Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What Expatriating Americans Need to Know About Their Social Security Benefits?

As we pointed out in our post entitled US Expatriation Continues to Increase At a Record Pace in 2014! Here we discussed that the number of Americans renouncing U.S. citizenship stayed near an all-time high in the first half of the year before rules that make it harder to hide assets from tax authorities came into force (FATCA - Effective Date July 1, 2014).   

The number of Americans renouncing U.S. citizenship increased 39 percent in the three months through September after rules that make it harder to hide assets from tax authorities came into force.

People giving up their nationality at U.S. embassies increased to 777 in the third quarter, from 560 in the year-earlier period, according to Federal Register.

One of the things expatriating Americans need to consider is whether they are eligible for U.S. Social Security benefits and whether their non-U.S. citizens 6often wonder if their foreign spouses qualify for Social Security survivor benefits (generally the deceased U.S. worker's full benefit). In certain cases, the answer is yes. 

Additionally, while the U.S. expat is still alive, their foreign spouse may also qualify to receive dependent or spousal Social Security benefits (generally half of the U.S. expat's benefit).

The rules governing foreign spousal and survivor benefits are complicated.

Peggy Creveling, CFA, & Chad Creveling, CFA have a Blog post entitled What Expat Americans with Foreign Spouses Need to Know About Social Security that answers some of these questions:

As they also point out, there are many exceptions and qualifications to the rules, so be sure to check with the Social Security Administration for specifics on your situation.

So far, 2,353 Americans have renounced their citizenship 
this year, close to the all-time high of 2,369 
in the first nine months of 2013.

If this current trend continues,  it would result in  3,154 people expatriating into 2014, which would be a 105%  increase over the 2,999 people who expatriated in 2013. The 2013 amount of 2,999 represented a 221% increase over the 932 total in 2012 and “shatters” the previous record of 1,781 set in 2011.

"Should I Stay or Should I Go"?

Need Advise on Expatriation ...

Contact the Tax Lawyers of
Marini & Associates, P.A.

For a FREE Tax Consultation at:
Toll Free at 888-8TaxAid (888 882-9243)

What Expat Americans with Foreign Spouses Need to Know About Social Security

Monday, November 24, 2014

Credit Suisse To Pay $1.8 Billion for Conspiracy Aid Taxpayer's Evade U.S. Taxes!

On Monday, March 17, 2014, we posted "Are You A Credit Suisse Client? You May Want to Make Your Voluntary Disclosure NOW!", where we discussed that on Wednesday, March 12, 2014, a former Credit Suisse Banker, Andreas Bachmann, pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in connection with his work as a banking and investment adviser for U.S. customers.

He and 6 other Credit Suisse bankers were indicted in 2011 on a charge that they helped U.S. clients hide $4 billion in assets from the IRS.

We had previously posted U.S.Client of Credit Suisse? Last Chance To File A Voluntary Disclosure! concerning the fact that thousands of Credit Suisse Group AG’s U.S. clients still don’t know whether tax authorities will learn their identities as prosecutors work to conclude a three yea probe of how the bank helped them evade taxes.

Now the founder of a Swiss trust pleaded guilty to 
helping Americans evade taxes and said 
Credit Suisse Group AG was involved in the scheme,
adding to its pressure as it tries to resolve its U.S. criminal probe.
Now on Friday, November 21, 2014, The Department of Justice (DoJ) released that Credit Suisse was Sentenced for Conspiracy to Help U.S. Taxpayers Hide Offshore Accounts from Internal Revenue Service. Credit Suisse pleaded guilty to conspiracy on May 19, 2014. 

The sentencing of the Swiss corporation is the result of a years-long investigation by U.S. law enforcement authorities that has also produced indictments of seven Credit Suisse employees and the owner of a trust company since 2011—two of those individuals have pleaded guilty so far—and of U.S. clients of Credit Suisse.

At sentencing in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, U.S. District Chief Judge Rebecca Beach Smith entered judgment and conviction and a restitution order requiring Credit Suisse to pay approximately $1.8 billion dollars to the United States by Nov. 28, per the plea agreement.  Credit Suisse will pay the Justice Department’s Crime Victims Fund, through the District Court Clerk’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, a fine of approximately $1.136 billion and will pay the IRS $666.5 million in restitution.  The parties agreed that Credit Suisse cannot challenge the restitution amount, which can also provide a basis for an IRS civil tax assessment.

“Today, with its criminal conviction and the payment of $2.6 billion in fines and restitution, Credit Suisse is held fully accountable for helping U.S. taxpayers engage in tax evasion,” said Deputy Attorney General Cole. 

 “As we expand our offshore investigations, not just in Switzerland, but around the world, the message to banks who engaged in these crimes is clear—step forward, accept responsibility for your past conduct,  and help us hold responsible the U.S. taxpayers who benefitted, and the individuals who assisted them.  

Only through full cooperation will you avoid 
the most severe sanctions.”  

These actions by U.S. law enforcement and state and federal partners appropriately punish Credit Suisse for its past behavior in these matters.
As part of the plea agreement, Credit Suisse acknowledged that, for decades prior to and through 2009, it operated an illegal cross-border banking business that knowingly and willfully aided and assisted thousands of U.S. clients in opening and maintaining undeclared accounts and concealing their offshore assets and income from the IRS.

According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, Credit Suisse employed a variety of means to assist U.S. clients in concealing their undeclared accounts, including by:
  • Assisting clients in using sham entities to hide undeclared accounts;
  • Soliciting IRS forms that falsely stated, under penalties of perjury, that the sham entities were the beneficial owners of the assets in the accounts;
  • Failing to maintain records in the United States related to the accounts;
  • Destroying account records sent to the United States for client review;
  • Using Credit Suisse managers and employees as unregistered investment advisors on undeclared accounts;
  • Facilitating withdrawals of funds from the undeclared accounts by either providing hand-delivered cash in the United States or using Credit Suisse’s correspondent bank accounts in the United States;
  • Structuring transfers of funds to evade currency transaction reporting requirements; and
  • Providing offshore credit and debit cards to repatriate funds in the undeclared accounts.
As part of the plea agreement, Credit Suisse further agreed:
  • to make a complete disclosure of its cross-border activities, cooperate in treaty requests for account information, 
  • provide detailed information as to other banks that transferred funds into secret accounts or that accepted funds when secret accounts were closed and 
  • to close accounts of account holders who fail to come into compliance with U.S. reporting obligations.  
  • Credit Suisse has also agreed to implement programs to ensure its compliance with U.S. laws, including its reporting obligations under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act and relevant tax treaties, in all its current and future dealings with U.S. customers.
“Today’s sentencing of Credit Suisse AG holds the bank responsible for its decades-long pervasive conduct of aiding U.S. taxpayers in the commission of tax crimes,” said Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Wszalek.   

“The Justice Department will continue to vigorously pursue our global enforcement efforts against individuals who avoid their tax obligations by hiding their assets in foreign bank accounts, and the financial institutions, bankers, and other professionals who facilitate these crimes.”

“Credit Suisse AG ran an illegal cross-border business which willfully aided U.S. clients in concealing their offshore assets and income from the U.S. government,” said U.S. Attorney Boente.  “Simply put, if you are in the business of hiding money from the U.S. government you will be caught, you will be prosecuted and you will pay the price for your crime.  The successful prosecution of Credit Suisse AG, and today’s sentencing is representative of the tireless commitment and hard work of this office and our partners at the Internal Revenue Service.”

“Today's sentencing is yet another striking example of what happens to those who help offshore tax evaders,” said IRS Commissioner Koskinen.  

“We owe it to the vast majority of honest U.S. taxpayers to tirelessly search for and prosecute those who dodge paying their fair share and the unprincipled professionals who assist them.”

On December 5, two former employees of a Credit Suisse subsidiary will be sentenced for their involvement in assisting U.S. customers to evade their taxes.
  • On March 12, Andreas Bachmann, a former banker at Credit Suisse Fides pleaded guilty to a superseding indictment in connection with his work as a banker at Credit Suisse Fides.  
  • On April 30, Josef Dörig, a former Credit Suisse Fides employee and owner/operator of a trust company, pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the IRS in connection with his role managing offshore entities used by U.S. taxpayers to conceal their accounts at Credit Suisse.  
  • The pleas were accepted by U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee in the Eastern District of Virginia.  Bachmann and Dörig each face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison.

US taxpayers who have undeclared accounts in Credit Suisse or other Swiss banks, may now want to consider applying for the US Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP), which sets a limit to the penalties imposed on them by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for failing to declare foreign assets and earnings.
Once either:
  • The Swiss Banks disclose an account holder's name to the IRS under the non prosecution agreement or 
  • Mr. Andreas Bachmann or Josef Dorig or Markus Walder or Susanne Ruegg-Meier or Roger Schaerer discloses an account holder's name to the IRS or
  • Any 1 of the other 11 Credit Suisse Bankers, who were indicted in 2011 along with Mr. Dorig, discloses an account holder's name to the IRS 
the OVDP election is no longer available to that account holder!!!
Taxpayers Who Wish To Take Advantage 

Of The OVDP Must Act Quickly! 

Have Un-Reported Income From a Swiss Bank?

Value Your Freedom?

Contact the Tax Lawyers at
Marini & Associates, P.A.
for a FREE Tax Consultation Contact US at  
www.TaxAid.us or www.TaxLaw.ms
or Toll Free at 888-8TaxAid (888 882-9243).

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Taiwan Provided the US Financial Information on 4,273 US Green Card Holders Under FATCA!

According to The China Post The Financial Supervisory Commission's (FSC) chairman Tseng Ming-chung met with the U.S. treasury from Nov. 2 till Nov. 5 and signed an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) that will see Taiwanese financial institutions directly providing 4,273 Taiwanese green-card holders and American citizens' bank account information to the U.S., Tseng said in the Legislative Yuan on November 18, 2014.

According to Tseng, the agreement is not a full tax treaty, but rather a model under the treaty to exchange tax information. 

Tseng said he was given the final copy of the IGA in person on Nov. 3. The U.S.' request for tax compliance under FATCA includes China and 100 others countries and is not limited to Taiwan, said Tseng. 

Tseng said those who evade taxes using foreign bank accounts will be taxed 30 percent on their future American income or have their accounts closed.
Having a foreign account not registered 
with the U.S. 
will no longer be possible.  

Chang said although he was not able to negotiate a tax treaty with America, he is satisfied with the U.S.' willingness to start a system for exchanging tax information. 

According to Chang, banks providing the U.S. with a customer's personal information violate Article 48 of the Taiwan Banking Law. Therefore, along with the recently signed IGA, Article 48 will be sent to the Legislative Yuan for review.  

DPP Legislators Hsu Tain-tsair and Wu Ping-jui said that the MOF needs to declare within three months an estimate of how much the U.S. will gain from the taxes received through Taiwan accounts.

Chang responded by saying that currently the banks will only be providing the account holder's nationality to the U.S. and not the amounts. Chan said the U.S. will only be assessing those accounts that deliberately evade filing their American taxes.  

Tseng said President Ma Ying-jeo is not an owner of any of the 4,273 Taiwanese bank accounts of U.S. citizens or green-card holders. 

Have Un-Reported Income From an Offshore Bank?

Value Your Freedom?

Taxpayers who wish to take advantage of the OVDP 
Must Act Quickly!  

Contact the Tax Lawyers at
Marini & Associates, P.A.
for a FREE Tax Consultation Contact US at
or Toll Free at 888-8TaxAid (888 882-9243)