On June 25, 2020 Dr. Karen Alpert and I did a series of podcasts where we discussed how renunication will affect your interaction with the US tax system. The key point is that you will still be taxable by the United States on US source income. What does that mean? Under what circumstances could renunication of US citizenhip actually increase your US tax liability?
"What Is The Future Of Citizenship-Based Taxation?" Prof. William Byrnes (Texas A&M Law), Prof. Edward Zelinsky (Cardozo Law), John Richardson (Canadian attorney who represents US-Canada dual nationals), Kat Jennings (CEO Tax Connections) https://t.co/LP63MHEFYS
You are invited to submit your questions in advance. In fact, PLEASE submit questions. This is an opportunity to engage with Homelanders in general and the U.S. tax compliance community in particular.
Thanks to Professor Zelinsky for his willingness to engage in this discussion. Thanks to Kat Jennings of Tax Connections for hosting this discussion. Thanks to Professor William Byrnes for his willingness to moderate this discussion.
Tax Connections has published a large number of posts that I have written over the years (yes, hard to believe it has been years). As you may know I oppose FATCA, U.S. citizenship-based taxation and the use of FATCA to impose U.S. taxation on tax residents of other countries.
Tax Connections has also published a number of posts written by Professor Zelinsky (who apparently takes a contrary view).
This is the sixth of a series of posts that reflect views and experiences of Americans abroad who are experiencing the reality of living as an American abroad in an FBAR and FATCA world. (The first post is here.) The second post is here. The third post is here. The fourth post is here. The fifth post is here. I think it’s important to hear from people who are actually impacted by this and who have the courage to speak out. The “reality on the ground” is quite different from the theory.
I hope that this series of posts will give you ideas for questions and concerns that you would like to have addressed in the May 17, 2019 Tax Connections – Citizenship Taxation discussion.
The last post in this series made the point that U.S. “citizenship-based taxation” impacts people who are dual citizens and tax residents of other countries. Many of of these people do NOT view themselves as U.S. citizens at all. The suggestion that they are U.S. citizens is not welcome and is (because U.S. citizens are subject to a vast regulatory scheme) an intrusion in their lives. Fair enough.
Most of the posts in this series describe the effect of U.S. regulation on those who ARE U.S. citizens. What about the effect of “citizenship-based taxation” on those who are NOT U.S. citizens? The marriage of Meghan Markle to Prince Harry has generated an awareness of the regulatory requirements on U.S. citizens who live outside the United States. This is only part of the problem. To focus on how U.S. citizenship-based taxation affects ONLY U.S. citizens is selfish and misguided. After all, by marrying Prince Harry, Meghan Markle is now part of a family which includes non-resident aliens. As I recently suggested on Twitter:
Forget Meghan and the baby. Time to ask: How might being the father of a U.S. citizen and the husband of a U.S. citizen create a link between Harry and the IRS? "American expats hoping global spotlight on royal baby’s U.S. tax affairs will drive change" https://t.co/KttTaNaswL
— John Richardson – lawyer for "U.S. persons" abroad (@ExpatriationLaw) May 6, 2019
My thinking along these lines began with:
What about Internal Revenue Code Section 318? This would deem “Baby Sussex” to be (for IRS purposes) the owner of any the shares of any U.K. corporations that Harry might own. This is only one of many instances where (to put it simply) the U.S. citizenship of one family member can become a problem for the whole family. In any event, this series really needs a post, describing what could happen, when a U.S. citizen becomes part of what is otherwise, a family of “non-resident aliens”.
In order to assist with this, I realized that I needed the input of a “U.S. Tax Anthropologist”. I turned to Peter Megoudis who is the director of the expat tax division at Trowbridge. Peter astutely recognised that the United States invented the concept of the “expat”. See the following video clip.
Trowbridge's Peter Megoudis, Director, Expatriate Tax, explains that America invented the concept of the "Expat" and how it relates to U.S. taxation of Americans living outside the United States.
I asked Peter if he would share the results of his research on how one U.S. citizen family member could impact the whole family. In other words: How do the rules of U.S. “citizenship-based taxation” affect people who are not U.S. citizens, but have chosen to interact with U.S. citizens?
Peter replied to me with the following … Continue reading →
Should other nations be permitted to impose taxation on U.S. citizens or corporations?
At first blush, the question sounds absurd. Is there something about being a U.S. citizen that should exempt individuals from taxation in or by a another country? Some time ago, this question was explored in a discussion on a Facebook group. Interestingly, most participants thought the discussion was absurd and did not take it seriously. But truth can be stranger than fiction. When it comes to taxation there can be some benefits to being a U.S. citizen. In fact, in certain cases, U.S. citizenship can act as a “cloaking device” – a device that shields you from taxation in another country.
The two certainties are “death and taxes” …
It’s in the area of “death” where U.S. citizenship can be helpful. Sometimes it can be to your benefit to die as a U.S. citizen. Sometimes U.S. citizenship can be helpful when somebody dies leaving you part of their estate.
What follows are some categories where U.S. citizenship can protect you from taxation. These possibilities should be considered prior to renouncing U.S. citizenship. Continue reading →
Introduction – Two kinds of tax systems – Two kinds of “tax residency”
Title 26, the Internal Revenue Code of the United States is composed of twelve subtitles. Subtitle A deals with “Income Taxes”. Subtitle B deals with “Estate and Gift Taxes” AKA the “transfer tax regime”. The two subtitles are administered separately. They also have different definitions of “tax residence”. Continue reading →
What is domicile? About domicile …
Domicile is an old “common law” concept. Domicile is NOT the same as “residency” (although it might include residency). Domicile is NOT the same as “citizenship” (although one could be a citizen of the country where one is domiciled). Domicile is a concept that refers to one’s permanent home and point of reference. Different jurisdictions might have differing definitions of domicile. It is also a concept that is relevant for a variety of purposes. Why might domicile matter?
Learning about domicile …
Much has been written about domicile. Here is a fantastic article written on domicile that was presented in 2011 at an ABA convention. It doesn’t get better than this: domicile ABA Meeting 2011 Let me offer 5 key points from this article:
Domicile as the definition of “tax residency” for U.S. Estate and Gift tax purposes How do we know that “residence” for Estate and Gift Tax purposes means “domicile”?
The answer is found in the Treasury Regulations – Specifically Reg. 25.2501-1(b) which defines “residency” for Estate and Gift Tax purposes as follows:
(b)Resident. A resident is an individual who has his domicile in the United States at the time of the gift. For this purpose the United States includes the States and the District of Columbia. The term also includes the Territories of Alaska and Hawaii prior to admission as a State. See section 7701(a)(9). All other individuals are nonresidents. A person acquires a domicile in a place by living there, for even a brief period of time, with no definite present intention of moving therefrom. Residence without the requisite intention to remain indefinitely will not constitute domicile, nor will intention to change domicile effect such a change unless accompanied by actual removal.
Please note that different jurisdictions may define “domicile” differently. Conclusion …
“Domicile” is largely a “subjective” concept that is proven by “objective” evidence.
Domicile matters! John Richardson
I know many tax compliant, patriotic Americans who have renounced. Many have done so seeing the $2m threshold approaching, to protect their families and get on with their lives. All with heavy hearts.
You did not mention the additional burden on those who renounce who have US citizen relatives–the tax their relatives are supposed to pay on receiving a gift or bequest from a covered expatriate. More and more will be covered expatriates as the $2m gets smaller by reason of inflation and currency change. Although the IRS promises to give guidance on this unenforceable “succession” tax that punishes the children for the acts of their parents, so far, since 2008, we are still waiting for it. The reason for the delay is that there is probably no way of identifying those donors or deceased persons who were covered expatriates. Will the US take a FATCA approach and assume every foreign donor or deceased person is a covered expatriate unless the US recipient can demonstrate otherwise?? Certainly this law proves your point that an exit tax reflects the morality of a nation.
Thanks for the comment. S. 2801 is NOT part of the “Exit Tax” Regime. The “Exit Tax” punishes “covered expatriates” for relinquishing U.S. citizenship. S. 2801 is to inflict further punishment after relinquishment on both the “covered expatriate” and his heirs. You will see that S. 2801 exists for one and only one purpose – the punishment of “expatriation”.
The definition of “covered expatriate” is covered in Part 3 of this series of Posts about the S. 877A “Exit Tax”.
Yes, this post will focus on Internal Revenue Code S. 2801 punishment for the “Sins of the fathers“.
And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, …