Tag Archives: S. 877A Exit Tax

Considering renouncing US citizenship? Thinking #citizide? Abandoning your #GreenCard? @Expatriationlaw webinar explaining the S. 877A Exit Tax

The general message …


More details – hope to meet you online on December 6, 2018

Considering renouncing US citizenship? Thinking #citizide? @Expatriationlaw moderates a "Retain or Renounce" conversation among a lawyer, a financial planner and an accountant

As 2018 comes to a close, the “Retain or Renounce” discussion intensifies. American Citizens Abroad (ACA) writes that …


The @citizide twitter account frames the question as follows …

In an #FBAR and #FATCA world #Americansabroad ask: “To retain or renounce US citizenship, whether tis better to live free ..” – #citizide explore this question

The hashtag #citizide has been established in the twittersphere …
The “Retain or Renounce” question is discussed by a wide range or professional advisers …

To hear the snippets of the discussion continue on …
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#Greencard abandonment: The safe disposal of the US "permanent resident" visa without triggering the S. 877A Expatriation Tax


https://www.taxation.co.uk/Articles/2018/04/24/337897/us-expatriate-tax-conference-pt-2
What follows is a summary of a presentation I made in March of 2018 in London, UK:
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"Non-citizenship" has its privileges: An overlooked reason why a Green Card holder may NOT want to become a U.S. citizen

U.S. Tax Residency – The “Readers Digest” Version

Last week I participated in a “panel discussion” titled:
“Tax Residency In A World Of Global Mobility: What Tax Residency Means, How To Sever It, The Role Of Tax Treaties and When Exit Taxes May Apply”

The panel included a discussion of  the “pre-immigration planning” that should be undertaken prior to becoming a “tax resident of the United States”. U.S. citizens and U.S. residents are “tax residents” of the United States and (from an income tax perspective) are taxable on their world wide income. (There are separate “tax residency” rules for the U.S. Estate and Gift Tax Regime.) For the purposes of “income taxation”, the definition of “U.S. resident” includes “Green Card holders” , who by definition are “permanent residents” of the United States. Those who come to America and get that “Green Card” have subjected themselves to the U.S. “worldwide taxation” regime. Note that a Green Card holder who becomes a “long term” resident of the United States has also subjected himself to the S. 877A Expatriation Tax Regime! In other words, a Green Card holder may NOT be able to move from American without subjecting himself to a significant confiscation of his wealth! To put it simply: If a prospective immigrant is “well advised”, the S. 877A Exit Tax rules will provide a strong reason to NOT become a “permanent resident” of the United States. But, remember:
The S. 877A Exit Tax rules apply to “permanent residents” who become “long term residents”.

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Considering the EB-5 Visa? The IRC S. 877A Expatriation Tax Demonstrates that "Not All US @TaxResidency Is The Same!"


Understanding U.S. Tax Residency …
The United States uses a form of “deemed tax residency“.
The Internal Revenue of the United States deems that all “individuals” (wherever they live in the world – including citizens and residents of other countries) except “nonresident aliens” are subject to taxation in the United States on their world wide income. One qualifies as a “nonresident alien” unless one is a:
1. A U.S. citizen
2. A U.S. resident as defined by Internal Revenue Code Sec. 7701(b)
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The teaching of Topsnik 2 – 2016: #Greencard expatriation and the S. 877A "Exit Tax"

What! You want to abandon your Green Card and leave the USA!


Introduction – Introducing Gerd Topsnik – The World According to Facebook

“This case will be seen as the first of an (eventual) series of cases that determine how the definition of “long term resident” applies to Green Card holders. The case makes clear that if one does NOT meet the treaty definition of “resident” in the second country, that one
cannot use that treaty to defeat the “long term resident” test. A subsequent case is sure to expand on this issue. Otherwise, the case confirms that the S. 877A Exit Tax rules are “alive and well” and that the “5 year certification” test must be met to avoid “non-covered status”
Topsnik may or may not be a “bad guy”. But even “bad guys” are entitled to have the law properly applied to their facts. It would be very interesting to know how the court would have responded if Topsnik had been paying tax (a nice taxpayer) in Germany as a German resident.”

A nice summary of Topnik 1 and Topsnik 2


This is part of a series of posts on: (1) “tax residency“, (2) the use of “treaty tiebreakers” when an individual is a “tax resident” of more than one jurisdiction and (3) how to use “treaty tiebreakers” to end “tax residency” in an undesirable tax jurisdiction.
This is the second of the two Topsnik posts.
Topsnik 1 focused on the “tax residence” of Green Card Holders. The decision in Topsnik 1 is here:
topsnikdiv.halpern.TC.WPD
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Canada Pension Plan (and other "foreign social security"), The "net worth" test, Form 8854 and Form 8938

Q. How does the inability of the state of Rhode Island to pay its employee pensions help us understand the “net worth” of a U.S. citizen wanting to renounce U.S. citizenship?
A. The answer (like most wisdom in the modern world) is explained in the following tweet.


The article referenced in the above tweet helps us understand the difference between an “entitlement” created by statute and a “right” created by contract.

In most states, lawmakers or the courts have taken steps to make public pension systems creatures of contract law, as opposed to mere creatures of statute. This may sound obscure, but the difference is critical. Statutes are relatively easy to change — lawmakers just amend the law. But states that want to tear up pension contracts face an uphill fight, because of a clause in the United States Constitution that bars them from enacting any law that retroactively impairs contract rights.

Conclusion: Rhode Island’s Governor was able to change the Rhode Island pension benefits. The reason was that: the pension benefits were created by statute (the government can create the statute and the government can change the statute) and not by an enforceable contract (nobody can take the pension away) creating an enforceable right.
The article is fascinating. Other states have not been as fortunate and cannot legislate their pension obligations away. But, what does this have to do with anything?
For Americans abroad: “All Roads Lead To Renunciation“.
Renouncing U.S. citizenship – leaving the U.S. tax system …
“U.S. citizens” considering relinquishing U.S. citizenship or “long term residents” abandoning their Green Cards “may” be subject to the draconian S. 877A Exit Tax rules. I say “may”. Only “covered expatriates” are subject to the “Exit Tax”
Unless you meet one of two exceptions,* “U.S. citizens” and “long term residents” will be “covered expatriates” if they meet ANY one of the following three tests ..
1. Income test (well, based on “tax liability on taxable income”) – You have an average tax liability of approximately $160,000 for the five years prior to the year of relinquishment or abandonment
2. Net worth test – Assets totaling up to of $2,000,000 USD or more
3. Compliance test – Fail to certify compliance with the Internal Revenue Code for the five years prior to the date of relinquishment or abandonment
* See Internal Revenue Code S. 877A(g)(1) which describe the “dual citizen at birth” and the “relinquishment before age 181/2” exceptions.
Net worth is based on the value of all your property. Foreign pensions are included in property. Is non-U.S. “Social Security” included? “Social Security” is a creation of statute. “Social Security can be taken away by changing or repealing the statute.
Because “pensions” are based on a “contractual” right to receive the pension they are included as “property”. If your employer doesn’t pay the pension you are owed you have the right to sue.
Because “social security” is created by statute and can be taken away by statute it is NOT “property”.
Specified Foreign Financial ASSETS – “Non-U.S.” Social Security and Form 8938 …
When it comes to “non-U.S.” Social Security (think Canada Pension Plan) created by statute, the IRS says:


(This makes sense because “Social Security” which is created by statute is NOT property!)
But, when it comes to “foreign pensions” which were created by contract, the IRS says:


(This makes sense because the “pension” is a contractual right and is therefore property.)
Is the Australian Superannuation a Foreign “Social Security Type” plan? – Are Australian “Poorer Than They Think?”


See the post referenced in the above tweet.
Well, the “compliance industry” actually creates the law.** Perhaps the “compliance industry” in Australia should simply take the position that Australian Superannuation is the equivalent of “U.S. Social Security”. The U.S. Australian tax treaty would then exempt it from U.S. taxation.
Article 18(2) of the U.S. Australia Tax Treaty reads:

(2) Social Security payments and other public pensions paid by one of the Contracting States to an individual who is a resident of the other Contracting State or a citizen of the United States shall be taxable only in the first-mentioned State.

Important question indeed! Whether Australians are subject to asset confiscation the S. 877A “Exit Tax”,  may depend on the answer to this characterization/question.
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** In a recent post discussing the death of Dr. Pinheiro and the various “branches” of the U.S. tax compliance system, I identified brach 3 as follows:

Branch 3: The Tax Professionals – These include lawyers, CPAs, Enrolled Agents, and tax preparers. The latter two are specifically licensed by the IRS.
 What needs to be understood is that:

  1. U.S. tax laws are NOT enforced by the IRS as much as they are enforced by the “Tax Professionals”.
  2. The “Tax Professionals” “create” the interpretation of various laws by how they respond to them. (There is a reason that nobody knew about PFICs prior to 2009.) Is a TFSA really a “foreign trust”? Are the S. 877A Exit Tax rules retroactive?
  3. Tax Professionals are NOT independent of the IRS and depend on the IRS for their livelihoods.
  4.   Tax Professionals are also subject to Circular 230 which is the “Rules of Practice” before the Internal Revenue Service.

Understand that very very few “tax professionals” inside the United States know anything about U.S. taxation of its citizens abroad. This is a complex area that is highly specialized.
This is why your choice of tax professional matters very much! Tax Professionals  are NOT all the same. The fact that they are a licensed EA, CPA or lawyer is completely irrelevant. Some of them understand this stuff and some don’t. When it comes to “International Tax”, there is an exceptionally long learning curve. Regardless of their intention, tax professionals have, through their possible ignorance, possible incompetence and almost certain desire to “get along with the IRS”, the potential to completely destroy you!

Food for thought!
John Richardson

The "Exit Tax": Dual US/Canada citizen from birth, no Canada citizenship today = no exemption to US "Exit Tax"


The above tweet references a “guest post” written by Dominic Ferszt of Cape Town South Africa. The post demonstrates how the “dual citizen from birth” exemption to the S. 877A “Exit Tax” relies on the citizenship laws of other nations. In some cases those laws of other nations are arbitrary and unjust. If these laws were U.S. laws, they might violate the equal protection and/or due process guarantees found in the United States constitution. For example, Mr. Ferszt describes how the “dual citizenship exemption” to the “Ext Tax” is dependent on South African “Apartheid Laws”. He describes a situation where a “black” U.S. citizen from birth is denied the benefits of the dual citizen exemption to the Exit Tax, which are available to a “white” dual citizen from birth. (During the “Apartheid Era” Blacks were not entitled to South African citizenship.)
So, what’s the S. 877A “Exit Tax”  dual citizen exemption and how does it work?
The dual citizen exemption, which I have discussed in previous posts,  is found in Internal Revenue Code S. 877A(g)(1)(B) and reads:

(B) Exceptions An individual shall not be treated as meeting the requirements of subparagraph (A) or (B) of section 877(a)(2) if—
(i) the individual—
(I) became at birth a citizen of the United States and a citizen of another country and, as of the expatriation date, continues to be a citizen of, and is taxed as a resident of, such other country, and
(II) has been a resident of the United States (as defined in section 7701(b)(1)(A)(ii)) for not more than 10 taxable years during the 15-taxable year period ending with the taxable year during which the expatriation date occurs, or

Entitlement to the “dual citizen exemption” depends entirely on the citizenship laws of other countries …


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Relinquishing US citizenship: South African Apartheid, the Accidental Taxpayer and the United States S. 877A exit tax

Introducing this “guest post”
This guest post is written by Dominic Ferszt of Cape Town, South Africa. I first became aware of Mr. Ferszt when, in October of 2014, his post: “The Accidental Tax Invasion” was published in Forbes. I have discussed various aspects of “citizenship-based taxation” with him since. I am very pleased that he has accepted my invitation to write this “guest post” for publication at Citizenship Solutions. His post exposes an aspect of “citizenship taxation” and the S. 877A U.S. expatriation tax that has not (as far as I am aware) been discussed before. Those who did NOT acquire “dual citizenship” at birth because of discriminatory laws (example British and Canadian laws saying that citizenship could be passed down from the father but not from the mother) will find this post extremely interesting and relevant.
Without further adieu …
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Apartheid and the Accidental Taxpayer
How the United States Congress has passed legislation which imposes a tax obligation in accordance with the discriminatory policies of foreign nations; and how this might offer a glimmer of hope to millions around the world who feel unjustly targeted by FATCA or the IRS.
By Dominic Ferszt, Cape Town
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Tax Haven or Tax Heaven 5: How the 1966 desire to "poach" capital from other nations led to the 2008 S. 877A Exit Tax

Title 26, Subtitle A, Chapter 1, Subchapter N, Part II, Subpart A of the Internal Revenue Code is of great interest..
IRC871
IRC8712
The text of S. 871 of the Internal Revenue Code is here. The IRS interpretation of S. 871 along with the requirements for when the non-resident alien is required to file a 1040-NR return are here.
The above subsection of the Internal Revenue Code applies to “NON-RESIDENT ALIENS AND FOREIGN CORPORATIONS”. It contains rules for how those who are not “U.S. Persons” are taxed under the Internal Revenue Code. As is expected, the Internal Revenue Code imposes U.S. taxation only on those “aliens” who have income sources that are connected to the United States. The previous post explained that S. 871 (in its present form) was enacted in 1966. Internal Revenue Code S. 871 also provides strong incentives for “aliens” to bring their capital to the USA.
Interestingly this subsection of the Internal Revenue Code also includes the S. 877A and S. 877 Expatriation Tax provisions. Significantly, both S. 871 and S. 877 were enacted in 1966 as part of the Foreign Investors Tax Act of 1966, Public Law 89-809.
The combination of the inclusion of both Internal Revenue Code sections 871 and 877 suggests that the intent of the Foreign Investors Tax Act of 1966, Public Law 89-809, included:
1. The intent to attract “Foreign” capital to the United States by imposing either no or low taxes on that “Foreign” capital lured to the United States, as expressed in S. 871 of the Internal Revenue Code;
2. The intent to give “non-resident aliens” certain tax benefits that were NOT available to U.S. citizens;
3. A recognition that some U.S. citizens might wish to expatriate to avail themselves of the benefits of NOT being a U.S. citizen;
4. A “penalty” expressed in S. 877 of the Internal Revenue Code for those U.S. citizens who expatriated to receive the same tax benefits enjoyed by “non-resident aliens”.
For a pdf of the 1966 Foreign Investors Tax Act (a massive document), see …
Foreign Investors Tax Act 1966 809
My point is a simple one …
It is clear that the U.S.desire to establish itself as a “Tax Haven”, also resulted in the S. 877 Exit Tax, which gradually evolved into the S. 877A Exit Tax that exists today.
To put it another way: the desire to establish the United States as a “Tax Haven”, eventually evolved into the S. 877A Exit Tax rules that:
1. Impose confiscatory taxation on assets that are outside the United States; and
2. Impose confiscatory taxation on assets that were acquired after a “U.S. Person” abandoned residence in the United States.
To illustrate why this is so, please see:
The S. 877A Exit Tax in Action – 5 actual scenarios with 5 completed U.S. tax returns
You will be shocked by what you see!
Like the 1970 FBAR rules, S. 877 of the Internal Revenue Code has gradually evolved into a mechanism to confiscate the assets of Americans abroad. Think I am kidding? See the examples in the link above!
John Richardson