Our Blog

It’s Election Tax-Mania!

January 28th 2016

The 2016 Presidential Election is gearing up and the battle for party winner in in full throttle. With philosophies ranging from the extreme right to the extreme left, 'TAX' might just be the topic that seperates the winners from the losers. 

 

 

 

 

 

     Jacob Stein, Esq. helps numerous clients with 
     complicated tax and estate planning. 
     
     For more information,

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An Investigative journalist on offshore asset protection and tax planning for the ultra-wealthy

November 9th 2015

Here is a fascinating article by an investigative journalist on offshore asset protection and tax planning for the ultra-wealthy.  Being at the heart of it we often forget what our world looks like to others.  What we perceive as ordinary and mundane, appears to be exotic, cloak and dagger planning to others. 

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A sociologist trained to become a tax-avoidance expert — here's what she learned

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Starbucks and Fiat in Trouble for International Tax Practices

October 27th 2015

The war on tax avoidance just got a few new casualties. Usually, discussion on the international taxation of multinationals could be compared to an episode of the classic cartoon series, Tom and Jerry where Jerry always gets away in the end, snickering self-satisfactory. This time though, it seems that Tom caught him and held on.

On October 21, 2015, the European Commission for Competition ruled that the tax advantages granted to Starbucks by the Netherlands and to Fiat Chrysler by

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The EU v. U.S.- Bitcoin: Money or Commodity?

October 23rd 2015

Last week, the European Union took a progressive step towards clarifying how digital currencies will be recognized in the EU for purposes of taxation. The EU now recognizes virtual currencies as legal tender, not commodity, and they are therefore exempt from VAT (Value Added Tax), a sales tax added to products.

Bitcoin is the most popular and widely used digital currency (a digital or virtual currency uses peer-to-peer technology for the payment of goods and services). It is an

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The BEPS Project - International Tax Reform

October 14th 2015

In a surprisingly efficient collaboration, governments are hammering the final nails into the coffin of tax avoidance. The final BEPS (Base Erosion and Profit Sharing) Project report was submitted for review on Monday, October 5, 2015, and decisions were announced three days later.

G20 finance ministers met on Thursday, October 8, in Lima, Peru to discuss the final draft of the BEPS project. To read the final report, please click here -

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China Devalues Yuan

August 17th 2015

On Tuesday, August 11, 2015, China caused quite a stir in the global market by devaluing its currency, the Yuan, in what became the biggest one-day slump in 10 years.

Some commentators suggested that China intentionally created an imbalance in the export industry, to give Chinese manufacturers and exporters an advantage over foreign competitors.  The country, which is currently the #1 exporter of goods in the world, has been accused of currency manipulation for trade advantages in the

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Modern Family Estate Planning: Not A Barrel of Laughs

August 3rd 2015

Maybe the reason the Emmy-winning show ‘Modern Family’ is such a hit isn’t because of the phenomenal writers on the show (although the writers are phenomenal), maybe it’s because the show is more relevant than we think. What if Claire and Phil; Ed and Gloria; Cameron and Mitchell, and all the kids in between were representative of majority of families in the U.S.? What would that mean for estate planning? News flash, they are the majority, and it makes estate planning extremely

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The Sharing Economy: Not Making it Easy for the Tax Man

July 14th 2015

The Tax Man is having a difficult time trying to keep up with the advances in technology and the businesses that take advantage of it. In a world where technology has enabled swift global and communal evolutions, taxation of these evolutions provides challenges.

One such evolution is the ‘Sharing Economy’, AKA ‘Collaborative Consumption’ or ‘Peer Economy’. The Sharing Economy is defined as the growing preference for individuals to rent/borrow/upcycle etc. rather than purchase new

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The Greek Tragedy

July 7th 2015

As the rest of us are getting into the groove of late summer evenings and barbecues, the Greek economy is quickly going through the shredder. The last two weeks saw the country’s debt crises go from yellow to blazing red.  What happens now that the Greek people said “No” to fiscal austerity?  More importantly, what effect does it have it on our clients with investments in Greece and the EU?

The “No” vote is a bad sign.  The Greek people are heavily dependent on their government and the

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Five Avoidable Asset Protection Mistakes Made by Physicians

June 22nd 2015

Many of our clients are physicians. Doctors are vulnerable to malpractice lawsuits, often brought by avaricious plaintiffs’ attorneys. With approximately 17,000 medical lawsuits filed each year, most doctors will get sued at least once in their career, with plastic surgeons clocking in at number five, and neurosurgeons topping the list as the number one most sued doctor in the U.S. Malpractice suits are rampant and many times unexpected. In fact in a study done on medical professionals

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The Holy Bank Signs FATCA

June 15th 2015

The Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR) otherwise known as the Vatican Bank is the latest jurisdiction to join the growing list on the FATCA bandwagon. FATCA stands for Foreign Account Tax Compliant Act, a controversial effort by the U.S. government to curb international tax evasion. Read more on FATCA in our earlier blogs here.

The agreement between the Vatican bank and the United States was signed earlier this week in an ongoing effort to clean up the bank’s reputation. 
In

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The Kids v. the New Wife - Robin Williams’ Estate under Dispute

February 16th 2015

Six months after the death of Robin Williams, his children, Zak-31, Zelda-25 and Cody-23, from his previous two marriages enter into a bitter battle with his widow, Mrs. Susan Schneider Williams, his third wife, over his estate.
Robin Williams had a successful lifelong career through which he amassed a net worth of about $50 Million. Funny-guy Williams also had a sensible head on his shoulders because he had a solid estate plan in place which included several trusts.

One trust called

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Foreign Investment - Is Cuba Ready?

January 28th 2015

For over five decades, Cuba has been economically isolated from the U.S. and much of Western Europe. A throwback to the 50s, Cuba’s capital and metropolitan hub, Havana boasts classic American cars and cobbled roads, a place frozen in a tell-tale snap-shot of events that led to the U.S. embargo.

In December 2014, President Obama announced that the embargo on Cuba will be lifted. The announcement has naturally gotten everyone extremely excited on both ends. Companies eager to access

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A Win in Estate Planning for Art Collectors

January 26th 2015

How do you put monetary value on a partitioned collection of art?

A recent decision by the Appeals Court 5th Circuit in the case of Elkins V. the IRS may shed some light on this question and give art collectors and their estate planners an answer to the question above.

Many people, especially those with a large amount of wealth, work with an estate planning attorney to ensure that their estates are properly structured and that upon their death, their wishes are followed.

It is more

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Farewell to the Irish Double and Double-Dutch Sandwich: Changes to Tax Laws Imminent

November 20th 2014

The ‘Irish Double’ and the ‘Irish Double with a Dutch Sandwich’ tax loopholes have provided companies like Google and other big-name players registered in Ireland with a very effective international tax strategy. Due to increasing pressure from the EU and the United States, Ireland has released new proposals to block these loopholes and comply with new international tax directives.

There are over 1000 multinationals based in Ireland including Google, Pfeizer and Apple. Unlike the U.S.

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China to Open More Sectors to Foreign Investors

November 10th 2014

On November 5, 2014, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) released a draft on the latest revision of restrictions placed on foreign investors looking to participate in China’s market. The most recent revision includes an increase in the number of industries open to foreign investment. In China, foreign investors are restricted from participating in many industry sectors. Some sectors allow for limited participation either through a joint venture with a Chinese

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Canadian Pension Funds and U.S. Public Works

October 13th 2014

Our neighbors to the North may have found a way to accomplish some U.S. tax reform. Canada is offering the U.S. the opportunity to gain much needed investment for public works such as U.S. freeways and bridges by using Canadian pension funds. The condition is – drop the 10% tax tagged onto foreigners selling U.S. property.

The Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act of 1980 (FIRPTA) was implemented in response to the growing fear of a takeover of domestic resources by foreign money.

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Back to the Basics of Asset Protection

September 23rd 2014

We spend so much time dealing with the technicalities and the nitty-gritty of Asset Protection that sometimes we forget about the basic principles.

1. Asset Protection is Contextual: There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ strategy in asset protection. In other words, an asset protection plan that works for one person may not work as well for another. For example, if Mr. White has $5 million in cash, and Mr. Black owns $5 million is commercial real estate, the strategies that will work for Mr.

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Burger King Joins the Corporate Inversion Game

September 17th 2014

The subject of U.S. corporate inversions continues to be a source of concern (or panic – depending on which side of the fence you are on) and has even had the President using words like ‘unpatriotic’ and ‘tax loophole.’

Congressmen are rallying for new laws to stop or penalize corporations moving their legal headquarters overseas and companies are backing out of what would otherwise be advantageous mergers.

A corporate inversion is the relocation of a corporation’s legal headquarters to

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Russia’s Proposed Tax Laws - De-Offshoring

August 25th 2014


Russia is no stranger to the ever pervasive problem of tax avoidance and evasion and it is implementing a series of proposals to curb both. A new program, said to go into effect next year, has been dubbed “De-Offshoring of the economy,” and was introduced by Putin at the end of 2013.
A list of proposal drafts have already been submitted and will most likely be revised and edited several times, however, the direction of the program is already very clear.
 
The de-offshoring policies are

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Five Key Points to Remember in Asset Protection Planning for Businesses

August 21st 2014
Asset protection is a very important step in business planning. With a strategic business and tax structure, a succession or exit plan, and a strong Asset Protection plan, a business has a solid chance of protecting its investments and profits from potential claims or creditors.
 
Here is what an asset protection plan for a business should include:
 
Proactive Planning: Asset Protection Planning is especially effective when it is implemented before a threat against a business’ assets
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Time is Running Out for US Companies Considering Corporate Inversion

July 31st 2014
In a press conference held last week,  President Obama announced that Washington will be proposing new laws to discourage the growing practice of US companies re-domiciling to countries with lower corporate taxes. The President has called Corporate or Tax Inversion – the practice of relocating a corporation’s headquarters to a lower tax domicile while keeping material operations in the country of origin – an "unpatriotic tax loophole." 
US corporations redomicile to other countries to
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The United States and China come to a FATCA Agreement

July 28th 2014

The US government has signed a Foreign Account Tax Compliance Agreement (FATCA) with almost 100 jurisdictions around the world. FATCA, which went into the effect on July 1, 2014, requires that all worldwide banking and financial institutions report US account holders with account balances of $10,000 or more to the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in an effort to battle international tax evasion.  A full list of countries signed up for FATCA can be viewed here. To learn more

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Estate Planning - Not a One Time Deal

July 18th 2014

Many believe that setting up an estate plan is all there is to estate planning. This is incorrect, and potentially disastrous.  Estate plans need to be updated if certain life changes occur, and if there are no life changes, every three to four years. By leaving an estate plan stagnant, trustors put themselves and their beneficiaries at a major disadvantage.

Here are 7 main reasons to review and update your Estate Plan regularly

1. Moving to a New State Or Purchasing Property in a New

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US Companies Establish Residency in the UK

July 2nd 2014

There is a growing trend of US companies moving their operations overseas to cut corporate taxes. This corporate migration is not to the Cayman Islands, Gibraltar or even Ireland; it is to the United Kingdom.  

Corporate tax, also called Corporation tax is defined as a tax levied against profits earned by a corporation in a given tax period. The UK is quickly becoming a popular destination for US firms who want to save on corporate taxes. Reuters reported that over seven US companies

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More Citizens Renounce U.S. Citizenship

June 11th 2014

Any U.S. citizen is allowed to surrender U.S. citizenship and move to a different country.  This is commonly referred to as expatriation.  It is a difficult decision, often motivated by politics or taxation.  The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) releases a list of expatriated Americans quarterly. In 2013 the total number of expatriations for the year was 2,999, a 221% increase from the year before. The IRS released 1,001 names of individuals who have chosen to expatriate on its first

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Foreign Investors Nervous About Thailand Coup

May 22nd 2014

Foreign investors nervously wait while Southeast Asia’s second largest economy goes through a political standstill. Earlier this month, Thailand’s Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra was removed from office for abuse of power leaving the nation without a government. As a result, Thailand’s military instituted martial law, and stood prepared, waiting for the tightly-wound, delicate balance of peace that is still in place, to snap. The country has been able to avoid violence, but the new

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Foreign Account Disclosure - US Taxes and the IRS

May 1st 2014

US taxpayers who failed to report foreign financial activity to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have received notices from the IRS about their non-compliance. Over the last few years, the IRS has made advances in the problem of tax evasion by US taxpayers (citizens and residents) with foreign accounts. All US taxpayers with foreign accounts of $10,000 and over are required to report their fbar filings and file tax returns regardless of whether they live in the United States or

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Online Gambling Accounts and the IRS: John Hom, et al V. USA

April 24th 2014

Online or internet gambling was declared illegal in the United States under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. This prompted many professional online gamblers to relocate/re-domicile to other countries where they could continue to play legitimately.

The FBAR is an annual report filed by U.S. persons living and/ or operating overseas of foreign bank accounts and financial holdings. FBAR filing is required on all foreign accounts with $10,000 or more at any time during

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The No State Income Tax Trust Basics

April 17th 2014

With state income taxes on a constant increase, many taxpayers are looking for ways to protect themselves from double (federal and state) taxation. With the combination of federal and state income taxes, in states like California and New York, individuals could be subject to taxes as high as 50% to 60%. The same rates would apply to trusts and beneficiaries of trusts. One of the options gaining popularity is creating trusts in states that do not impose an income tax.

In a grantor trust,

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New Cross-Border Taxation Efforts in China

April 8th 2014

China, the world’s second largest economy, has taken several steps to battle the issue of cross-border tax evasion. As of 2013, China formed agreements with 46 nations to share tax information.

Leading the efforts is tax Commissioner Zhang Zhiyong, who said that China has a responsibility to strengthen its international tax collection efforts.

As of 2011, China was losing approximately US$134billion each year in tax revenue, making it the world’s 8th largest tax loser, only 7 steps

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Update on Taxation of Bitcoin: IRS Speaks

April 7th 2014

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has finally weighed in on the topic of the taxation of Bitcoin. Below is a list of questions and answers provided by the IRS.

 

Q-1: How is virtual currency treated for federal tax purposes?

A-1: For federal tax purposes, virtual currency is treated as property. General tax principles applicable to property transactions apply to transactions using virtual currency.

Q-2: Is virtual currency treated as currency for purposes of determining whether a

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A Primer on Bitcoin

April 7th 2014

Bitcoin is a digital or virtual currency that uses peer-to-peer technology for the payment of goods and services. It is an internet-based currency that was established in 2009, and has experienced such exponential growth that companies such as eBay and Overstock now accept it as a form of payment. Bitcoin operates in a decentralized system and does not have any central governing authority.  Instead, it is governed/maintained by an online community. Further, it is a peer-to -peer based

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Google V. Treasury

February 25th 2014

Google, one of the most influential companies in history, is no stranger when it comes to having its hand smacked by tax officials domestically and internationally.

The information giant was reported to avoid over $2billion in worldwide income taxes in 2012.  The words ‘Tax Evasion’ have been bandied around by several countries, but the multinational company firmly disagrees.

The tech bigwig, among other multinationals, has managed to stir countries like the United Kingdom, France and

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F-DAY CONFIRMED FOR JULY 1, 2014

February 20th 2014
Individuals and Businesses Prepare For FATCA Deadline

In international tax, the ongoing news has been the sweeping impact of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). FATCA is a law that was passed to curb illegal tax evasion by United States citizens (and green card holders), and businesses. However, critics propose that the revenue brought in by FATCA is trivial compared to the damage the legislation will cause to foreign investment to the U.S. and law-abiding Americans living

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U.S. Congress Goes After Apple, or Is It Ireland?

June 7th 2013

Senate hearings about Apple’s alleged tax avoidance have been in the news the last few weeks. News stories abound, describing how Apple generates billions of dollars in profits overseas, using a chain of entities set up in Ireland, pays no U.S. income taxes on those profits and pays almost no income taxes in Ireland. The alleged scandal is so delicious, few reporters passed it up.

I have diligently searched most available news sources and have not found a single article that actually

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Your Government Wants Your Money!

May 3rd 2013

The economic downturn we have experienced over the past few years have made sovereign states desperate for your money. We have seen a wide push by many developed nations, most notably U.S. and Germany, to pursue “offshore” wealth. The term “offshore” has a slightly different meaning in different countries. In the United States the term commonly refers to any jurisdiction that is not the United States. In Europe, the term “offshore” is most often applied to tax havens, but may also be

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Citizenship for Sale in the Caribbean

February 12th 2013

Here is an interesting article from AP about citizenship for sale in the Caribbean. Most nations sell citizenship, or at least permanent residence with a path to citizenship (including the U.S. and many EU nations) – Caribbean nations make it very affordable. We have helped our clients obtain citizenship in various countries, mostly in East Caribbean. The need for a second citizenship is usually fueled by tax planning (i.e., the client is planning to surrender primary citizenship) or

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