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August 21, 2014 / 25 Av, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Finances’

Three Mistakes that Can Get You in Big Trouble

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

Filing taxes is complicated. The forms aren’t particularly user friendly, and if you’re not quite sure what you’re doing you can end up making quite a few errors. The problem with errors on tax forms is that they can be very costly. For people who have multiple citizenships and residences (think olim or folks who spend a portion of the year living in Israel), the challenges of tax reporting are even more complicated.

I spoke with international tax lawyer Dave Wolf (and fellow contributor to a book on tax guidelines for American expatriates) and asked him, “What’s the worst mistake you’ve seen an expat make?”

He said: “The biggest mistake that I’ve seen expats make is believing that once they move out of America, they no longer have to report their worldwide income or report the existence of foreign bank accounts or companies.” Indeed, when it comes to the IRS, out of sight is not out of mind. It’s also important to note that if you have American citizenship through a parent or grandparent, even if you’ve never lived in America and English isn’t your mother tongue, you’re still obliged to report to the American tax authorities.

Mistake #2

Another common blunder that Dave mentioned was that people look for investment opportunities without taking into consideration the U.S. tax code. Specifically, complicated U.S. tax laws basically prevent American taxpayers from investing in overseas mutual funds. The IRS considers those investments “PFICs,” (passive foreign investment companies), and most Americans who understand how they work would not want to get involved with them or offshore mutual funds. When trying to invest smartly, lack of knowledge of international tax consequences can cost you a lot of money.

Final Mistake

The third blunder people make, Dave said, is “They either go to the wrong adviser, one who has no overseas experience, or they just don’t get any professional help at all.” I asked how you can avoid these mistakes. He said, “Make sure to consult with your tax lawyer, accountant, and/or investment manager before you leave the States to avoid any adverse tax consequences of investing or moving money overseas.” Sadly, many people overlook this seemingly small detail before making what could be one of the biggest financial decisions of their lives.

Find out more about what Dave has to say about avoiding making major tax mistakes by reading The Expatriate Guide to Managing Money and Taxes. For Jewish Press readers, get half off the regular price of the book by using the discount code JPRESS. Go to www.ExpatGuideToMoney.com and order now. The discount will expire on tax day, April 15th.

Knowledge is power, and reading this easy-to-follow guide for U.S. expats you can stay in full compliance with the law.

The True Meaning of Financial Liberation

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

As Pesach approaches, the themes of freedom and liberation from slavery are prominent in a Jew’s mind. Indeed, the message of Pesach is one of the most powerful Jewish experiences, and many otherwise non-religious Jews find their way to a Pesach Seder.

Slavery in Egypt may seem like a distant memory to many Jewish Press readers, but take a moment to consider whether you are truly free. After all, doesn’t modern slavery come in the form of debt, overdraft, and heavy bills?

How free can you be facing bills, debts, long work hours and/or demanding employers? Can you consider yourself free if you spend nights worrying about how you will make it through the end of the month?

Maybe you and your spouse are both working full time. But those bills just keep coming in. You’re not even wasting your money on fancy vacations or designer clothes. Yet there seems to be a permanent hole in your bank account. Bills and expenses seem to pursue you wherever you go. You can feel like a slave.

Although everyone has his own story, one common thread to many families’ financial woes is that they aren’t managing their money properly. Unfortunately, money management and budgeting skills don’t occupy the same place on the school curriculum as math or history. As a result, many people never learn how to properly take care of their money, and they stumble and struggle to meet their daily expenses. Budgeting and financial planning need to be learned, no matter how old you are or at what stage of life you find yourself.

Successful finances require keeping track of spending and income. Start by keeping your receipts and noting down your daily expenses.

Learning to budget and plan efficiently can help liberate you from the slavery of overspending, fiscal disorganization, and debt.

Authors’ Lost Treasures (Podcast)

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

What are the treasures that authors throw away? Are they worth any money? If you are a budding author, will people be reading your rough scribbles in fifty years’ time? Ken Lopez specializes in helping living authors to sell their papers. He has stumbled on many interesting artifacts belonging to famous writers. Find out more about Ken and the interesting papers that he has bought and sold on this week’s episode of the Goldstein on Gelt show.

Life, Banks, and the Future (Podcast)

Monday, March 18th, 2013

What can you say about banks? While ATMs and online banking mean that you can do transactions and watch your account 24 hours a day, most people have never met their bank manager and the cozy feeling of having a local bank has been lost. This week, Doug speaks to Anat Admati, author of The Bankers’ New Clothes and a professor of economics at Stanford University, who explains the ins and outs of the banking system today.

All You Need to Know About Moving Overseas (Podcast)

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

Are you thinking of moving abroad? If so, you’ve got a lot to think about. Moving to another country isn’t only about booking a one-way ticket. What about taxes, work permits, and other legal considerations? In the second part of this week’s Goldsteinon Gelt podcast, Doug finds out what you need to know when he interviews Darlene Hart, chairwoman of the U.S. Tax & Financial Services Group.

The Future of the World Economy (Podcast)

Monday, March 11th, 2013

What will the world’s economy be like in 10 years’ time? On this week’s Goldstein on Gelt podcast, Doug interviews Nobel Prize winner Professor Christopher A. Sims. Professor Sims explains his award-winning theories, for which he received the Nobel Prize for economics in 2011 with Thomas Sargent, and shares his predictions for the world’s economic future. Find out more about Professor Sims’ fascinating economic theories by listening to his interview in Part 1 of the Goldstein on Geltshow.

Do You Need to File an FBAR Form with the IRS?

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Americans earning income in the USA have to file taxes on or before April 15th, but what about Americans earning and living abroad? With the implementation of the Patriot Act as well as other laws, expatriate Americans face a whole slew of new reporting regulations. These laws make it necessary for Americans abroad to file reports…even if they don’t owe any taxes.

Unfortunately, many U.S. citizens living overseas are unaware of their reporting obligations towards to America. If they just fill in a basic tax form, they may think they’re done.

But they’re not. (There’s a lot more to do. At the bottom of this article, find out how to get a discount on The Expatriate’s Guide to Handling Money and Taxes.)

If you have more than $10,000 in assets overseas (on any single day of the year…if you transfer funds to buy real estate, or if you have a foreign bank account, or if you have a foreign pension fund, etc.) Uncle Sam wants to know about it. While the intentions behind filing the FBAR form were to make it more difficult to launder money and increase tax revenue, the real result has been to make life a nightmare for Americans living abroad.

Even honest folks who are unaware of their filing obligations are committing a criminal offense if they don’t file this report correctly by June 30of every year for the preceding tax year.

I discussed the issue of U.S. expats’ tax obligations with international tax specialist Ron Zalben, of Don Shrensky & Co, Jerusalem, to find out what U.S. olim need to know.

“Why are FBAR (Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts) and FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) forms causing so much trouble?” I asked.

Ron explained, “Since so many U.S. citizens living abroad have never filed a U.S. tax return (for legitimate or other reasons), it’s scary for them to now begin a relationship with the IRS.  They’re scared because of the uncertainty of dealing with the IRS – something they never have dealt with previously. This uncertainty causes panic and fear.  Starting shortly with FATCA, foreign banks will start sharing information of U.S. citizens’ bank accounts with the IRS.”

I asked Ron for specific tips on how to file the FBAR and he gave me these three ideas:

1. Don’t panic.

2. Seek professional advice.

3. Organize the details of your income and foreign accounts for each tax year.

Indeed, although the idea of filling in a very long, complex tax form might seem rather daunting, approaching it in a systematic manner is helpful. Make sure to include all bank and savings accounts in your name, as well as any accounts you have authority over or a financial interest in (business accounts, non-profit organization treasurers, children’s accounts, etc.)

To further awareness of American expatriates’ reporting requirements both Ron and I contributed chapters to a new book, called The Expatriate’s Guide to Handling Money and Taxes. The idea behind the book is to spread the awareness of new tax legislation that has already had a profound effect on expats everywhere.

If you want to make sure that you fulfill your legal obligation to the U.S. government properly, download this book and be sure to implement the easy-to-follow checklist of things to do. For Jewish Press readers, get half off the regular price of the book by using the discount code JPRESS. Go to www.ExpatGuideToMoney.com and order now. The discount will expire on tax day, April 15th.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/goldstein-on-gelt/do-you-need-to-file-a-fbar-form-with-the-irs/2013/03/05/

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