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April 22, 2012

Tax Planning for Acquiring US Citizenship or a Green Card (Permanent Residency)

Those who acquire US permanent residency and/or  US Citizenship often are caught by surprise when it comes time to sell assets (property or stocks or ?) owned before they became US taxpayers.  They  often erroneously assumed the assets they owned before becoming US taxpayers will have a tax basis equal to the value of those assets on the date they became US taxpayers. THIS IS NOT CORRECT.

Under US tax law including Court Decisions, even though an asset was acquired many years before becoming a US taxpayer (Citizen or tax resident) the tax basis for determining gain or loss is the original cost basis of the property (or if inherited the fair market value of the property when it was inherited).  That means when the asset does not get a revised basis on the date of becoming a US taxpayer and US taxes will be paid on appreciation of the asset prior to the date the individual became a US taxpayer.

What to do?  Before becoming a US taxpayer, consider selling your highly appreciated assets to avoid paying US taxes on the gain that occurred prior to that date.

The one exception to the rule stated above, is when you  Surrender your Citizenship or Long Term Tax Residency, for the purposes of determining if you have to pay an exit tax on form 8854, your tax basis IS the fair market value of the property or asset on the date you first became a Long Term Resident or Citizen.

April 17, 2012

Mitt Romney - 10 Ways to Stiff the IRS and Pay Less than the Average US Taxpayer

Here are the ten ways Mitt Romney avoids paying high taxes. Unfortunately these methods are not available to the average taxpayer and most are reserved exclusively for the Upper One Percent of taxpayers. Mother Jones has done an outstanding job of analyzing Mitt's tax return and the loopholes he uses to avoid paying US taxes.

SOME AMERICANS ARE SURRENDERING THEIR CITIZENSHIP TO AVOID FILING US TAX RETURNS

Read the Reuters article here on the large number of Americans surrendering their US Citizenship to avoid having to file tax returns etc.  Their actions are not necessarily to avoid US income taxes since many will then be Citizens of  countries with much higher tax rates than the USA.  Many feel that it is not the high tax burden, but what you get for it that is the true measure of a good tax system.  We have helped or advised hundreds of US Citizens and Green Card holders with respect to the surrender of their US tax status.   If you are interested go to our website at www.taxmeless.com to learn more of the details.


April 7, 2012

Latest IRS Guidance on When to File Forms 8938 and TDF 90-22.1 (FBAR)

The IRS has just published further information on when to file forms 8938 (to report foreign financial assets) and TDF 90-22.1 (FBAR) to report foreign financial accounts. Their guidance clarifies when foreign currency and precious metals located in foreign countries must be reported. The Chart is easy to understand and can be read HERE.

If you wish assistance in preparing these forms or wish to have your own self prepared forms reviewed by an expert contact us.

April 4, 2012

TIPS FOR US EXPATRIATES ON PAYING QUARTERLY ESTIMATED TAXES


You may need to pay estimated taxes to the IRS during the year if you have income that is not subject to withholding and will not be completely  offset by foreign tax credits or the foreign earned income exclusion. Your first quarterly estimated is due on 4/17/12 for 2012. 

These six tips explain estimated taxes and how to pay them.

1. If you have income from sources such as self-employment, interest, dividends, alimony, rent, gains from the sales of assets, prizes or awards, then you may have to pay estimated tax.
2. As a general rule, you must pay estimated taxes in 2012 if both of these statements apply: 1) You expect to owe at least $1,000 in tax after subtracting your tax withholding (if you have any) and tax credits, and 2) You expect your withholding and credits to be less than the smaller of 90 percent of your 2012 taxes or 100 percent of the tax on your 2011 return. Special rules apply for farmers, fishermen, certain household employers and certain higher income taxpayers.
3. For Sole Proprietors, Partners and S Corporation shareholders, you generally have to make estimated tax payments if you expect to owe $1,000 or more in tax when you file your return.
4. To figure your estimated tax, include your expected gross income, taxable income, taxes, deductions and credits for the year. Use the worksheet in Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals, for this. You want to be as accurate as possible to avoid penalties. Also, consider changes in your situation and recent tax law changes.
5. The year is divided into four payment periods, or due dates, for estimated tax purposes. Those dates generally are April 15, June 15, Sept. 15 and Jan. 15 of the next or following year.
6. Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals, has everything you need to pay estimated taxes. It includes instructions, worksheets, schedules and payment vouchers. However, the easiest way to pay estimated taxes is electronically through the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, or EFTPS, at www.irs.gov. You can also pay estimated taxes by check or money order using the Estimated Tax Payment Voucher or by credit or debit card.

For more information on estimated taxes, refer to Form 1040-ES and its instructions and Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax. We can help you compute your 2012 estimated taxes and send you the necessary forms to make the payments.

NOTE: Remember that expats living abroad on 4/17/12 get an automatic extension of time to file their US tax returns until 6/15/12, but if they will owe taxes they must pay in the tax by 4/17/12 in order to avoid penalties and interest.