Category Archives: Little Red Tax Treaty Book

Bonjour: Different US Tax Treaties Provide Different US Taxation For Different Groups Of Americans Abroad

Introduction, purpose And summary

It is clear that US citizens, who are tax resident of countries outside the United States are generally subjected to a more punitive system of taxation than US residents. That said, the U.S. has different tax treaties with different countries. Some treaties (example Australia) make living outside the United States very difficult. Other tax treaties (Canada and the UK) make living outside the United States easier in a relative sense. If a U.S citizen contemplating a move abroad asked the following question:

Q. How will I be taxed if I move outside the United States and live as a tax resident of another country?

The answer will be:

A. I don’t really know. It depends what country you are considering moving to.

Not only are US citizens living outside the United States taxed more punitively, but their taxation by the United States depends on the country they move to!

The curious case of the U.S. France Tax Treaty and U.S. Citizens resident in France

Continue reading

Toward A Definition Of US Citizenship Taxation

Prologue

The term “citizenship tax” is abstract and meaningless without context. What does it really mean? In this short post I attempt to describe the defining aspect of US tax residency in simple terms.

Bottom line:

The ONLY contextual meaning of taxing based on citizenship is that it allows the US to impose tax on income earned outside the United States by people who live outside the United States.

Here is why …

What exactly is “citizenship taxation”? How/why does citizenship matter? It’s not what the “treaty partner” countries think!

1. Like all countries the United States imposes worldwide taxation on its residents. Individuals living in the United States will meet the “substantial presence” requirements and are therefore taxable on their worldwide income. Citizenship is irrelevant.

2. Like all countries the United States imposes taxation on income sourced in the United States. Generally the United States will have the first right of taxation and has the ability to withhold tax. Citizenship is irrelevant.

3. Like no other country (OK, sort of Eritrea) the United States imposes taxation on the non-US source income of people who do not live in the United States and do live in other countries. The US usually claims this right because those people were “Born In The USA” (making them US citizens). Therefore, the US imposes worldwide taxation on people who live in other countries. Citizenship is relevant because it is why the US claims the right to tax people who don’t live in the US and are residents of other countries.

4. Therefore, the practical meaning of “citizenship taxation” is the United States imposing taxation on the non-US source income earned by people who live in other countries. To be clear: citizenship taxation means that the United States is claiming the residents of OTHER countries as US residents for tax purposes!

5. This means that: Every country in the world who signs a tax treaty with the United States that includes a “saving clause” is agreeing that the United States has the right to tax income earned in the treaty partner country by residents of the treaty partner country. It is obvious that countries signing these treaties have no idea what they are signing. The problem has been further illuminated by the recent US Croatia tax treaty that allows the United States to imposes taxation on Croation residents who ARE and WERE US citizens.

So, US citizenship taxation means that the US can tax the non-US source income of residents of other countries!

John Richardson – Follow me on Twitter @Expatriationlaw

Croatia Agrees To Allow The US To Impose Tax, Forms And Penalties On Its US Citizen Residents

Big News – December 2022

On December 7, 2022 a US Treasury Press Release included:

December 7, 2022
WASHINGTON — In a ceremony held at the U.S. Department of State today, Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Jose W. Fernandez and Croatia’s Minister of Finance Dr. Marko Primorac signed a comprehensive income tax treaty between the United States and Croatia. The new tax treaty is the first of its kind between the United States and Croatia.

“I am honored to sign the U.S.-Croatia income tax treaty with you today, Finance Minister Primorac,” said Under Secretary Fernandez. “We look forward to taking this monumental step towards further strengthening trade and commercial ties between the United States and Croatia.”

“The Treasury Department is pleased to conclude this new tax treaty with Croatia. It is the first comprehensive tax treaty that the United States has signed in over ten years and reflects our current tax treaty policies and is a milestone in the Treasury’s efforts to expand the U.S. tax treaty network. We appreciate the collaboration Croatia showed throughout the negotiations,” said Lily Batchelder, Assistant Secretary (Tax Policy).

The new tax treaty closely follows the U.S. Model income tax treaty. Key aspects of the new treaty include:

Elimination of withholding taxes on cross-border payments of dividends paid to pension funds and on payments of interest;

Reductions in withholding taxes on cross-border payments of dividends other than those paid to a pension fund, as well as royalties;

Modern anti-abuse provisions intended to prevent instances of non-taxation of income as well as treaty shopping;

Robust dispute resolution mechanisms including mandatory binding arbitration; and
Standard provisions for the exchange of information to help the revenue authorities of both nations carry out their duties as tax administrators.

The new tax treaty will enter into force after the United States and Croatia have notified each other that they have completed their requisite domestic procedures, which in the case of the United States refers to the advice and consent to ratification by the U.S. Senate.

The text of the treaty document can be found at: https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/131/Treaty-Croatia-12-7-2022.pdf

Treaty-Croatia-12-7-2022

Of particular note in Treasury’s announcement is:

“The Treasury Department is pleased to conclude this new tax treaty with Croatia. It is the first comprehensive tax treaty that the United States has signed in over ten years and reflects our current tax treaty policies and is a milestone in the Treasury’s efforts to expand the U.S. tax treaty network. We appreciate the collaboration Croatia showed throughout the negotiations,” said Lily Batchelder, Assistant Secretary (Tax Policy).

The new tax treaty closely follows the U.S. Model income tax treaty.

Treasury’s announcement focuses on the mutually beneficial aspects of the US Croatia tax treaty. Notably Treasury’s announcement fails to comment on the inclusion of the enhanced “saving clausewhich is identical to the following provision in the 2016 US Model tax treaty.

4. Except to the extent provided in paragraph 5 of this Article, this Convention shall not affect the taxation by a Contracting State of its residents (as determined under Article 4 (Resident)) and its citizens. Notwithstanding the other provisions of this Convention, a former citizen or former long-term resident of a Contracting State may be taxed in accordance with the laws of that Contracting State.

5. The provisions of paragraph 4 of this Article shall not affect:
a) the benefits conferred by a Contracting State under paragraph 3 of Article 7 (Business Profits), paragraph 2 of Article 9 (Associated Enterprises), paragraph 7 of Article 13 (Gains), subparagraph (b) of paragraph 1, paragraphs 2, 3 and 6 of Article 17 (Pensions, Social Security, Annuities, Alimony and Child Support), paragraph 3 of Article 18 (Contributions to Pension Funds), and Articles 23 (Relief From Double Taxation), 24 (Non-Discrimination) and 25 (Mutual Agreement Procedure); and
b) the benefits conferred by a Contracting State under paragraph 1 of Article 18 (Contributions to Pension Funds), and Articles 19 (Government Service), 20 (Students and Trainees) and 27 (Members of Diplomatic Missions and Consular Posts), upon individuals who are neither citizens of, nor have been admitted for permanent residence in, that Contracting State.

This represents a significant expansion of the “saving clause” to allow the US to impose US taxation NOT only on its” residents (as determined under Article 4 (Resident)) and its citizens” but also on “a former citizen or former long-term resident” which may are permitted to be subjected to any relevant future provisions of the Internal Revenue Code.

From the perspective of Croatia, the “saving clause” found in Paragraph 4 of Article 1 means:

4. Except to the extent provided in paragraph 5 of this Article, this Treaty shall not affect the taxation by the United States of its residents (as determined under Article 4 (Resident)) and residents of Croatia who happen to be US citizens. Notwithstanding the other provisions of this Convention, a former US citizen or former long-term US Green Card holder who is a resident of Croatia may be taxed by the United States according to the Internal Revenue Code.

Continue reading

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.

____________________________

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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

Continue reading

The common law "revenue rule": From whence it came to where it's going

Introduction – What is the Revenue Rule?


The “Revenue Rule” can be overridden by statute of by treaty. The United States is attempting to override the “Revenue Rule” through changes to tax treaties. Because the United States imposes worldwide taxation on the residents of other countries, the United States would be advantaged overriding the “Revenue Rule”.
Putting the “Revenue Rule” in historical context. Does the Revenue Rule still matter?
Continue reading

Breaking Down The Revenue Rule: Proposed US Japan Tax Treaty enhances ability of US to enforce taxation on #Americansabroad in Japan

Prologue – Tax Enforcement And The Revenue Rule

The common law revenue rule was designed so that one country will not enforce tax debts owed to another country. There is general agreement that the “revenue rule” is gradually disappearing. Specifically, the United States has negotiated tax treaties with at least five countries (Canada, Denmark, France, Sweden and the Netherlands) which abrogate the revenue rule. To learn more about the Revenue Rule, see the “Appendix” below.

I have previously suggested how the “assistance in collection provisions” facilitate U.S. citizenship-based taxation. My 2016 comment on “assistance in collection provisions” suggested that U.S. citizenship-based taxation gives the United States strong incentives to end the revenue rule. Specifically …

My point is this:

The “assistance in collection” mechanism in these five treaties can and will be used to allow the United States to enforce direct taxation on those who are “tax residents” of other nations AND on the economies of those other nations.

Given the U.S. practice of “citizenship-based taxation” I can’t understand why any country would enter into an “assistance in collection” treaty with the United States. Interestingly the Canada U.S. Tax Treaty does create an exemption for those who were Canadian citizens at the time tax debt arose. The Denmark U.S. Tax Treaty has a similar provision exempting citizens of Denmark.
Conclusion: It is quite clear that tax treaties which include “assistance in collection provisions” (abrogating the Revenue Rule) are overwhelmingly to the benefit of the United States. Only the United States (and the nation of Eritrea) impose taxation based on citizenship (and therefore impose taxation on the residents of other nations). These five treaties allow the United States to extend its tax base into the economies of other nations.

Present Day – June 25, 2019

The following tax treaty protocols were approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:
The Protocol Amending the Convention between the United States of America and the Kingdom of Spain for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income and its Protocol, signed at Madrid on February 22, 1990 (Treaty Doc. 113-4).

The Protocol Amending the Convention between the United States of America and the Swiss Confederation for the Avoidance of Double Taxation with Respect to Taxes on Income, signed at Washington on October 2, 1996, signed on September 23, 2009, at Washington, as corrected by an exchange of notes effected November 16, 2010 and a related agreement effected by an exchange of notes on September 23, 2009 (Treaty Doc. 112-1).
The Protocol Amending the Convention between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Japan for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income and a related agreement entered into by an exchange of notes (together the “proposed Protocol”), both signed on January 24, 2013, at Washington, together with correcting notes exchanged March 9 and March 29, 2013 (Treaty Doc. 114-1).

The Protocol Amending the Convention between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income and Capital, signed on May 20, 2009, at Luxembourg (the “proposed Protocol”) and a related agreement effected by the exchange of notes also signed on May 20, 2009 (Treaty Doc. 111-8).

Each of these four treaty protocols has updated information exchange and/or collection provisions. The proposal in the treaty with Japan is most interesting and most worrying.

The Japan protocol includes a provision for assistance in collection that is somewhat more expansive than is contained in similar treaties (Canada, Sweden, Denmark, France and Netherlands). Japan does NOT normally allow dual citizenship. Therefore the collection provision in ARTICLE 27 the collection provision could possibly be used as a mechanism to force Japan to enforce U.S. taxation on U.S. citizens who are resident in Japan!!

Time will tell.

The new ARTICLES 26 and 27 of the U.S. Japan Tax Treaty (if approved by the Senate) will be:
Continue reading

Article 4 paragraph 2 of the U.S. U.K. Tax Treaty: A clause preventing the use of the tax treaty tie breaker for some Green Card holders

Introduction – In The 21st Century The Most Important Thing About A Person Is His Tax Residency

Green Card holders are deemed to be U.S. tax residents under the Internal Revenue Code. In most circumstances, Green Card Holders are also treated as U.S. tax residents under U.S. tax treaties.

U.S. Green Card holders have traditionally been able to use tax treaties to sever “tax residence” with the United States. This decision carries both burdens and benefits and should never be undertaken without competent professional advice. (For Green Card holders who are “long term residents“, the use of a “tax treaty tie breaker” will result in expatriation. Expatriation may trigger the imposition of the Sec. 877A Expatriation Tax.)

The tax treaty tie breaker is available if and only if the individual is, according to the tax treaty, a tax resident of BOTH the United States and the treaty partner country.

Typically the tax treaty tie breaker is a mechanism where one uses the provisions of the tax treaty to assign tax residency to one and only one country according to the tax treaty.

To repeat: a condition precedent to the use of the tax treaty tie breaker is that the individual be a tax resident of both countries according to the tax treaty.

Most tax treaties provide that if an individual is a tax resident of Country A according to domestic law, then the individual is a resident of Country A under the treaty. In other words, tax residency under the terms of the treaty follows from tax residency under domestic law.

Prior to the U.S. U.K. Tax Treaty of July 24, 2001, tax residency for Green Card holders according to the tax treaty, followed from tax residency under domestic law.

The U.S. U.K. Tax Treaty of July 24, 2001 changed this basic rule. The July 24, 2001 tax treaty contains a provision that provides that tax residency under the U.S. U.K. tax treaty, does not necessarily follow from tax residency under U.S. domestic law. Specifically Article 4 Paragraph 2 states that Green Card holders will NOT be treated as U.S. tax residents under the U.S. U.K. Tax treaty except as follows:

2. An individual who is a United States citizen or an alien admitted to the United States
for permanent residence (a “green card” holder) is a resident of the United States only if the
individual has a substantial presence, permanent home or habitual abode in the United States
and if that individual is not a resident of a State other than the United Kingdom for the purposes of a double taxation convention between that State and the United Kingdom.

Paragraph 2 of Article 4 provides a presumption against U.S. tax residency, under the tax treaty, for Green Card holders. This results in a situation where the Green Card holder is a U.S. tax resident under the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, but NOT a U.S. tax resident under the treaty.

The purpose of this post is to explore the implications of this unusual provision and how it impacts Green Card holders who are tax residents of the U.K. The post will be divided into the following six parts:

Part A – U.S. U.K. Tax Treaty – Prior to July 24, 2001 (1975)

Part B – The U.S. U.K. Tax Treaty – signed July 24, 2001

Part C – The meaning of the two necessary conditions to qualify as a U.S. tax resident under the treaty: Joint Committee of Taxation Comments on Paragraph 2 of Article 4

Part D – The meaning of the two necessary conditions to qualify as a U.S. tax resident under the treaty: U.S. Treasury Technical Interpretation

Part E – The meaning of Article 4(2) – A UK Perspective

Part F – IRS Commentary – July 3, 2018

Part G – What are the implications for Green Card Holders who are tax residents of the UK?

Continue reading

"Tax residence" for US Estate and Gift and "tax treaty tiebreakers with overlapping domicile

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