Author Archives: Admin

Airline and cruise ship employees: how income earned in international waters may lead to double taxation for (only) Americans abroad

Oliver Wagner, CPA and John Richardson – January 16, 2022

Americans abroad and the presumption of double taxation

Prologue: For whom the bell tolls …

Whether a US citizen lives in (and is a tax resident of) Mexico and works on a ship in international waters

Or Whether A US citizen lives in (and is a tax resident of) Holland and is an airline pilot …

That US citizen, because and only because of the combination of US citizenship-based taxation coupled with living outside the United States, is likely to be subject to double taxation. The following discussion explains why.

A Summary Podcast …

Part A: Introduction – About Citizenship-based Taxation
Part B: How the Internal Revenue Code is designed to mitigate the effects of double taxation in certain circumstances
Part C: Determining what is “foreign source” income
Part D: The problem of international waters …
Part E: The effect of sourcing to the US income earned in international waters by dual tax residents
Part F: Deducting “foreign taxes” paid – although income from international waters may not be foreign, it is still subject to the payment of “foreign taxes”
Part G: Can a US citizen living abroad be saved by a tax treaty? Maybe if he/she lives in Canada****
Part H: Conclusion and the need for “Pure Residence-Based Taxation”

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Considering renouncing US citizenship? Interesting discussion with Buffalo lawyer @JoeGrasmick

In 2018 I had a discussion with Buffalo Immigration Lawyer Joe Grasmick about a number of issues including renouncing US citizenship. The discussion was videoed as part of my “Retain Or Renounce” series. It was a very interesting and balanced discussion. (We also discussed some of the dos and don’ts of Green Card abandonment.)

I wanted to share Joe’s LinkedIn post today (December 31, 2021). His post reinforces the reality that (although Americans abroad are clearly suffering from the tax and regulatory regime) US citizenship does have value.

I completely agree with Joe that the consequences of renouncing US citizenship (notwithstanding the problems) should be fully understood and appreciated.

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Reflections Of An Expatriation Lawyer: From The Solemn Occasion of 1988 To The Non-event of 2021

Guest Post by UK based New York lawyer Diane Gelon

Diane is a London, UK based New York lawyer who specializes in issues affecting Americans abroad including renunciation. What follows are her thoughts on how the renunciation process has evolved since 1988. The message is that in 1988 the renunciation of US citizenship was a serious and solemn event that was taken very seriously by the US government (it was also free of charge). By 2021 it had become a routine matter, of little concern to the US government (and cost $2350). This is one more reason why the State Department should process renunciations of US citizenship through video conferencing!

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Over to Diane …

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The State Department Should Allow For US Citizenship Renunciations To Take Place By Video

This post has been co-authored by Diane Gelon* (see “Reflections Of An Expatriation Lawyer“) and John Richardson

Prologue

In September of 2021 the Paris based “Accidental Americans Association” filed a lawsuit against the US State Department. The lawsuit was brought in an attempt to force the State Department to allow individuals to renounce their US citizenship. (A prior lawsuit by the “Accidental Americans Association” was based on the excessive $2350 renunciation fee.)

The lawsuit is evidence of the extreme frustration that many Americans abroad are experiencing because they (1) are unable to renounce US citizenship and (2) justifiably feel that they are prisoners of the circumstances of their birth.

It was recently announced that “The US Department of State (DOS) is suspending in-person interview requirements at local consulates for a year for numerous non-immigrant work visa categories and their families (spouse and dependent children“. In London the US Embassy is conducting telephone meetings to deal with Social Security issues. (Prior to Covid this would have required an in person meeting at the Embassy.) The State Department is clearly reducing the number and kinds of services that require “in person” Consulate visits.

The purpose of this post is to argue that renunciations of US Citizenship need not take place through in person interviews at a US Embassy or Consulate. Rather renunciations of US citizenship can and should take place through video conferencing. The backlog in processing renunciations is explained as being related to the Covid-19 pandemic. A response to the pandemic has been that more and more legal proceedings are taking place through video conferencing. Both Canada and the UK (and certainly other countries) are conducing citizenship ceremonies by video, entire court cases are held via video conferencing, and documents can be witnessed and certified by video. We have discussed various aspects of this issue with each other over a long period of time as well as benefiting from discussions with Dubai based lawyer Virginia La Torre Jeker and Esquire Founder Jimmy Sexton.

There is no law that requires that renunciations of US citizenship take place inside a US Consulate or Embassy!

This post is composed of the following seven parts leading to the following conclusion:

Americans abroad and their representatives should pressure the State Department to use their statutory authority to allow renunciations by video conferencing. The State Department has the statutory authority to do so. The fact that the State Department does not currently allow renunciations through video conferencing doesn’t mean that it cannot allow renunciations through video conferencing!

Part I – Introduction: Why Americans Abroad Are Renouncing US Citizenship
Part II – An appointment to renounce US citizenship is hard to find
Part III – Why there is NO legal requirement that renunciation appointments must take place inside a US Embassy or Consulate
Part IV – The State Department website does not specifically state that renunciations must take place inside the US Consulate or Embassy
Part V – Americans abroad and their organizations must push the Biden administration to allow renunciations of US Citizenship through video conferencing
Part VI – Interesting Bobby Fisher anecdote supporting the view that renunciations are not required to take place inside US Consulates
Part VII – Diane Gelon and John Richardson update their November 29, 2020 podcast with a December 29, 2021 podcast

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Republicans Overseas Begins Its Support and Advocacy for Pure Residence-based Tax

This is an incredibly significant development. See the following posts on their Facebook site. They also have a new Twitter feed. Follow them at @RepOverseas.

Republicans Overseas position On What Pure Residence-based taxation means:

Tax Talk 1 – November 22, 2021

Tax Talk 2 – November 29, 2021

Tax Talk 3 – December 10, 2021

Tax Talk 4 – December 15, 2021

Tax Talk 5 – December 20, 2021

Tax Talk 6 – December 27 2021

Tax Talk 7 – January 3, 2022

Tax Talk 8 – January 21, 2022

A US Social Security Primer: What you didn’t know and didn’t know to ask!

Hat tip to Mr. L.J. Eiben of Raymond James who provided this excellent presentation.

Social Security script and slides

Now a discussion about US Social Security with L.J. …

Mr. L.J. Eiben is a Financial Advisor at Raymond James.

The information in this podcast and contained in these slides was obtained from sources RJA and believed to be reliable; however, we cannot represent that it is accurate or complete. It is provided as a general source of information and should not be considered personal investment advice or solicitation to buy or sell securities. The views expressed are not necessarily those of Raymond James (USA) Ltd. Raymond James (USA) Ltd. (RJLU) advisors may only conduct business with residents of the states and/or jurisdictions for which they are properly registered.

Raymond James (USA) Ltd. is a member of FINRA / SIPC

Bonus!! Renunciation and US Social Security

The Beyer “Tax Simplification For Americans Abroad Act”: A First Look

Updates November 22, 2021:

1. I have also written a post on the SEAT site which compares (in a general way) the Beyer Bill of 2021 to the Holding Bill of (2018). Any attempt to solve this problem through amending the FEIE actually has the effect of strengthening citizenship based taxation.

2. With respect to the 402(b) exclusion:

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Update – Podcast November 24, 2021

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Introduction

On November 19, 2021 a post on the Democrats Abroad site introduced Congressman Beyer’s “Tax Simplification For Americans Abroad Act”. The Bill has been introduced as HR6057. I just saw this a few hours ago. Therefore, this post is necessarily a summary of my first impressions. It is likely that this will evolve and be updated over the next few days.

For those who do not want to read this relatively long post, the following excerpt provides an executive summary:

The Beyer Bill does NOT end US “citizenship-based taxation” and does NOT enact “residence-based taxation” as understood in the rest of the world. That said, the Beyer bill is intended to provide administrative (less to do) and substantive (less to pay) relief to middle class Americans abroad as long as they are not “entrepreneurs abroad” who carry on business through a CFC. “Entrepreneurs abroad” continue to be presumptively GILTI. If I am reading this correctly, GILTI income appears to NOT be included in the expansion of the scope of 911. Furthermore, the bill appears to provide conflicting directives on some “foreign pensions” (specifically excluding 402(b) pensions from the proposed new 911 exclusion while generally allowing foreign pensions generally to be excluded). It is my understanding that many Australian residents treat employer Superannuations as 402(b) pensions under the Internal Revenue Code.)

Like all “carveouts” the proposal purports to provide relief to a narrowly defined group of Americans abroad. In addition (this cannot be overemphasized) the bill retains US citizenship-based taxation. It should be clearly understood that ANY attempt to provide relief through expanding the FEIE (including the 2018 Holding bill) necessarily assumes the continuation of citizenship-based taxation.

This post is composed of the following four parts:

Part A – The General Purpose

Part B – General Impressions

Part C – The relevant modifications to IRC 911 Foreign Earned Income Exclusion

Part D – Tentative conclusion

* Appendix – The text of 911 with the proposed changes

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@AmChamCanada Presents: November 18/21: Work From Anywhere

Thursday November 18, 2021 – “Work From Anywhere” – registration link:

November Work From Anywhere Webinar Flyer

Further details:

On Thursday, November 18 from Noon-1:00PM, AmCham will be holding a webinar titled Work from Anywhere: Tax and Legal Considerations for Employers and Employees. This webinar, which was originally scheduled earlier this year and which follows from the successful webinar AmCham held addressing corporate tax issues, will analyze tax and legal matters that arise from the pandemic induced trend to have employees work from anywhere in the world.

This webinar will discuss pertinent topics in this area such as:

1. What are the recent trends regarding work from home arrangements in Canada and throughout the world?
2. What are some of the emerging issues associated with remote working arrangements? and
3. What are some of the practical steps businesses and executives may take to manage these risks?

The panel for this webinar features four knowledge leaders in the field of law and taxation.

They are:

* Michael Pereira, Partner, KPMG – Michael focuses on providing consulting and compliance services to high-net-worth individuals and senior executives with complex U.S. and Canadian tax issues. Michael specializes in intricate tax matters such as: 1) U.S. estate tax issues affecting U.S. citizens living in Canada and their U.S. citizen and/or U.S. resident children; 2) tax issues regarding foreign private equity structures, and 3) U.S. anti-deferral tax system for interests in foreign corporations, including the passive foreign investment corporation and controlled foreign corporation regimes. Michael is a Chartered Accountant and a Certified Public Accountant who earned a Masters of Science in U.S. Taxation from Wayne State University.

* Laura Tippett, Partner (Leader of Program Services – Regions East), KPMG – Laura has 15 years’ experience in Canadian and US personal tax and expatriate issues. Laura assists companies and their employees who are travelling cross-border, working with a variety of industries, including technology, defense, construction, consulting, energy, crown corporations and non-profit organizations. She works with employees who are on foreign assignment, travelling internationally on business, working remotely cross-border or relocating abroad. Laura has managed the Canadian/US expatriate programs for numerous multinational organizations, including overseeing several programs that have hundreds of Canadian-touching assignees annually.

* Kaley Dodds, Senior Manager, Employment & Labour Law, KPMG – Kaley’s is a management-side employment lawyer who represents private, public and institutional clients in a wide range of matters. Her practice covers employment, labour and human rights issues, ranging from litigation strategy, legal risk management, policy development, workplace training, to day-to-day employee relations and human resources advice. Kaley is called to the bar in Ontario and Alberta and has appeared before all levels of courts, arbitrators and human rights tribunals in both provinces.

* Ellen S. Kief, Principal and Managing Attorney at Kief Law – Ellen works with clients across Canada, the United States, and throughout the world addressing issues associated with U.S. immigration law. Ellen’s practice focuses on cross-border travel, business visas, investor visas, entertainment and sports, family visas, permanent residence and citizenship. Ellen is a national speaker and educator who has presented on numerous U.S. immigration topics including cross-border business travel, family immigration, inter-company transfers, and various types of immigrant and non-immigrant visas.

If you would like more information about this event, please see the flyer attached to this message. The flyer contains a link at the bottom where you may register to attend the event.

We hope you will be able to join us on November 18 for what should be a stimulating event. Thank you for your support of AmCham and its mission. Have a good day.

Registration link:

November Work From Anywhere Webinar Flyer

The Form 3520 Penalty Debacle: Podcast And Discussion With CPA Gary Carter

November 8, 2021 …

I just got off the phone with another person who was assessed a $10,000 penalty in relation to a Canadian TFSA (which is probably not even a trust for US purposes, which means it can’t be a foreign trust). Predictably her response is to simply renounce US citizenship.

The conversation reminded me of a podcast that I did (last January with CPA Gary Carter) about the 3520/A IRS penalty problem. As I result, I am posting this podcast.

This podcast features a discussion with CPA Gary Carter that includes:

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