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U.S. Immigration Tax Planning – Covered Expatriates

Published in Taxes & Wealth Management by Thomson Reuters, Issue 9-1: February 2016. (p.14)

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Pre-Immigration Tax Planning, Part III: Remedying The Adverse Consequences of the Covered Expatriate Regime

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Following our previous articles regarding pre-immigration planning and the expatriation rules applicable to covered expatriates (see here and here), this article considers some techniques for implementation before and after expatriation, with the objective to reduce the adverse treatment of the covered expatriate regime to the extent possible depending on the specific facts and circumstances of each individual.

For a Green Card holder, expatriating prior to becoming a long-term resident would eliminate the application of the covered expatriate regime. For a U.S. citizen (other than children under certain situations), the circumstances that will allow for a tax-free expatriation are more restrictive. An individual is considered a covered expatriate if he or she meets one of three tests. Pre-expatriation planning can eliminate the application of the covered expatriate regime for some individuals, while for others additional planning may be needed to reduce the unfavorable effect of the covered expatriate rules.

Pre-Immigration Income Tax Planning, Part II: Covered Expatriates

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Continuing on from our previous article concerning pre-immigration planning, this article will explain the tax rules by which an individual seeking to renounce his or her U.S. citizenship or green card status may be affected.

To relinquish U.S. citizenship or a green card, a formal act of relinquishment is required. Therefore, a green card holder who moves outside the U.S. will continue to be treated as a U.S. resident for tax purposes until he or she formally relinquishes green card status or it is rescinded by the government. A U.S. citizen residing outside the U.S. will have to formally relinquish his or her citizenship in order to be removed from the U.S. tax system. As a general rule, termination of U.S. residency becomes effective on the last day of the calendar year in which the status was relinquished. However, under certain circumstances, termination may be effective midyear.

Upon expatriation, should an individual be considered a “covered expatriate,” he or she may be subject to an exit tax, and following expatriation, any gifts and bequests made by such an individual may be subject to a succession tax in the case of U.S.-resident recipients.

For planning purposes, U.S. citizens wishing to relinquish their citizenship should determine if they are covered expatriates prior to undertaking any such action. Green card holders wishing to relinquish green card status must first determine if they are treated as long-term residents. If so treated, green card holders should determine if they are covered expatriates under the same tests applicable to U.S. citizens.