When Greg Swanson decided to move to Europe to get some real experience to go with his education in international business, he told himself he would stay for just two years.
But Swanson, who worked for Kodak at the time, found he was travelling frequently, learning a lot and enjoying it, so he stayed longer.
Then he met his wife, a native of France. Eventually, they had two kids.
Swanson, 53, of Switzerland, has now lived overseas for 30 years.
And as his life has changed, so have the tax rules he faces. Admittedly, living abroad as an American has always made for a complicated tax situation.
That is because the United States is one of the only countries to tax based on citizenship, not residency.
And the U.S. government has tightened its rules in recent years to make it more difficult for Americans to evade taxes by hiding money offshore.
For Americans who reside in foreign countries, that can make it more difficult to find financial institutions who will let them open accounts.
Swanson experienced those restrictions first hand when he was denied a bank account.
“It wasn’t anything personal or even discriminatory as far as nationality,” Swanson said. “It was our own government that set up penalties for them to deal with us.”
Americans overseas often face a complex filing regimen.
Swanson received another shock when he found out he was behind on tax filing requirements he did not know about.