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US Tax Services

EXPERT US TAX PLANNING & COMPLIANCE
END YOUR TAX WORRIES AND ENJOY PEACE OF MIND

US tax planning and compliance can be complex and anxiety-inducing. Every business and investment is unique, which presents difficulties as well as opportunities.

Misunderstanding your tax obligations, piecing together a “strategy” based on free advice you find on the internet, or simply burying your head in the sand can cost you time, energy and potentially a lot of money.

I provide expert advice and complete legal and tax structuring solutions. Whether you’re in the planning stages or are already investing or operating overseas, I’ll help you navigate the complex US tax rules and get everything in order so you save time and money and avoid any unpleasant surprises.

EXPAT TAX & LEGAL SERVICES

Maintaining compliance with complex US tax rules and ever-changing filing requirements can feel like a minefield for many expats and digital nomads. I provide absolute clarity on your tax situation.

In addition to making sure your US tax return is prepared properly, I provide tailored year-round guidance and advice on tax-saving opportunities. For expat entrepreneurs, I also provide a full tax and legal structuring solution.

EXPAT AND INTERNATIONAL TAX CONSULTATIONS

Have questions about how US tax applies to you? You could spend several frustrating hours sifting through conflicting and unreliable information on the internet.

Or, in a 30- to 60-minute conversation, I can answer all your questions and set your mind at ease. Easily schedule a call using my online calendar system.

OFFSHORE IRA SERVICES

Offshore IRAs are benefit-rich when managed correctly, but these structures are complex and delicate from a US tax perspective—they must be handled with care by an international tax expert.

That's why I offer a complete planning, structuring and compliance solution that covers you from day one, allowing you to invest offshore without compromising the special tax status of your IRA.

NON-US ENTREPRENEUR SERVICES

US tax is complicated, and the internet is full of misconceptions. For non-US entrepreneurs selling into the US, one of those misconceptions is that simply selling products to US customers requires you to pay US tax. That is absolutely not the case. It is perfectly possible to sell into the US market without paying US tax.

Additionally, when selling into the US, there are many benefits to operating through a Limited Liability Company organized under the laws of a US state. I can make sure that you fully understand the US tax implications of selling into the US, and I have a package of services to make sure you get started on the right foot.

Services

EXPAT TAX & LEGAL SERVICES

I help you not only maintain compliance with the ever-changing rules and tightening disclosure requirements, but also take full advantage of all possible tax-saving opportunities.

THERE’S MORE TO TAX THAN FILING RETURNS

Tax return preparers look at the world facing backwards. They only care about what you did last year so they can put numbers in boxes on your return.

But making sure you pay as little tax as legally possible involves planning for this year and the years to come. And that planning must be based on a robust understanding of how US tax applies to expats, which is one of the most complex systems of law in existence.

THAT’S WHY I DO IT DIFFERENTLY

Instead of simply slapping a tax return together and sending you on your way, I make sure you take full advantage of all tax-saving opportunities and avoid the pitfalls that are all too easy to slip into.

A tax return preparer allows you to limp over the finish line by filing a tax return.

I do things differently. I want you to win the race.

SERVICES FOR EXPATS

My team and I provide a full tax planning and compliance solution for expats. 

For a flat annual fee, we can:

  • prepare your US federal income tax return and any required Foreign Bank Account Report,

  • keep you in compliance with all other applicable US tax disclosure requirements,

  • make sure you take advantage of all possible tax saving opportunities, and

  • provide all the tax advice you need throughout the year, with no cap on the number of questions you can ask or consultation hours (or anything else).

The amount of the flat annual fee of course depends on your situation. So, we need to discuss first, and then I’ll provide an exact flat fee quote.

ADDITIONAL SERVICES FOR EXPAT ENTREPRENEURS

If you own and operate your own business, your situation is even more complicated.

You want to take full advantage of the tax-saving opportunities of being an expat entrepreneur, and you also want to make sure everything’s taken care of without you taking time away from your business.

My team and I provide a full range of tax and legal services for expat entrepreneurs designed to do exactly that. In addition to everything discussed above, and again all as part of a flat annual fee, we can:

  • determine the best legal structure for your particular situation,

  • actually create that legal structure (by working and coordinating with registered agents, banks, and others),

  • assist in opening bank accounts (in the US and elsewhere) without you being required to appear in person,

  • help you create or migrate business accounts and properly complete tax interviews (e.g., for Amazon, app sales platforms, affiliate networks, ad networks, etc.),

  • assist in transitioning your business from your old legal structure to your new legal structure, and

  • otherwise provide assistance and advice as your business grows and develops.

MORE ON MY PHILOSOPHY

I’m no Socrates or anything, but I do have ideas about life and how to live it when it comes to improving your tax situation.

These articles show how I operate and think about these issues:

LET’S GET STARTED

If you’re ready to get started, let’s talk so I can answer your initial tax questions and provide a flat fee quote.  CLICK HERE to schedule a call. The amount you pay for this call of course applies toward your first annual flat fee.

Also, if you’re new to the world of expat tax, you’ll want to start with a good foundation. That’s why I created the Tax-Savvy Expat series of online courses.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Tax-Savvy Expat courses.

EXPAT AND INTERNATIONAL TAX CONSULTATIONS

GUIDING YOU THROUGH THE MINEFIELD

US tax is one of the most complicated bodies of law in existence, and the international aspects are probably its most complicated part. The rules here are intricate and complex, and even seemingly minor factual changes in a situation can result in drastic changes to the US tax consequences.

Getting it wrong can have far-reaching results—including paying unnecessary tax or risking penalties for missed disclosure obligations.

Figuring out how the law applies to your situation is not a do-it-yourself project. You need help.

I DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY

Most tax attorneys don’t bother taking on a new client just so they can bill a single hour (or less). However, I understand that sometimes you just need a little bit of expert guidance.

You need an expert to answer your specific questions without all the hassle usually associated with hiring an attorney.

REPRESENTATIVE ISSUES

In just one conversation, typically lasting either a half-hour or an hour, I can answer your questions and let you know the best way forward.

People I frequently help include:

  • New expats (and those considering becoming expats) looking to understand how US tax applies to their new life abroad;

  • Long-term expats determining how to catch up on years of unfiled tax returns;

  • Expat entrepreneurs looking to structure their business to minimize US tax as much as legally possible;

  • Expats transitioning back to the US after many years abroad;

  • Expats who are considering renouncing US citizenship;

  • Expats who want to learn more about saving and investing for retirement;

  • Non-US persons who sell products into the US (typically using Amazon FBA) or planning a move to the US (i.e., “pre-immigration planning”);

  • US residents looking to invest offshore for diversification and asset protection benefits; and

  • US residents looking to move their IRA offshore.

EMAIL RECAP AFTER THE CALL

For one-hour calls, I’ll send you an email that recaps everything we discussed, either the same day as our call or the day after. So, you’ll get the full low-down on your situation in writing, very soon after our discussion.

OFFSHORE IRAS

An offshore IRA can provide the US tax benefits of an IRA along with the asset protection benefits of investing offshore. But these benefits come at a price—an offshore IRA is a complex structure that must be handled with care by an experienced tax professional.

WANT TO MOVE YOUR RETIREMENT ASSETS OUTSIDE THE US?

Maybe you want the asset protection benefits of holding your investments through a non-US entity. Or perhaps you would like to diversify out of the US dollar and USD-denominated investments. Or you’ve found the perfect piece of non-US real estate and would like to tap into your retirement savings to fund the investment.

An offshore IRA can accomplish all of these goals. An offshore IRA can provide the US tax benefits of a traditional or Roth IRA coupled with both (i) the investment choice and control of a taxable investment account and (ii) the asset protection and international diversification benefits of holding assets through a non-US entity.

JUMPING INTO THE DEEP END

However, an offshore IRA is complicated from a US tax perspective—forming an offshore IRA is definitely jumping into the deep end.

Many believe these structures are simple from a US tax perspective because IRAs themselves generally do not have any US tax filing obligations. That is simply not the case.

An offshore IRA absolutely requires US tax filings, starting in its very first year. Sometimes these filings must be included with a tax return, and sometimes these filings must be made separately. Additionally, the owner of an offshore IRA will likely be required to file an FBAR for the first year and each year after that.

In addition to these filings, these structures can be fragile—expert tax input is absolutely required from the beginning.

You need a US tax attorney to make sure the offshore IRA does not:

  1. hold assets that can’t be held by an IRA,

  2. generate “unrelated business taxable income” (which would cause your IRA to be required to pay US tax and file a US tax return), or

  3. run afoul of the “prohibited transaction” rules (which would cause your IRA to no longer qualify as an IRA, resulting in a taxable distribution of 100% of your IRA’s assets to you).

USE YOUR OFFSHORE IRA WITH CONFIDENCE

Unfortunately, many offshore IRA providers treat the structure as a commodity—they simply want to sell you an offshore IRA then move on to the next customer. They don’t make sure you are fully informed about the tax risks and benefits, and they don’t inform you of the required US tax filings (much less provide you with any guidance or assistance in actually completing those filings).

I do things differently. I provide a complete planning, structuring, and compliance solution that covers offshore IRA investors from formation all the way through the life of their structure. My clients have the knowledge to use their structure without fear of negative tax consequences, and their required US tax filings are completed in a correct and timely manner.

Let’s discuss how I can help you navigate the tax complexity of offshore IRA structures. With my help, you can be confident you will achieve the tax benefits these structures can provide.

OFFSHORE IRA FAQS

WHAT IS AN OFFSHORE IRA?

An offshore IRA is a “self-directed IRA” that holds its investments through an offshore company. Each IRA must have a “custodian” (i.e., the person that holds the IRA’s funds so that they are separate from you, the IRA owner). The large IRA custodians (i.e., Vanguard, Edward Jones, Charles Schwab, etc.) will only allow investments in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and the like. A self-directed IRA custodian, on the other hand, allows IRAs to invest in a much broader list of assets (including real estate and, importantly for the offshore IRA structure, interests in offshore companies).

You are appointed as the manager or director of the offshore company so that you can direct the company’s affairs but do not have ownership over its assets (the IRA owns the investments through the offshore company). If you didn’t use an offshore company and the self-directed IRA simply held the investments directly, you would be required to obtain the self-directed IRA custodian’s signature and approval for every expenditure of funds. Your role as manager or director of the offshore company simplifies this process greatly—you have “checkbook control” over the assets of the offshore company because you can directly cause the offshore company to receive and spend money.

WHAT CAN MY OFFSHORE IRA INVEST IN?

In general, absolutely anything except for life insurance and collectibles. You can hold stocks, bonds, real estate, precious metals, currencies, and many other types of investments through your offshore IRA.

HOW DO I FORM AN OFFSHORE IRA?

It depends on where you are starting. If you already have an IRA with a traditional custodian, you can simply cause the custodianship of that IRA to be transferred to a self-directed IRA. If you have a 401(k) (or similar type of retirement account), you may be able to use a tax-free rollover to convert that account into an IRA, which you can open with one of the self-directed IRA custodians. Note that you can have more than one IRA at a time (but the contribution limits apply in the aggregate).

After forming the self-directed IRA, you would (i) organize an offshore company, (ii) cause the offshore company to open a bank account (and any other accounts you may be interested in, such as a brokerage account) and (iii) cause your self-directed IRA to invest in the offshore company (which it then holds as its only asset). You are off and running—as the manager or director of the offshore company, you can cause the offshore company to invest in any asset you like (within the limits of the tax rules).

WHY IS AN OFFSHORE IRA SO COMPLICATED FROM A TAX PERSPECTIVE?

Offshore IRAs exist at the intersection of several complicated tax rules.

First, IRAs provide tax benefits because the funds are sewn up until retirement—the IRA custodian’s role is to insure separation between the IRA owner and the IRA’s assets. An offshore IRA diminishes that separation by allowing the IRA owner to directly control the IRA’s investments.

Second, IRAs are subject to a complex set of rules designed to insure that they do not engage in a “prohibited transaction,” which is basically any transaction where IRA funds are used to benefit the IRA owner or a related person. It is almost impossible to run afoul of these rules when an IRA is held by a traditional custodian and invested in assets like mutual funds. It is quite easy to accidentally cross the line when the IRA owner is directly running the show with an offshore IRA structure.

Finally, the IRS is absolutely paranoid that US citizens will hide assets outside the United States and forget about the income from those assets come tax time. So, the IRS has created a complex web of reporting requirements applicable to offshore assets and draconian penalties that can apply even for innocent foot faults.

LOOK, I JUST WANT TO FORM AN OFFSHORE IRA—DO I REALLY NEED TO GET A TAX ATTORNEY INVOLVED?

Absolutely. This structure is complicated from a US tax perspective. A mistake could disqualify your IRA (resulting in a taxable distribution to you) or subject you to large penalties for missing an offshore reporting requirement. You absolutely need an experienced and knowledgeable U.S. tax attorney on your side every step of the way.

Plus, there are sharks in these waters. Several companies can throw together an offshore IRA for you, but when you work with these companies you are only a customer. When you work with me you are a client.

These companies have absolutely no idea about the US tax complexities of an offshore IRA. I have even seen two of these companies publish articles are on their website that show they don’t understand the US tax issues at play.

Also, these companies typically do not follow-up and make sure you understand your structure after the sale. This is evidenced by the many people who have called me after they got the revolving door treatment from one of these offshore IRA mills.

SOUNDS GOOD! HOW DO YOU CHARGE FOR YOUR SERVICES?

I charge for my services on a flat fee basis. I provide the following services for an initial and annual flat fee:

  • Initial consultation to insure that an offshore IRA structure is right for you;

  • Formation of the offshore IRA structure, including forming the offshore company and opening bank and brokerage accounts;

  • Insuring the secure and timely movement of assets from your current IRA custodian to new accounts under your offshore IRA structure;

  • Preparing the required first-year and on-going U.S. tax filings (and FBAR) for your structure;

  • On-going review of potential investments and transactions; and

  • On-going advice and answers for the entire life of your structure.

NON-US ENTREPRENEUR SERVICES

Simply selling products into the US does not subject you to US tax (as long as you've planned ahead and structured things correctly). Then, operating through a limited liability company ("LLC") formed in the US opens up additional opportunities.

YOU CAN SELL INTO THE US WITHOUT PAYING US TAX

Many people think that simply selling products into the US market requires them to pay US tax.  They may also think that having a US bank account, or operating through an LLC, or having a US address, or many other things will subject them to US tax.

But that’s simply not how it works.  Instead, the only thing that matters is where the people are who are operating your business.  If you live outside the US and operate your business alone, or you have employees who help you but all of them are located outside the US, then you generally should be able to operate your business without paying US tax.

LLCS PROVIDE MANY OPPORTUNITIES

You could simply operate your business through a non-US legal entity. However, there are many benefits to operating your business through a US LLC:

  • Many Americans like to buy from other Americans.  By selling through a US LLC, you’ll look like you’re just down the street from your buyers.

  • An LLC gives you access to a US bank account.  This allows you to avoid both the unfavorable exchange rates offered by companies like Amazon and the hefty fees charged by intermediary companies.

  • An LLC gives you access to US credit.

  • An LLC creates a “liability silo.”  The potential liabilities from your US operations will attach only to the assets from your US operations, not to all of your assets.

LET’S GET STARTED

I have a full package of services for non-US entrepreneurs, which involves:

  • Organizing your LLC and getting it ready to sell in the US and have a US bank account,

  • Complying with the federal and state paperwork requirements of having an LLC, and

  • Otherwise making sure you are fully comfortable with the US tax aspects (so you can spend your time on growing your business).

Additionally, I can help with more customized services as well.  For example, I routinely help non-US entrepreneurs obtain a refund of erroneously paid US federal income tax.

Click here to schedule a call.  The fee for this call is fully applied toward the flat fee for the services described above.

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