Give up your US Citizenship to Save Taxes

It is well known in the international tax forums that US citizens tax planning is an impossible mission.

As reported in the LA Times: Facebook’s Eduardo Saverin gives up citizenship: Shrewd tax move?

“Here’s a tax tip for Mark Zuckerberg: Give up your U.S. citizenship. The 27-year-old Facebook Inc. founder could face a tax bill of more than $1 billion after the company’s initial public offering, expected next week. His former Harvard classmate who is known as “the other Facebook founder” may have found a way to cut the bill. Eduardo Saverin, who now lives in Singapore, has given up his U.S. citizenship. Tax experts say it’s a shrewd move. Saverin, who was immortalized in the film “The Social Network” as Zuckerberg’s contentious former friend and business partner, has a 4% stake in the company, according to the Who Owns Facebook? website. His stake could be worth nearly $4 billion after the IPO.

“It’s definitely savvy tax planning,” said Edward D. Kleinbard, a professor of law at USC who specializes in federal tax policy and international taxation. “He can argue that the value of the Facebook shares in September, when he gave up his citizenship, were significantly less than the value that will be set at the IPO next week.”
Saverin’s spokeswoman said his decision to jump ship had nothing to do with the upcoming IPO and the potential tax liability. Continue Reading

UK Tax Budget 2012

UK Tax Budget 2012 – The Association of Taxation Technicians has produced a Special Report on the March Budget in their April 2012 Newsletter. The full Report is detailed below:

The contents of George Osborne’s third Budget were so well rehearsed that the real thing threatened to be an anti-climax. Was there anything left that the Chancellor could surprise us with, especially as he had such little fiscal room for manoeuvre?

The answer was both yes and no. After all the income tax rumours, Mr Osborne decided to make the change to 45% from April 2013. His 2013/14 increase in the personal allowance allowed him to start phasing out the age allowance – an unexpected revenue-raising ploy.

Income tax bands, rates and personal allowances All income tax rates for 2012/13 will remain at their 2011/12 levels. For 2013/14 the personal allowance will rise from £8,105 to £9,205 and there will be a £2,125 reduction in the basic rate limit from £34,370 to £32,245.

From 2013/14, there will be no increase in the age-related personal allowances and their availability will be restricted to people born before 6 April 1948 for the allowance worth £10,500, and 6 April 1938 for the allowance worth £10,660. The aim is to phase out the age-related allowances within a few years. For 2013/14 the additional rate of tax will be reduced from 50% to 45% (from 42.5% to 37.5% for dividends). The rates of tax for trusts will be similarly reduced.

A cap on unlimited income tax reliefs will apply to income tax reliefs that individuals will be able to claim from 6 April 2013. The cap will apply only to reliefs that are currently unlimited – e.g. qualifying interest payments. For anyone seeking to claim more than £50,000 in reliefs, a cap will be set at 25% of income (or £50,000, whichever is greater). Continue Reading

Significant Tax Changes Announced in Spain 2012 Budget

On March 30, 2012, the Spanish government announced the 2012 budget. At the same time, the government approved Royal Decree-Law 12/2012, which introduces a number of relevant changes in the corporate tax area, including new limitations on the deductibility of interest expense.

Interest-capping rule

Following a trend started by other European governments, the Spanish government has introduced an interest-capping rule that replaces the existing thin capitalization provisions. The new interest-capping rule, which will apply to both related- and unrelated-party debt, limits tax relief for net interest expense to 30 percent of the taxpayer’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (“EBITDA”), with some adjustments. For entities that are part of a tax consolidated group, this 30-percent limit will apply to the EBITDA of the group. Continue Reading

US Non Resident Green Card Holders Must Revisit Their Position

As discussed in a number of previous Tax Alerts from, since 2009 the Internal Revenue Service has created three separate tax amnesty programs in order to encourage U.S. taxpayers to properly report and pay taxes on assets held abroad. These amnesty programs require U.S. taxpayers to pay any overdue tax, penalties and interest on unreported income, and pay an additional “in lieu” penalty (the “FBAR penalty”) based upon the amount of unreported funds held abroad. The cost of the FBAR penalty has increased successively with each of the three programs such that those who have waited until the current 2012 amnesty program to report their offshore income and assets pay an FBAR penalty of up to 27.5% of those assets as compared to the 20% FBAR penalty paid by participants in the 2009 amnesty program. Continue Reading

Spanish Tax Paradise

The Spanish Government has approved a special incentive to disclose untaxed cash amounts (black money) at a special 10% rate, without further interest, penalty and/or tax investigations.

This will allow residents and non residents alike to bring into the Spanish system any amount of undisclosed cash held anywhere in the world.

The constitutionality of this measure is to be seen and I personally have many other questions such as the procedure to be followed, KYC and compliance with international anti money laundering regulations.

An interesting way to open the Pandora box. Keep watching this space!

Spanish Law on Mediation

The Spanish Real Decreto-Ley (Royal Decree-Law) 5/2012, of 5th March, on Civil and Commercial Mediation is already in force. This provision incorporates into Spanish law the Directive 2008/52/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 21 May 2008 on certain aspects of mediation in civil and commercial matters (just for the record, deadline for transposition expired on 5/20/2011). Following aspects are of interest for PIL (arts. 2, 3, 27):

The Royal Decree-Law applies to mediation in civil or commercial cases, including cross-border disputes provided they do not affect rights and obligations that are non-disposable under the applicable law. “Cross-border conflict” implies that at least one party is domiciled or habitually resident in a State other than that of the domicile/habitual residence of any of the other parties. For parties residing in different Member States of the European Union, domicile will be determined in accordance with Articles 59 and 60 of Regulation (EC). No 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters. Continue Reading

A Guide for Foreign Companies Setting Up a Business in Britain and Overseas Employees Working Here.

Our UK associates, LEA member firm HW Fisher has published A Guide for Foreign Companies Setting Up a Business in Britain and Overseas Employees Working Here.

The report includes information related to trading in the UK, setting up a subsidiary and permanent establishment. Tax information including VAT and personal Tax are also covered.

The full Guide can be found here: US to UK – for citizens and companies 2012


US President Tweaks Tax Vision in 2013 Budget

As reported by Grant Thornton, the Obama administration submitted a budget proposal on Feb. 13 with well over 100 proposed tax provisions that would result in trillions of dollars of revenue changes. The tax platform in the budget proposal is largely an amalgamation of provisions from earlier legislative initiatives and previous budgets, but it does include several new proposals affecting high-income individuals and multinational taxpayers.

The most significant new position may be the President’s call to return the top dividend tax rate to 39.6%. Last year’s budget proposed preserving the equivalent treatment of capital gains and qualified dividends, with the top rate for both increasing from a 15% rate to just 20%.

Spain – Regional Administrative Tax Court Acknowledges the Application of EU Law over Previous Discriminatory National Law

The Madrid Regional Administrative Tax Court (known as “TEAR”) in a decision dated 29 November 2011 (notified on 27 December 2011) acknowledges the application of EU Law over previous discriminatory National Law on the treatment of EU resident pension schemes (in this particular case, a UK pension fund). In this regard, the TEAR specifically refers to the Spanish National High Court of Justice (“Audiencia Nacional”) which delivered a judgment regarding withholding taxes levied on three Dutch pension schemes in Spain.

The TEAR states that the tax treatment suffered by the non resident UK pension fund in Spain during FY 2004 was discriminatory under EU Law compared to a resident Spanish pension fund. The TEAR stressed that the Spanish tax law was discriminatory on the grounds of nationality as well as violating one of the four main principles of EU Law, namely the free movement of capital (Art. 63 TFEU). In addition, the TEAR reiterates that since 1 January 2010, the Spanish domestic legislation was amended as a result of said discrimination in order to be compliant with EU principles. Continue Reading