A new bill has been introduced by Representative Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) with nine co-sponsors. The bill creates a 15-member, bipartisan Executive Commission appointed by the President to study the impact of U.S. laws and Executive actions on the overseas Americans community. The study would be used to make recommendations for actions Congress and the Executive Branch could take to improve collaboration and communication of policies impacting this community. I have been living abroad for over twenty years and raised tri-national children in this environment. The world is truly "flattening" and it is time the governments of the world actually understood the issues that affect our community.
According to the Association of Americans Resident Abroad (AARO), "it has been over thirty years since the government did a comprehensive study of the overseas community, now estimated by the State Department to number 6.3 million. H.R.597 will make it possible to examine the impacts of U.S. laws and regulations on voting from overseas, transmission of U.S. citizenship, competitiveness in international markets, access to financial services abroad and more. In today's global economy, it is indispensable that this key population be taken into account in the formulation of U.S. policy".
Hi! I have some great news for Americans or Canadians who have moved abroad in the last 6 months or are about to. You may be able to get your new place made over! Sound interesting? (I wish I had just moved).
Debbie Travis is casting for a new show for HGTV. To apply send an email with a brief description of yourself (and I presume where you are going/have gone and why) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to see the announcement on the HGTV website. Good luck!
CNBC Reporter and Editor, Robert Frank posted an article today highlighting what many readers of this blog already know: globalization has moved to the individual level. To quote the article "...money will move where it’s treated best. Technology has allowed the rich to run their businesses and investments from anywhere in the world. And while taxes play a role in the decision, relocation experts say culture, education and climate also play roles among the rich."
I'd like to add my name to those "relocation experts" who say that taxes are not always the primary concern of the cross-border client. In all cases, our planning starts with designing and understanding the desired lifestyle. We structure the finances to support that lifestyle and tradeoffs are always discussed.
The New York Times' Room for Debate is tackling the subject of dual citizenship. The question being debated is "Can Dual Citizens Be Good Americans?". Apparently Representative Michelle Bachmann had obtained Swiss citizenship through her husband who is the son of Swiss immigrants to the United States registered with the Swiss consulate. Due to the political heat she took for her "dual allegiance", she renounced the Swiss citizenship.
I congratulate the New York Times for hosting this topic and Peter Spiro, a law professor at Temple University, for suggesting the topic.
According to a recent article posted by Ray Clancy on the ExpatForum, "About 13% of the world’s adults, or more than 640 million people, say they would like to leave their country permanently and roughly 150 million of them say they would like to move to the United States, according to research from Gallup".
The United Kingdom and Canada are the next most popular. Australia ranks 6th, after France and Saudi Arabia.
According to the article, the Gallup poll found that the most popular reason for migration is the search for opportunity. "Opportunity could mean the chance to join family members who are already in other countries, to start a new business, to express one’s views without fear, or to live where children are treated with respect."
Today I want to share a blog post written by Shawn Dill (www.shawndill.com) -- "The Problem with 'Mostly"". Shawn touches on something that I see a lot in the the world of expatriates and dual nationals- commitment or the lack of. Have a read and take a moment to consider what you aren't committing to that maybe you would like to reconsider.
"The golden age of mutliple nationality may be dawning. But it is not here yet." This is the final sentence of the January 7, 2012 article, "Dutchmen Grounded. Multiple citizenship is on the rise. But some states continue to deter it.", in The Economist.
The article uses a new law proposed by the Dutch government to "limit dual nationality among immigrants" and "to make it easier for the authorities to strip members of the 850,000-plus Dutch diaspora of their nationality, should they secure a second citizenship abroad", to educate the reader on some historical facts as well as current trends, citing policies of several countries.
The fact, as supported by this blog, is "increased migration and rising numbers of cross-border marriages mean that ever more children are born to multinational families." I encourage readers of this blog to check out the full article.
Do you find yourself restricting spending over several weeks at a time, but despite this action, still have very little if anything left over at the end of a calendar year? Is getting cash flow under control something that you would like to master this year?
If so, you need to develop a strategy to keep everyday obligations, funds for those expenses that occur once or twice per year and savings commitments from clashing with one another.
After 20 years of advising people, both domestic and internationally-mobile, on this subject, I can categorically state that those who have articulated short, medium-term and longer-term goals for their life are substantially more successful in managing cash flow. In addition, when asked about how satisfied they are with their life, as a whole, those who could see themselves managing their cash flow to achieve short term goals expressed a higher level of satisfaction with their life than those who managed cash flow to achieve a certain dollar amount each month, but did not have a compelling reason or direction to guide them. To develop an effective cash flow strategy, you need to know what you want to achieve.
Most people spend what they earn on daily living expenses and don't think about cash flow in time frames of more than a pay period. I find this habit is most pervasive in households where the major wage earner is on a work visa, although it is very high outside of this specific situation, as well. No matter what your current situation is, even if you can only clearly visualize your life to the date of a work visa renewal and have some fuzzy vision of what life looks life beyond that period, you can improve your cash flow by becoming intentional about how your money will support your life this year and beyond.
Set Your Life Goals, Then Design Your Spending Plan
Goal setting is a powerful process for getting intentional about your life. When you set out what you want to achieve, you know where to focus your attention. You'll also be better at spotting those distractions. Coming back to how goal setting and cash flow work together, you'll make better decisions about short-term wants or opportunities because you will have already decided what must happen this year. Those impulse ideas or opportunities will now be viewed as a trade-off.
Sometimes it is easier to see concepts expressed as formulas. Use the following formulas to help you master the concepts. And please post questions and comments. Do you like these formulas or do they cause confusion?
Fixed Expenses + Savings for Annual Expenses + Savings for Goals + Discretionary Spending = Spending Plan
Spending Plan + Commitment + Reviews = Life Goal Achievement
Life Goal Achievement = Increased Life Satisfaction
Congress is being urged to put together a Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Yesterday, National Taxpayer Advocate, Nina E. Olson, released her annual report to Congress. The report indicates that a combination of expanding workload and decreased funding "is causing the IRS to resort to shortcuts that undermine fundamental taxpayer rights and harm taxpayers - ..."
The report summarizes recommendations made in past reports to create additional taxpayer rights and recommends that the rights be enacted into legislation. Ten (10) taxpayer rights and five (5) taxpayer responsibilities are mentioned. Of interest to many and particularly overseas Americans, are the suggested right to be informed, right to be heard, right to certainty, right to privacy and the right to a fair and just tax system.
Perhaps these suggestions are reiterated in this report due to the inclusion of a discussion relating to the IRS's policy change in the application of key terms of the 2009 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program more than a year after the application deadline had passed. The report states that the policy change was in contravention of the IRS's written pledge that "under no circumstances will a taxpayer be required to pay a penalty greater than what he would otherwise be liable for under existing statutes."
It is worth having a look at the Press Release which has links to the Executive Summary and the complete report.
A bill introduced in October may provide individuals who want to spend part of the year living in the United States with a special visa to do so.
The Visa Improvements to Stimulate International Tourism to the United States of America Act ("VISIT-USA Act") would provide a non-immigrant visa to an individual (and his or her spouse and children) who:
1. uses as least $500,000 in cash to purchase one or more residences;
2. maintains ownership of residential property in the United States worth at least $500,000 during the entire period the alien remains in the United States as a nonimmigrant; and
3. resides for more than 180 days per year in a residence in the United States that is worth at least $250,000.
Home buyers under this program, however, will be encouraged to pay a premium for their residence(es), as one of the proposed rules are that the residence must have sold for more than 100% of the "most recent appraised value of such residence, as determined by the property assessor in the city or county in which the residence is located".
If you are thinking that this proposal might assist you in an unofficially "permanent" relocation to the United States, it is important to note that for financial planning purposes, a visa-holder would not be able to receive government benefits such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. In addition, the visa would not authorize the holder to engage in employment in the United States, except for employment related to management of the property, and the program would not lead to citizenship.
There is the question of how the visa holder would be taxed. Since this is technically an immigration bill, the income and estate tax implications of this proposed bill are not addressed. For planning purposes, as it stands right now, one could argue that once the Substantial Presence Test is triggered, the non-immigrant visa holder would be considered resident for income tax purposes, unless they can claim the Closer Connection Exception. Of course, one would need to seek advice from a qualified professional.