Financial Help - I am in serious trouble

After I graduated from college I took a job abroad, and went abroad basically penniless and broke. I had to work very hard and for long hours, often times seven days a week. Like all Americans working abroad, I had an apartment I rented, paid all my bills – electricity, gas, etc. – and opened a bank account there.

After 14 years, I decided to return to the states. Although I had not saved enough to live out my life in the States as someone retired,I had saved enough to to where I thought that if I can supplement my savings with work, I should be OK as long as I live simple and am careful with my money.

Then, just a few days ago my world came crashing down. Quite by accident I discovered that Americans, and only Americans, cannot have a bank account abroad with over 10,000 usd, unless they report it to the Treasury department. By doing so, our government does not just give one a reasonable fine and say, fill out the paper that you should have. Instead, they put you in jail, and start the fine at 100,000. Given that I was there for 14 years I am looking at being completely ruined for life – I will never be able to recover from this, and all because I was never aware of the FBAR requirement.

Our government knows that the vast majority of Americans working overseas do not about FBAR, and that they are honest, hardworking people, with no intent to defraud the government, or laundry money, (which is the intent of FBAR in the first place). Yet, when these Americans return home, they find themselves going to jail, and having all that they earned taken away in fines. And our government does not care that they are doing this to its American Citizens.

I am so distraught over this that I haven’t ate or slept since I found out about FBAR, about 4 days ago, and have even for the first time in my life seriously wondered if there is any point now in going on. I have cried, wept and prayed. I feel completely undone.

Words can never express the minute my minute, day by day, week by week hard work I had, and because I had opened a bank account there, only for convenience, and did not know about FBAR (most Americans do not), my government isn’t going to give me some reasonable fine for this, they are going to completely ruin me and take every penny I saved over 14 years of work; and there is a good possibility that I will go to jail.

I will be seeing a tax attorney for help. As our laws are our laws, I do not see how prayer can help me in this, yet I feel compelled to plead, beseech, beg, that you pray for me, that some form of restitution will be found that will not take my life from me, and not just for me, but for the many other Americans that now find themselves in this same, dreadful and dire situation.

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