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December 11, 2018


There is still time left before the end of 2018 to take steps to save taxes under the new tax laws enacted last year. READ AND DOWNLOAD OUT 2018 TAX PLANNING LETTER HERE.

Kauffman Nelson LLP, CPAs is a firm of CPAs and Attorneys with 30 years experience in US expatriate, international and US nonresident taxation.  We prepare your 2018 tax  return and assist you with planning, problems, audits, and all other US tax matters. Email us at 

DOWNLOAD OUR 2018 EXPAT TAX RETURN QUESTIONNAIRE AND SEND IT IN FOR A FEE QUOTE HERE. GET STARTED EARLY AND SAVE TIME AND MONEY.  It is in MS Word Format to make it easy to complete on your computer or tablet.

December 9, 2018

2018 RATES, Standard Deductions and More - See What will Happen to You

 IRS Announces 2019 Tax Rates, Standard Deduction Amounts And More. READ MORE
HERE FROM FORBES MAGAZINE.  Need year end planning, email us at Attorney and CPAs will be there to help you find the best strategy.

December 4, 2018

2018 Expat Foreign Earned Income Exclusion and Housing Exclusion

 For 2018 the foreign earned income exclusion is $104,100. This applies to earned income from your work abroad and increases each year. Many IT, Tech, and Coding employees and self employed indivduals chose to live and work abroad to take advantage of his amazing tax break.

  If you live in a no tax or low tax country, you may not have to pay any tax on this much of your earned income if you are a bonafide resident of your home country or meet the physical presence test of  not going back to the US more than 35 days during any 12 month calendar or fiscal year period.  Read more about this exclusion and how to qualify and the additional deduction you can receive for your rental expenses and living expenses abroad (housing exclusion) in publication 54 READ IT HERE

Kauffman Nelson LLP CPAs have done tax return exclusively for US Expatriates and US Nonresidents for over 20 years.  We know the laws, and the recent changes implemented by the new tax laws enacted at the end of 2017.  Email us at and visit our website at for lots of useful tax information and tax savings.

December 3, 2018

New Tax Law - Get Your Divorce Now (before end of 2018) or later

If you finalize your divorce prior to the end of 2018, if you are the payer you can continue to deduction your alimony payment and your spouse must include those payments in is or her income for tax purposes.

HOWEVER, beginning in 2019 Alimony is no longer deductible to paying spouse and no longer taxable to receiving spouse. THEREFORE, depending on which side of the divorce you are on, you may want to hurry up and get it done now, or may want to delay until 2019.

BIG tax consequences.... see your divorce lawyer now!

Need help with your tax planning or returns?  Attorney and CPAs specializing in Expatriate, US International and US Nonresident taxation for 30 plus years.  Email us at

December 2, 2018

New IRS Disclosure Procedures for Those With Undisclosed Foreign Assets and Unreported Foreign Income

The IRS ended the Voluntary Offshore Disclosure Program in September of 2018. This program was designed to allow those who  had  past unreported foreign income and unreported foreign assets to catch up with the IRS and reduce some penalties, and avoid the risk of criminal prosecution.

On November 20, 2018, the IRS announced new procedures which replaces the OSVDI and if chosen, could reduce many penalties and in many instances avoid criminal prosecution.  The link to the memo addressing this new procedure is below.

This program can be used by those who have much bigger hidden income and disclosure problems than could be address through the IRS streamlined program. If you decide to surface with the IRS using these new procedures best you use a tax attorney so your situation is kept confidential


Contact Don Nelson, US International Tax Attorney with over 30 years experience at if you wish to discuss your situation or learn more.  We have helped over a hundred clients with past unreported foreign assets and income catch up and resolve matters with the IRS.

December 1, 2018


We all get asked to make contributions to recognized charities.  Often we have never heard of the
charity and sometimes if may not be one recognized by the IRS. Only charities which are recognized by the IRS will give you a charitable deduction on your tax return.  The IRS has a on line database which allows you to check out the name of all registered charities.   The link below will allow you to make certain your contribution is tax deductible and going for a good cause.


Remember contributions to political parties, political organization and PACS are not deductible. Also with respect to foreign tax exempt charities the rules on whether or not the contribution can be deducted are complex and must be followed if you wish to get a deduction.  Those rules must be reviewed carefully to assure you contribution will produce a tax benefit.  See IRS publication 526

For 2018 and beyond you get a standard deduction on Schedule A of $24,000 if you file jointly or $12,000 if you file single. Therefore your taxes, medical expenses, charitable contributions, etc must exceed those amounts to give you any tax benefit.

Our firm offers mini consultations to help you resolve your tax problems, for planning and answer your tax questions. We are all US attorneys and CPAs. If you wish to have such a consultation email us at  Visit our website at

November 27, 2018


If you own more than fifty percent of a foreign corporation holding real estate or operating a business
abroad, you now have to plan for the new GILTI tax (acronym)  IRC Section 951A resulting from the Tax Bill enacted in late 2017.   This tax applies to both large and small foreign corporations. In the past unless you had certain types of income, any net profits left in the corporation were not taxed on your personal return (or US corporate return if the foreign corporation is owned by your foreign corporation).  Now it is probable if there is a profit you will have to pay tax on the profits remaining at year end in your foreign corporation.


Contact us at if you want to plan for the tax, the impact of the tax, or avoiding it before the end of 2018.  Time is limited and after year end there is nothing you can do.

November 26, 2018


What follow are a few of the obscure changes in the 2018 tax laws that may help or hurt you.

  • The standard itemized  deduction (Schedule A) for 2018 is $24,000 if you file married filing jointly and $12,000 if single. That means your medical expenses, taxes ( within the new lower allowable limit) interest, charitable contributions and misc deductions (many of these have been eliminated) must exceed that amount in order to give you any tax benefit.
  • The personal exemptions for you, your spouse, and your children have been eliminated.
  • You can no longer deduct the property taxes paid on foreign real estate used by you personally such as a second home or your primary residence located in a foreign country.
  • If you have a foreign residential rental, you can now depreciate it over 30 years rather than the previous 40 years.  Foreign commercial rentals are still depreciated over 40 years.
  • If you retirement age and required  to take withdrawals from your IRA, you can designated part or all of the mandatory withdrawal to a registered charity and that part of your withdrawal will not be taxed to you.  This may be of benefit since the new standard deduction at $24,000 may make it impossible to get any tax benefit from charitable contributions except for very large amounts.
Need help planning for 2018 taxes before year end or with other international, expatriate or nonresident tax matters (including catching up) email us at or visit our website at 

November 1, 2018


The new 2018 tax rules have changed some of the rules for year end tax planning. 

Some of these rules might apply to expatriates and nonresidents.  The foreign earned income exclusion and foreign tax credit rules do remain the same as the past.  However if you own a foreign corporation the new GILTI tax may apply and force you to pay tax on undistributed income from your foreign corporation. 

Read more about some year end tax planning  suggestions from AARP HERE

If you need help or have questions and you are a US expatriate, nonresident  or owner of foreign assets we can help. Email us at or visit our website at   We have been assisting expatriates and nonresidents with their taxes for over 25 years.

October 30, 2018

NEW 2018 GILTI Tax On US Owners of Controlled Foreign Corporations

For 2018 and beyond if you own 10% or more of a Controlled Foreign Corporaton (More than 50%
owned by US taxpayers) you must pay a GILTI tax (that is the real nickname of this tax) on part of the corporations net income even though it is not distributed to you.  This is a modification of the Subpart F rules which causes owners (US corporations, individuals, partnerships, etc) to pay tax on earnings of controlled foreign corporations. The rules are complex and may catch many expatriate small business owners by surprise  This tax is different than the Section 965 tax you paid one time for 2017.

If you want to know more the IRS draft form and initial draft instructions are below which can be downloaded in pdf format:


FORM 8992 - draft

If you want to take steps to deal with this tax before year end or need other assistance email us at

October 16, 2018

The tax rules have changed significantly for 2018.  You no longer get a dependents deduction for yourself, your spouse or your children or other dependents. You do get a larger standard deduction though which may offset the loss of the dependents deduction.  The new standard deductions (which is in addition to any foreign earned income exclusion you claim on form 2555) is below. Due to these higher amounts the advantages of owning a home and the deduction of mortgage interest and state property taxes may be lost and well as loss of ability to deduct medical expenses and charitable expenses.  All of these deductions must exceed the standard deduction to achieve any benefit from these deductions.

2018 Standard Deduction Amount

August 21, 2018

Guilty Plea of Taxpayer Who Failed to Report Million Dollars deposit in Israeli Bank.

DOJ Tax announced here that Ben Zion Birman of Los Angeles pled guilty to willfully failing to file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).  Here are the relevant excerpts:
According to court documents, Ben Zion Birman, of Los Angeles, California held offshore accounts in Israel at Bank Leumi Le-Israel B.M. from 2006 to 2011. Birman willfully failed to file with the Department of Treasury an FBAR for calendar year 2010, despite having over $1 million in Bank Leumi accounts.  In an effort to further hide his money, Birman instructed Bank Leumi to hold bank mail from delivery to the United States, and obtained access to his offshore funds through the use of “back-to-back” loans, which were designed to enable borrowers to tap their concealed accounts.  These lending arrangements permitted Birman to have funds issued by Leumi’s U.S. branch that were secretly secured by funds in his undeclared accounts in Israel. 
In December 2014, Bank Leumi entered into a deferred prosecution agreementafter the bank admitted to conspiring from at least 2000 until early 2011 to aid and assist U.S. taxpayers to prepare and present false tax returns by hiding income and assets in offshore bank accounts in Israel and other locations around the world.  Under the terms of the deferred prosecution agreement, Bank Leumi paid the United States a total of $270 million and continues to cooperate with respect to civil and criminal tax investigations.
* * * * 
Birman faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, as well as a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties. Birman's sentencing is scheduled for December 10, 2018.  

Time is running out to catch up on FBAR filings before the IRS catches you.  If you come forward first you can save yourself substantial penalties and criminal prosecution. Email us at if you wish help 

August 16, 2018

AIRBNB TAXES IS NOW WITHHOLDING LODGING TAX FROM BAJA RENTALS - The Hacienda will collect income taxes and IVA next.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

AIRBNB TAXES IS NOW WITHHOLDING LODGING TAX FROM BAJA RENTALS - The Hacienda will collect income taxes and IVA next.

On August 6th the Gringo Gazette published an article by Doris Open regarding the impact of the Airbnb rentals in Mexico.    In Baja California Sur alone there are 2,400 owners registered with Airbnb!
    Now………all these owners renting through Airbnb will be paying the 3% lodging tax to the municipal authorities.  This will be taken out of rental income BEFORE it goes to the owner!!

   Rental owners of property in Mexico also owe Federal Income Tax Mexico and IVA Tax. Failure to pay these taxes on rental income can result in severe penalties.

    One to these two taxes is the Impuesto Sobre la Renta (ISR) is the owner’s tax on income.    The other, the Impuesto al Valor Agregado (IVA) tax is a sales tax which must be paid by the tenant but collected by the owner and delivered to the Mexican authorities.

    These taxes must be declared MONTHLY and paid each month to SAT, the federal tax authority.
Many tax authorities and accountants do not believe the 3% hospitality tax is an obligation of the owner of one or two units who rents only occasionally.  This issue has yet to be determined with any certainty.

    No tax expert disputes the legitimacy of the two federal Federal taxes.    With all this publicity however, federal tax authorities will be looking more closely at the Airbnb websites and will be visiting those owners to check their compliance with federal tax laws.  They have already done so in some towns located on the Mexican mainland.

    It is strongly suggested you get legal  with the Mexican tax authorities BEFORE they knock on your door!

If you have questions on IVA and Income Tax owed on your Mexican rental property either in Mexico or in the USA (if you are a US taxpayer), contact us at

To learn more about the details of these Mexican rental taxes visit 
The Settlement Company® has developed three options for meeting your obligations on income from rental properties located in Mexico.   For additional information;

July 16, 2018


The 2018 tax law eliminates most of your miscellaneous itemized deductions such as investment expenses, tax return fees, reimbursed job expenses, education expenses, etc.  The only two that remain are investment interest expense and gambling losses.  Read the details of what deductions are now gone READ MORE DETAILS HERE FROM NOLO LEGAL PUBLICATIONS

July 9, 2018

IRS Streamlined Filing Program (used to catch up for Failing to File Certain Foreign Asset Reporting forms) May Now Be Audited

The IRS may soon begin to audit those who have filed under the Streamlined Program which is used to
catch up the filing of certain foreign asset reporting forms which the taxpayer failed to file. These forms include form 5471, 8865, 114 (FBAR), 8938, etc.  Entering this program avoids certain penalties and may permit you to file or amend the past three years tax returns and six year Forms 114 (FBAR).

Read more about the forthcoming audits and how to prepare here.  If you wish further help email us at  All consultations are protected by attorney/client privilege.

You May Be Denied Your US passport renewal (or your Passport can be Revoked)l if You Owe Taxes

At least 362,000 Americans with overdue tax debts will be denied new or renewed passports if they don’t settle these debts, the Internal Revenue Service says.
Recently IRS officials have provided new details on the enforcement of a law Congress passed in late 2015. It requires the IRS and State Department to deny passports or revoke them for taxpayers who have more than $51,000 of overdue tax debt. Enforcement began in February.  Overdue tax debt includes accrued  penalties and interest which can result after many years a small amount growing quite large.
Best to catch up before you get left without a passport. We can help. Email us for help and guidance on how to proceed.  All consultations are protected by the privacy of attorney/client privilege.


May 7, 2018


The link below goes to an excellent article that states where you tax dollars go after you pay the IRS and also sets forth how much the federal governement borrows to cover the rest of their budget.

Email us if you want to give the IRS less tax dollars.  Don Nelson, US Tax Attorney

May 1, 2018


The IRS says it is not bound by oral advice.  Ignoring that rule,  we did received the statement below from an IRS agent by email.

Digital currency like Bitcoin would only be reportable if it is held in account with a financial institution or someone acting as a financial institution.   It is digital currency held in a digital wallet, not in a financial institution. The digital wallet is not a foreign financial account.  In that form. it is not reportable on FBAR.

Need FBAR help, email an experienced tax attorney with your questions at 

April 9, 2018

Avoiding California State Income Taxes When Moving Abroad

This is often called the California Safe Harbort Rule for Expatriates.

It is often difficult to give up your obligation to pay California taxes when starting to work abroad.  California is an "Intent State."  That California wants to continue to tax you until you show the intent of moving your tax domicile to another country or state.  They  look at all of the facts and circumstances in retrospect years later to determine if you actually had the "intent" to move your tax residency to another country.

There is a solution to the ambiguities involved with successfully giving up your California residency for tax purposes. That is the Safe Harbor Rule which can be used. Under that rule:
  • You must remain living and working outside of California for at least 546 days under a contract of employment;
  • You do not have more than $200,000 in investment income;
  • You do not return to California more than 45 days during any calendar year.
If you meet these criteria, you are automatically deemed to be a California nonresident for the period you work abroad even though you may still have a California drivers license, voter registration, etc.

It is important to successfully avoid California tax domicile status when living abroad since California does not allow the foreign earned income exclusion or foreign tax credits. If means if you remain a California tax resident a lot of taxes may be due.  If you originally move abroad and later move back to California before the 546 days passes you will owe tax returns for all of the years you were claiming this exception as well as any applicable penalties and interest. If California deems you a resident you owe it taxes on your worldwide income.

Some states make it even tougher to give up the obligation to pay state taxes when working abroad. Virigina and New Mexico are just a few.

We can help you avoid continuing having to pay state taxes when you move abroad to work or retire. Contact us if you have questions or concerns at  Visit our website at   Our US phone is 949-480-1235