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Archive for John Richardson

Coming to America? Welcome To The Land of FBARs

Green Cards And Taxes

Thoughts From A Conversation About Green Cards And Taxes

The purpose of this is to reinforce some very simple points. I find that people always have more trouble remembering what’s simple.

Moving to America

1. Taxation of income from your remaining “non-U.S. assets”
You will be shocked to find that many of your “foreign assets” will be subject to particularly punitive U.S. taxation.

2. Reporting of your “non-U.S. assets”
If you are moving to America, you are moving from another country. You will very likely retain financial assets and bank accounts in that country. From a U.S. perspective, these assets are “foreign” and therefore a “fertile ground” for taxation and penalties.

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Treasury Fails To Prevent Lawsuit Against US Transition Tax From Proceeding

JOHN RICHARDSON - US Transition Tax

What Happened: The Judgement Is Here And Taxpayers Win!

About The Transition Tax

As part of the 2017 TCJA, Congress imposed a retroactive tax, without any realization event, on the retained earnings of Controlled Foreign Corporations. Although intended to be the the “trade off” for lowering the Corporate Tax rate from 35% to 21%, it was interpreted to apply to the small business corporations owned by Americans abroad. (The tax compliance industry aggressively promoted this damaging interpretation of the law.)

In any event, this imposed significant and life altering consequences on Americans abroad (particularly in Canada) for whom their small business corporations were really their pension plans. I documented the history, damage and madness of this in a series of posts about the transition tax. The law was interpreted (in various ways) and the regulations were drafted in an extremely punitive manner. What needs to be most understood is that a law intended for the Apples, Googles, etc. was interpreted to apply in the same way to individuals (your friends and neighbors) who owned small business corporations.

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IRS Relief Procedures For Former Citizens Update – Relief For Former Green Card Holders Coming!

JOHN RICHARDSON - Relief For Former Green Card Holders

Introduction

On December 17, 2019 Gary Carter published a post on Tax Connections, which outlined the “Options Available For U.S. Taxpayers With Undisclosed Foreign Financial Assets“. It contained an excellent overview and analysis which included a discussion of the IRS definition of “non-willfulness” under the Streamlined Program. In commenting on the definiton of “non-willful” he noted that:

The IRS definition of non-willful covers a lot of territory. Negligence, for example, includes “any failure to make a reasonable attempt to comply with the provisions of the Code” (IRC Sec. 6662(c)) or “to exercise ordinary and reasonable care in the preparation of a tax return” (Reg. Sec. 1.6662-3(b)(1)). Further, “negligence is a lack of due care in failing to do what a reasonable and ordinarily prudent person would have done under the particular circumstances.” (Kelly, Paul J., (1970) TC Memo 1970-250). The court also stated that a person may be guilty of negligence even though he is not guilty of bad faith. So the fact that you ignored the FBAR filing requirements for many years, and failed to report your foreign income, might be negligent behavior, but it’s probably not willful. That means you likely qualify for one of the new streamlined procedures. On the other hand, if you loaded piles of cash into a suitcase and lugged it over to Switzerland to conceal it from the IRS, you don’t qualify, because that is willful conduct. If you believe your behavior may have been willful under these guidelines, consult with an attorney before submitting returns through one of the streamlined procedures. We work with attorneys who are experts in this field and we would be happy to provide a referral, free of charge or obligation.

Notably, the definition of “non-willfulness” for the Streamlined Program is the same as the definition for the new “IRS Relief For Former Citizens Program”.

Part A – IRS Relief For Former Citizens Who Relinquished U.S. Citizenship After March 18, 2010 (the date FATCA became law)

The program was announced on September 6, 2019.

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The USA Of The 21st Century Is Like Britain In The 19th Century

John Richardson And FATCA

(Reposted as a top blog on TaxConnections during 2019)

In 2018 Professor Lucy Salyer of the University of New Hampshire published “Under the Starry Flag” – a book largely about the 1868 Expatriation Act. The book describes a period in American history where Britain treated its “subjects” as having perpetual loyalty to the British Crown. To put it simply: One could NOT emigrate to America and expatriate. No matter what one did, those who were born British Subjects were destined to die British Subjects.

The above tweet links to an interview of Professor Lucy Salyer conducted on February 9, 2019. The interview is about Professor Salyer’s new book “Under the Starry Flag”. It is a fascinating (brilliantly researched) work. The publisher describes the book as:

The riveting story of forty Irish Americans who set off to fight for Irish independence, only to be arrested by Queen Victoria’s authorities and accused of treason: a tale of idealism and justice with profound implications for future conceptions of citizenship and immigration.

In 1867 forty Irish American freedom fighters, outfitted with guns and ammunition, sailed to Ireland to join the effort to end British rule. Yet they never got a chance to fight. British authorities arrested them for treason as soon as they landed, sparking an international conflict that dragged the United States and Britain to the brink of war. Under the Starry Flag recounts this gripping legal saga, a prelude to today’s immigration battles.

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Revenue Neutrality And A Move To Residence-based Taxation: Open Letter To Democrats Abroad

JOHN RICHARDSON

(This blog reposted due to its popularity and commentary)

OPEN LETTER TO DEMOCRATS ABROAD

Democrats Abroad (DA) recently reached out to the Democratic presidential candidates to ask them about issues relevant to Americans living overseas. The questions DA posed and the responses it received can be accessed at this link:

https://www.democratsabroad.org/democrats_abroad_talks_with_the_candidates?fbclid=IwAR0TKNlkqnxPjdhQz22tUsnnBDotPiSR7NaRVm430LXvlZHma8FWF1HuhQs

We strongly applaud DA for this valuable initiative. But we believe that it is important—indeed, vital—to call out the framing of this question:

“Most Americans living abroad think that the time has come for Residency-Based Taxation, the principle guiding all other countries’ tax systems and a fix for numerous unjust burdens on Americans living and working abroad. There are bi-partisan, revenue-neutral proposals to implement RBT that include robust provisions to protect the law from abuse by tax evaders. All we need is a moment of leadership to get this done. Will you be that leader?”

We believe that it is a grave error to condition a move to residency-based taxation (RBT) upon a demonstration of revenue neutrality. Doing so would serve to perpetuate the immoral and unjust system in place today.

These are the reasons why:

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The #FATCA Is Americans Abroad Are Subjected To A Far More Punitive Tax System Than Homeland Americans

JOHN RICHARDSON- FATCA, Form 3520-A

The purpose of this post is to continue the discussion generated by the “Open Letter To Democrats Abroad” (discussing the notion that “revenue neutrality” should be part of the “citizenship taxation” debate) and the “13 Reasons Why” (describing why Americans abroad are being forced to renounce U.S. citizenship.

Neither of those posts really described that fact that as ridiculous and unfair as “citizenship-based taxation” is, Americans abroad are “in effect” subject to a separate tax system than are Homeland Americans. A more extensive version of this post appeared at Tax Connections on March 13, 2019.

There are many instances where a U.S. citizen living abroad who earns his salary abroad, owns his assets abroad, has his pension abroad and is married to a non-U.S. spouse will pay higher U.S. taxes on income that is local to him than a comparable Homeland American would pay on income that is local to him.

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Treasury Should Be Proactive In Mitigating Prospective Foreign Trust And Other Form Problems

JOHN RICHARDSON On Foreign Trusts

What are the requirements for an arrangement to qualify as a “trust” under the Internal Revenue Code?

1. Definitions are found in Internal Revenue Code 7701.

2. Treasury Reg. 301.7701-4(a) defines a trust as for Internal Revenue Code purposes as:

“an arrangement created either by will or inter vivos declaration whereby trustees take title to property for the purpose of protecting and conserving it for the beneficiaries under the ordinary rules applied in chancery or probate courts . . . . Generally speaking, an arrangement will be treated as a trust under the Internal Revenue Code if it can be shown that the purpose of the arrangement is to vest in trustees responsibility for the protection and conservation of property for beneficiaries who cannot share in the discharge of this responsibility and, therefore, are not associates in a joint enterprise for the conduct of business for profit”

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13 Reasons Why I Committed Citizide AKA Renounced My US Citizenship

JOHN RICHARDSON

Introduction

On December 5, 2019 TaxConnections published our “Open Letter To Democrats Abroad” in which we argued that “revenue neutrality” should be irrelevant in moving from “citizenship-based taxation” to “residence-based taxation”. That post attracted a large number of comments from Americans abroad expressing the difficulties living under the citzenship-based taxation regime. The bottom line is that the United States is forcing expats to renounce their U.S. citizenship. Yes, its’ true. The comments reminded me of a post that appeared on my site in 2017. Settle in for the ride as you read the “13 Reasons Why …”

Guest post by a perfectly ordinary person who renounced U.S. citizenship for perfectly ordinary reasons

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Survey Dispels Myth Of Wealthy Americans Abroad And Why Middle Class Americans Abroad Are Forced To Renounce U.S. Citizenship

John Richardson On FATCA

Introduction

This blog post features the research of Laura Snyder. It is (I believe) the single and most comprehensive study of (1) the U.S. legislation that is understood to apply to Americans abroad and (2) the disastrous impact this legislation has on them. To put it simply, Congress is forcing Americans Abroad to renounce their U.S. citizenship.

The bottom line is that for Americans Abroad:
“All Roads Lead To Renunciation!”

And now over to Laura Snyder with thanks.

“I Feel Threatened by My Very Identity:”

US Taxation and FATCA Survey

Introduction

In autumn 2018 I worked with a France-based association of Americans living overseas to organize an online survey addressing the topics of FATCA and US taxation. The survey was open for participation for a period of about six weeks, from late September to early November. The survey was conducted using the open source software LimeSurvey.

Approach and Methodology

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Naomi Osaka Does Not Automatically Relinquish U.S. Citizenship By Choosing Japanese Citizenship

John Richardson Japanese Citizenship

Citizenship is becoming more and more interesting. In my last post I wrote about Canada’s Conservative leader Andrew Scheer’s U.S. citizenship. Theoretically, on October 21, 2019, Canada could have it’s first U.S. citizen Prime Minister. (Think of the extra pressure that the United States could bring to bear on Canada.)

The newsworthiness of U.S. citizenship continues. There has been much discussion of citizenship as a prerequisite to compete for countries in the Olympic games. It is being reported that tennis star Naomi Osaka , a dual Japan/U.S. citizen is complying with a Japanese law that requires her to choose either U.S. or Japanese citizenship. A number of media outlets are reporting that Ms. Osaka is relinquishing U.S. citizenship. Is this really true? Interestingly the Toronto Globe and Mail initially reported that:

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Lawsuit Alleges Section 965 Transition Tax Is Unconstitutional

John Richardson On Sec 965 Transition Tax

A lawsuit alleging that the Section 965 transition tax is unconstitutional affords the opportunity to write Part 33 in my series of posts about the U.S. Transition Tax.

Part 22 of this series included a discussion of a paper by Sean P. McElroy which argued that the Section 965 repatriation tax was unconstitutional for the following reasons explained in the abstract:

Abstract

In late 2017, Congress passed the first major tax reform in over three decades. This Essay considers the constitutional concerns raised by Section 965 (the “Mandatory Repatriation Tax”), a central provision of the new tax law that imposes a one-time tax on U.S.-based multinationals’ accumulated foreign earnings.

First, this Essay argues that Congress lacks the power to directly tax wealth without apportionment among the states. Congress’s power to tax is expressly granted, and constrained, by the Constitution. While the passage of the Sixteenth Amendment mooted many constitutional questions by expressly allowing Congress to tax income from whatever source derived, this Essay argues the Mandatory Repatriation Tax is a wealth tax, rather than an income tax, and is therefore unconstitutional.

Second, even if the Mandatory Repatriation Tax is found to be an income tax (or, alternatively, an excise tax), the tax is nevertheless unconstitutionally retroactive. While the Supreme Court has generally upheld retroactive taxes at both the state and federal level over the past few decades, the unprecedented retroactivity of the Mandatory Repatriation Tax — and its potential for taxing earnings nearly three decades after the fact — raises unprecedented Fifth Amendment due process concerns.

It appears that the plaintiffs in this case are making precisely these two arguments.

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Presumptions Of Tax Residency In A FATCA World

John Richardson

Introduction – All The World Is A Multiple Choice Test

Q.1 – A tax resident of the United States is taxable on his worldwide income. According to the Internal Revenue Code of the United States, which one of the following is NOT a tax resident of the United States of America?

(A) A Congresswoman “Born In The USA”, head of her household, who does not and has never had a U.S. Passport
(B) An unmarried Green Card Holder who has never filed an FBAR who lives in El Paso Texas
(C) A fifty year old U.S. citizen who is divorced has never set foot in the United States, doesn’t have a U.S. Social Security Number and lives in and pays full taxes in Germany
(D) A citizen of only Canada who lives four months a year in Florida with his U.S. citizen wife, in a house he owns where he parks a car he owns with Florida license plates
(E) A citizen of Grenada who lives full time in the USA with an E1 visa operating a fast food franchise

For help in finding the answer see …

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