Live Interview with Solomon Yue – Tweet Your Questions, Ideas in Advance!

Reminder – Solomon Yue Visits Toronto

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A LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL OR ANOTHER ONCOMING TRAIN: THE POSSIBLE END OF U.S. CITIZENSHIP-BASED TAXATION

Solomon Yue, CEO of Republicans Overseas will present publicly shareable information about the TTFI bill, and discuss its progress as it journeys through the legislative process. He will be encouraging AmCham Canada to lend its support in the global effort to encourage Congress to move forward with this legislation. Joined by John Richardson and Elena Hanson
When: Thursday, Aug 16, 2018 – 18:15 to 21:00
Where: St. Michael’s College, Alumni Hall, Room 400; 121 St. Joseph Street,Toronto Ontario M5C 3C2, paid parking near building; nearest subway station is Museum)
Cost: $20 +tax. Pre-registration is required. Registrations due August 13.
If you have any questions about the event, please contact carmina@gathersome-events.com
AmCham Toronto TTFI Event

Continue reading Reminder – Solomon Yue Visits Toronto

Identity Theft, and Social Security Numbers in a CRS and FATCA World

An excerpt from “Identity theft in a #FATCA and #CRS World: The Role Of the U.S. Social Security Number” cross-posted from citizenshipsolutions.ca

This morning I received a fascinating message from a third party who writes:

IDENTITY THEFT, SSN & CRS

With the creation of Social Security in the US after World War II, Americans were issued individual social security numbers for retirement contribution tracking and disbursement purposes. Over time, by convenience and not by design, these social security numbers morphed into national tax ID numbers and the only identification number used in all aspects of Americans’ lives — from getting a driver’s license, buying a car, enrolling in university, opening a bank account, buying health insurance and soon. The list is endless.

The IRS and the Social Security Administration regularly entreat Americans to be careful about to whom, why, and how they reveal their precious SSI. Indeed, identity theft is the fastest growing industry in the US and rarely a day goes by without yet another data breach making headline news (need a list??) or a warning of fake IRS forms (such as the W8-Ben) enticing people to provide private data never asked on those forms.

Europe, on the other hand, provides its nationals with distinct tax ID numbers. No single identifying number can provide access to and take control of all aspects of an individual’s life.

In comes FATCA and CRS.

And what does the IRS and USG compel us to do? Fork over our SSN to FFIs and foreign governments — and their myriad service providers, data bases and servers.

Aside from this requirement’s dubious legality under GDPR, having to fork over one’s SSN is akin to leaving your front door open with a big “Welcome” sign while you go off on holiday.

Americans get to choose between the risk of privacy violations and identity theft and the ability to bank. If they can find a bank that accepts them that is — not one online European bank will accept a client with the slightest whiff of “American-ness”, even if said
client is a dual national. Discrimination anyone?

It’s not as if there were no other options and the USG had no CHOICE but to put its citizens at risk. The IRS could issue TIN numbers separate from SSN. Americans abroad could prove their identity with a passport number and show their compliance with redacted FBARs and
8938s. Most FFIs in Europe are not even aware that our SSN is the unique number that controls our lives and understand the Solomon’s dilemma once it is explained to them. Yet they cannot do anything about it, they too are victims of the IRS’ extra-territorial reach.

While we wait for various efforts to reform or repeal FATCA to bear fruit, solving this dangerous conundrum should be simple and SSI numbers must no longer be used.

Conclusion

The U.S. tax compliance industry regards FATCA as “The Gift That Keeps On Giving!

For Americans Abroad, FATCA is “The Nightmare That Just Keeps Happening!

John Richardson

So, you have received bank letter asking about your tax residence for CRS or FATCA – A @taxresidency primer – Part 4 -Conclusion

cross-posted from citizenshipsolutions.ca

Part F – A “U.S. citizen” cannot use a “tax treaty tie breaker” to break U.S. “tax residence”. How then does a “U.S. citizen” cease to be a “U.S. tax resident”?

Q. I am a U.S. citizen. I do not live in the United States. I live in Canada. I am a Canadian citizen. How do I stop being subject to the all of the FBAR and other reporting rules, tax rules (including PFIC), life restrictions and inability to effectively invest and plan for retirement imposed by the Internal Revenue Code?

A. You relinquish U.S. citizenship. Please note that a “renunciation” is one form of “relinquishment”. In general, the date of relinquishment of U.S. citizenship is more important than the form of relinquishment of U.S. citizenship. A Certificate of Loss of Nationality (“CLN”) may or may not (depending on the date of relinquishment) be necessary to cease to be subject to U.S. taxation.

Q. In simple terms, where do I get information about the process of renouncing U.S. citizenship?

A. You can start here.

Q. What are the tax consequences of relinquishing or renouncing U.S. citizenship?

A. The Internal Revenue Code describes the tax consequences of relinquishing/renouncing U.S. citizenship. See Internal Revenue Code S. 877A (the “Exit Tax” rules).

Part G – How a “permanent resident” of the U.S. – AKA “Green Card Holder” – ceases to be a U.S. tax resident

Q. I understand that IF I am a U.S. “tax resident” then I may be able to use a “tax treaty tie breaker” to NOT be treated as a U.S. “tax resident”. But, how do I cease being a U.S. tax resident period?

A. The definition of “residence” for tax purposes is NOT the same as the definition of “residence” for immigration purposes. In fact it is possible to have lost the right to live permanently in the United States, but still be treated as a “resident for tax purposes.” “Residence for tax purposes” is defined in Sec. 7701(b) of the Internal Revenue Code and is discussed in the Topsnik case. Most “lawful permanent residents of the United States” cease to be “tax residents” of the United States by either (1) Filing Form I-407 or (2) Filing a “tax treaty election”. You are advised to seek professional advice on the best way to proceed.

ATTENTION!! A permanent resident of the United Sates AKA “Green Card Holder” does NOT cease to be a U.S. “tax resident” by simply moving from the United States to another country. One must take specific steps to sever “tax residency” with the United States.

Part H – Are you, or have you ever been a U.S. citizen or Green card holder? Sometimes it’s not what it seems.

Q. Are you a “U.S. Person” for FATCA purposes?

A. See the articles referenced in the following two tweets.

Conclusion …

The receipt of a FATCA or “CRS” letter is a frightening thing. Take a deep breath. Deal with it rationally and logically. If you are NOT a U.S. citizen you are probably NOT a “tax resident” of more than one country. On the other hand, if you are a “U.S. citizen” …

How would you go about “Solving this problem of U.S. citizenship”?

or maybe this

(For an interesting article on the “Possible Meghan Markle U.S. Tax Chronicles” by Helen Burggraf read here).

I am available on a “consultation basis” to help you sort out your “Tax Residency” in a FATCA and CRS world.

John Richardson

So, you have received bank letter asking about your tax residence for CRS or FATCA – A @taxresidency primer – Part 3

cross-posted from citizenshipsolutions.ca

Part D – Different definitions of “tax residence” – Not all countries define “tax residence” in the same way

Q. What is the criteria that different countries use to define who is a “tax resident” of the country?

A. The circumstances that constitute “tax residence” will differ from country to country. Generally speaking “tax residence” is based on definitions of (1) “residency” (deemed and actual), (2) “domicile” and (3) (in the case of the United States and Eritrea) “citizenship”. Note that different countries may define “tax residency” differently.

Q. How can I learn the definition of “tax resident” for the OECD countries?

A. In an earlier post about “OECD tax residency” I referenced the following chart which summarizes the definitions of “tax residency” in OECD countries. (I suggest that you use these definitions as a “start” to your research and not as the “last word”.)

Q. What is the significance of the “OECD” and why does “OECD tax residency” matter?

A. About the “CRS”: “OECD” tax residency matters because the “OECD” has implemented what is called the “Common Reporting Standard” (“CRS”). The purpose of the “CRS” is to require members to exchange information about the existence of financial accounts, owned by individuals in countries where they do NOT have “tax residence”. For example, if a “tax resident” of Germany had a bank account in Canada, then the German Government would want to know about it! Ultimately this is to ensure that all “individuals” pay their “fair share” of taxes. (By the way, the salaries of OECD employees are generally tax exempt. See an interesting post by Dan Mitchell on the OECD. Seems pretty clear that if OECD employees do not pay tax, that they are not paying their “fair share”.)

Q. About FATCA: Tell me more about the requirements to be a “tax resident of the United States”.

A. The United States has a system of “deemed tax residency”. In other words, the rules are very clear. At a minimum both U.S. citizens and “permanent residents” of the United States (“Green Card Holders”) are U.S. “tax residents” (Note that unless you are a U.S. citizen or “permanent resident” – a physical presence in the United States is necessary make one a U.S. “tax resident”. Here is a post I wrote describing what it means to be a “tax resident of the United States“.

Q. Tell me more about the requirements to be a “tax resident” of Canada.

A. The definition of “tax resident” in Canada includes both “deemed tax residency” and “tax residency based on facts and circumstances”. Here is a post I wrote describing what it means to be a “tax resident of Canada“.

Q. What about South Africa? The way that South Africa imposes taxation on its expats has been in the news lately. Can you tell me about the definitions of “tax residency” for South Africa? Is it true that South Africa is considering “citizenship-based taxation” just like the United States has?

A. No, South Africa has NOT considered “citizenship-based taxation”. But, it doesn’t require much to meet the test of “residence” for tax purposes in South Africa. To understand the “South Africa issue”, see:

Part 1: South Africa is NOT attempting to compete with the USA by enacting “citizenship-based taxation”; and

Part 2: The problem is NOT “worldwide taxation”. The problem is imposing “worldwide taxation” on people who don’t live in the South Africa or the USA and are “tax residents’ of other countries

Part E – Oh My God! I think I might be a “tax resident” of two countries – What is a “tax treaty tie breaker”? How does a “tax treaty” tie breaker work?

Q. I am a U.S. citizen and a “tax resident” of Canada who actually lives in Canada and not the United States. Can I use the “tax treaty” to become a “tax resident” of only Canada?

A. Absolutely, positively NOT. U.S. citizens CANNOT use a tax treaty to break “tax residence” with the United States. The reason is that almost all U.S. tax treaties includes what is called a “savings clause“. The purpose of the “savings clause” is two-fold:

First, to ensure that U.S. citizens can never (without relinquishment or renunciation) cease to be U.S. tax residents; and

Second, to force other countries to agree that the U.S. can impose U.S. taxation (according to U.S. tax rules) on people who are actual residents of those other countries (because those residents are deemed to be U.S. citizens). To understand how this impacts the lives of U.S. citizens living outside the United States see: “How to live outside the United Staes in an FBAR and FATCA world“.

Q. I am a U.S. “permanent resident” (Green Card Holder) and a “tax resident” of Canada who actually lives in Canada and not the United States. Can I use the “tax treaty” to become a “tax resident” of only Canada?

A. Yes, the “savings clause” does NOT apply to Green Card holders. A “Green Card holder” is a “tax resident” of the United States. Therefore, a “Green Card” holder who actually lives in Canada and is a “tax resident” of Canada, may use a “tax treaty tie breaker” to cease to be a U.S. tax resident. But, this decision must be made VERY CAREFULLY because the use of the “tax treaty tie breaker” by a Green Card Holder “may” have the following NEGATIVE implications:

On the other hand, there are many reasons why a Green Card Holder might want to use a “tax treaty tie breaker” to cease to be a “tax resident” of the United States. These reasons include (but are not limited to):

Note: If you are a Green Card holder, the decision to use a “tax treaty tie breaker” should be made only after consultation with an appropriate advisor! I am not kidding! The fallout from making this election can be enormous!

Q. I am a “tax resident” of Canada. I am not a U.S. citizen. I am a pure Canadian! Can I use a “tax treaty tie breaker” to break “tax residence” with another country!

A. Thankfully (as long as you are a “Tax resident” of both Canada and that other country), the answer is YES! Canada (apparently) has more than 90 tax treaties that include a “tax treaty” tie breaker provision. Here is a post that describes how the “tax treaty tax tie breaker” can be used to break “tax residence” with another country.

John Richardson

So, you have received bank letter asking about your tax residence for CRS or FATCA – A @taxresidency primer Part 2

cross-posted from citizenshipsolutions.ca

Part B – The Combined FATCA/CRS Letter

This letter is particularly worrisome for Canadian residents (whether Canadian citizens or not) who were either born in the United States or are (otherwise) U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents (AKA Green Card Holders). Could this mean that they would be required to apply for a U.S. Social Security number?

What follows is a sample letter …

Dear Valued Customer:

We appreciate our relationship with you and we are committed to informing you about matters that affect you. We are writing today to inform you that changes have been made to the Canadian Income Tax Act (Part XVIII and Part XXIX), requiring TD to provide information about customers who have a tax residence in other countries to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The CRA may then share information with other countries through existing provisions and safeguards under the Tax Convention.

To comply with this legislation, we have reviewed our records (eg. address) in order to identify customers who may be residents of other countries for tax purposes.”

Part C – “Tax Residency 101”: It’s about where you should be paying your taxes

Some Question and Answer …

Q. I don’t want to listen to the above interview. What is meant by “tax residence” or “tax residency”?

A. At the risk of oversimplification, your “tax residence” AKA country of “tax residency” is usually (with the exception of the United States which also imposes taxation based on citizenship) the country where you live or have another type of connection. It’s the country that has the right to impose taxation on your “worldwide income” BECAUSE you live in or have a sufficient other connection to the country. For example, if you live in Canada, sleep in Canada, work in Canada, raise your family in Canada, have a Canadian drivers license in Canada, etc. – you are a ““tax resident” of Canada“. For most people, “tax residency” is a “common sense” concept. It’s like this:

“I am subject to taxation on my “worldwide income”* in Canada because I live in Canada”.

or

“I am subject to taxation on my “worldwide income”* in ________ because I live in _______”

(*Most countries impose taxation on the “worldwide income” of their “tax residents”. A small number of countries impose “territorial taxation” on their “tax residents”. “Territorial taxation” is where a country imposes tax on ONLY the income sourced in the country of residence.)

Q. Does this mean that ONLY my country of “tax residence” can impose taxation on me?

A. No. Every country has the primary right to impose taxation on income sourced in that country. Maybe you receive income which is “sourced” in another country. Maybe you own property in another country. In these cases you might be subject to tax in the countries where you own the property or receive the income. In general, if you are not a “tax resident”, you would be taxed in another country ONLY on the income sourced in that other country. On the other hand, your country of “tax residence” would impose taxation on ALL of your income wherever its source.

Q. Is it possible that I could actually meet the conditions to be a “tax resident” of more than one country?

A. Absolutely yes! Different countries have different rules for determining tax residency. There is no reason why a person could not meet the definition of “tax resident” in more than one country. In fact, it is very possible that one could be a “tax resident” of more than country. (This is the reason for the existence of “tax treaty tie breaker” provisions.)

Q. If I meet the conditions to be a “tax resident” of more than one country, will I really be treated as a “tax resident” of more than one country?

A. Yes. Although it is possible to meet the definition of “tax resident” for more than one country, most countries have tax treaties that (1) identify those “instances” where an individual is a “tax resident” of more than country and (2) use the tax treaty to deem the individual to be a “tax resident” of only one country. It wouldn’t be fair for an individual to be treated as a “tax resident” of more than one country, would it? (U.S. citizens living outside the United States are always tax residents of the United States even if they are also “tax residents” of another country.)

Q. What do you mean by “unless you are a U.S. citizen”? As a “U.S. citizen” am I a “tax resident of more than one country?

A. Well, if you are a “U.S. citizen” (or Green Card holder) you are ALWAYS a “tax resident” of the United States. It doesn’t matter whether you actually live there or not. As long as you are a U.S. citizen, you are subject to the full force of the Internal Revenue Code. This includes a variety of “Taxes, Forms and Penalties”. It includes a number of very specific reporting requirements including (but not limited to): FBAR, Form 8938, Form 3520 and Form 5471. For this reason, it is very difficult for a U.S. citizen to move from the United States, become a “tax resident” of that other country and engage in effective financial and retirement planning. See for example:

The biggest cost of being a “dual Canada/U.S. tax filer” is the “lost opportunity” available to pure Canadians

“How To Live Outside The United States In An FBAR And FATCA World”


Q. I understand that as a “U.S. citizen” I am always a “tax resident” of the United States. But, if I move to Canada, does that mean that I am a “tax resident” of Canada too?

A. Absolutely YES!!! You are an American. “To whom much is given, much is expected.” U.S. citizens living in Canada (who meet the definitions of Canadian “tax residency”) are ALSO “tax residents” of Canada (or any other country where they may live). In other words, U.S. citizens living abroad are generally “tax residents” of at least two countries! How cool is that?

John Richardson

So, you have received bank letter asking about your tax residence for CRS or FATCA – A @taxresidency primer – Part 1

cross-posted from citizenshipsolutions.ca

So, you have received bank letter asking about your tax residence for CRS or FATCA – A @taxresidency primer

Introduction – So, what’s this “tax residence” stuff about? What does “tax residence” mean?

In 2014, as people started to receive “FATCA letters” I wrote a lengthy post describing “What to do if you receive a FATCA letter“. Information exchange under the Common Reporting Standard “CRS” has begun in 2018. As a result, I am writing this post which is to explain what the CRS is and how it relates to the FATCA letter. It is important to understand that the “CRS letter is actually a combined “CRS/FATCA” letter which is more likely to be received than the original FATCA letter. I urge that those who have received a letter of this type to read this post PRIOR to seeking professional advice!!!

You are reading this post because you have received a letter from your bank that is asking you to identify the countries where you are a “tax resident” and/or whether you are a “U.S. Person”.

The purpose of this post is to help you understand:

– why you are receiving the letter
– what the letter means
– what is the meaning of “tax resident”, “tax residence” and “tax residency” (terms which are used interchangeably)
– why “tax residency” is important to you
– the significance of being a U.S. citizen or Green Card holder
– how to identify where you may be a “tax resident”

Why are you receiving this letter?

The letter is intended to fulfill the bank’s due diligence obligations under both the OECD Common Reporting Standard (all countries of “tax residence” except the United States) and FATCA (whether you are a “tax resident” of the United States).

In other words, the letter is for the purpose of satisfying bank “due diligence” under two separate reporting regimes – FATCA and the OECD Common Reporting Standard “CRS”

This is long post which is broken into the following parts:

Part A – How does FATCA differ from the “CRS”?
Part B – The Combined FATCA/CRS Letter
Part C – “Tax Residency 101”: It’s about where you should be paying your taxes
Part D – Different definitions of “tax residence” – Not all countries define “tax residence” in the same way
Part E – Oh My God! I think I might be a “tax resident” of two countries – What is a “tax treaty tie breaker”? How does a “tax treaty” tie breaker work?
Part F – A “U.S. citizen” cannot use a “tax treaty tie breaker” to break U.S. “tax residence”. How then does a “U.S. citizen” cease to be a “U.S. tax resident”?
Part G – How a “permanent resident” of the U.S. – AKA “Green Card Holder” – ceases to be a U.S. tax resident
Part H – Are you, or have you ever been a U.S. citizen or Green card holder? Sometimes it’s not what it seems.
Continue reading So, you have received bank letter asking about your tax residence for CRS or FATCA – A @taxresidency primer – Part 1

Update on UK Accidental Americans

uk accidental logo

Back in June we were asked to do a post on the formation of several new Accidental American groups. There seemed to be some confusion as to whether these were “real” groups or just new attempts without substance. Today, while doing something completely different, I came across the UK Accidental Americans group and want to make sure this is posted so as many in the UK as possible, will become aware of the work they are doing there.

The FaceBook Page is here. Please check out the Page and “like” it as well as inviting other friends to do the same.

The FaceBook Group is here. This is a closed group. You must ask to join and answer two questions first.

Further, this article was posted on our Media and Blog Articles Open for Comment page but I only noticed one comment. I want to make sure it is seen on a larger scale. There were also some other similar articles:

“Accidental Americans” must be protected from draconian US tax system

Labour MEPs: Time to give accidental Americans their independence from US tax authorities

And last but not least, our colleague Fabien Lehagre has once again managed to get media and government attention on the plight of French Accidentals Macron Backs Accidental Americans . Truly outstanding effort and results – great stuff Fabien!

If anyone knows anything further concerning the new Accidental American groups in Ireland Italy or Poland could you please update us with a comment or ask one of our admins to do it for you? Thanks.