If you are married, you must file as married & provide the IRS basic details about your spouse.
If your spouse is not a US citizen, information about your spousal income is optional and does not have to be included in your tax return (but doing so may be beneficial to you). This can be discussed with your accountant - we will make sure to take the position most beneficial to you.
There is a different version of the TQ that you must complete, called 1040NR Tax Questionnaire. Here is what you have to do:
Click the button ‘Create New Questionnaire’ in the Client Area
In the pop-up that comes up, please make sure to answer NO to the two questions “Are you a US citizen or Green Card Holder” and “Do you meet the Substantial Presence Test?”. Then click the button ‘Create 1040NR Tax Questionnaire” :
This will ensure that you will see the 1040NR version of the Questionnaire (it’s significantly shorter - less work for you :)
1) Answer Yes to the question "Are you covered by a foreign pension plan" on the "Other Income" tab.
2) Provide details for the RRSP & TFSA accounts on the Foreign Accounts tab.
3) RRSP - earnings in the account do not need to be reported by US/Canada Tax Treaty
4)TFSA - earnings in the account must be reported. Income deferral is allowed only for the Canadian Registered Retirement plans. TFSA is a Canadian tax-free saving account that is not tax free in the US. Report TFSA on TQ in tab OTHER INCOME/Investment income/Foreign interest
FYI: this is similar to UK SIPP vs ISA. SIPP is IRS-qualified retirement account with deferral allowed. ISA is individual saving account with tax deferral in UK but not in the US
You should apply to obtain the Social Security number and work with us on your return at the same time (this will be more efficient than doing each process at a time). Meanwhile put 000-00-0000 in the field for your SS#.
However - as with any other self-prepared forms, we would not be able to e-file the return for you (since there is no way for us to incorporate your forms into the electronic package we send to the IRS). Therefore you would have to mail your return to the IRS - we will provide you mailing instructions.
Please complete the General Information and the Foreign Accounts tabs. Click 'This TQ if Finished' to let us know that you are done. Notify your accountant that you want to have the FBAR prepared now and will provide tax return information later.
After your FBAR is filed, go back and complete the rest of the Tax Questionnaire so we can prepare your return.
If you are asked to upload a document that you don't currently have, you may skip it and provide comment about the missing document by clicking on the green plus icon next to the File Upload button.
The reason we ask for it is to ensure that you are providing 100% accurate figures to the IRS (they will check them). We can prepare a draft of the return without the form and help you obtain the missing document in the meantime.
Husband and wife partnership can be treated on U.S. tax return as a "qualified joint venture" - i.e., you and your husband each report their share of income/expenses on a separate Schedule C as Sole Proprietorship.
If your spouse is a non-US citizen/green card holder and will not be listed on your tax return filed separately, please only report your personal share of income/expenses on the Supplemental Worksheet section Self-Employment income.
We need to get from you details about your situation one way or another. That is why we devised the Tax Questionnaire - as the most efficient way for us to obtain your details to prepare your tax return.
There are only a few questions that are mandatory - that we require to start work on your return. If you try to save the TQ without them - the system will raise a flag and ask that you answer them first.
For the rest just use common sense - if a question does not pertain to you (for example if you don’t even know what we are asking about), feel free to skip it.
Make sure to provide actual numbers (saying "see attachment" does not work as it lends to ambiguity and high chance of error). If you are ever in doubt or unsure how to answer - please don't hesitate to drop us a note and we'll respond ASAP.
After you complete the TQ, you will get a pop-up telling you how many questions that we think are important are not finished. This is just a guide - you can still proceed without them.
That will bring you to the Tax Questionnaire area. There you have to click on the big yellow button "Create New Questionnaire"
In the pop-up that comes up, select the Tax Year and indicate if you are a US citizen. If you had prepared a Tax Questionnaire for a previous year, you can also copy data from it by selecting the appropriate checkbox.
If you are starting working on the TQ now, you can file 2013-2015. This means that you will file 2013-2015 full tax returns, and 2010-2015 FBARs.
Count back 6 years from today and start from completing Non-US Accounts tab of the oldest year (i.e, 2010).
When the first TQ is complete, move to the next year and transfer information from the previous questionnaire. Please see http://www.taxesforexpats.com/tq-readme.html#1_85_7 for how to copy your TQ. You will have to make small adjustments, such as adding new accounts/deleting closed accounts and updating balances on the existing.
Go on until you get to the 4th questionnaire; this will be the first questionnaire that you have to complete fully - as we will use it for tax return preparation.
You will have to complete 3 such TQs - so in the end we'll have 3 TQs with FBAR details and 3 TQs completed fully (total 6 years done).
All documents are recommended, but some are more recommended than others. Most importantly we need you to complete your TQ.
Most importantly - if you have any U.S. source documents, those are of vital importance. Why? Because every 1099, W2, etc - has been submitted to the IRS on your behalf, and your submitted tax return must match.
Please open the Tax Questionnaire you want to update. Then make the necessary changes. When you are finished click this button on the bottom of the page:
Please note - you can only make changes before the Engagement Letter is signed. After that the Questionnaire will become locked. But you only have to ask your Tax Preparer and (s)he will unlock it for you to make changes.
Every question or file upload dialogue has a pencil icon on the right. If you click it, a pop-up will come up allowing you to provide additional comments for this particular entry. After that, the question will have blue background to indicate that you provided additional comments for it.
There is a separate tab where you can provide additional information that's not related to any particular question, called Text Entry:
Find an internet cafe or a copy shop (like FedEx Kinkos, Staples or similar ones). They can scan your documents and copy them to a USB stick for you at a reasonable price.
If you have a smartphone, you can use the free app called CamScanner (Iphone, Android, Windows Phone). It will take a photo of your document and convert to a PDF file which you can email to yourself and then upload into our Tax Questionnaire.
If you click on the blue button Preview all answers on one page, the system will open a new tab where all your answers will be shown together (see screenshot below). This way you can check the information you provided before marking TQ as complete.
1) You can see a live scrolling log of all changes that are written to our database. This way you can ensure that whatever data you are providing is actually being transmitted across and written down. To enable that click this checkbox on top of the Tax Questionnaire:
Then on the right this table will show up where you can track the changes as they are written (live):
2) Our system also allows you to see full log of every action you took (added information / changed / deleted / etc). To see the log of the changes you made to TQ, click on the icon we show below with red arrow:
Alternatively you can also see all your questions answered on one page. This is done by clicking on the blue button on top of the TQ:
This will open a new page where all your answeres as they are saved to our database are shown. You could use this feature to check that all the information you are inputting is saved correctly
1. Most of the time it's an issue with an outdated browser. If you can use Google Chrome (which automatically auto-updates itself to the latest version), the problem will go away.
2. The issue is usually not that data is not saved to our database (that happens after every field update) - but that older browsers are not showing it correctly.
You can verify that the database updating is working by checking that the entries you make are actually written to the database. Here is how to do it:
1) You can see a live scrolling log of all changes that are written to our database. This way you can ensure that whatever data you are providing is actually being transmitted across and written down. To enable it, click this checkbox on top of the Tax Questionnaire:
Then on the right this table will show up where you can track the changes as they are written (live):
As you complete the Tax Questionnaire, question 4.12 on the Non-Earned Income tab asks if you own more than 10% of a foreign corporation.
If you answer YES, the TQ will ask you to upload additional files (4.12.A - 4.12.F). Last one is the Excel questionnaire - it can also be found here: http://taxesforexpats.com/questionnaires/5471-Questionnaire.xls
We always refer to the “Tax Year” as the period from January 1 – December 31 for all personal tax returns.
For corporate or trust returns, this may be either calendar year or the fiscal year with which your financials were prepared.
2. Answer Yes to the question whether you participate in an employer pension plan - Tab Non-Earned Income.
As a general rule employee contributions to foreign pension plans are not tax-deductible. In certain cases (i.e. 7% employee contribution to the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund) they will be deducted - as long as such contributions are spelled out in the annual wage statement.
This is not reportable to the recipient. If gift donors are U.S. persons, they can gift up to $14k each per year without reporting. Any larger amount is reportable by the donor, not by the recipient on form 709.
Report your foreign disability benefits in Section Passive Income/ Tab Pension
9.3 Did you receive FOREIGN (ie non-U.S.) periodic or lump sum retirement distributions (such as government / private pension or disability payments)?
Most often, disability is not earned income but it may be taxable. It is considered earned income if disability is reported on W-2. https://www.irs.gov/publications/p907/ar02.html#en_US_2015_publink10008633
As far as foreign disability - it depends. It is never taxable when payments are proceeds from disability insurance that was paid for (purchased) by the employee.
However, employer-paid short or long-term disability it is taxable depending on the treaty country. Generally, it may be taxable because the employer deducts it as an expense. If it is taxable in the foreign country, it is likely taxable in the US. However, any foreign tax paid will be credited against your US tax liability. If it is expressed on foreign employer pay stub it is also likely to qualify for FEIE. If it is social security type disability - then this is not qualified for FEIE.
Growth in this plan is not reportable and not taxable to the U.S.person participating in the plan until distributions from the plan are made.
US/Belgian Tax Treaty
Income earned by a pension fund that is a resident of a Contracting State may be taxed as income of an individual who is a resident of the other Contracting State only when, and, subject to the provisions of paragraph 1 of this Article, to the extent that, it is paid to, or for the benefit of, that individual from the pension fund (and not transferred to another pension fund that is a resident of the first-mentioned Contracting State
Article 1(5): Exemption from Saving Clause
The provisions of paragraph 4 shall not affect: ... paragraphs 1 b), 2, 5, 6 and 9 of Article 17 (Pensions, Social Security, Annuities, Alimony, and Child Support)
Belgian Epargne-Pension (Pension Saving Plan) is an IRS-qualified plan.
The Central Provident Fund (CPF) is the statutory authority that administers Singapore's public pension system. Central Provident Fund is complemented by voluntary retirement savings, There is no Social Security system in Singapore.
Mandatory CPF contributions are tax-exempt for both the employer and employee in Singapore. The same applies to pre-retirement and retirement withdrawals from the accounts.
Contributions to CPF go to three accounts:
Ordinary Account (OA)
Special Account (SA) dedicated to old age
Medisave Account collecting funds for health coverage
In the U.S., employer contributions to Ordinary Account (OA) must be added to annual taxable income.
Contributions to SA and Medisave Accounts are not included in U,S. taxable income as they substitute for the Social Security contributions.