Income Tax liabilities of a US citizen living in

I am a US Citzen and a Canadian Landed 
Immigrant, I have lived in Canada since I 
was 7 and am now 42, I have never worked in 
the US and do not have a social security 
number, I have been filing Canadian Tax 
Returns. My question is do I need to file 
american tax returns as well and what do I 
do if I have not? Thank You
david ingram replies:
I would love to help you - call (604) 980-0321 for assistance. There will be some confusion in the next two weeks as I move my office to my home, but that number will be in effect.  If it isn't, my residence number is 980-3578 and my cell number is 657-8451.
As incongruous as it seems, you should have been filing US tax returns since the day you started working.  IN FACT, YOU HAVE A BIGGER RESPONSIBILITY TO FILE THE US RETURNS THAN YOU DO THE CANADIAN.  
Let me explain and it does not matter how much money you earn if you are an employee with no investment income.  The reason for this is that the payroll tables are set up so that you will ALWAYS have a tax refund in Canada.  Our law is clear.  If you do not owe tax in Canada, you do NOT have to file a return unless a demand is sent under section 150 of the Canadian Income tax act.
However, as a US citizen, you are absolutely required to file a US tax return to report  your Canadian income on the US return.  No US tax has been paid and you have a tax liability unless you file and claim specific exemptions or tax credits.
You should file your back returns from 1998 to 2003 (six years)  You would fill out a form 1040, a schedule B, and either 2555 or 1116 forms. 
Goto and read the US/Canada taxation section
In addition, If you have a Canadian RRSP of any amount it or them must be reported as foreign trusts (very important after Sept 11, 2001).  If you have over $10,000 US (as a total in any one account or as a total of several accounts including RRSP, RESP and other tax savings accounts, you must also fill out form TD F-90.22 to report the foreign accounts.
To make you feel real good, the penalty for failing to file TD F-90.22 is subject to a fine of up to $500,000 US PLUS 5 years in jail.
There are four levels of US fines for US citizens who do not file their returns.  You are in the highest category (IV) because you are still a US citizen and have not taken out Canadian citizenship.
If you had taken out Canadian citizenship, you drop down to penalty level III. If you had become naturalized as a Canadian before 1980, you would have dropped to Category II.
And if you had become a Canadian AND received a certificate of Loss of US Citizenship, you would have been at the lowest with no penalty in category I.
If you never intend to cross the border, you might get away without filing returns.  However, if you ever intend to cross the border into the US, get them done and keep them up to date.  If you do not want to do two return, do the US and forget about Canada.  Of course, if you do that, you will forfeit your refund.
Go to and read the October 1993 newsletter about Dual Citizenship.
Goto and read the Sept 1996 newsletter about people being tracked down in Canada by the IRS.
Goto and read the October 1995 newsletter about the responsibilities of a US citizen in Canada.
Answers to this and other similar  questions can be obtained free on Air every Sunday morning.
Every Sunday at 9:00 AM on 600AM in Vancouver, Fred Snyder of Cartier Partners and I will be hosting an INFOMERCIAL but LIVE talk show called "ITS YOUR MONEY"
Those outside of the Lower Mainland will be able to listen on the internet at 
Local phone calls to (604) 280-0600 - Long distance calls to 1-866-778-0600. 
Old shows are archived at the site.
This from ask an income tax immigration planning and bankruptcy expert consultant guru or preparer  from or or Canadian David Ingram deals daily with tax returns dealing with expatriate:
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wizard -
 David Ingram's US/Canada Services
US/Canada/Mexico Tax Immigration & working Visa Specialists
US / Canada Real Estate Specialists
4466 Prospect Road
North Vancouver,  BC, CANADA, V7N 3L7
Calls accepted from 10 AM to 10 PM 7 days a week
Res (604) 980-3578 Cell (604) 657-8451
Bus (604) 980-0321 
davidingram at
Disclaimer:  This question has been answered without detailed information or consultation and is to be regarded only as general comment.   Nothing in this message is or should be construed as advice in any particular circumstances. No contract exists between the reader & the author and any and all non-contractual duties are expressly denied. All readers should obtain formal advice from a competent financial, or real estate planner or advisor & appropriately qualified legal practitioner, tax or immigration specialist in connection with personal or business affairs such as at If you forward this message, this disclaimer must be included."
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