United States citizens living abroad are facing some major tax dilemmas, thanks to the changes brought about by the recent tax reform.
One major tax issue affecting U.S. citizens living abroad is taxed on repatriated earnings. The recently passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act includes a law creating a transition tax, which is a one-time levy on U.S. companies and citizens’ earnings from foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies. So, any U.S. company operating abroad or U.S. citizen earning abroad have to pay a one time tax of 15.5% on held cash and 8% on other earnings.
For corporations, there’s actually some tax relief available for this transition tax (due to certain provisions in the new tax law). However, citizens cannot get this same tax relief and must pay the transition tax in full.
The transition tax is likely a very unpleasant surprise for many U.S. citizens living abroad. But that isn’t the only new law that will greatly affect their taxes.
There are also new laws surrounding estate taxes for estates outside the U.S. Now, if any U.S. citizen has an estate worth over $11.8 million upon their death, that estate is subject to U.S. taxes. Additionally, there is a harsh penalty for not filing a tax return for an estate: if an estate doesn’t file taxes, the U.S. will declare that the cost base of the estate was zero.
Additionally, there are new laws about tax disclosure that U.S. citizens living abroad need to be aware of. A new program called the Offshore Voluntary Tax Disclosure Program requires that U.S. citizens who have an account that in the aggregate exceed $10,000 must file a foreign bank and financial accounts report. So, essentially, those who accumulate more than $10,000 in wealth in any year must report this to the U.S. The U.S. government also has programs in place with many foreign banks to help ensure that they know about large accounts owned by U.S. citizens.
These new laws brought about by the recent tax reform have proved that they will affect U.S. citizens living abroad in major ways. In the long term, this will likely affect how dual citizens conduct business abroad, and some experts have said that many dual citizens are considering cutting their ties to the U.S. because of it.
That is all speculation at this point, of course. As with any new tax law, the full ramifications of these new laws will only be seen with time.