Professionals Planning to Work Abroad (or coming home) – March 3rd 2016

APEGGA Professional Speaker Series

On March 3rd The Expatriate Group did a presentation for APEGGA. The topic was “Canadians planning to work abroad (or come home)”. Living as an Expat Canadian is much more than tax implications. During the presentation we identified the 6 dimensions of Expat Planning: Goals, Tax, Lifestyle, Wills, Currency/Banking and Financial Planning. This presentation gave us the opportunity to have open dialogue and walk the attendees through what each dimension looked like as a non-resident. Some of the highlights we discussed were non-residency, culture shock and wealth and strategies for saving.

Non-Residency: Individuals looking to eliminate their tax obligation to the Canadian Government on world-wide income do so by…. Unfortunately, the answer is not so simple. In Canada, non-residency is not a straightforward test as some people might think. Each situation is unique and a case by case basis. We have individuals contacting us daily trying to find out what is required and not required as a non-resident. CRA looks at the total picture – investments, banking, tax, social benefits, and social ties. There are minor ties and major ties to both Canada and in the new country of residence that are used to evaluate tax residency status and obligations.

Culture Shock: Personal disorientation (culture shock) occurs when a person is experiencing an unfamiliar way of life different from their own. Successful adaptation to new a new cultural environment is an important part of the expat transition. There are so many differences when going to a new country: different times to eat, the direction of traffic, food, cultural norms for small talk (what to ask/not ask). Once the change has been identified the individual must come up with coping strategies to adapt. The faster you adapt the faster you are able to overcome culture shock. We find that reverse-culture shock when returning to Canada is much more difficult to overcome and requires much more preparation and concrete readjustment strategies in order to have a successful repatriation to Canada.

Wealth is Complex: Going abroad has many concerns. Most people take care of the urgent pieces of work (i.e. tax, house rental, etc.) however there are many considerations. Banking, currency exchange, pensions, cash, savings, investment accounts, corporate structure, company headquarters, spousal departure, property, capital gains, 10worldwide income, non-resident reporting requirements, tax treaties, Part XII, S216, capital cost allowance, rental expenses, international estate planning, return to Canada, immigration regulations, working visas, world-wide income, employment contracts, health care, repatriation of savings – the list is extensive. The more wealth one has, the more complex the picture gets. It is important to have a professional comprehensive review of these wealth issues – in fact there are tax implications on many of them.

Strategies for Saving: Keep in mind that if you are working overseas you should take advantage of the tax free situation by saving additional income that you might earn. We recommend that our clients keep track of their personal financial accounting prior to departure, while they are away and upon return to Canada. It is common for Expatriate Canadians to hold assets in many different jurisdictions. We recommend consolidating your accounts 11under one Canadian advisor and saving 1/3 of your salary while overseas in Canadian held investment accounts. We recommend this strategy for Estate planning purposes, your Canadian will covers your assets in Canada. Cash flow planning for retirement years should begin as early as possible – especially when the income tax liability in Canada has been reduced. Non-resident withholding taxes are applied to: dividends, rental payments, pension payments, OAS, CPP, RRSP payments, RRIF payments and annuity payments. However, capital gains may be tax-free for non-residents. Canada maintains international tax treaties with many different countries and the amount of withholding tax applied to non-resident income is based on a case-by-case basis.

What you should do today: The first step to successful expatriate work abroad professional is to write down some clear goals (both personal and financial). Spend as much time as possible planning and documenting your expatriation from Canada to ensure a clear roadmap for years ahead. You will be amazed by the growth of your net worth while overseas when sticking to a well thought out financial plan. Pick one dimension of the wealth map (Goals, Tax, Lifestyle, Wills, Currency/Banking and Financial Planning) and dedicate some time to it today. A few hours will pay off forever! We have many clients that are expatriating, repatriating, retired and just starting out with their careers and they all have two things in common: they have a plan and they follow a comprehensive approach to their wealth. Please contact our firm for a consultation if you are interested in a review of your non-residency questions and concerns.

About the Author: Jeanette Boleantu is a non-resident wealth strategist with The Expatriate Group. Her mission is to not only create better planning but also to implement those strategies. This approach gives clients peace-of-mind and helps them to meet both their personal and financial goals.

Expert Tips for Managing Your Finances Abroad – Repost

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Living abroad can be complicated — you’re in a new culture, very likely grappling with at least one foreign language. There’s housing to consider, and if you’ve got children then there are issues related to child care and schools. Even managing your finances abroad can be complex, and that’s where some professional advice might come in handy.

Consolidating your banking will help keep your finances and financial planning organised instead of scattered across the globe. We’ve got some advice from experts to help you on your way.


First, a Site to Bookmark

A great site to bookmark is InterNations. It has financial planning page for expatriates with advice on everything buying property abroad to fiscal residency to dealing with inflation. An example of a before-you-go tip: Anyone moving abroad should have a contingency account. While that’s a solid piece of advice for anyone, it’s especially relevant for expats, who could find themselves needing funds for an emergency flight back home should someone experience a medical emergency.

And if you think you won’t need a contingency fund because of the enormous tax-free salary you’ll be earning with your new job in the UAE, be forewarned. A full 83% of expats in Dubai admit they haven’t saved a dirham, according to a recent Khaleej Times article. Many of the expatriates surveyed blamed the cost of living. “There are lots of different factors why it’s difficult to save,” says one, “but the cost of living here is disproportionate to earnings. Nowhere else in the world do you have to pay the entire year’s rent in two cheques or four cheques.”

Another agrees: “High utility prices and costly groceries don’t help. In addition, eating out, drinks and activities are more expensive here than in London and New York.”


It Really is Complicated

And when you do get to a point where you’re earning enough to be able to invest and save, the complications can kick into high gear.

In a case study of an American living in Hong Kong, wealth advisor Andrew Fisher at Maxim Global describes how complex the financial situations of expatriates can get. His client, who has a net worth of more than $5 million, owns three properties in three countries, plus “a significant amount of financial assets in company stock and options, qualified savings accounts in multiple countries, accumulated cash and diversified liquid investments.”

For just that client, Fisher has had to:

  • take inventory of all investments and accounts (one was a tax-free college fund; another a poorly performing offshore investment);
  • consult on compensation negotiations, which must take into account the employer’s cost-of-living allowance and net pay relative to the country where the employer is based;
  • enlist tax planning experts from each relevant country;
  • analyse the tax implications of having the client’s spouse own foreign property.

Investment advisor Tom Zachystal, who specialises in investment management and financial planning for expatriates at ExpatFocus, writes that US expatriates are finding it more difficult to successfully resolve financial matters of late. He blames FATCA (the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act), which “has led to both US and non-US financial institutions being reluctant to deal with American expats.”

In a related article, Zachystal explains that the regulations, together with the KYC (“Know Your Customer”) rule, exist for a good reason: They make money laundering and tax evasion harder. Unfortunately, the people most affected are regular Americans working abroad, whose accounts simply aren’t large enough for the banks or brokerage companies to bother with burden of complying with all the additional reporting and account overseeing required. Those accounts are either frozen so their investments can no longer be changed or closed altogether.

But it’s not just American expats who have to navigate increasingly complicated tax laws.

Canadian expatriates, too, face “progressively stringent tax regulations,” warns the Expat Group, a Canadian firm that offers tax, wealth and life management services for Canadian expats as well as non-residents and foreigners moving to Canada. In fact, they add, “non-residents of Canada may be subject to Canadian tax on certain Canadian-source income.”

The lesson here is to make sure you research and discuss with a financial advisor any changes to tax laws of your home country and of your country of residence that might impact your investments and earning power.

The Global Tax Navigator at HSBC is a helpful tool that provides a quick overview of tax information on dozens of countries. A glance will tell you, for example, that the national income tax rate in Germany for residents earning 251,000 euros per year is 45%, and that Germany has double tax treaties with 92 countries. On the other hand, while Switzerland has the same number of double tax treaties, an average tax rate can’t be calculated due to its multi-layered taxation system.

This last fact means you’ll need to know the canton and municipality in which you’ll be living in order to determine the actual total taxes you’ll be paying. Having this information on hand can serve as a negotiating factor with an employer and must be known in order to be able to financially plan for your future with any degree of accuracy.


Navigating Exchange Rates

In BBC’s Money Talk, Richard Musty, Expat Banking Director at Lloyds TSB International, writes that people living overseas should really think about exchange rates. While his example is that retirees living mainly on small UK pensions in eurozone countries were badly affected when the pound plummeted in value a few years ago, it’s still a matter of concern to working expats who are trying to make wise investments and save for their own futures.

Depending on which way the currency moves, expats can of course benefit from exchange rate fluctuations. “The key point,” writes Musty, “is that they present a risk to your spending power. This risk can be reduced by shifting your money into the currency that you are most likely to need it in for the long-term.”

If you’ll be moving back home within the next year or so, he advises you to leave much of your savings in your home currency. If, however, your plan is to take up permanent residence in the new country, then you’d be in a better position to move all of your money from home into that local currency.

And Then There’s Death

We’ve looked at what happens in the event of an expatriate’s death before, specifically with respect to inheritance law in the UAE. More generally, though, while making financial plans, you should also research local estate law and include instructions that deal with your assets and property should anything happen while you’re overseas.

Nicole Gallop Mildon, solicitor and diplômée notaire at the UK law firm of Sykes Anderson Perry, recently wrote about expat death and how to help family members back home deal with an estate in a foreign legal system. In her piece for The Telegraph, she lists some steps expatriates should take that will help loved ones manage in event of death abroad:

  • Let your family, beneficiaries and executors know of your intended plans.
  • Keep a copy of relevant information in a place that can be easily accessed by your executor.
  • Have your will drawn up by a lawyer familiar with expatriate issues, particularly if the new EU succession regulations apply to you.
  • Ensure that you list your executor as someone who is to be notified in the event of your death.

And finally, writes Gallop Mildon, “get expert advice from a firm specialising in cross-border law for individuals. Give copies of their advice and their contact details to your executor and to your family.”

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Foreign Transaction Fee’s – Repost

How to get a U.S. dollar credit card

By Aaron Broverman

If you do a lot of spending in the States, you may be considering getting a U.S. dollar credit card, which will allow you to spend in American currency and avoid foreign transaction fees.

“If you’re a Canadian snowbird vacationing in Florida for five or six months [with a Canadian dollar credit card], those foreign transaction fees can definitely add up … about two and a half per cent on all your spending,” says Patrick Sojka, founder and CEO of Rewards Canada, a travel rewards information website.

While the process of getting a U.S. dollar credit card might be difficult through an American bank, you can apply for a U.S. dollar credit card at any of the major Canadian banks. us-credit-card

Getting a U.S. dollar credit card in Canada
Janette Boleantu, a wealth advisor for The Expatriate Group Inc., a Calgary-based organization providing financial advice to Canadian expats living abroad, says getting a U.S. dollar credit card from a U.S. bank can be a fairly complex and individualized process.

“Obtaining a U.S. dollar credit card is largely case-specific,” says Boleantu. “Just like … in any country, the issuer will look at your
credit history, and if you don’t have an American credit history or an American bank account, getting a credit card in the U.S. is going to
be extremely difficult for you.”

However, it’s a different story if you apply for your U.S. dollar credit
card from a Canadian bank. “You can get a U.S. dollar card issued by a Canadian bank, so it’s based on your Canadian credit rating,” says Sojka. Everything happens through the Canadian bank, he says, but you’ll spend in U.S. dollars.

Currently, all five of Canada’s major banks offer a U.S. dollar credit card. They all carry a 19.99 per cent interest rate on purchases and a 22.99 per cent interest rate on cash advances, with annual fees ranging from $35 to $65.

The application process is no different than applying for a Canadian credit card. You do not need a U.S. dollar bank account or a U.S. address, as you likely would if you applied through an American bank.

However, having a U.S. dollar bank account with the same Canadian bank that issues your U.S. dollar credit card may make things a little less costly for you, even if it isn’t necessary. With a U.S. dollar bank account, you’ll be able to pay your bill in U.S. dollars without worrying about the exchange rate or currency conversion fees (most banks charge about a 4 per cent conversion fee).

You can supplement the account in a couple of ways. First, if you have any income coming in from the U.S., you can simply deposit your U.S. dollars into the account. If not, Sojka recommends waiting until the exchange rate is favourable to Canadians, then funding your U.S. dollar account on the cheap.

A U.S. dollar bank account might be worth having if you do a lot of spending in the States — say, if you’re a snowbird who spends several months there out of the year. However, if you only use your U.S. dollar credit card occasionally, you might not worry too much about exchange rates when you pay off your purchases from a Canadian dollar bank account.

U.S. department store credit cards
Of course, you may only shop in the U.S. to access stores with no Canada location, or to get better deals than those found in Canada branches. In that case, you may want to get a U.S. store credit card instead. It’s easier than getting a general purpose U.S. dollar credit card from an American bank, according to Sojka, and it might be optimal for those who don’t spend anywhere else.

“Those department store credit cards are pretty interesting because they’ll issue them to Canadians without a U.S. tax number or credit rating,” he says. According to credit services at Bloomingdales, all you need is a Canadian passport and your Canadian social insurance number and you’re eligible for their department store card.

However, it may be a little more difficult to pay the balance from Canada. “You might be able to pay the balance online, but chances are better you’ll need a U.S. money order from your bank that you can send in,” says Sojka.

Best option for AmEx cardholders
If you are moving to the U.S. and you would like a U.S. dollar credit card from an American bank, one of the easiest cards to obtain without much hassle is American Express, as long as you already have a Canadian AmEx.

“Visa and MasterCard are accepted globally, but their brands are issued by banks in different countries,” says Sojka. “American Express is truly global, thanks to what’s called their Global Card Transfer, [which allows you to] transfer all of your Canadian American Express credit history to a new American Express card in the U.S. or other country.”

So if you know you’re moving to the U.S., Sojka recommends getting an AmEx card about six months before your move. Then, you’ll already have a head start toward a credit history in America.

Original Posting-

Updated: December 17, 2015