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Tag Archive for Expats

‘Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied’?

Mike DeBlis

Wighead English jurist William Gladstone, the author of this famous quote, was obviously not a criminal defense lawyer. In many, if not most, cases, delay is a fundamental element of a successful defense, or even the lynchpin of the entire schmear. Over time, memories fade, evidence is lost (or at least becomes more difficult to find and use in court), witnesses relocate, and prosecutors lose interest in the case. All of these developments weigh in favor of criminal defendants.

To paraphrase Gordon Gekko: Delay is good. Delay is right; delay works. So, there were champagne corks popping all along Wall Street and into the uttermost parts of the earth when the IRS announced that it would delay certain FATCA bank withholding requirements until 2019. However, it remains to be seen whether the delay is a legitimate reprieve or Read more

‘I Wish I May Never Hear Of The United States Again!’

TaxConnections Picture - World Opened Up With Country Flags - 8-17-15 - square

In a classic example of “be careful what you wish for,” the fictional Lt. Philip Nolan uttered these famous words during his treason trial as Aaron Burr’s accomplice, in Edward Everett Hale’s 1863 propaganda short story – “The Man Without A Country” (See Video Clip Below). As the narrative progresses, and Lt. Nolan is quite literally adrift on an ocean of uncertainty, he comes to realize the full implications of his bravado. While aboard the USS Levant, he dies alone in a tiny shrine dedicated to his faded memories of the United States.

Whether he knew it or not, Lt. Nolan fit the dictionary definition of “diaspora,” which is a people who have been scattered to multiple countries, but share a common longing for their homeland and an overwhelming urge to return. Jewish people are a classic Read more

South African Tax Man’s Message To HSBC Account Holders

Close up of 20 50 100 South African currency the Rand isolated on white background

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has announced an amnesty of sort – a threat and upfront warnings: we do know about you, best you come forward before we make the tax audit into your affairs known.

On July 9th, 2015, SARS issued a press release, which can be read in more detail on:

http://www.sars.gov.za/Media/MediaReleases/Pages/9-July-2015 – – – South-Africans-with-accounts-and-investments-in-foreign-tax-jurisdictions.aspx

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), based information obtained by French newspaper Le Monde, ranked South Africa number 31 among the countries with the largest amount of dollars ($2.3blion) in the so-called leaked Swiss Read more

Why Are Banks Saying Sayonara to U.S. Expats?

Bank

Fidelity Investments appears to be the latest unintended consequence of the United States’ stepped-up efforts to collect taxes from its citizens and residents regardless of where they live and earn their money. Last July, Fidelity decided to bar its U.S. clients living abroad from buying or trading its mutual funds.

Ironically, even though it has only been a few years since the U.S. bailed out the banking sector in the wake of the economic recession, evidently the U.S. government believes that it has recovered enough to take a pound of flesh.

In May of 2014, Credit Suisse pleaded guilty to conspiracy to aid U.S. taxpayers in filing false income tax returns. It agreed to pay $2.6 billion in fines. Read more

FATCA Interview With Bill Yates – Former Attorney, Office Of Associate Chief Counsel (International), IRS – Continued

Question & AnswerThis Post continues the interview with Bill Yates:

Jeker: By the way, where are all of these FBARS kept, anyway?

Yates: Let’s talk about that later, OK?

Jeker: OK. Now go on, please.

Yates: Anyway, we ran into trouble from the start. In general, section 6038D requires any individual who holds an interest in a foreign financial asset or assets which an aggregate value that exceeds $50,000 (or such higher dollar amount as the Secretary may prescribe) to report the interest on a form attached to the individuals tax return for the year for taxable years beginning after or March 18, 2010. We had just been assigned the project. We knew there was no way we were going to have a form ready for anyone who had a short taxable year beginning after March 18, 2010. That was totally unrealistic. So, we had to come up with transition rules for people that had a reporting requirement, but no form to satisfy the reporting requirements. In the end, Form 8938 didn’t get released until November, 2012.

Jeker: Why was it going to take you so long? Read more

FATCA Interview With Bill Yates – Former Attorney, Office Of Associate Chief Counsel (International), IRS

iStock_ Floating Money XSmallToday’s blog post is the first of a several-part interview that provides valuable insight from Willard (Bill) Yates, who recently retired from the Office of Associate Chief Counsel (International), Internal Revenue Service after 31 years of service. During his tenure as a Chief Counsel Attorney, Bill was the recipient of 10 awards, including the Albert Gallatin Award, Treasury’s highest career service award. The Gallatin is awarded only to select federal employees who served twenty or more years in the Department and whose record reflects fidelity to duty. Bill received the Gallatin award for his work throughout his IRS career, including his work on implementation of some of the compliance requirements of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).

Most of Bill’s career at IRS focused on offshore compliance, including his participation in a massive overhaul of outdated foreign trust reporting requirements Bill was the principal drafter of the regulations under section 679, covering foreign trusts with US beneficiaries, Notice 2003-75, RRSP and RRIF Information Reporting and Notice 2009-85, Guidance for Expatriates Under Section 877A.

Our focus today will be on Bill’s experience as part of the three-person team charged with the responsibility for creating Form 8938 concerning reporting of so-called “specified foreign financial assets”, as well as gleaning his overall opinion about FATCA , from a policy and practical perspective.

Jeker: Bill, one of the most important aspects of your work as an IRS attorney in the Office of Chief Counsel (International) was drafting Treasury Regulations and other forms of guidance that implement tax laws enacted by Congress. Many readers don’t understand much about Treasury Regulations and how they work. Can you explain the force of Treasury Regulations, the particular challenges Chief Counsel attorneys experience and what they go through when drafting these Regulations? Read more

At Last – Great News From The IRS For US Expat Tax Filers Who Are Late Or Non-Compliant

IRS Building in WashingtonThe IRS has declared filing three years back taxes is adequate for most US expat tax filers who are delinquent and there shall be no penalties for late FBARs (Foreign Bank Account Reports) from those who were unaware of the requirement to file.

This brings a clarity and welcome relief to many American expats who in the past may have been reluctant to file US income taxes because there was no assurance that they would not be further harassed (or assessed exorbitant penalties and fees) because they simply didn’t know – or they didn’t trust the potential outcome if they did attempt to come forward and become compliant with US tax laws…


As an online tax accounting firm which exclusively serves Americans living abroad, we had originally interpreted the three year rule as the best option for its clients and that opinion is now fully endorsed by the IRS itself. The IRS has clarified that, for Americans living overseas who are delinquent in filing their US income taxes, filing three years back taxes will bring the vast majority (those who owed less than $1500 per year) into full compliance with new IRS rules.  This is confirmed on the IRS website itself.Additionally, the IRS goes on to state that for those who need to file FBARs (Foreign Bank Account Reports), filing 6 years is sufficient and that that late filers who were not aware of the requirement will not be penalized for making quiet disclosures in this manner. Read more

Tick, Tick, Tick | US Now Collaborating With Fifty Plus Countries To Retrieve Financial Data On US Expats

U.S.Treasury To Insure Money Market Mutual FundsThe United States Treasury Department is now actively working with more than 50 nations to share Americans’ personal financial data that will reveal who is tax compliant, including American expats living overseas. The effort is in support of new FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) laws that require foreign financial entities to report Americans’ account information to US authorities and to undertake mandatory withholding from them to assure compliance with American income tax laws.

The trade-off is that the United States will reciprocate with the data of partner countries’ own citizens with accounts in the States. The laws have been rolling out in varying levels since its enactment in 2010. The US has principal agreements with the 5 big sovereigns of Europe, including the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain and Italy, and has signed a “model agreement” with the United Kingdom …


The inception of, roll out and implementation of FATCA has been clever, if not masterful on the part of the US Treasury. The United States enacted FATCA and began by leaning, mostly, on foreign financial entities and mandating that they comply with certain new rules, including reporting of data on American clients and withholding of monies, to ensure Americans were compliant with US tax laws. Foreign financial interests, in turn, desperately sought relief from their own governments.  The US mandates were burdensome and cost prohibitive for them to implement. The solution for financiers was for their own governments, many of whom already have the data the US Read more

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