November 28, 2009

Is The Foreign Earned Income Exclusion Changing? US Expat Tax Tips.

President Obama is tagging your Foreign Earned Income Exclusion to help pay for huge federal budget deficits. He thinks to hide this motive behind recent White House announcements about U.S. companies, providing smokescreens such as: “I want to see our companies remain the most competitive in the world,” and “…the way to make sure that happens is not to reward our companies for moving jobs off our shores or transferring profits to overseas tax havens.”This is one reason you need Tax Help now, from a CPA Firm you can trust.

The reality is that with tax gaps estimated in the $400 billion range, this administration is hard-pressed to come up with new sources of revenues to fill the deficit. The US is expected to loose 0 billion each year from these kinds of tax abuses. Recovering these funds represent a substantial portion of the annual U.S. tax gap, which is why President Obama has authorized an additional $128 million for the 2010 IRS budget, which includes the addition of 800 new IRS agents. Do not be fooled, they have declared war on YOU and are coming after YOUR money.

First, they are going after the companies you work for because they see companies operating abroad as a viable source of additional revenues. Currently, companies with overseas operations pay U.S. taxes only if they bring the profits back to the United States. They can defer paying U.S. taxes indefinitely if they keep the profits offshore. Obama’s plan, which would take effect in 2011, cracks down on these loopholes so that companies would no longer be able to write off domestic expenses for generating profits abroad. It is estimated that this change alone would generate $210 billion in new taxes over the next 10 years, making a modest dent in the forecasted $1.8 trillion federal deficit. Rest assured, this administration will encourage any possible avenue to be able to bring these monies back into the U.S.

And, they are coming after YOU. The recently released IRS report on the 2006 tax year indicates that the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion might be another modest source for helping to fill the tax gap. In tax year 2006, about U.S. taxpayers living abroad reported approximately $36.7 billion in foreign-earned income and claimed nearly $18.4 billion in income exclusions. And that was three years ago. There have never been so many Americans living overseas. Can’t you just see the wheels turning in the minds of our government leaders? Removing the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion could add billions to U.S. tax coffers.

Perhaps you think they won’t find YOU. The historic legal struggle that has cracked Switzerland’s renowned reputation for banking secrecy is part of an on-going IRS quest to identify nearly 52,000 suspect offshore bank accounts. When the IRS increases their workforce by 800 new agents, they won’t be hiring new college recruits. They have said fancy attorneys and other professionals that helped hide assets, will be hired. Now, multiply the number of suspected offshore accounts by the $10,000 or possibly $20,000 in allowable fines for non-reporting, and you come up with another modest number toward the filling of the U.S. tax gap. If you have been one of those ‘tax evaders’ thinking they can hide assets in offshore bank accounts, think again. The IRS is already searching for you, cracking the international bank privacy policies and gearing up to hire professionals to find you.

All of these items add up to making the American Expatriate look like a great big piggy bank to the current administration. While there will likely be a huge fight in Congress regarding closing the corporate loopholes, it is even more likely that the tax benefits associated with your Foreign Earned Income Exclusion will be taken from you. Fines for unreported bank accounts will soon become automatic bills. This means that for you, the individual American Expatriate, the stakes are high and getting higher if you seek to hide your income off-shore or evade paying U.S. taxes on that income.

What action do you need to take as an expatriate? Stay abreast of the latest information that develops about the foreign earned income exclusion. The best way to accomplish this is to work with a reputable advisor who will focus on keeping you out of the scrutiny of the IRS by keeping your activities well above board and within the law. Your advisor must be well-versed in the nuances of expatriate tax law, so check with your advisor about his/her expertise in this arena and be ensure you’ve chosen your advisor wisely.

Copyright (c) 2009 Nick Hodges

Nick Hodges,President of NCH WealthAdvisors,provides US expatriates with the best tools,strategies and planning techniques to help expats manage their tax and financial goals and dreams on a day-to-day basis regardless of their location. To claim your free gift, ExPat Life Portfolio Kit,visit his site at www.ExpatCFO.com

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