The Local is not responsible for content posted by users.
2 Pages V   1 2 >   Reply to this topic

Sweden no longer a viable place for Americans?

Will numbers go down?

Ivor stephé
post 27.Sep.2013, 01:02 PM
Post #1
Joined: 20.Aug.2013

Wonder if less Americans will come to Sweden via work in the future?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24135021

QUOTE
Why are Americans giving up their citizenship?

26 September 2013 Last updated at 23:11 GMT By Tom Geoghegan BBC News, Washington

The number of Americans giving up their citizenship has rocketed this year - partly, it's thought, because of a new tax law that is frustrating many expats.

Goodbye, US passport.

That's not a concept that Americans contemplate lightly. But it's one that many of them seem to be considering - and acting on.

The number of expatriates renouncing their US citizenship surged in the second quarter of 2013, compared with the same period the year before - 1,131 cases to 189 in 2012. It's still a small proportion of the estimated six million Americans abroad, but it's a significant rise.

The list is compiled by the Federal Register and while no reasons are given, the big looming factor seems to be tax.

A new law called the Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act (Fatca) will, from 1 July next year, require all financial institutions around the world to report directly to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) all the assets and incomes of any US citizens with $50,000 (£31,000) on their books. The US could withhold 30% of dividends and interest payments due to the banks that don't comply.

It's an attempt by the US authorities to recover an estimated $100bn a year in unpaid taxes on US citizens' assets overseas. Unlike other countries, Americans are taxed not only as residents of the US but also as citizens, wherever they live.

Suddenly, some expats are waking up in a cold sweat. They have always had to file tax returns and disclose foreign accounts on a form called the FBAR, although in practice many didn't. But now Fatca means they have to be more rigorous or face huge fines, in the knowledge that the US authorities could know a lot more than they have in the past.

Many would say the IRS is only trying to get what it is owed, but critics say that in trying to track down the wealthy tax-dodgers, ordinary people are being dragged into an expensive and time-consuming form-filling nightmare. And for some, it's become too much.

Bridget, who asked the BBC not to use her real name, gave up her US citizenship in 2011, 32 years after leaving for a new life in Scandinavia.

"This has nothing to do with avoiding taxes. I was never in danger of having to pay taxes in the US since I pay more here. The issue for me was that it was becoming harder and harder to follow the tax code and comply. It was difficult already but when I knew Fatca was coming, I thought, 'Do I want to go through with it anymore?'"

She felt threatened even if she did everything to fulfil her responsibilities, she says. A simple loyalty card at the local grocery store caused her anxiety when she realised it was linked to a bank account she never knew she had.

It became so complicated to do her tax return that she turned to professionals, at an annual cost of nearly $2,000 (£1,250), with the prospect of Fatca raising the price to $5,000. Also, fewer tax lawyers were taking on American clients, she says, and some banks were even turning away American money.

"In the end, I sleep better now knowing that I no longer have to worry about the US requirements. I will never be able to live or own property in the US but I can visit and that's enough for me."

Bridget, who runs an editing and translation company, says her strong emotional bond with the US has been frayed.

"I've enjoyed being an American even though I haven't lived there since I was young. I identified with America so I felt angry that I had to get to this point where it wasn't viable to keep my citizenship anymore.

"When you're an American living in America, it's one thing but when you live abroad in another country, in certain ways that feeling becomes even stronger because you realise that things that you think are individual characteristics are actually national ones so you identify even more strongly with your nationality.

"I used to always introduce myself as American but not now, although I will always be American in my heart even though I won't carry the passport. I will still celebrate Thanksgiving and 4 July."

She says the tax issue is the biggest topic of conversation among the expat Americans she knows. And tax lawyers in the US who deal with people living abroad say it has become a huge issue.

"I'm all for people paying their taxes, but it's very expensive to follow the letter of the law," says David Kuenzi, founder of Thun Financial Advisors, which specialises in helping Americans abroad with tax issues.

"Some people are spending $4,000-$5,000 a year to do their tax return only to find out they don't owe anything to the US."

Fatca has only created a little additional reporting for individuals, says Kuenzi, but it has generated a fear that the IRS will have full knowledge of people's assets. So reporting suddenly has to be assiduous, accurate and complete for every passport-holding American.

"You have very wealthy people hiding their assets and not paying their taxes and that's an outrage. Something should be done about it, but this reaction has created a terrible imposition on every American living abroad and it's way over the top," he says.

Foreign banks do not seem happy about it either, and Senator Rand Paul, a libertarian Republican, has introduced a bill seeking to remove aspects of the law related to data-sharing.

But the US Treasury is standing firmly behind the new law. In a statement on its website, Robert Stack, deputy assistant secretary for international tax affairs, rebuts certain "myths".

"Fatca provisions impose no new obligations on US citizens living abroad... US taxpayers, including US citizens living abroad, are required to comply with US tax laws," he says​.

"Individuals that have used offshore accounts to evade tax obligations may rightly fear that Fatca will identify their illicit activities. Yet a decision to renounce US citizenship would not relieve these individuals of prior US tax obligations."

Those who have joined the ex-American club, or are thinking about it, say this is not about tax evasion.

Victoria Ferauge, 47, is married to a Frenchman and has lived abroad for nearly 20 years, primarily in France. If her adopted country finally agrees to Fatca then she wonders what the implications will be.

"Are my bank accounts going to be closed? Is my husband going to be forced to take my name off the accounts?"

Ferauge is unemployed and recovering from breast cancer so she doesn't have any income. She has paid nearly $1,000 to accountants this year but will have to get more expensive help next year.

With strong ties to the Pacific Northwest, and two parents to visit there, the Seattle-born 47-year-old would rather not renounce her citizenship.

"I don't know any Americans abroad who aren't thinking about giving it up but what I say to myself is that I will fight as long and as hard as I can.

"And it's only when I've exhausted all options that I will make that appointment with the US embassy."

But others said no matter what the tax hardship, they would never switch nationalities. Being an American, said one, was more important.
Go to the top of the page
+
organic225
post 27.Sep.2013, 01:28 PM
Post #2
Joined: 7.Apr.2012

Ha! This would be a good problem for me to have. I can't even get a job in a café or grocery store, even though I'm university educated and have completed SFI and SAS. My goal is to continue my education at a university here in Sweden, so my focus on that is preventing me from becoming completely panicked. But unless one has a really specialized skill, then it is virtually impossible to get a job as a foreigner if you don't have inside connections.

I find it a bit strange that it is relatively easy to move here but at the same time the labor market is largely closed off. I guess this is the price of all the "free" stuff.
Go to the top of the page
+
Seamus Sean
post 27.Sep.2013, 01:48 PM
Post #3
Joined: 4.Oct.2009

Ivor, you ask in your thread heading "If Sweden no longer viable for Americans" and you go on to wonder in your opening sentence if less Americans will come to Sweden to work in the future.

Reading the article you posted I read...

"Bridget, who asked the BBC not to use her real name, gave up her US citizenship in 2011, 32 years after leaving for a new life in Scandinavia.

"This has nothing to do with avoiding taxes. I was never in danger of having to pay taxes in the US since I pay more here. The issue for me was that it was becoming harder and harder to follow the tax code and comply. It was difficult already but when I knew Fatca was coming, I thought, 'Do I want to go through with it anymore?'"

Could you clarify if it´s the case an American abroad is paying higher taxes in their host country than they would be at home in States will they still be liable to taxes to the IRS?

Just going on what Bridget had to say it would seem she wasn´t going to pay taxes in the US as she paid more here, if this is the case for all Americans surely then working in Sweden and paying high taxes here won´t render them liable so therefore this new tax law won´t have a bearing on them coming here to work...an increase in paper work with filling out the tax returns would hardly put some off traveling abroad if the job offer was good enough?
Go to the top of the page
+
Rick Methven
post 27.Sep.2013, 03:32 PM
Post #4
Location: Linköping
Joined: 30.Nov.2005

another byke like thread. Useless rubbish
Go to the top of the page
+
Ivor stephé
post 2.Oct.2013, 03:22 PM
Post #5
Joined: 20.Aug.2013

The BBC have updated their original article after a large response.
Very interesting.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24338387
Go to the top of the page
+
Hisingen
post 2.Oct.2013, 03:40 PM
Post #6
Joined: 5.Jul.2012

Yet another 'young byke' quote. That is all this 'person' can do, quote as infinitum.
I much prefer the original Byke anyway.
Go to the top of the page
+
Svensksmith
post 2.Oct.2013, 05:48 PM
Post #7
Joined: 28.Jul.2011

To be honest, this would prohibit me from ever moving back to Sweden.
Go to the top of the page
+
intrepidfox
post 2.Oct.2013, 05:59 PM
Post #8
Location: Gothenburg
Joined: 18.Jul.2012

QUOTE (Hisingen @ 2.Oct.2013, 03:40 PM) *
Yet another 'young byke' quote. That is all this 'person' can do, quote as infinitum.. I much prefer the original Byke anyway.

biggrin.gif
Go to the top of the page
+
Ivor stephé
post 2.Oct.2013, 06:31 PM
Post #9
Joined: 20.Aug.2013

QUOTE (Svensksmith @ 2.Oct.2013, 04:48 PM) *
To be honest, this would prohibit me from ever moving back to Sweden.

Are you referring to the costs associated with taxes for Americans?
Go to the top of the page
+
Svensksmith
post 2.Oct.2013, 08:12 PM
Post #10
Joined: 28.Jul.2011

The costs, and the paperwork hassels.
Go to the top of the page
+
skogsbo
post 2.Oct.2013, 08:32 PM
Post #11
Joined: 20.Sep.2011

I can imagine, at least the UK has a tax agreement with Sweden, so I just fill in everything here.
Go to the top of the page
+
skogsbo
post 2.Oct.2013, 08:33 PM
Post #12
Joined: 20.Sep.2011

QUOTE (Hisingen @ 2.Oct.2013, 03:40 PM) *
Yet another 'young byke' quote. That is all this 'person' can do, quote as infinitum.. I much prefer the original Byke anyway.

things you never thought you'd hear, but also agree!
Go to the top of the page
+
Ivor stephé
post 3.Oct.2013, 09:48 AM
Post #13
Joined: 20.Aug.2013

I am happy that at least 1 American came forwards to give their opinion on this story and why they won't consider ever moving to Sweden.

Just a shame that the majority of other posters who all look to be non American tried to spoil it with the usual name calling. Especially as it did not relate to them.

The Jante is strong in this thread
Go to the top of the page
+
cogito
post 3.Oct.2013, 05:36 PM
Post #14
Joined: 30.Dec.2009

To the OP.
No place is viable. Americans who choose to work and live anywhere outside the USA are being harassed and intimidated by the Obama administration. The self-described "citizen of the world" does not like anyone else being a citizen of the world.
http://www.thelocal.se/39522/20120306/

QUOTE (Rick Methven @ 27.Sep.2013, 02:32 PM) *
another byke like thread. Useless rubbish

Looks like Byke Derangement Syndrome has gone viral. Is byke hiding under your bed, Rick, with all the rest of your bogeymen? Let me help: Pull the covers over your head and they'll go away.
Go to the top of the page
+
Hisingen
post 3.Oct.2013, 05:46 PM
Post #15
Joined: 5.Jul.2012

QUOTE (Rick Methven @ 27.Sep.2013, 03:32 PM) *
another byke like thread. Useless rubbish

Rick, old friend, that wasn't a Byke-like 'thread', more like a simple young byke reel of cotton or even cotton wool.

He is clearly getting a bit too big for his boots - witness his/her/its comments on other threads. The barrack-room lawyer in him is running wild.
Go to the top of the page
+

2 Pages V   1 2 >
Reply to this topic
1 User(s) are reading this topic (1 Guests and 0 Anonymous Users)
0 Members: