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Old Dec 24, 07, 5:47 pm   #1
 
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As a US citizen, what questions is Customs permitted to ask you on arrival in the US?

I am a US citizen living abroad. Came home for xmas recently and the customs guy was grilling me about the "purpose of my visit". I told him I had no "purpose", I was an American coming home for xmas, like everybody else. He insisted, no I must have a "purpose". I told him that regardless of where I was resident, I was a taxpaying (Uncle Sam is quit eager to tax and double-tax citizens abroad, to the point of obsession), passport carrying American and I didnt need a "reason" to re-enter or exist in my own country.

He seem to find this objectionable.

I dont mind them asking me where I have been of if I am carrying anything illegal, but are they constitutionally allowed to demand reasons for wanting to be in your own country, when you are simply exercising your right as a US citizen to do so? Sounds peverse to me.
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Old Dec 24, 07, 5:53 pm   #2
 
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(Uncle Sam is quit eager to tax and double-tax citizens abroad, to the point of obsession)
OT...how are you double taxed on the same income?
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Old Dec 24, 07, 6:01 pm   #3
 
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Cause US citizens are taxed on total worldwide income.

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Originally Posted by sonofzeus View Post
OT...how are you double taxed on the same income?
The US is one of only about 3 countries taxing its citizens based on their world wide income. With that said, if you work in the UK, live and the UK, but are a US Citizen you owe uncle sam tax on all you earned in the UK. However there are some exclusions, but regardless you are pretty much taxed, and then taxed again (this usually happens when you make $100k+ but in the UK this isn't that much, say $60k in the US from a cost of living perspective). Actually recently the tax code has made it more difficult on those abroad as well, and has even led some to revoke their citizenship.
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Old Dec 24, 07, 6:11 pm   #4
 
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has even led some to revoke their citizenship.
...only the ones who aren't smart enough to hire competent tax counsel to mitigate the bite.
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Old Dec 24, 07, 6:13 pm   #5
 
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Originally Posted by lovethoselegs View Post
The US is one of only about 3 countries taxing its citizens based on their world wide income. With that said, if you work in the UK, live and the UK, but are a US Citizen you owe uncle sam tax on all you earned in the UK. However there are some exclusions, but regardless you are pretty much taxed, and then taxed again (this usually happens when you make $100k+ but in the UK this isn't that much, say $60k in the US from a cost of living perspective). Actually recently the tax code has made it more difficult on those abroad as well, and has even led some to revoke their citizenship.
ok, but how is that "double taxed"?
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Old Dec 24, 07, 7:16 pm   #6
 
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ok, but how is that "double taxed"?
Because you also pay UK taxes (or whatever country you earn in), just like foreigners working in the US pay US taxes.
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Old Dec 24, 07, 7:23 pm   #7
 
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Because you also pay UK taxes (or whatever country you earn in), just like foreigners working in the US pay US taxes.
I do understant that part but the question was raised because of the following:

(Uncle Sam is quit eager to tax and double-tax citizens abroad, to the point of obsession)
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Old Dec 24, 07, 7:45 pm   #8
 
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US citizens living overseas are not double taxed. You get the 2555 exclusion for the first $80K or so in income, which the US won't tax at all. Above that you take the 1116 deduction which allows you to deduct the tax paid to the foreign country from what you would owe as a US citizen. Since the tax rates in most countries (including Great Britain) are higher than the US Federal tax rates, you don't end up paying much of anything to the US government. The main exception is if you live in a place where tax rates are lower than US Federal rates, there you'll end up paying some tax. But look what a great government you get for your money!

If you're paying double, get a good accountant, or figure it out for yourself.

As for what questions US Immigration can ask you, the answer is "anything they like". If you want to prove you've got more testosterone than the guy asking the questions, then argue with him. If you want to get where you're going, just tell him you're going to visit family. End of story.
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Old Dec 24, 07, 7:52 pm   #9
 
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They can't really say "what is the purpose of your visit?" if youre coming home I guess (its not a visit!), but what is the point of asking why you're coming to the US? I have never been asked this upon reentering the US, prolly because the obvious answer is "coming home from a trip." Honestly though, if you refuse to answer that question, can they deny you entry if you haven't done anything illegal? I don't think so. On what grounds can a US citizen be denied entry to the US?
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Old Dec 24, 07, 8:03 pm   #10
 
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My every one is quite feisty.
I for one agree with the OP that INS can be quite Nasty, especialy in comparison to there EU versions. Gambling for several hrs in Windsor
produced similar questions, and I was driving my Volvo registered to me.
A question about the intensity of questioning produced a long diatribe in a
"It could happen again" vain.
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Old Dec 24, 07, 8:19 pm   #11
asl
 
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I am an American & Canadian dual citizen living in New York, with my parents and a vacation home in Canada. Further, I went to college in the US while "residing" in Canada. I carry both passports, but generally keep the canadian passport in my bag and travel on my US passport for both personal and business use.

I've long learned that despite the agents often asking inane, intrusive, and unrelated questions - just answer succintly and neutrally. It's not worth the headache to stand on principles.
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Old Dec 24, 07, 8:37 pm   #12
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by osamede View Post
I am a US citizen living abroad. Came home for xmas recently and the customs guy was grilling me about the "purpose of my visit". I told him I had no "purpose", I was an American coming home for xmas, like everybody else. He insisted, no I must have a "purpose". I told him that regardless of where I was resident, I was a taxpaying (Uncle Sam is quit eager to tax and double-tax citizens abroad, to the point of obsession), passport carrying American and I didnt need a "reason" to re-enter or exist in my own country.

He seem to find this objectionable.

I dont mind them asking me where I have been of if I am carrying anything illegal, but are they constitutionally allowed to demand reasons for wanting to be in your own country, when you are simply exercising your right as a US citizen to do so? Sounds peverse to me.
He found it objectionable then what happened? Question you more? Brought over a supervisor? Just let you go?
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Old Dec 24, 07, 9:24 pm   #13
 
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My son and I travel together because he is the only person I can persuade to go to the places I want to go. Last year we went to Central Asia (Khazakstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Krygrystan). We're off to Uganda and Rwanda in Jan. We sometimes approach the immigration person together. No one ever asks me anything. My son gets all sorts of questions. The last guy wanted to know what he does. He's on his third set of additional pages to his passport. Coming back from Central Asia, the customs people grilled him about whether he had caviar in his suitcase (he didn't but thought it was strange because he thought it is a legal import from where we were). We both have strange visas in our passports: China, Russia, Iran, Libya. He is the one who gets questioned though.
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Old Dec 24, 07, 9:42 pm   #14
 
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The overring question remains for me: if you facing are a US citizen, with the right to be in the US, what is the point of asking why you are entering your own country?

I can understand asking WHAT you did outside the country, but the first question has undertones of suggesting that said officer could deny the constitutional right of a US citizen to be in the US.

Meanwhile we are told all this paraoia is the "prevent foreigners from harming the country", but in fact at this point the govt is challenging the constitutional right of US citizens to enter their own country? Wow....
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Old Dec 24, 07, 9:49 pm   #15
 
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Originally Posted by railroadtycoon View Post
He found it objectionable then what happened? Question you more? Brought over a supervisor? Just let you go?
As I said, I repeated to him that I was exersising my right to enter the country of my citizenshp and one which insisted on taxing me, no matter where I lived. Seeing that I was standing my ground he decided that I was not a business visitor, told me I was entering for "non-business" purposes and let me in.

As a parting comment he isisted that it was his right to ask me the purpose of my entry to the US. And I told him again it wasnt, as my passport gave the the right to enter the US, a right unbound requiring any "purpose" other than my existence as a US citizen.

Sorry but as some point it seems these folks just absorbthe police state. As a US citizen it is my intrinsic right to enter the country,it is not a right contingent on begging him or anybody else. That right is inherent in your citizenship.
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