5.31.2019

FATCA Form 8938 Primer For Expats

FATCA  Primer For American Expats 

 



FATCA: Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act


I am not a tax expert nor am I an accountant. I am just a expat living in the Philippines who needed to know if the FATCA Form 8938 is applicable to me. I'm not one of those lucky people. And seriously, they are lucky because if they are married like me and filing a joint return and living in the Philippines throughout the entire year, then in order to be required to fill out a Form 8938 they would have to have a foreign financial interest of at least $400,000. 

Reportable Assets:

  • Any financial account maintained by a foreign financial institution, except as indicated above
  • Other foreign financial assets held for investment that are not in an account maintained by a US or foreign financial institution, namely:
    • Stock or securities issued by someone other than a U.S. person
    • Any interest in a foreign entity, and
    • Any financial instrument or contract that has as an issuer or counter-party that is other than a U.S. person.
The “except as indicated above” in the top bullet is referring to this:
financial accounts maintained by:
  • a U.S. payer (such as a U.S. domestic financial institution)
  • the foreign branch of a U.S. financial institution - or
  • the U.S. branch of a foreign financial institution
And this note from the IRS is interesting:
If you do not have to file an income tax return for the tax year, you do not need to file Form 8938, even if the value of your specified foreign assets is more than the appropriate reporting threshold.
For instance, If I am married filing jointly and living the full year in the Philippines and I have $400,000 (at the end of the year) parked in some CD or something else and earning a 5% annual return. The filing threshold would be $24,000 if I and my spouse are both under 65. If my only income for the year is the $20,000 paid in interest on the 400k I would not have to file a tax return and that negates the requirement to file Form 8938. 

While this is true, many tax sites I have read still advise submitting the Form 8938 even though you are not technically required to do so. Just in case. And this is the same advice that is given to expats regarding their actual tax returns. It is a good idea to keep filing a return every year even if your income is below the filing threshold.

Summary of Form 8938 Filing Thresholds:


Living in Philippines at least 330 days during the tax year


Total value on last day of the year
Total value at any time during the year
Single
$200,000             
$300,000
Married filing separately
$200,000             
$300,000
Married filing jointly
$400,000             
$600,000


Living in Philippines fewer than 330 days during the tax year


Total value on last day of the year
Total value at any time during the year
Single
$50,000
$75,000
Married filing separately
$50,000
$75,000
Married filing jointly
$100,000             
$150,000

What a difference a day makes. If I live in the Philippines for 329 days during the tax year, then my filing threshold is cut by 75%!


Further Reading



You may have escaped Form 8938, but you are more likely to be required to file an FBAR.

Recent Navy UFO Disclosure Has Link To The Past

Recent Navy UFO Disclosure Has Link To The Past

 


I get RT News here in the Philippines and I have been hearing more and more news about the US military and its predicament with UFOs. I do not want to turn this blog into woo woo material, but this subject is becoming interesting. I was not sure that I actually heard the quote right so I Googled it and found it on several sites. Here is the entire account:

In late 2014, Lieutenant Graves said he was back at base in Virginia Beach when he encountered a squadron mate just back from a mission “with a look of shock on his face.” He said he was stunned to hear the pilot’s words. “I almost hit one of those things,” the pilot told Lieutenant Graves. The pilot and his wingman were flying in tandem about 100 feet apart over the Atlantic east of Virginia Beach when something flew between them, right past the cockpit. It looked to the pilot, Lieutenant Graves said, like a sphere encasing a cube. The incident so spooked the squadron that an aviation flight safety report was filed, Lieutenant Graves said. The near miss, he and other pilots interviewed said, angered the squadron, and convinced them that the objects were not part of a classified drone program. Government officials would know fighter pilots were training in the area, they reasoned, and would not send drones to get in the way.

The really interesting part of the quote is the pilot’s description of what he saw: “like a sphere encasing a cube.” That is not a drone in any military's arsenal. Was he telling the truth? Was the entire squad hallucinating?

It is also interesting that none of the news reports have made the connection to World War II Allied sightings of Foo Fighters:

The first sightings occurred in November 1944, when pilots flying over Western Europe by night reported seeing fast-moving round glowing objects following their aircraft. The objects were variously described as fiery, and glowing red, white, or orange. Some pilots described them as resembling Christmas-tree lights and reported that they seemed to toy with the aircraft, making wild turns before simply vanishing. Pilots and aircrew reported that the objects flew formation with their aircraft and behaved as if they were under intelligent control, but never displayed hostile behavior. However, they could not be outmaneuvered or shot down. The phenomenon was so widespread that the lights earned a name – in the European Theater of Operations they were often called "Kraut fireballs", but for the most part called "foo fighters". The military took the sightings seriously, suspecting that the mysterious sightings might be secret German weapons, but further investigation revealed that German and Japanese pilots had reported similar sightings.
Foo fighters were reported by German, Japanese and Allied forces. The sightings reported recently, at least the ones being reported in mainstream news, are mostly those reported by the US Navy. One report stated that the Navy was experiencing reports of sightings almost daily for two years along the east coast.

The object that the unknown Navy pilot described as "a sphere encasing a cube" could have been what has been termed a “Merkabah.” Merkabah are frequently mentioned in occult literature in connection with the star tetrahedron. If it is spinning fast enough and in the right way and emitting light in the right way I think it is possible that a star tetrahedron, also known as a stellated octahedron, might appear to be a cube within sphere:




A star tetrahedron is a three dimensional depiction of the two dimensional so-called “Star of David.”

The word Merkabah is Hebrew and means “thing to ride in.” The word is used in the Old Testament to refer to chariots both terrestrial and celestial in nature:

Isaiah 66:15 For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his Merkabah like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire.
When I was younger and I saw the Israeli Merkava tank for the first time I thought it was the sexiest thing I had ever seen:

"IDF-ground-forces002" by Lior34 licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
I wonder if by now they have an aerial version.

Were the WW2 foo fighters and the more recent sightings the same phenomena? Were they Merkabah? Are they flies of Baal? What (or who) is the United States government really showing to us here?

5.30.2019

Guide To Philippine Credit And Debit Cards

Guide To Philippine Credit And Debit Cards

 



Philippine Bank Credit And Debit Cards


Some offer fraud protection, like US cards, but you may have to pay a relatively small fee for it. Some of them have EMV chips with true contactless capability. Different Philippine banks have their own unique options and availability for credit cards, prepaid debit cards and debit cards that are connected to a savings account.

In general, prepaid cards are not covered by PDIC (Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation) and they cannot receive remittances. Prepaid cards are also not usually under FATCA, as the amount of cash that can be loaded into them is far below FATCA thresholds. Prepaid cards also tend to not have a minimum initial deposit or any minimum maintaining balance.

Debit cards attached to savings accounts, on the other hand, do trigger FATCA requirements and are covered by PDIC. PDIC is just like FDIC in the US. PDIC insures accounts up to 500,000 PHP in case of bank failure.


Identification Requirements


Generally, for any account type that you open (being an alien foreigner) you will be required to present both your passport and ACR-I (alien certification of registration identity) card. You will also likely be asked to submit a signature card and perhaps even passport sized photos. I use fuzzy adverbs like “likely” and “perhaps” because nothing is certain even regardless of written requirements.

If you apply for a credit card, then you will probably have to submit a proof of income document. There is also the possibility that your US Social Security number will be requested for any type of card or account. If you have no issue with that, then give it to them. If you do not want to provide your Social Security number, then read this post, but do not make a big issue out of it with the banker. They are just following orders from on high and they may not have much choice in the matter. The solution might be as simple as finding another bank, but do so politely.


Summary Of Credit And Debit Card Features:



Credit Card
Savings with debit card
Prepaid debit card
Affected by FATCA
No
Yes
No1
Minimum initial deposit
Not Applicable
Yes
No
Minimum maintaining balance
Not Applicable
Yes
No
Can receive remittance
No
Yes
No
Covered by PDIC
Not Applicable
Yes
NO
ID required for expats
Passport & ACR-I
Passport & ACR-I
Passport & ACR-I
Proof of income required
Yes
No
No
1Accounts may be exempted if certain conditions are met, such as deposit max of less than $50,000

Some Card Offerings


I have picked the #1, #5 and #11 biggest banks (BDO, PNB and East West Bank respectively): 


Banco de Oro
PNB
East West Bank
Credit card offerings
Credit card application
  link3
Saving w/ debit offerings
  link1
Saving w/ debit application
Prepaid debit offerings
  link2
Prepaid debit application
not available online
not available online
not available online
1PNB also offers a Debit Account Lite w/no initial deposit or maintaining balance link.
2BDO does not offer much online information about the Cash Card so inquire at a branch location.
3Pick the card you are interested in and then follow instructions to apply online.


Debit cards linked to checking accounts are also available if you prefer that to a savings account.

The information in this post is not exhaustive and the branch you visit with may have different offerings and requirements than are given in this post. Be prepared to provide more or less identity information when you actually apply for a card/account.