about US tax law or benefits. Is it a scam, or is Uncle Sam just waiting to shovel buckets o'cash into my pockets?

U.S. CITIZENS LIVING OUTSIDE OF THE US are eligible to receive $1000+ per child every year (sometimes up to $3,000 per child)
This is even if only one spouse is a US citizen as long as the children have social security numbers. We specialize in US benefits for citizens abroad and will help you receive this money as soon as possible. We can also make sure that all U.S. citizens living in/out of America are receiving the full benefits that they are entitled to, including the President’s new stimulus packages
posted by Joe in Australia to Work & Money (10 answers total)
I can't see what they're doing that a tax preparer wouldn't do. I don't know of anyone that does this kind of thing except the federal gov't. If thats the case see an accountant experienced in US tax law.
posted by Rubbstone at 1:59 AM on November 26, 2009

While not definitive proof, as an American who has been living outside the United States since 1997, I've never heard of such a programme and I know a fair number of ex-pats with children.

I took a quick look through a a web site I've referenced in the past and saw nothing indicating there was such a program.

Also this is counter to the way we (American who choose to live abroad that is) are generally treated by the US Government - little more than ATMs, paying taxes but receiving almost nothing in the way of services for our cash.

As written I'd say scam (either harvesting SS numbers or maybe some type of advance fee fraud), but do you have any more information such as the name of the firm offering this service, or the programme they're referencing?
posted by Mutant at 2:55 AM on November 26, 2009

Isn't this just the Child Tax Credit? If you are paying taxes to the US, you can get some back for having children living with you and not making too much money. It goes on your tax return somewhere.
posted by that girl at 3:27 AM on November 26, 2009

In other words, it is not free money Uncle Sam is shovelling into your (wife's) pockets so much as it is money Uncle Sam is grudgingly willing to return from the money he's already ripped from them.
posted by that girl at 3:29 AM on November 26, 2009

Given its appearance of the term in radio ads, any promotional message that invokes the "President's stimulus package" is likely to come with a certain amount of BS.
posted by holgate at 5:44 AM on November 26, 2009

posted by dfriedman at 6:11 AM on November 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

It's a scam!!!! Someone is trying to get the Social Security numbers of your children and then commit identity theft (which you will be less likely to find out about since you are not residing in the US.) Don't give them ANY information. Delete, delete, delete.
posted by eleslie at 7:28 AM on November 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Just file your taxes as per usual (you don't need help getting this). But, yes, expats are eligible for the child tax credit.
posted by bluedaisy at 9:54 AM on November 26, 2009

Also, IANATaxL
posted by bluedaisy at 11:36 AM on November 26, 2009

money Uncle Sam is grudgingly willing to return from the money he's already ripped from them

Although note that the Additional Child Tax Credit, for lower-income parents, is a straight credit regardless of tax paid. Not sure how many expats would fall into that category, though.
posted by dhartung at 11:47 AM on November 26, 2009

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