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Tag Archive for Americans Abroad

Why Are These Senators Attempting To Reverse Treasury Regulations That Affect Americans Abroad?

John Richardson on GILTI

Prologue

Americans abroad who are individual shareholders of small business corporations in their country of residence have been very negatively impacted by the Section 951A GILTI and Section 965 TCJA amendments. In June of 2019, by regulation, Treasury interpreted the 951A GILTI rules to NOT apply to active business income when the effective foreign corporate tax rate was at a rate of 18.9% or higher. Treasury’s interpretation was reasonable, consistent with the history of Subpart F and consistent with the purpose of the GILTI rules. Now, Senators Wyden and Brown are attempting to reverse Treasury’s regulation through legislation. This is a direct attack on Americans abroad.

Introduction

As many readers will know the 2017 US Tax Reform, referred to as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), contained provisions which have made it difficult for Americans abroad to run small businesses outside the United States. In the common law world a corporation is treated as a separate legal entity for tax purposes. In other words the corporation and the shareholders are separate for tax purposes, file separate tax returns and pay tax on different streams of income. The 2017 TCJA contained two provisions that basically ended the separation of the company and the individual for U.S. tax purposes. In other words: there is now a presumption (at least how the Internal Revenue Code applies to small business owners) that active business income earned by the corporation will be deemed to have been earned by the individual “U.S. Shareholders”. To put it another way: individual shareholders are now presumptively taxed on income earned by the corporation, whether the income is paid out to the shareholders or not!
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The United States Imposes A Separate And Much More Punitive Tax On U.S. Citizens Who Are Residents Of Other Countries

John Richardson - The United States Taxes Citizens Who Reside In Another Country

On February 28, 2019 TaxConnections kindly posted my first post comparing the way that 19th Century Britain and 21st Century America Treated Its Citizens/Subjects. The post received a great deal of interest resulting in more than 120 comments (largely reflecting the frustration of Americans abroad and accidental Americans).

The purpose of that post focused largely on citizenship and the fact that the United States imposes worldwide taxation on U.S. citizens who are tax residents of other countries and do NOT live in the United States. What that post did NOT do was to focus on HOW the Internal Revenue Code applies to U.S. citizens who do NOT live in the United States.

The Bottom Line Is:

The United States is in effect imposing a separate and more punitive tax system on its citizens abroad. Strange but true. The purpose of this post is to explain how that works and to provide specific examples.

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Americans Abroad And The Transition Tax – Leaves Taxpayers In Tough Situation

John Richardson - Transition Tax Leaves Taxpayers In Tough Situation

As 2018 comes to and end many individuals are still trying to decide how to respond to the Sec. 965 “transition tax” problem. The purpose of this post is to summarize what I believe is the universe of different ways that one can approach Sec. 965 transition tax compliance. These approaches have been considered at various times and in different posts over the last year.

As 2018 comes to an end the tax compliance industry is confused about what to do. The taxpayers are confused about what to do. For many individuals they must choose between: bad and uncertain compliance or no attempt at compliance. (I add that the same is true of the Sec. 951A GILTI provisions which took effect on January 1, 2018.)

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IRC Section 965 Transition Tax – Part 6

John-Richardson- Investigating the Transition Tax

A Reprieve

This is the sixth in my series of posts about the Sec. 965 Transition Tax and whether/how it applies to the small business corporations owned by tax paying residents of other countries (who may also have U.S. citizenship). These small business corporations are in no way “foreign”. They are certainly “local” to the resident of another country who just happens to have the misfortune of being a U.S. citizen. Read more

IRC Section 965 Transition Tax – Part 5

John-Richardson- Investigating the Transition Tax

Shades of ODVP

This is the fifth in my series of posts about the Sec. 965 Transition Tax and whether/how it applies to the small business corporations owned by tax paying residents of other countries (who may also have U.S. citizenship). These small business corporations are in no way “foreign”. They are certainly “local” to the resident of another country who just happens to have the misfortune of being a U.S. citizen. Read more

What U.S. Expat Needs To Know About Foreign Earned Income Exclusion

Olivier-Wagner- What U.S. Expat needs to know about Foreign Earned Income Exclusion

While all Americans are taxed in their worldwide income regardless where they reside, they also have Foreign Earned Income Exclusion to reduce the tax burden. And this is what our today’s tax infographic is about. In 2018 you can eliminate up to $104,100 of foreign earned income on your U.S. expat tax return. Let’s look into details and what this exclusion is about. Read more

Tax Debt And Passport Revocation: The New Weapon Against Americans Abroad

John-Richardson- Tax Debt and Passport Revocation

US Passport application links Citizenship (State Dept) to Taxation (Treasury) to enforce “Taxation based Citizenship

The logical progression continues …

I just got off the phone with someone who has just received a letter from the IRS stating that:

1. He had a “seriously delinquent” tax debt; and

2. That notice of the “seriously delinquent” tax debt was being forwarded to the State Department.

(In 2016 I did a presentation on this topic just a few months after the law came into force. You may view the presentation here.) Read more

IRC Section 965 Transition Tax: Resistance Is Futile

transition tax, americans abroad, expatriate, canada

“This legislation is being interpreted by a number of tax professionals to mean that individual U.S. citizens living outside the United States are required to simply “fork over” a percentage of the value of their small business corporations to the IRS. Although technically “CFCs” these companies are certainly NOT foreign to the people who use them to run businesses that are local to their country of residence. Furthermore, the “culture” of Canadian Controlled Private Corporations is that they are actually used as “private pension plans”. So, an unintended consequence of the Tax Cuts Jobs Act would be that individuals living in Canada are somehow required to collapse their pension plans and turn the proceeds over to the U.S. government” Read more

Filing IRS Back Taxes for US Expat Americans

American expats are still required to file a US federal tax return to the IRS. As expats also have to comply with the tax rules in the country where they live, it’s counterintuitive but nonetheless important that they file US taxes too.
Taxing US citizens abroad, or Citizenship (rather than Residence) Based Taxation, dates back to the Civil War, but until recently the IRS was powerless to enforce expat taxes, so few expats filed.

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deVere Group CEO Demands ‘Firm Action’ from Secretary Mnuchin on FATCA

The CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial services organizations has co-written an assertive open letter to the U.S. Treasury Secretary to demand the Trump administration scrap the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.

Nigel Green, together with Jim Jatras, his co-leader of the Campaign to Repeal FATCA, have sent the five-page letter to the Honorable Steve Mnuchin as, after a year in office, nothing has been done to abandon the “worst law most Americans have never heard of.” This despite promises in the election campaign that, should they win, the Republicans would “call for repeal” of FATCA.

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US Expats Renouncing American Citizenship – What You Need to Know

Americans living abroad are still required to file a US tax return, reporting their worldwide income, as well as obey the tax rules in the country where they live.

Many US expat have settled abroad permanently though, and they justifiably wonder why they must continue filing a US tax return every year, even if they don’t pay any US taxes because they claim one or more of the exemptions available to expats, such as the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion or the Foreign Tax Credit, when they file.

As a result, many US expats consider renouncing their American citizenship.

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Testimony: Green Card Holder Victim Of FATCA After Failing To Return Expired Card

To anyone who doesn’t really understand the fear and frustration of FATCA and the insanity of the US tax system:

I am not and never have been American. I don’t live in the USA and I have no financial connections to the USA.

However, many years ago I got a green card when I married an American. We lived in the so-called, Land of the “Free”, until we decided to move permanently to my home country to care for my elderly parents.

A year or so after my return to my home country my green card expired, became null and void, but I didn’t know I was supposed to return it to USCIS along with an I-407 form. (Green cards don’t come with a set of disposal instructions.) Years later when I found out about this I searched for days to find that old green card and then I sent it away. It was received (according to the mail trace) but never officially acknowledged and there were no replies to my follow-up inquiries.

This left me trapped in a perpetual state of deemed US “personhood” which comes with onerous US tax filing and now highly intrusive FATCA reporting too. The threatened penalties for not filing FBAR (FinCEN114) forms are staggering. They would exceed my life savings (mostly a modest inheritance from my non-American parents). If I lose my life savings to the IRS I could end up on welfare and that would not be fair to taxpayers here in my home country.

What did I take from the USA when I left? I took savings of less than $5K and a gain of less than $75K from the sale of the house we built with our own labour and paid for entirely from the savings I brought with me from my home country (no mortgage on that house). All of this was reported to the IRS and taxed appropriately.

What do I get from the USA? Absolutely nothing – NO right to return to the USA to live or work; NO US Social Security because I have never had US income; NO rescue by US marines in a disaster; NO US vote; NO representation in the US Congress; and since I haven’t visited the USA in almost 20 years (and never will again), NO benefit from the USA’s infrastructure. I do not want any of those things anyway.

What do I want from the USA? I want to be left alone so that I can lead a normal life without the stigma of being called a “US person for tax purposes” (and ONLY tax purposes).

What’s the biggest irony of my whole situation? Well, my husband is no longer American since he recently relinquished his US citizenship. He now has a priceless piece of paper called a CLN (Certificate of Loss of Nationality) which means he can open and retain bank accounts here with no intrusive FATCA reporting.

Meanwhile I, who never was American, will have to live with uncertainty for the rest of my life. If my bank finds out about my past connection and failed disconnection to the USA, it will report me and my accounts to my country’s tax agency which will forward that information to the IRS. And then … well I shudder to think.

Some Americans may hate me for saying this but I have no love or respect for what the USA is doing with its irrational citizenship-based tax system and now its FATCA overreach. These same Americans might even laugh and gloat about how I became trapped as a “US person for tax purposes” but at least my husband, an upstanding citizen, has escaped the clutches of the USA. He did so with no regrets and when his CLN finally arrived he felt nothing but relief. I and my country are proud and pleased to have him. His warm and welcoming citizenship ceremony here in my, now OUR, country was one of the best days of both of our lives.

Neither of us is “un-American” but we are “non-American” and we cannot fathom why the USA will not graciously let its people go.

Anonymous

Original Statement on April 9, 2015
Submission to the United States Senate Finance Committee
International Tax

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