Why the proposed transition tax, if applied to individual U.S. shareholders living abroad, is analogous to the “Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program


The following was written by John Richardson and is a section of a larger piece yet to be published. I will provide the link at the time it is available and of course, have permission to publish this.

When I first read this, two things occurred to me. The OVDP/OVDI process represented a penalty for a failure to report. A failure to report is not a transaction to be recorded or that can be measured in relation to tax that is owed. The “in lieu of FBAR” penalty. The percentage was a figure set by the Treasury Dept with no clear connection to anything other than the value of an asset. So one agreed to allow a certain level of confiscation not based upon any amount of tax owed. The other issue with OVDP/OVDI was that it was an incredible deal for “whales”-that percentage represented far less than what they would have paid all-told. The transition tax is a gift for multi-nationals; moving to a territorial system, they will not pay what they would have been required to pay were they to repatriate the income that they will now, never be required to do.

Notably the Transition Tax is part of reforms to international taxation. The centerpiece of the reforms is that for US corporate shareholders of foreign companies there will no longer be US taxation of foreign earnings. (In other words, the US has forced corporations to move in the direction of territorial taxation). The transition tax is imposed as a mechanism to fund territorial taxation. Corporate shareholders are subject to the Transition tax and receive the benefits of territorial taxation. Individual shareholders (including possibly Americans Abroad) are subject to the Transition tax but do not receive the benefits of territorial taxation. Americans Abroad, who carry on business through non US corporations may be required to fund the move to territorial taxation (unlike corporate shareholders) and will continue to be taxed and taxed in an even more punitive way.

Of course, referring to OVDP/OVDI &/or the Transition Tax as a “gift refers only to multi-national corporations or people of wealth. For “minnows” OVDP/OVDI was an absolute abomination. The Transition Tax, should it apply to small CFC’s ( read “individuals”), will provoke the largest number of renunciations whether official or via “feet”.

This is an absolute breaking point in our process. Now that the rate on liquid assets is highter (15%), once the calculations are done, the effective rate applied to individuals will be over 18%. It will not be a matter of refusal as much as the simple inability to pay it. No one can continue to contribute to financial suicide, law or not.


Why the proposed transition tax, if applied to individual U.S. shareholders living abroad, is analogous to the “Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP)”

by John Richardson

Significantly, the “transition tax” is NOT based on any income realization event. It is based only on the fact of legally earned retained earnings, which are subject to taxation in the country where they were earned.

The transition tax is a calculation based on an “account balance” – specifically the “retained earnings” account balance on the greater of two dates.

It is a mandatory payment which is based on the value of a “foreign asset”.

Therefore, the “transition tax” as applied to Americans abroad has characteristics that are more like “OVDP” than an income tax (which would be based on a realization event).

In any case, the “transition tax” is nothing more than an asset confiscation with nothing in return.

The application of the “transition tax” to Americans abroad would raise U.S. “citizenship-based taxation” to a new and UNPRECEDENTED level of unfairness and obscenity

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