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Overseas Finances Can Trip Up Americans Abroad

Living and working abroad may sound romantic. But having a financial life in more than one country — if one of those countries is the United States — is becoming increasingly complicated.

Managing an international financial life was once solely the purview of the superrich, who jetted around the world. But given the still-high unemployment rate in the United States, opportunities for middle-class jobs abroad, in areas like finance, oil and construction, are becoming more appealing.

By taking those jobs, though, many middle- and upper-middle-class Americans have found it more and more difficult to comply with requirements on reporting the existence and value of bank accounts overseas and to reconcile the taxes of different countries.

At the same time, Americans from immigrant families who have bank accounts in their home countries that they may have overlooked are being swept up by the same laws used to ferret out millionaires and billionaires stashing money in secret Swiss accounts. The Internal Revenue Service has increased its examination of such accounts, lawyers said, with serious penalties for those who have not reported them.

So how should Americans working abroad or with a financial life in two countries manage their finances?

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