Category Archives: Uncategorized

US Treasury interprets Section 962 Election to mean that individual shareholders are entitled to 50% exclusion of #GILTI income when calculating income attributed

On March 4, 2019 as described by Helen Burggraf at American Expat Finance:
My comment included:

Also welcoming the news of the changes in the tax treatment of Americans’ overseas small businesses was John Richardson, a Toronto-based lawyer at CtizenshipSolutions.ca, who specializes in assisting Americans abroad with their tax and citizenship issues. The Treasury, Richardson said, should be congratulated for taking a “purposive” approach “when interpreting how Sec. 951A interacts with Sec. 962” of the relevant regulations.
In layman’s terms, Richardson noted, the new regulation means that “American expats may now deduct 50% of the active business income defined as GILTI, thus reducing the amount of GILTI they would be expected to have to pay tax on.”
However, the new regulations don’t affect the so-called Section 965 “transition tax,” he noted.
“It appears that Treasury heard and understood the problems faced by individual shareholders of CFCs [Controlled Foreign Corporations].
“I suspect that organisations representing S Corps [a type of closely-held corporation, as defined by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service] also made submissions to Treasury and had an influence on this decision.
“All Americans abroad should be encouraged by this. Instead of interpreting the law in the most literal and punitive way, it appears that Treasury has recognized the problems that individuals, whether living inside or outside America, faced.
“The bottom line is that small business owners abroad will now, for the most part, be able to defer U.S. taxation on the active business income of their corporations by using the Sec. 962 election, provided that their corporations are paying sufficient local tax. They will of course have to pay U.S. tax when the income is distributed to them.
“But [even here], the distributions will be subject to local tax which can then be used, via the FTC rules, to offset U.S. tax owing – for active business income.
“In other words, this is excellent news for Americans abroad.”

Full discussion here …


An example of the 50% discount and the Section 962 election here …


John Richardson – Follow me on Twitter at @ExpatriationLaw

When a US citizen marries a non-citizen – AKA The #FBAR Marriage: Filing status, joint ownership of assets, income, gift and estate tax issues


Marriage is complicated. Marriage between U.S. citizens is complicated. But, a marriage between a U.S. citizen and a non-citizen is (for tax compliant Americans) is the most complex marriage of all.

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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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Part 12 – Bulletin – June 4, 2018: It appears that the first payment for the @USTransitionTax will be delayed for some


To get to the point:
On June 4, 2018 U.S. Treasury issued the following bulletin which included questions and answers about the Sec. 965 U.S. Transition Tax.
It included Q. 16 …
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TCJA and Expanding the definition of and number of "Controlled Foreign Corporations" subject to Subpart F

As goes the number of “Controlled Foreign Corporations“, so goes the size of the U.S. tax base. The “messaging” was that the United States was moving to a system of “Territorial Taxation” for corporations. The reality is that the TCJA has actually increased the number of “non-U.S. corporations” that the United States claims to be be its “tax subjects”. (This has been accomplished by increasing the ways in which “non-U.S. corporations” can be treated as “controlled foreign corporations”. Furthermore, those “non-U.S. corporations (“controlled foreign corporations”), subject to U.S. tax jurisdiction, will be subject to U.S. tax on more income. I do understand that those “non-U.S. corporations” cannot be taxed directly by the United States. Fair enough. But “non-U.S. corporations” are clearly taxed indirectly by attributing income earned by the “controlled foreign corporation” to “United States Shareholders” under the Subpart F regime. In the same way that the United States is imposing taxation on the “worldwide” income of individuals who are “tax residents” of other nations, the United States is imposing taxation on the “worldwide income” of “non-U.S. corporations”. (This is done indirectly by imposing taxation on the “United States Shareholder” rather than on the “controlled foreign corporation” directly.) Although this has always been true, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” has significantly expanded this taxation. This has been accomplished in at least three ways:
1. Expanding the definition of “United States Shareholder” in the Internal Revenue Code – Internal Revenue Code Sec.. 951
2. Expanding the circumstances under which the income from a “Controlled Foreign Corporation” is attributed to “United States Shareholders – Deleting the 30 day requirement – Internal Revenue Code Sec. 951
3. Increasing the number of “United States Shareholders” through changes in the “attribution rules” – Say “Good Bye” to Internal Revenue Code Sec. 958(b)(4)
This list is not intended to be exhaustive. I will discuss each of these in turn.
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U.S. Tax Reform and the "nonresident" corporation owner: Does the Sec. 965 transition tax apply?


Prologue:
The United States has a long history of imposing “worldwide taxation”on the INDIVIDUAL “tax residents” of other countries. The United States cannot impose direct taxation on “non-U.S corporations” that have no business connection to the United States. That said, the United States (along with certain other countries) has “CFC” (Controlled Foreign Corporation) rules that impose taxation on the “United States Shareholders” of “non-U.S. corporations. In general, these rules simply attribute certain types of corporate income directly to the individual “United States Shareholder”.
U.S. Tax Reform 2017 (well at least “International Tax Reform”)
In early November 2017, it appeared that U.S tax reform “might” include a provision that would in effect impose retroactive taxation on the retained earnings of Canadian (and other non-U.S.) small business corporations. I wrote about that here.
On December 22, 2017 President Donald Trump signed into law the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act”. The uniquely U.S. policy of imposing “worldwide taxation” on the tax residents and citizens of other countries continues. FATCA continues. In other words, in spite of the educational campaign orchestrated by individuals and groups (Americans Citizens abroad and Republicans Overseas) the U.S. Government (although aware of the aware of the problems) declined to make the changes necessary to allow U.S. citizens to live normal financial lives outside the United States. An earlier post, describing “How U.S. Citizens Can Live Abroad In An FBAR and FATCA World” demonstrates that the rules of the Internal Revenue Code involve far more than taxation, but include a number of “penalty laden, intrusive information reporting requirements”. Significantly these rules impact people who are resident/citizens of other countries who are subject to the tax systems of those countries. Many of those impacted do not even consider themselves to be U.S. citizens. Some of them don’t even speak English. Few of them can afford the expensive compliance costs. How could things get worse?
Well, it is possible (but not certain) that things have gotten worse. Incredibly there are some people impacted by U.S. tax rules who are “tax residents” of other countries AND have made the decision to create small businesses where they live. Furthermore, some of them have opted to carry on those businesses by creating “local corporations”. In Canada these “local corporations” are called “Canadian Controlled Private Corporations”. Every country has its own “culture of corporations”. In Canada (to the chagrin of Prime Minister Trudeau and Finance Minister Morneau) these corporations are used as “private pension plans”. (This is because entrepreneurs rarely have access to other traditional pension plans.)
So, what does all this have to do with U.S. tax?
1. The U.S. Internal Revenue Code cannot impose direct taxation on Canadian (or other foreign) corporations.
2. As a result, the U.S. Internal Revenue Code has traditionally attributed the “passive earnings” of many “Canadian Controlled Private Corporations”, to the individual “United States Shareholder”. (See Subpart F: Sections 951 – 965 of the Internal Revenue Code – you have no chance of understanding the legislative scheme.)
3. The Internal Revenue Code has NOT previously attributed the active business of “Canadian Controlled Private Corporations” to the individual “United States shareholder”.
4. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has added a new Sec 965 to the Internal Revenue Code that purports to retroactively impose U.S. taxation on this (previously untaxed) active business income RETROACTIVELY FROM 1986. Yes, you read correctly.
I made the following comment to an article in the Financial Times which I believe fairly summarizes what this “tax” means in the lives of the “tax residents” of other countries (who are subject to U.S. taxation”:

Interesting article that demonstrates the impact of the U.S. tax policy of (1) exporting the Internal Revenue Code to other countries and (2) using the Internal Revenue Code to impose direct taxation on the “tax residents” of those other countries.
Some thoughts on this:
1. Different countries have different “cultures” of financial planning and carrying on businesses. The U.S. tax culture is such that an individual carrying on a business through a corporation is considered to be a “presumptive tax cheat”. This is NOT so in other countries. For example, in Canada (and other countries), it is normal for people to use small business corporations to both carry on business and create private pension plans. So, the first point that must be understood is that (if this tax applies) it is in effect a “tax” (actually it’s confiscation) of private pension plans!!! That’s what it actually is. The suggestion in one of the comments that these corporations were created to somehow avoid “self-employment” tax (although possibly true in countries that don’t have totalization agreements) is generally incorrect. I suspect that the largest number of people affected by this are in Canada and the U.K. which are countries which do have “totalization agreements”.
2. None of the people interviewed, made the point (or at least it was not reported) that this “tax” as applied to individuals is actually higher than the “tax” as applied to corporations. In the case of individuals the tax would be about 17.5% and not the 15.5% for corporations. (And individuals do not get the benefit of a transition to “territorial taxation”.)
3. As Mr. Bruce notes people will not easily be able to pay this. There is no realization event whatsoever. It’s just: (“Hey, we see there is some money there, let’s take it). Because there is no realization event, this should be viewed as an “asset confiscation” and not as a “tax”.
4. Understand that this is a pool of capital that was NEVER subject to U.S. taxation on the past. Therefore, if this is a tax at all, it should be viewed as a “retroactive tax”.
5. Under general principles of law, common sense and morality (does any of this matter?) the retained earnings of non-U.S. corporations are first subject to taxation by the country of incorporation. The U.S. “transition tax” is the creation of a “fictitious taxable event” which results in a preemptive “tax strike” against the tax base of other countries. If this is allowed under tax treaties, it’s only because when the treaties were signed, nobody could have imagined anything this outrageous.
6. It is obvious that this was NEVER INTENDED TO APPLY TO Americans abroad. Furthermore, no individual would even imagine that this could apply to them without “Education provided by the tax compliance industry”. Those in the industry should figure out how to argue that this was never intended to apply to Americans abroad, that there is no suggestion from the IRS that this applies to Americans abroad, that there is no legislative history suggesting that this applies to Americans abroad, and that this should not be applied to Americans abroad.
7. Finally, the title of this article refers to “Americans abroad”. This is a gross misstatement of the reality. The problem is that these (so called) “Americans abroad” are primarily the citizens and “tax residents” of other countries – that just happen to have been born in the United States. They have no connection to the USA. Are these citizen/residents of other countries (many who don’t even identify as Americans) expected to simply “turn over” their retirement plans to the IRS???? Come on!

Further commentary on this article is here.
Dr. Karen Alpert offered the following insightful comment to an article in Canada’s Financial Post:

It is patently clear that Congress was not thinking about the impact of tax reform on non-resident US citizens. None of the discussion in the lead-up to tax reform, or in the committee hearings, indicated that Congress intended to punish the citizens and residents of other countries who happen to be claimed by the US as citizens. Nothing written by the IRS so far has indicated that they believe this applies to non-resident individuals – every example in the IRS notices has specifically looked at corporate shareholders. The only indication that this might apply to non-resident individual shareholders is from the tax compliance industry that stands to earn a large amount of fees on attempts to comply with this extra-territorial over-reach by the US.
If applied to non-resident individuals, the “transition” tax would be a pre-emptive grab at the tax base of Canada and every other country where US emigrants and Accidental Americans are living. The “deferred foreign income” that would be confiscated is money that was never subject to US tax, and is only claimed by the US because of a fictional “deemed repatriation”. Think about what that really means – the US is pretending that US emigrants are “repatriating” funds back to a country where they don’t live, and that they may no longer really identify with. The only good that could possibly come from this is the long overdue realisation that US taxation of the citizens and residents of other countries is contrary to the national interests of those countries and contrary to normal international practice.

(I encourage to read this insightful summary by Patricia Moon which appeared at the Isaac Brock Society.)
Should this “tax” apply to the “tax residents” of other nations, this would be an extraordinary escalation of the U.S. imposing “worldwide taxation” on the residents of other countries. The stakes are indeed high for individuals and for their countries of residence. After all, the application of this “tax” would be certainly a preemptive strike against the “tax base” of other countries! After all, this “tax” is not based ANY “realization event” whatsoever.
Understanding the problem in a 7 Part Video Series – Dr. Karen Alpert and John Richardson
(A description of each video is found along with the individual video. I suggest that you watch the videos in order.)
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLHF3nvfM47b1dWAvmqcrkVgEQ50BYQ-jv
Dr. Karen Alpert – FixTheTaxTreaty.org
John Richardson – CitizenshipSolutions.ca

13 Reasons Why I Committed #Citizide: (Inspired by the television series, 13 Reasons Why)

Update – November 2, 2018 to include – “Retain or Renounce” Information session held in Brisbane Australia on October 25, 2018


Introduction – Guest post by a perfectly ordinary person who renounced U.S. citizenship for perfectly ordinary reasons


In a recent submission to Senator Hatch  I argued that what the United States thinks of as “citizenship-based taxation”, is actually a system where the United States imposes U.S. taxation on the residents and citizens of other countries. That submission included:

On July 4, 2017, Americans living inside the USA celebrated the “4th of July” holiday – a day that Americans celebrate their independence and freedom.
On that same day, I had meetings with SEVEN American dual citizens, living outside the United States. This “Group of Seven” were in various stages of RENOUNCING their U.S. citizenship. Each of them was also a citizen and tax paying resident of another country. They varied widely in wealth, age, occupation, religion, and political orientation. Some of them have difficulty in affording the $2350 USD “renunciation fee” imposed by the U.S. Government. Some of the SEVEN identify as being American and some did NOT identify as being American. But each of them had one thing in common. They were renouncing their U.S. citizenship in order to gain the freedom that Americans have been taught to believe is their “birth right”.

On August 2, 2017 posts at the Isaac Brock Society and numerous other sources, reported that that there were 1759 expatriates reported in the second quarter report in the Federal Register. The number of people renouncing U.S. citizenship continues to grow.
Now on to the guest post by Jane Doe, which is a very articulate description of the reasons why people living outside the United States feel forced to renounce U.S. citizenship.
John Richardson
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Russia's new CFC rules: All #offshore profits (are deemed to) run to and through Russia


The article referenced in the above tweet from Norton Rose, provides an introduction to Russia’s CFC (“Controlled Foreign Corporation”) rules. The Russian CFC rules include both:

  • an attribution of income for purposes of taxation; and
  • penalty laden reporting requirements.

 
There are presently huge incentives for Russian high net worth individuals to to break “tax residence” with Russia and find more favorable jurisdictions. It is a “perfect storm”. These incentives include:
• The “De-offshorisation” initiative of the Russian government, including introductions of CFC rules that came into force on January 2015
• The enforcement of pre-existing rules established by Russian Federal Law Nr. 173-FZ “On Currency Regulations and Currency Control” (CCL) by amending RF Administrative Offence Code (AOC) in February 2013 (Russian FBAR coupled with “Russian citizenship reporting“)
• The adoption of the OECD’s Common Reporting Standard (CRS) in May 2016 and what that means for those with “tax residency in Russia