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The Journey: 5 money questions for expats with wanderlust

Janet Kidd Stewart, Tribune News Service on

Published in Home and Consumer News

Ever wonder about the financial logistics of retiring abroad?

Travel websites make it sound so alluring. "Retire on a shoestring in Belize!" "Check out the freebies for ex-pats in Panama!"

It brings to mind an episode of "The Simpsons" in which Homer, after watching a promotional video, convinces Marge to move to the idyllic Cypress Creek planned community, home of the Globex Corporation.

Of course, just a few scenes in, Marge is drinking heavily out of boredom and Homer's boss turns out to be a villain.

Don't let this happen to your retirement. Consider a sober look at all the transition issues, including taxes, before making a move, particularly a move abroad, experts say:

-- I'm moving abroad full-time. Do I still have to file a U.S. tax return?

In a word, yes.

"People forget or they don't know that as a U.S. citizen living outside the U.S., their tax obligations (at home) essentially don't change," said Dennis Brager, a Los Angeles tax attorney. "They have an obligation to file a return and potentially pay taxes."

-- So, which tax do I pay?

The first step is understanding Uncle Sam's long arm when it comes to taxing American citizens living outside the country, notes John Olivieri, a partner with New York law firm White & Case.

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