This letter was posted by Robert Wood on Forbes’ website. Robert is a US tax lawyer based in San Francisco, California. He received this letter in the course of his practice. I thought it was well worth passing on and have reproduced it in full:
“Dear Mr. President,
I am writing with a heavy heart as I, my husband, and our daughter are all seriously contemplating giving up our U.S. citizenship. We are doing this not to avoid paying U.S. taxes but because we strongly object to a system that is blatantly discriminatory and unfair to law-abiding Americans living outside the country. In addition, it has become too expensive, too difficult, and frankly, too frightening, to try to comply with all of the tax filing Read More
A nonresident alien individual (NRA) is generally subject to US income tax on two types of income categories:
Income that is “effectively connected” with a trade or business in the United States (so-called “ECI”); Income from US sources that is “fixed, determinable, annual or periodical” (so-called “FDAP” income)
ECI versus FDAP
When income is “effectively connected” with a US trade or business, the income is taxed at graduated rates. These are the same rates that apply to US citizens and residents (the highest marginal rate is 39.6%). Such “effectively connected income” ECI, is to be Read More
Under US tax laws, any individual with a “substantial presence” in the United States runs the risk of being classified as a US person for tax purposes. Those who are physically present in the United States for a long enough time may find themselves owing taxes on their worldwide income to the IRS even if they are neither a US citizen nor a green card holder, and even if they earn no income from US sources.
The Substantial Presence Test
The criteria often cited for meeting the substantial presence test is residing in the US for more than 182 days in a given calendar year. This is very misleading, as the actual calculation used by the IRS is more complicated and looks at US residency over a Read More
If you are a US citizen or resident and you receive gifts or bequests (generally, an inheritance or gift of property by a Will) of money or other property from a foreign (non-US) person or entity, you may need to report these gifts on Form 3520, Annual Return to Report Transactions with Foreign Trusts and Receipt of Certain Foreign Gifts. Form 3520 is an information return, not a tax return. Many people receiving gifts or bequests get very confused. They mistakenly believe that they have to pay tax when they receive a gift or bequest. This is not the case – bona fide gifts or bequests are not subject to income tax in the hands of the recipient. This remains the case regardless of whether the person giving the gift is a US person or a foreign person. It remains the case regardless of the amount of the gift or bequest. Read More
In my tax practice in the Middle East, it is very common for family members to have legal title to assets they do not own. For example, it is common for a parent to have the eldest son hold legal title to property in which the child has no beneficial interest whatsoever; sometimes the nominee relationship is entered into in an attempt to circumvent forced inheritance shares of Sharia law, or to avoid probate.
What is a Nominee and How Does a Nominee Relationship work?
A nominee is a person or entity named by another party (called a “nominator”) to hold title to a certain property. The nominee is the registered owner of the property but he is not the beneficial owner. All rights and incidents of true ownership belong to the beneficial owner and essentially, the nominee stands in a position of trust to follow the orders of the Read More