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February 23, 2011

IT IS YOUR OBLIGATION TO KEEP IRS INFORMED OF YOUR CURRENT ADDRESS

Many  US expats who have moved abroad call us after learning of tax liens and other IRS change, letters, etc and state they never received them.  They want to use that as an excuse for their failure to respond or to get  additional taxes, penalties and interest abated.  That does not work.

It is your obligation as a US Taxpayer to keep the IRS Informed of your current mailing address. If you do not, you are solely responsible for any adverse consequences, not the IRS.  If the mail delivery is poor in the country you plan to live, it is best to use a friend or relative's address in the US so you are certain you will receive all IRS communications.

 Change Your IRS Address Records  You can change your address on file with the IRS in several ways:
  • Write the new address in the appropriate boxes on your tax return;
  • Use Form 8822, Change of Address, to submit an address or name change any time during the year.  It can be downloaded at www.irs.gov;
  • Give the IRS written notification of your new address by writing to the IRS center where you file your return. Include your full name, old and new addresses, Social Security Number or Employer Identification Number and signature. If you filed a joint return, be sure to include the information for both taxpayers. If you filed a joint return and have since established separate residences, each spouse should notify the IRS of their new address.

February 22, 2011

MEXICO RENTAL INCOME…………….PAYING TAX IS NOW EASIER THAN EVER AND WITH STATESIDE BENEFITS!!


by Linda Jones Neil

Those who have rental properties in Mexico can now rest easy. SAT, Mexico’s Uncle Sam, has provided a straightforward and relatively simple way to declare and pay taxes on rental income for those foreigners who have long wished to be in compliance but did not know the way to do so.

As of February 2010, SAT eliminated the requirement for a taxpayer identification number (RFC) which had previously been obtained only through extreme efforts,

Now the foreign taxpayer has two options: One to obtain the taxpayer identification number (RFC), file monthly declarations whether there is income or not, and enjoy a deduction of expenses. This is Option One.

Option Two provides for the taxpayer to make a declaration when income is received, pay a flat tax and obtain a receipt to take to the tax authorities in his/her tax residence, for credit or deduction of taxes in the home country.

On any rental the owner, or his/her property managers, are responsible for collecting the IVA tax (the added value tax) which is 11% on the Baja Peninsula and the Yucatan peninsula and 16% elsewhere. Owner or property manager must also collect the state hospitality tax which is 2 to 4% of the rental amount. These taxes must be delivered to the federal and local governments, as applicable.

It is important for the foreign person with rental property in Mexico to make arrangements for payment of these taxes since penalties can be high in Mexico for non-payment and, additionally, these same tax payments and expenses can be deducted or credited against income in taxpayer’s home country.

The next part of the equation for the US taxpayer has been deciding how to declare this income and enjoy the deductions in their US returns.

Don Nelson, Attorney and Certified Public Accountant located in California reports the following regarding tax treatment for U.S. taxpayers:

  • If the Mexican rental property owned in an individuals name or through a Fideicomiso, all rental income and expenses are reported on Schedule E of the form 1040.
  • Allowable rental expenses are the same as for a US property.
  • Management fees, interest, property taxes, utilities, repairs, maintenance, association dues, insurance…ALL are deductible!
  • Depreciation on a Mexican property is 40 years straight line
  • Taxpayer can take a Foreign Tax Credit against the US income tax paid on the net rental income for income taxes paid in Mexico on that income.
  • IVA (added value tax) collected from the renter must be included in rental income, but then deducted out so no double taxation.
  • The special Vacation Home rules applicable to US rental property occupied part time by the owner is also apply to Mexican rental property.
  • IN A SALE OF THE PROPERTY, net gain is taxed in the US at the applicable lower capital gains rates and Mexican ISR paid is a credit against that US tax on that profit.

For further information on the Rental Payment Program for Mexican properties, please contact: Lic. Quirino Parra: quirino.parra@settlement-co.com.

For further information on the payment of US taxes when Mexican income is involved, please contact attorney and CPA Don D. Nelson: ddnelson@gmail.com . His website is at www.taxmeless.com.


Author Linda Neil is the founder of The Settlement Company. It is the first escrow company in Mexico, and is dedicated to counseling buyers and sellers, processing the trusts and title transfers of Mexican real estate for foreign buyers and sellers for properties located ANYWHERE in Mexico and, now, for payment of taxes on rental income for foreigners with properties in Mexico.. Ms. Neil is also licensed as a Real Estate Broker in California, is an Accredited Buyer Representative through NAR, and has over thirty five years of hands on experience in all aspects of Mexican real estate. She holds membership in AMPI, NAR and FIABCI and PROFECO Certificate 00063/96.
E-Mail; linda.neil@settlement-co.com Web Site: http://www.settlement-co.com.

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copyright 2011, Consultores Phoenix, S.C., reproduction prohibited without permission.

Offshore Potential Employers Are Doing Credit Checks of Potential Employees

We have recently learned that foreign companies hiring US expatriates abroad are now having pre-employment credit checks done before hiring those US expats.  US companies as well have been doing this type of credit check on potential employees for some time.

Those pre-employment credit checks will reveal the existence of IRS and state tax liens if you have not filed all required US returns or have unpaid taxes in the US.  If the credit report shows unpaid US taxes,  those offshore employers are choosing not to employ the US expatriate.

To avoid this problem, US expatriates need to keep current on current IRS tax filing requirements and file any past tax returns that are in arrears.  If there are any IRS and state tax liens outstanding, it is best to pay them off or get assistance with the resolution of any liens you dispute.  Let us know if you need help with past returns or resolving past tax liens.

February 19, 2011

COLLECTING SOCIAL SECURITY WHEN RETIRED ABROAD

You can still get US social security
If you are a U.S. citizen, you may receive your benefits in most foreign countries, usually by check or direct deposit. If you are not a U.S. citizen, the answer is more complicated, with certain rules applying to certain countries. For specifics, see the Social Security publication "Your Payments While You Are Outside the United States." 


You generally must pay into social security for ten years to get benefits. Many US expats who work for foreign employers do not pay into US social security and therefore may not have enough credits to collect benefits.  You cannot receive it just because you are a US Citizen if you did not pay into the system. Read more at www.ssa.gov

February 8, 2011

IRS Announces 2011 Voluntary Offshore Disclosure Program (new program)

The IRS TODAY announced a New 2011 Voluntary Offshore Disclosure Program which will be available through August 31, 2011. It gives taxpayers who are hiding assets abroad, or not disclosing those assets on their tax returns as required by tax law , or those who failed to  file the required forms disclosing their assets abroad a second chance to come out of the closet. The new program will give participants  reduced penalties from those they would have paid if they did not enter the program. The new program's penalties however are in many circumstances higher than those charged participants in the 2009 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program which ended 10/15/09.  Over 15,000 taxpayers participated in the original program and over 3,000 taxpayers have  since that time have filed to  disclose foreign bank accounts which had not previously been disclosed to the IRS.

Read more about the program here.  Our firm counseled and represented many  clients involved in the previous IRS Offshore Disclosure program with great results. Please contact us if you need assistance of an Attorney CPA with this New program. Anything you tell us is totally confidential under the attorney-client privilege rule.

2011 IRS Voluntary Offshore Disclosure Program Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

February 7, 2011

Associated Press Says American Taxes are the Lowest since 1950


WASHINGTON – Taxes too high? Actually, as a share of the nation's economy, Uncle Sam's take this year will be the lowest since 1950, when the Korean War was just getting under way. Read More of the Story

February 4, 2011

IRS INDIVIDUAL TAX RETURN STATISTICS

The IRS now published extensive table showing information and statistics from individual tax returns that have been filed.  You can use this information to determine just how rich or poor you are compared with other taxpaying Americans. You can also use this information to see if your income and deductions are in line with other taxpayers who have similar incomes.  The IRS in some way uses these tables to determine which taxpayers to audit. The IRS Individual Taxpayer Statistics Page Can be accessed here.

IRS Releases Foreign Housing Expense Limitations for 2011


The IRS has provided the inflation-adjusted limitations on foreign housing expenses for 2011 (Notice 2011-8).

Under IRC § 911(a), a qualified individual can elect to exclude from gross income his or her foreign earned income and housing costs. Section 911(c)(1) provides a formula for determining the excludible amount of the individual’s foreign housing costs. Generally, under section 911(c)(2)(A), a qualified individual will be limited to maximum housing expenses of $27,870 in 2011.

If you are an expat you can deduct
your foreign housing expenses
However, the IRS can adjust the maximum limitation based on geographic differences in housing costs relative to housing costs in the United States, and since 2006 it has issued annual notices adjusting the limitation for qualified individuals who live in countries with high housing costs compared to U.S. housing.

Notice 2011-8 provides a table of more than 400 foreign locations for which the IRS is allowing an increased limitation on housing expenses. Some of the highest limitations for 2011 are for Bermuda ($90,000 for the full-year limitation); Hong Kong ($114,300); Paris ($84,800); Tokyo ($118,500); and Moscow ($108,000). 

In locations where the amount has increased from the amount in 2010 (listed in Notice 2010-27), the notice also allows taxpayers who incurred housing expenses in 2010 to elect to apply the 2011 limitation amount to the 2010 year.