Counseling and guidance for U.S. citizens abroad, “Green Card” holders, those investing in the U.S. and those considering immigrating to the U.S.
U.S. citizenship abroad is a problem that MUST be solved. You may be frozen like a “deer in the headlights”.
Your problem is NOT just making a decision.
Your problem is knowing how to make a good decision.
We offer counseling in the following areas:
1. Are you a U.S. person for tax purposes? The answer may be NO. Find out before you panic and waste lots of money.
If you are a U.S. person, then, you must consider:
2. Possible past compliance problems:
Tax returns, FBAR, and possible other information returns. There are a number of ways to address past compliance issues. Do NOT under any circumstances presume that you should enter OVDP (the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program)! We we will help you come to a decision that is based on your personal circumstances.
3. OVDI/OVDP Counseling
Are you in the OVDP program? Are you thinking of entering the program? Do NOT enter OVDP without understanding different ways of dealing with past compliance problems. You need to understand the true costs of entering OVDP. Furthermore, you need to understand the “penalty base” for the “in lieu of” penalty.
4. The OVDI/OVDP “Opt out”
There are many people who entered the OVDI/OVDP program as a result of bad professional advice. In many cases, people did NOT make a reasoned decision to enter OVDI/OVDP. Rather they entered as a result of an emotional reaction. In many cases, you should “opt out” of the program. We will give you a second opinion and help you make that decision.
5. Going Forward – Current compliance issues in a FATCAesque world.
Starting with the 2011 tax year, U.S. persons living outside the United States must file a form disclosing their foreign assets. In addition, starting in 2014, non-U.S. financial institutions may begin reporting U.S. citizens to the IRS. This strengthens the argument for compliance from here on in.
6. What kind of professional services do you need for compliance issues and where can you find those services? Basically you can deal with the IRS through a lawyer, an accountant or an Enrolled Agent. You need to understand the differences, and how the differences may affectyour experience.
7. Going forward – Renouncing your U.S. citizenship – Have you had enough?
This is possible, but the possible financial consequences need to be understood (particularly if you own a home in Toronto or Vancouver). Different people have different circumstances. That said, it is clear that U.S. citizenship is very expensive to retain if you plan to live outside the U.S.
8. Going Forward – Getting Rid of that Green Card
In many circumstances Green Card holders will be subject to an “Exit Tax” when expatriating (giving up that Green Card).
9. Going Forward – Remaining a U.S. citizen – You will have disabilities that citizens of other countries do not
A. Financial Life – From a practical point of view, you cannot invest in certain investments (mutual funds, TFSAs, etc.) if you are a U.S. citizen.
B. Social and Family Life – U.S. citizens with “long term” residence abroad, stand a good chance of marriage to a non-U.S. citizens. It is a great disadvantage for non-U.S. citizens to be married to U.S. citizens. What are some of the practical difficulties and how can you avoid them?
C. Business Life – U.S. citizens are required to report a great deal of financial information to the IRS. This can include the financial information of non-U.S. citizen business partners. The advent of FATCA has made people aware of these problems. How are you to deal with this problem?
10. U.S. Estate and Gift Tax
Death and taxes are certain. The U.S. imposes both an estate tax on your death and a tax on gifts that you make during your life.
11. Issues surrounding investing in the U.S. or immigrating to the U.S. – To be forewarned is to be forearmed.