Not applicable to adult emigrants. No other proposals to simplify income taxes for individuals who don’t live in the United States. No help with the insane reporting requirements on foreign retirement & medical & disability savings plans. Some people may hope it’s a start from an administration which up until now has been totally deaf to the “special concerns and issues of Americans abroad” which the president claimed he would address when he was campaigning for our votes. Others will take it as what it appears to be at face value: a chance to get out while the getting is semi-good. At page 282 of the “Green Book” (all links added by me):
Individuals who became citizens of both the United States and another country at birth may have had minimal contact with the United States and may not learn until later in life that they are U.S. citizens. In addition, these individuals may be citizens of countries where dual citizenship is illegal. Many of these individuals would like to relinquish their U.S. citizenship in accordance with established State Department procedures, but doing so would require them to pay significant U.S. tax.
Under the proposal, an individual will not be subject to tax as a U.S. citizen and will not be a covered expatriate subject to the mark-to-market exit tax under section 877A if the individual:
1. became at birth a citizen of the United States and a citizen of another country,
2. at all times, up to and including the individual’s expatriation date, has been a citizen of a country other than the United States,
3. has not been a resident of the United States (as defined in section 7701(b)) since attaining age 18½,
4. has never held a U.S. passport or has held a U.S. passport for the sole purpose of departing from the United States in compliance with 22 CFR §53.1,
5. relinquishes his or her U.S. citizenship within two years after the later of January 1, 2016, or the date on which the individual learns that he or she is a U.S. citizen, and
6. certifies under penalty of perjury his or her compliance with all U.S. Federal tax obligations that would have applied during the five years preceding the year of expatriation if the individual had been a nonresident alien during that period.
The proposal would be effective January 1, 2016.
This didn’t appear to be covered in the table of revenue estimates. Correction: As Tim points out, the revenue estimate is in the summary tables file on the White House/OMB website, rather than the Treasury website. They estimate it would cost $400 million over ten years, with more than half of that coming in the first three years as people scramble to take advantage of the offer.
Details of revenue estimates
|Deficit increases (+) or decreases (-) in millions of dollars
|Provide relief for certain accidental dual citizens
I am quite interested to know the underlying number of relinquishers OMB used make these estimates (and for that matter, whether they have offset those estimates by the $2,350 fee that many accidentals are going to have to pay because they only qualify for renunciation and no other method of giving up citizenship). I assume that the estimates for ongoing deficit increases past 2018 are attributable to one-time losses of revenue from additional relinquishers,rather than ongoing loss of revenue from the initial group of relinquishers.
For example, they may be using the utterly false (and late again for this quarter) Federal Register relinquishment numbers and assuming that all of them would qualify for Obama’s plan. (That would also mean they’re assuming that no non-accidental Americans have ever given up citizenship because of the FATCA mess that Obama signed into law — clearly an incorrect assumption.) In that case they would be saying that in 2020 they’re expecting an average annual revenue loss of $8,000 per person, rising to $10,000 per person by 2025.
If OMB understands that only a small proportion of recent relinquishers qualify for Obama’s plan, then they’re trying to claim that the revenue loss per person would be much higher — which I don’t think is supportable. On the other hand, they may also understand that the actual number of relinquishers is higher and that only a small proportion of them will qualify for Obama’s plan. Though given the dubious earlier models of the effect of cancelling the FEIE, I get the sense that the government does not have this much of an in-depth understanding of emigrant tax issues.
Treatment of businesses owned by American emigrants
Another small mercy: the proposed 19% minimum tax on foreign earnings only applies to CFCs owned by “entities taxed as domestic C corporations” — finally, an implicit acknowledgement that some owners of CFCs are human emigrants rather than multinational corporations. Unfortunately the 14% tax on “previously untaxed” foreign earnings does not appear to include that same acknowledgement.
Will not affect ADCS lawsuit
Update, 6 February: Stephen Kish has already spoken with Mr. Arvay about the Obama budget proposal, and states:
Some you have expressed concern that should the Obama budget proposal, if ever enacted, provide some relief to duals-at-birth, like our two Plaintiffs Ginny and Gwen, this could mean trouble for our lawsuit — because both Plaintiffs are duals-at-birth. Apparently, Canada’s Mr. Roy Berg himself, a U.S tax compliance professional, is mentioned in an article (which I have not seen) which states that should the tax code on duals-at-birth change for the better, this might “spell the death-knell” to our Canadian lawsuit.
Please do not worry. The Arvay team has been quite aware of the issue of specific characteristics of plaintiffs from the very beginning.
Today Mr. Arvay also has confirmed with me, yet again, that our legal strategy is not limited to the specific characteristics of the two plaintiffs, that additional plaintiffs can be added to the lawsuit should this ever be necessary, and that our aim has always been to include affidavits from people who span a range of differing characteristics.