Category Archives: Tax residency

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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US Tax Treaties Should Reflect The 21st Century And Not The World Of 100 Years Ago

Prologue

The rules of taxation should follow changes in society. The ordering of society should NOT be hampered by the rules of taxation!

As the world has become more digital, companies can carry on business from any location. Individuals have become more mobile. Multiple citizenships, factual residences and legal tax residencies are not unusual. It has become clear that the rules of international tax as reflected in tax treaties (as they apply to both corporations and individuals) are in need of reform.

The purpose of this post is to identify two specific areas where US tax treaties are rooted in the world as it was one hundred years ago and NOT as it is today.

First: The “Permanent Establishment” clause found in US and OECD tax treaties

Second: US Citizenship-based taxation which the US exports to other countries through the “saving clause” found in almost all US tax treaties

Each of these will be considered.

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Part 2 – The Warren “Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act of 2021” and The Wealth Of Other Nations

The fact that …

Leads to the obvious question of …

Hmm…

The fact is that Senator Warren is proposing to impose her wealth tax on property located outside the United States, purchased by individuals who live outside the United States, who have no connection to the United States other than (perhaps) the circumstance of having been born in the United States. Yup, it’s true.

On March 18, 2021, FATCA will turn on 11. The Senator’s proposed wealth tax explicitly states that FATCA is to be used to enforce this tax! Finally an (il)legitimate use for FATCA.

In the 18th Century Adam Smith wrote “The Wealth Of Nations”. In the 21st Century Senator Warren is proposing to impose a wealth tax on “The Wealth Of OTHER Nations”.

Discussion And Analysis

This is the second of what I expect to be a multi-part series on Senator Warren’s proposed wealth tax of 2021. As the above tweet makes clear, the practical utility of the tax depends on US citizenship-based taxation (to whom it applies) and FATCA (how are non-US assets located). In my first post, I referenced Senator Warren’s statement that:

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German tax authorities reported to be imposing German taxation on US military personnel stationed in Germany

Prologue

This post draws heavily from the reporting of John VanDiver who has written a number of articles in Stripes. His most recent article is here:

“You don’t want to be chased and harassed by a government office. It is scary,” said Melissa Howell, the spouse of a U.S. soldier who is being targeted by a tax office in Germany’s Landstuhl area. “I don’t know how they expect people to come up with that money.”

Howell, a German who lives with her American husband and children, said she ran into trouble in June when she went to file her taxes at the local finance office.

She said she was interrogated about her husband and told to fill out a questionnaire that probed information about his employment.

She then received a letter ordering her to hand over her husband’s W-2 and other tax forms.

“I did it because I didn’t know. I found out that

was a mistake,” she said.

After that, she got a phone call from the tax office, saying that their case was getting handed over to a case manager who handles “American-German couples.”

As reported by John VanDiver in Stripes – July 27, 2020 – ‘Harassed’ by German tax offices, more US military families face financial threats

Certain US Soldiers In Germany Targeted By German Tax Authorities For Taxes On Their Military Wages – Reminiscent Of The “Oh My God Moment

Many Americans abroad have experienced the “Oh My God Moment.” This is the moment that they learn that they are targeted by the USA – a country that they don’t live in – for taxes on their non-US source income. Well, it appears that for some, the shoe is now on the other foot. Germany is apparently targeting certain US soldiers – stationed in Germany – for taxes on their US military pay! The US claim is NOT based on any connection with the United States (other than circumstances of birth). At least (to its credit), Germany’s claim is based on a connection to Germany that makes these US soldiers “tax residents” of Germany. Therefore, the “moment” may be the same. But, the justification for taxation is not he same. To put it simply: Germany is claiming that when the circumstances of a US soldier’s stay in Germany ceases to be “solely” for military service AND their factual circumstances meet the test for tax residency in Germany, they are are subject to German taxation.

Analysis

In an ongoing story, that is certain to be of interest to Americans abroad, Germany has begun treating certain US Military Personnel as tax residents of Germany. In other words, Germany is imposing tax (and apparently penalties) on the income earned by US military personnel stationed in Germany. The starting point is that US Forces in Germany (and other countries) are governed by the SOFA (“Status Of Forces Agreement”) agreement. Among other things, the SOFA agreement exempts US service personnel from being treated as tax residents of the country where they are serving. In simple terms: As long as the individual serviceman meets the conditions in the SOFA agreement, he/she would NOT be treated as a tax resident of Germany.

The provisions of the NATO SOFA are unremarkable. What is remarkable is that Germany appears to be the first country, to determine that certain US Military Personnel, are not entitled to use SOFA as a “shield” against being treated as a tax resident and therefore subject to taxation.

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China does not have and is not moving toward US style citizenship-based taxation

Readers Digest Version: The Bottom Line Is …

As reported by American Expat Finance, which discusses an interview with Dr. Bernard Schneider of Queen Mary …

You can listen to the podcast …

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The Longer Version: “Tax Residency” Based Information Exchange In The 21st Century

The 21st Century has ushered in FATCA, CRS, voluntary disclosure programs and a general awareness of taxation. Many people have been subjected to the FATCA inquisition (“Are you or have you ever been a US citizen?) or a CRS motivated inquiry about “tax residence” (“List all countries where you are a tax resident.”)

In the 21st, the “citizenship by investment industry” is booming. There are many opportunities to acquire (through investment programs) “permanent residency” in a county. (I will refer to these programs collectively as “economic migration”). The value of these “economic migration” programs, to a specific individual, is largely determined by considerations of tax residency.

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Of all the different kinds of residency, the one that matters most is your “tax residency”

Introduction

In a world of information exchange (FATCA and CRS), fiscally challenged governments (United States and other Western Democracies) and expanding notions of taxation (GILTI, France Digital Tax, etc.), your “tax residency” matters. In fact, in the 21st Century the most interesting thing about a person is his tax residency (or residencies).

At the same time, we are living in a world of increased Global Mobility. There are more and more opportunities for residency and citizenship. As people and capital have become more global, tax authorities have worried more and more about how human migration impacts their their tax bases. For example, people are severing tax residency with high tax states like New York and California. The level of (and form) of taxation impacts investment and migration decisions.

Taxation matters. Tax residency matters. People must keep track of both their “citizenship” and “tax residency” portfolios. It’s important to understand how the concepts of “citizenship”, “nationality”, “domicile”, “deemed residency”, “actual residency” and “tax residency” relate.

I recently came across the following article that explores these concepts. Please note that the article uses the term “fiscal residency” as synonymous with “tax residency”.

The following post was authored by Marios S. Kalochoritis, Managing Partner of Loggerhead Partners. We are reproducing this with the full permission of Loggerhead Partners.

Loggerhead Partners is a provider of “multi-family office” services including, estate planning, transaction advisory, corporate structuring and tax planning.

Loggerhead Corporate Services is the Dubai-based specialized entity of Loggerhead Partners that optimizes tax and preserves the wealth of its clients, through tailor-made, corporate structuring solutions with a focus in the UAE

Enjoy …

John Richardson – Follow me on Twitter

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Naomi Osaka does NOT automatically relinquish US citizenship by choosing 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. This week, 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:

The Globe later (presumably realizing their error) changed the title of the article to:

“Naomi Osaka set to represent Japan at Tokyo Olympics”

Note that there is no U.S. law that requires her to choose one citizenship over the other. Ms. Osaka is apparently linking her “choosing Japanese citizenship” to a desire to represent Japan in the upcoming Olympics. A number of media sources are reporting that by choosing Japanese Nationality (under Japanese law) that Ms. Osaka is relinquishing/renouncing U.S. citizenship under U.S. law. This is probably incorrect. The act of “choosing Japanese nationality” under Japanese law does NOT automatically mean that Ms. Osaka has relinquished U.S. citizenship under U.S. law. As a matter of U.S. law:

Unless Ms. Osaka’s “choosing Japanese Nationality” meets the the test of voluntarily and intentionally relinquishing U.S. citizenship under Section 349(a) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, then “choosing Japanese Nationality” will NOT result in the relinquishment of Ms. Osaka’s U.S. citizenship. The act of “choosing Japanese citizenship” under Japanese law does NOT automatically result in the loss of her U.S. citizenship.

Every country is free to decide who it’s citizens are or are not.

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Presumptions, tax residency and presumptions of tax residency: Nonresident alien status in a FATCA world

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 …
https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/1
https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/2
Q. 2 – A tax resident of Canada is taxable on his worldwide income. According to the Income Tax Act Of Canada, which one of the following is a tax resident of Canada?
(A) A Canadian citizen who lives in the United States but has no business, family, social or residential ties to Canada
(B) An individual with a house and family living in Toronto who works and lives in the banking industry in the Middle East
(C) A Massachusetts resident with a summer home in Ontario, Canada in which he visits 180 days every year
(D) An individual who is a legal permanent resident of Canada but actually lives in Hong Kong
(E) A rich Canadian who buys permanent residency in Portugal and uses a tax treaty tie breaker provision to deem himself to be a tax resident of Portugal
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The 2019 IRS "expatriation" compliance campaign: Getting ahead of the fear mongering

On July 19, 2019 the IRS announced six new compliance initiatives.
Of particular interest to U.S. citizens and permanent residents (Green Card holders) is what is described as:

Expatriation
U.S. citizens and long-term residents (lawful permanent residents in eight out of the last 15 taxable years) who expatriated on or after June 17, 2008, may not have met their filing requirements or tax obligations. The Internal Revenue Service will address noncompliance through a variety of treatment streams, including outreach, soft letters, and examination.

What is expatriation?
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