2019 Diversity Visa Results

Did you take part to the DV-2019 Green Card Lottery last October-November?

Results will be available starting at noon today until September 30, 2018.

You could be one of the lucky winners! To check your status, you will need to enter your confirmation number, your complete name, and year of birth. If you have won the Green Card lottery, you are eligible to immigrate to the United States from January 2019. However, all winners will still need to go through a mandatory interview at the United States Consulate or Embassy of their country of origin.

The Department of States issues every 55,000 permanent resident visas (Green Card) through this lottery program to nationals from countries with a low number of immigrants to the United States. The lottery is totally free, so make sure you do not fall for scams from companies inviting people to pay to apply to the lottery on their behalves.

Though the Trump administration suggested eliminating the lottery program after the terrorist attack in New York last December, nothing has been decided yet. So, if you have not won this time, you can still try again for the next lottery in October-November.

You may have other immigration options, contact Boyer Law Firm, P.L. to see how we can help.

US Tax Deadline for Resident Alien Living Overseas

If you are a US citizen, green card holder, or in the military (on duty) residing outside the United States and you have earned income in the United States for the year 2017, you are required to declare such income in the United States.

The normal filing deadline of April 15, 2018 is automatically extended by two months for those residing outside the United States. If you are in this situation, you must file your tax return by June 15, 2018.

The mere fact of having already submitted your return in the country of your current residence, or even having already paid that country’s tax obligation, does not exempt you from this US tax return requirement.

To avoid situations of double taxation, the United States has entered into bilateral agreements with many countries on tax matters. These agreements provide for the reporting and taxation of US Citizens normally liable to pay taxes both in the United States and other countries. The amount of US tax owed will reflect the amount paid or declared in other countries bound by this bilateral agreement. Thanks to this system, it is possible you would not have to pay any US taxes.

Any delay in payment will result in interest charges on any unpaid tax amount. So, don’t procrastinate!

If you are unable to file your return by the June 15, 2018 deadline, you can request an additional extension to October 15 by filing Form 4868, before June 15. Meet with an international tax lawyer to make sure you complete your tax return correctly.

If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien (Green Card Holder), or military (on duty) and you live in a foreign country, mail your U.S. tax return to:

Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service Center
Austin, TX 73301-0215

Tax payments should be mailed along with Form 1040-ES to:

Internal Revenue Service
P.O. Box 1300
Charlotte, NC 28201-1300

Social Media and Protection of Privacy

On April 10, 2018, following a substantial data leak affecting some 87 million users, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, appeared before the U.S. Senate for five hours. Among the questions asked by the Senate committee, the key concern was the respect and protection of user privacy. A week later, Whatsapp, Inc.’s appeared before the same committee to answer questions on the scandal hitting the company after hundreds of thousands of users’ private data were leaked.

Before that, the corporate giant, Apple, Inc. experienced the leak of iPhone users’ pictures and private data saved on their iCloud. This begs the question, what are users’ rights to privacy when it comes to social media? Why are there no civil suits against the GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple).

Despite the fast-developing legal protection in all countries, users’ privacy protection is quickly limited by their own behavior and actions. Indeed, when one creates an account on any social media platform, he or she is required to sign an agreement containing the terms and conditions of use of the said social media platform.

Therefore, when a user posts something on his account, he or she implicitly accepts his post to be public and so potentially used by others and even derived from its original context. The sale of users’ private data to private companies is essential for the social media platform to remain a free service. Facebook’s data policy is a more in-depth explanation regarding the handling of user data. 

As Mr. Zuckerberg testified, users rarely read all the provisions of the Facebook Terms of Service they accept when creating their account.  In the end, it all comes to basic contractual law.

CLE with Florida-Quebec Forum

Our very own managing attorney, Francis M Boyer recently gave a presentation on Automatic Disclosure of Banking Information at the March, 2018 International Law Section of the Florida-Quebec Forum. This event is a Continuing Legal Education seminar for US and Canadian lawyers held by the Quebec Bar Association in conjunction with the Florida Bar Association in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

A cross-border gathering of lawyers here in Florida might seem a rather extraordinary event. In actuality, Florida is the most qualified place to host such a gathering of international lawyers as Florida is the only state that offers a specialty certification in International Law.  Mr. Boyer is one of only 53 Florida lawyers to earn this certification. That’s one in 53 among over 90,000 Florida lawyers and over a million attorneys in the United States.

Board Certification is The Florida Bar’s highest level of evaluation of the competency and experience of an attorney in a specialty area of the law. For the International Law certification, a lawyer must master international litigation, international business transactions and taxation, business migration, customs import/export laws, US legal discovery abroad, etc.

Attorney Boyer’s presentation at the Florida-Quebec Forum focused on challenges faced by attorneys and investors since implementation of the new automatic exchange of information (AEOI) common reporting standards by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). By way of this global initiative, an individual’s financial information will automatically be shared with their host country, rather than waiting for data access authorization. The new disclosure will aid the United States in tracking the movement of funds, fighting terrorism, tax collection, and battling money-laundering. The cost? Speed and convenience in opening new bank and financial accounts, which require the individual to be present, and to prove identity to a financial institution willing to handle foreign clientele.

2018 Individual Tax Deadline

If you haven’t applied for an extension, e-file or postmark your individual tax returns by midnight April 18, 2018.

Need more time to prepare your tax return?
File your request for a tax extension by April 17 to push your tax deadline back to October 15, 2018.

In 2018, the traditional April 15 Tax Date +2 = April 17.

Thanks to the traditional deadline for filing Individual taxes falling on a Sunday this year, and because of the Emancipation Day Holiday in Washington DC the following day, your deadline for filing 2017 individual is a procrastinating-ly lovely April 17. There have been some incremental tax inflation-adjustments this year, and a slew of significant changes coming for 2018, so if you haven’t filed yet…..

For 2017 taxes, personal and dependent exemptions remain at $4,050, but the standard deduction for single individuals rises to $6,350, for head-of-household to $9,350, and for married filing jointly to $12,700.

The maximum earned income tax credit rises to $6,318.

The maximum upper limit for the earned income tax credit rises to $53,930.

Health Savings Accounts now max out at $3,400 for Individuals. Family HSA limits remain at $6,700. If you’re 55 or older, add $1,000 to those amounts.

Most significantly for large estates, the estate and gift tax exclusion rises to $5.49 Million, a tidy sum indeed.

Because tax rates have dropped, your estimated 2018 quarterly withholding payments will be correspondingly lower as well.

For 2018, keep these coming tax changes in mind!
The standard deductions are nearly doubling across the board. The personal exemption goes away. The top tax rate of 37% kicks in for individual incomes north of $500,000, and $600,000 for married filing jointly. The estate tax exclusion will virtually double from 2017. State and local taxes, as well as mortgage interest deductions will be capped. There will be some minor tinkering with retirement account limits.

As with all matters financial, your details are unique and deserve a discussion with your tax advisor to maximize your potential tax benefit. Anticipatory estate tax planning and structuring is vital!

If you have any questions regarding estate planning or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact the Boyer Law Firm. We would be happy to discuss your most tax-beneficial estate planning options.