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December 30, 2016

Don’t Miss Filing Deadlines Related to Foreign Income and Assets or These Great Informational Videos

All U.S. citizens and residents (green card holders) must report worldwide income on their federal income tax return. If you lived outside the U.S. on the regular due date of your tax return, the extended filing deadline for your 2016 tax return is Monday, June 15, 2017.  Similarly, the deadline to report interests in certain foreign financial accounts is the same as your tax return (with some exceptions). Here are some important tips to know if these reporting rules apply to you:
• FATCA Requirements.  FATCA refers to the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. In general, federal law requires U.S. citizens and resident aliens to report any worldwide income. You must report the existence of and income from foreign accounts. This includes foreign trusts, banks and securities accounts. In most cases you must report the country where each account is located. To do this file Schedule B, Interest and Ordinary Dividends with your tax return.
You may also have to file Form 8938, Statement of Special Foreign Financial Assets with your tax return. Use the form to report specified foreign financial assets if the aggregate value of those assets exceeds certain thresholds. See the form instructions for details.
• FBAR Requirements.  FBAR refers to Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts. If you must file this form you file it with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN. FinCEN is a bureau of the Treasury Department. You generally must file the form if you had an interest in foreign financial accounts whose aggregate value exceeded $10,000 at any time during 2014. This also applies if you had signature or other authority over those accounts. You must file Form 114 electronically. It is available online through the BSA E-Filing System website. The FBAR filing requirement is not part of filing a tax return. The deadline to file Form 114 is June 30.
• View the IRS Webinar.  You can get help and learn about FBAR rules by watching the IRS webinar on this topic. The title is “Reporting of Foreign Financial Accounts on the Electronic FBAR.” The presentation is one hour long. You can find it by entering “FBAR” in the search box of the IRS Video Portal home page. Topics include:
o FBAR legal authorities
o FBAR mandatory e-filing overview
o Using FinCEN Form 114; and Form 114a
o FBAR filing requirements
o FBAR filing exceptions
o Special filing rules
o Recordkeeping
o Administrative guidance
You can access IRS forms, videos and tools on at any time.
Additional IRS resources:
IRS YouTube Videos – International Taxpayers:
Our firm has specialized in expat, nonresident and international tax returns for over 30 years. Need help or further explanation, or your return prepared, contact us.  Email us at or visit our website at .  

December 21, 2016

2016 FBAR (form 114) Gets an Automatic Extension of Time to File for 2016

The Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) announced that, to implement the new due date for FinCEN Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR), of April 15 (April 18 for 2017), it will automatically grant all taxpayers filing the form a six-month extension every year to Oct. 15 (which will be Oct. 16, 2017, because Oct. 15 is a Sunday). FinCEN explained that this six-month extension will be automatic each year and that taxpayers do not have to request extensions.
Section 2006(b)(11) of the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015, P.L. 114-41, changed the due date of FBARs to April 15 to coincide with the due date for individual income tax returns. Before the change, the form was due on June 30, a date that did not coincide with any other individual income tax return deadline, and no extensions were allowed.
The Bank Secrecy Act, P.L. 91-508, and its regulations require FBAR reporting from “[e]ach United States person having a financial interest in, or signature or other authority over, a bank, securities, or other financial account in a foreign country” (31 C.F.R. §1010.350(a)), if the aggregate maximum values in that person’s foreign accounts exceed $10,000 at any time during the calendar year (31 C.F.R. §1010.306(c)).
- See more at:

December 2, 2016

Expats and Nonresidents - Amend your Return If Original is not Correct- Easy to Avoid IRS Problems

If there are items of income or expenses, or specialized offshore reporting forms, missing from your tax return it is best to file an amended tax return. If you do not amend to correct errors (in your favor or not) and the IRS discovers the problem first, you risk severe penalties, interest and possible criminal prosecution. The amendment process is simple as described below.

1. When to amend.  You should amend your tax return if you need to correct your filing status, the number of dependents you claimed, or your total income. You should also amend your return to claim tax deductions or tax credits that you did not claim when you filed your original return. The instructions for Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, list more reasons to amend a return.

2. When NOT to amend.  In some cases, you don’t need to amend your tax return. The IRS usually corrects math errors when processing your original return. If you didn’t include a required form or schedule, the IRS will send you a notice via U.S. mail about the missing item.

3. Form 1040X.  Use Form 1040X to amend a federal income tax return that you filed before. Make sure you check the box at the top of the form that shows which year you are amending. Since you can’t e-file an amended return, you’ll need to file your Form 1040X on paper and mail it to the IRS.
Form 1040X has three columns. Column A shows amounts from the original return. Column B shows the net increase or decrease for the amounts you are changing. Column C shows the corrected amounts. You should explain what you are changing and the reasons why on the back of the form.

4. More than one year.  If you file an amended return for more than one year, use a separate 1040X for each tax year. Mail them in separate envelopes to the IRS. See "Where to File" in the instructions for Form 1040X for the address you should use.

5. Other forms or schedules.  If your changes have to do with other tax forms or schedules, make sure you attach them to Form 1040X when you file the form. If you don’t, this will cause a delay in processing.

6. Amending to claim an additional refund.  If you are waiting for a refund from your original tax return, don’t file your amended return until after you receive the refund. You may cash the refund check from your original return. Amended returns take up to 16 weeks to process. You will receive any additional refund you are owed.

7. Amending to pay additional tax.  If you’re filing an amended tax return because you owe more tax, you should file Form 1040X and pay the tax as soon as possible. This will limit interest and penalty charges.

8. When to file.  To claim a refund file Form 1040X no more than three years from the date you filed your original tax return. You can also file it no more than two years from the date you paid the tax, if that date is later than the three-year rule.

If you need assistance amending your return to make corrections, add forms 8865, 5471, 8621, or other foreign entity and asset reporting forms contact us at or phone US 949-480-1235.

November 21, 2016


President Elect Trump has promised to make some major changes in the tax law next year. If you thnk that will happen there may be some steps you need to take before year end.
Defer income to 2017. The Trump tax plan would feature three tax brackets instead of current law's seven, and a top tax rate of 33% instead of current law's 39.6%. If Congress approves this reduction next year you may want to defer income into next year..
The standard year-end tax-savings wisdom always has been to defer income, where possible, into the coming year. This standard approach would make even more sense for middle and upper income taxpayers if the Trump tax plan prevails over others in Congress, and goes into effect for tax year 2017.
Here are some of the ways to defer income until 2017:
  • An employee who believes a bonus may be coming his way may be able to request that his employer delay payment of any bonus until early in the following year. For example, if a bonus would normally be paid on Dec. 15, 2016, an employee may ask the employer before Dec. 15 to defer any bonus coming his way until Jan. 2, 2017. By deferring the bonus, the employee will succeed in having it taxed in 2017. But note that if an employee waits until a bonus is due and payable to request a deferral, the tax on the bonus will not be deferred. Also, if the deferral extends beyond 2-½ months after the close of the tax year, the bonus will be treated as nonqualified deferred compensation (currently includible in income to the extent not subject to a "substantial risk of forfeiture" if the arrangement fails to meet certain distribution, acceleration of benefit, and election requirements).
  • Income that a cash basis taxpayer earns by rendering services isn't taxed until the client, patient etc., pays. If the taxpayer (e.g., consultant, business person, medical professional) holds off billing until next year—or until so late in the year that no payment can be received in 2016—he will succeed in deferring taxable income until next year.
  • Defer "first year" required minimum distributions (RMDs) from an IRA or 401(k) plan (or other employer-sponsored retirement plan). RMDs from IRAs must begin by April 1 of the year following the year a taxpayer reaches age 70-½. That start date also applies to company plans, but non-5% company owners who continue working may defer RMDs until April 1 following the year they retire. Although RMDs must begin no later than April 1 following the year in which the IRA owner attains age 70-½, the first distribution calendar year is the year in which the IRA owner attains age 70-½. Thus, if a taxpayer turns age 70-½ in 2016, he can delay the first required distribution to 2017, but if he does so, there will have to take a double distribution in 2017—the amount required for 2016 plus the amount required for 2017. Delaying 2016 distributions to 2017 thus will bunch income into 2017, but that would be beneficial if the taxpayer winds up in a substantially lower bracket that year.
  • Defer a traditional IRA-to-Roth IRA conversion until 2017. Such a conversion generally is subject to tax as if it were distributed from the traditional IRA or qualified plan and not recontributed to another IRA. Thus, a taxpayer who plans to make such a conversion should defer doing so if he believes the conversion will face a lower tax next year.
Defer property sales. The President-elect's plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") also would repeal the 3.8% surtax on investment income. This surtax applies to the lesser of
  1. Net investment income or
  2. The excess of modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) over the threshold amount ($250,000 for joint filers or surviving spouses, $125,000 for a married individual filing a separate return, and $200,000 for other taxpayers).
As a result, if the surtax is repealed for 2017, taxpayers within the reach of the surtax, and are contemplating the sale of property that would generate a large investment gain, would benefit by deferring the sale until next year (assuming of course that the sale price would stay more or less the same).
If the sale can't be postponed, it may be possible to structure the deal as an installment sale. By making a sale this year with part or all of the proceeds payable next year or later, a non-dealer seller to whom the installment method applies becomes taxable in any year on only that proportion of his profit which the payments he receives that year bear to the total sale price. If the 3.8% surtax is repealed for tax years beginning after 2016, the profit on the post-2016 installment payments would escape the surtax. Note that the Trump tax plan would keep current law's maximum tax rate of 20% of capital gains.
On the deduction side. Itemized deductions produce no tax savings for a year in which a taxpayer claims the standard deduction, and many more taxpayers would claim the standard deduction under President-elect Trump's tax plan. It calls for a dramatically increased standard deduction: $30,000 for joint filers (up from $12,600 for 2016) and $15,000 for singles (up from $6,300). If the boosted standard deduction makes it into law for 2017, many taxpayers who itemize under current law and wouldn't be able to under the Trump plan would be better off accelerating next year's itemized deductions into this year, when they will generate a tax savings. And, even if the standard deduction proposal is watered down, itemized deductions still will be more valuable to a taxpayer this year than next if he expects to be in a lower marginal tax bracket in 2017.

November 12, 2016


IRC, Title 26, Section 119(d) provides an exception from taxable income for employees of educational institutions who are provided qualified campus housing, which is defined as lodging provided to the employee, spouse or a dependent by or on behalf of the institution for use as a home located on or near campus. In contrast to other employer-provided housing, campus housing does not have to be furnished for the convenience of the employer or as a condition of employment in order to be excluded from wages.
    In general, the value of residential housing furnished by a school to one of its employees is excludable from wages, provided the housing is located on or near campus and the employee pays rent during the calendar year that equals or exceeds 5% of the fair market value of the housing.
If the employee does not pay rent equal to at least 5% of the housing's fair market value, then the difference between the rent paid and the lesser of (1) 5% of the fair market value of the housing and (2) the average rental paid by individuals (other than students or employees) for comparable housing provided by the school is includable in the employee's taxable wages.


We have assisted and represented well in excess of one hundred expats with the tax and legal aspects of surrendering their US citizenship  or long term green card with great success.  Want to discuss the rules and put together a strategy for your surrender.  Contact us to set up a mini consultation to discuss by skype or by phone. Most clients have discovered it is less complex than they believed.  Email us at or call US 949-480-1235.

Expats - Eight Tips to Determine if Your Gift is Taxable and requires you to file a Gift Tax Return

If you gave money or property to someone as a gift, you may owe federal gift tax. Many gifts are not subject to the gift tax, but the IRS offers the following eight tips about gifts and the gift tax.
Most gifts are not subject to the gift tax. For example, there is usually no tax if you make a gift to your spouse or to a charity. If you make a gift to someone else, the gift tax usually does not apply until the value of the gifts you give that person exceeds the annual exclusion for the year. For 2011 and 2012, the annual exclusion is $13,000.
Gift tax returns do not need to be filed unless you give someone, other than your spouse, money or property worth more than the annual exclusion for that year.
Generally, the person who receives your gift will not have to pay any federal gift tax because of it. Also, that person will not have to pay income tax on the value of the gift received.
Making a gift does not ordinarily affect your federal income tax. You cannot deduct the value of gifts you make (other than deductible charitable contributions).
The general rule is that any gift is a taxable gift. However, there are many exceptions to this rule. The following gifts are not taxable gifts:
• Gifts that are do not exceed the annual exclusion for the calendar year,
• Tuition or medical expenses you pay directly to a medical or educational institution for someone,
• Gifts to your spouse,
• Gifts to a political organization for its use, and
• Gifts to charities.
You and your spouse can make a gift up to $26,000 to a third party without making a taxable gift. The gift can be considered as made one-half by you and one-half by your spouse. If you split a gift you made, you must file a gift tax return to show that you and your spouse agree to use gift splitting. You must file a Form 709, United States Gift (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return, even if half of the split gift is less than the annual exclusion
You must file a gift tax return on Form 709, if any of the following apply:
• You gave gifts to at least one person (other than your spouse) that are more than the annual exclusion for the year.
• You and your spouse are splitting a gift.
• You gave someone (other than your spouse) a gift of a future interest that he
or she cannot actually possess, enjoy, or receive income from until some time in the future.
• You gave your spouse an interest in property that will terminate due to a  future event.
You do not have to file a gift tax return to report gifts to political organizations and gifts made by paying someone’s tuition or medical expenses.
Remember, if you received gifts equal to $100,000 US or more in one year from a nonresident of property located outside of the US, you as recipient must report the gift on form 3520.

August 10, 2016

Estate and Gift Tax Planning for US Nonresidents with US Real Estate and Other US assets

Nonresidents are taxed differently on their property located in the USA than those who are citizens or permanent residents.  They do not get the same exemptions and credits and can without proper planning end up paying a lot of estate or gift taxes.

The table below shows when the IRS considers US property owned by nonresidents to be subject to estate taxes (paid upon death of the nonresident) and gift taxes (when US property and assets are transferred without consideration) during the nonresidents life.
                                                                                   ESTATE TAX                     GIFT TAX

Estate Tax Gift Tax
Property Type Yes No Yes No
Tangible Personal Property in U.S. (e.g., artwork, jewelry) X
Currency in U.S. Safe Deposit Box X
Cash Deposits in a U.S. Bank
U.S. Real Estate X
Non-U.S. Real Estate
U.S. Stocks X

Non-U.S. Stocks
U.S. Government and Corporate Bonds
U.S. States/Muni Bonds X

U.S. Partnership/LLC Interest Depends (a)

Retirement Plans
Life Insurance Cash Value X

Life Insurance Death Benefits

(a) The law is not clear and interpretations go both ways with respect to US situs of assets and situs of acutal partnership or LLC interest.

The table below shows the differences between estate and gift taxes paid by a citizen or permanent resident from that which is paid by a nonresident (NRA) including tbe differences in exemptions, and other rules.

U.S. Person NRA
Estate Tax Exemption Amount $5,430,000 per person $60,000 per person
Top Estate and Gift Tax Rate 40% 40%
Lifetime Gift Tax Exemption Amount $5,430,000 per person $0
Annual Gift Tax Exclusion Amount $14,000 per donee $14,000 per donee
Gift Splitting Between Spouses Yes, if both spouses are U.S. people No
Marital Deduction for Lifetime Gifts Unlimited if recipient spouse is a U.S. citizen $147,000 per year if recipient spouse is a non-U.S. citizen4
Marital Deduction for Testamentary Bequests Unlimited if recipient spouse is a U.S. citizen $0, if recipient spouse is a non-U.S. citizen, unless assets are held in a Qualified Domestic Trust
Gift Tax Exclusion for Direct Payment of Medical and Education Expenses Yes Yes
Portability of Decedents Exemption Yes No

If you are a nonresident and need estate tax or gift tax planning for your US assets contact us at 

Most Popular Cities and Jobs for Expats Working Abroad

July 30, 2016

What facts do I need to include in completing the narrative statement of facts portion of the Form 14653?

Provide specific reasons for your failure to report all income, pay all tax, and submit all required information returns, including FBARs. Include the whole story including favorable and unfavorable facts.

Specific reasons, whether favorable or unfavorable to you, should include your personal background, financial background, and anything else you believe is relevant to your failure to report all income, pay all tax, and submit all required information returns, including FBARs.
Additionally, explain the source of funds in all of your foreign financial accounts/assets. For example, explain whether you inherited the account/asset, whether you opened it while residing in a foreign country, or whether you had a business reason to open or use it. And explain your contacts with the account/asset including withdrawals, deposits, and investment/management decisions. Provide a complete story about your foreign financial account/asset.

The following points address common situations that may apply to you

We realize that many taxpayers failed to acknowledge their financial interest in or signature authority over foreign financial accounts on Form 1040, Schedule B. If you (or your return preparer) inadvertently checked “no” on Schedule B, line 7a, simply provide your explanation.

We realize that some taxpayers that owned or controlled a foreign entity (e.g., corporation, trust, partnership, IBC, etc.) failed to properly report ownership of the entity or transactions with the foreign entity. If you (or your return preparer) inadvertently failed to report ownership or control of the foreign entity or transactions with the foreign entity, explain why and include your understanding of your reporting obligations to the IRS and to foreign jurisdictions.

If you relied on a professional advisor, provide the name, address, and telephone number of the advisor and a summary of the advice. Also provide background such as how you came into contact with the advisor and frequency of communication with the advisor.

If married taxpayers submitting a joint certification have different reasons, provide the individual reasons for each spouse separately in the statement of facts.

July 6, 2016

Better Pay Your Mexican Taxes on your Mexican Rental Income

Under Mexican law,  all income generated from properties located within Mexican territory is subject to taxation, even if the owners are foreigners and even if all funds are collected in accounts located outside Mexico.   For many years it has been a major issue for both Mexican tax authorities and individuals attempting to comply.  For years a Federal Taxpayer ID was required to file and pay the tax.   In order to obtain this tax ID one needed to be a resident of Mexico.    This was lose-lose for both the authorities and the foreigners who were willing to pay but baffled by the issues involved to “get legitimate”.

After more than five years of Settlement Company® dialogue with Mexican tax officials, a resolution was made in which the foreign property owner could appoint a Mexican company to pay his or her taxes and dispense with all other formalities.  This has become reality!   Mexican authorities are now looking seriously to collect this long-neglected source of tax revenue and foreigners not only are lining up to pay but also to receive the receipts for payment of the taxes which can then be credited against taxes paid in their native country under the terms of the NAFTA treaty.  Remember! no double taxation is permitted under the terms of the treaty!

If you have a rental property in Mexico contact us for details.

June 15, 2016

Expats should include their pets in estate plan

A majority of American households today make pets a part of the family. More and more, people want to see pets provided for even after the passing of the human members of the family. In the past,
inadequacies with the law made this impossible. However, now almost every State allows for trusts to be established solely for the benefit of caring for a pet after its family has passed on. Paramount to the trust is not only providing the financial means to care for the pet but to also lay out the wishes of the pet’s owner to ensure the level of care the trust is intended to provide. That is why this trust not only provides for a trustee but also the role of an enforcer to make certain the owner’s wishes are being respected.
Make the effort to remember your pets when creating your estate planning – they may live longer than you!  Need help. Contact us at or visit our website 

June 5, 2016


The deadline for filing  the 2015 form 114 to report your foreign bank and other financial accounts is coming up on June 30th.  The form must be filed on line and cannot be extended for any reason. Read more details in this article from Forbes Magazine.

If your foreign asset values exceed a certain amount you may also have to file form 8938 with your tax return. The penalty for failing to file that form is $10,000.  That form (if required) must be filed even though you also reported on Form 114.

If you have questions on these forms or on other foreign asset reporting IRS rules, you can request a mini consultation by emailing us

May 30, 2016

US Expatriate Tax Return Due Date Deadlines

Several tax return deadlines are coming up very soon. Failure to meet these deadlines or file extensions can result in substantial penalties and other problems.

  • June 15, 2016: US Expat Tax Tax Return Deadline (without  applying for an extension)
This is the US expat deadline and also the deadline to file an additional extension until October 15. Remember that if you are required to file FATCA Form 8938 (to report your foreign assets), it must be filed along with your US expat tax return. If you file for an extension, the extension applies to Forms 5471, 8865, and  8938, as well.
  • June 30, 2016: Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR) Filing Deadline
Form FinCEN 114 must be filed online using the BSA e-filing system. It is filed on line only and can easily be done by you if you are good with computers. No further extensions can be granted. Failure to timely file can result in a $10,000 penalty..
  • October 17, 2016: Final US Expat Tax Deadline
If you filed an extension prior to June 15th using form 4868 and marking the expat box  this is your final deadline. Normally the deadline is October 15th, but due to it falling on a Saturday the tax deadline is extended.  You can get a further extension if necessary by following the required procedure and sending a letter to the IRS which can give you until December 15, 2016 to file your return. This additional extension is discretionary with the IRS.
If you need help email us at or for additional information visit our website at 

May 17, 2016


The Internal Revenue Service has some advice for taxpayers this April Fool’s Day that  may prevent them from being the victim of a tax scam: Don’t be fooled by scammers. Stay safe and be informed. Here are some of the most recent IRS-related scams to be on the lookout for:

Telephone Scams. Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain an ongoing threat. The IRS has seen a surge of these phone scams in recent years as scam artists threaten taxpayers with police arrest, deportation, license revocation and more. These con artists often demand payment of back taxes on a prepaid debit card or by immediate wire transfer. Be alert to con artists impersonating IRS agents and demanding payment.
Note that the IRS will never:
  • Call to demand immediate payment over the phone or call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone or threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
Scammers Change Tactics. The IRS is receiving new reports of scammers calling under the guise of verifying tax return information over the phone. The latest variation on this scam uses the current tax filing season as a hook. Scam artists call saying they are from the IRS and have received your tax return, and they just need to verify a few details to process it. The scam tries to get you to give up personal information such as a Social Security number or personal financial information, such as bank numbers or credit cards.
Tax Refund Scam Artists Posing as TAP. In this new email scam targeting taxpayers, people are receiving emails that appear to come from the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel, a volunteer board that advises the IRS on issues affecting taxpayers. They try to trick you into providing personal and financial information. Do not respond or click the links in these emails. If you receive an email that appears to be from TAP regarding your personal tax information, forward it to
Email, Phishing and Malware Schemes. The IRS has seen an approximate 400 percent surge inphishing and malware incidents so far in the 2016 tax season.
The emails are designed to trick taxpayers into thinking these are official communications from the IRS or others in the tax industry, including tax software companies. The phishing schemes can ask taxpayers about a wide range of topics. Emails can seek information related to refunds, filing status, confirming personal information, ordering transcripts and verifying PIN information.
Variations of these scams can be seen via text messages, and the communications are being reported in every section of the country.
When people click on these email links, they are taken to sites designed to imitate an official-looking website, such as The sites ask for Social Security numbers and other personal information, which could be used to help file false tax returns. The sites also may carry malware, which can infect your computer and allow criminals to access your files or track your keystrokes to gain information.
If you get a ‘phishing’ email, the IRS offers this advice:
  • Don’t reply to the message.
  • Don’t give out your personal or financial information.
  • Forward the email to Then delete it.
  • Don’t open any attachments or click on any links. They may have malicious code that will infect your computer.
More information on how to report phishing or phone scams is available on

Additional IRS Resources:
IRS YouTube Video: