Women walk out of an Internal Revenue Service office in New York April 18, 2011.
Credits: EUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Regulations kick in Saturday encouraging the one million or so Americans - including those with dual citizenship - to comply with U.S. tax laws.
Many Americans are unaware that even if they owe nothing to the IRS and have lived in Canada for years they are required to file U.S. returns and a foreign bank and financial accounts form (FBAR) to disclose assets outside the U.S. above $10,000.
Americans could be hit with a fine of $10,000 or more and have assets seized for not filing the proper paperwork.
Queen's University tax law professor Art Cockfield says the regulations are designed to make it easier and cheaper for Americans to comply with complicated tax laws without spending a fortune on accountants and tax lawyers.
Under the changes, Americans who owe less than $1,500 to the U.S. government are required to file three years of tax returns and six years of FBAR forms.
"But the problem is if you use the new process it could be a trap for some U.S. citizens living in Canada," he says.