Archive for 'Jell-O Shots'

Jell-O Shot Mailing List Purged

500 People–Goodbye

I purged about 500 names off the Jell-O Shots email list last night: people who had not opened an email from me in a while — namely, in the last 14 editions they had opened the email once or never.

I don’t want to annoy anyone with emails they do not want. If they had not looked at the last 14 emails, they must not be interested. Hence the purge.

Why I Am Afraid to Unsubscribe

I am on a bunch of email lists from people I know and like. They arbitrarily added me to their mailing lists and I get their newsletters. After all, I am in their contact database.

I am too embarrassed to unsubscribe because I don’t want to hurt their feelings, but I never read their stuff. Instead I laboriously set up filters to send their emails straight to trash.

That is bad for them and it is bad for me. It is bad for them because they wonder why their “open” rate (number of recipients who open the email divided by total messages sent) is so low. Their marketing efforts fail. It is bad for me because I get emails I don’t want and spend time setting up filters to get rid of them.

A few years ago I arbitrarily added everyone I knew to my mailing list. Bad Idea. Now I see what has happened. We have been running for a while on the “opt-in” method: people do not get added to a list unless they specifically ask.

But that doesn’t solve the problem of people I added to the list without their consent, and it doesn’t solve the problem of people who subscribed and now wish they hadn’t but they don’t want me to know they unsubscribed because I might be sad.

That’s Why I Purged the List

That is why I purged the Jell-O Shots list: to save you from the feeling that you might hurt my feelings :-) (I’m pretty robust in that department, so don’t worry!) and to more accurately gauge whether what I send is useful to the people who read it.

If you don’t get next month’s Jell-O Shot it is probably because you were part of that purge. Sorry. Just subscribe again and you’ll be on the list. Or email me and I will add you manually. (See? Only people who ask to get email will get email. I learn.)

Also, if you get the Jell-O Shot next month and you want to stop it from coming, just click on the “unsubscribe” link. Trust me. I will not be offended, and if you call we will still chat happily.

Our Mailing Lists

Finally, just to tell you what is going on in our email lists: we have three, and please sign up if your are interested (and of course unsubscribe if you don’t like them).

    Jell-O Shots. Once a month, at the beginning of the month. Plus the odd rant from an airport lounge somewhere on the planet.

    Expatriation Only. Focused on one topic, especially for people who are interested in taking our upcoming workshop on expatriation for normal people.

    International Tax Lunch. Second Friday of the month, noon PST. One hour of international tax from our conference room. Come to Pasadena or listen in by conference call.

Click on the link you want and subscribe. Or re-subscribe if you think I bounced you off the Jell-O Shot list (don’t worry, it will tell you if you are subscribed and you won’t get multiple copies of the emails).

Jell-O Shot 25 – The “I’m A People Person” Edition

This is Jell-O Shot 25 – The “I’m A People Person” Edition. It went out yesterday to the fine people on the mailing list. You should be on that list, too. Go to the bottom of this web page and fill in your email address. You can unsubscribe at any time.


Events. We have ‘em. Webinar, International Tax Conference, and the inaugural subterranean international tax discussion group meeting at our office.

Also, tax returns are how you talk to the government about money.

Exit Tax Webinar – November 12, 2013

I am doing a limited attendance (10 people, 3 6 seats already gone) webinar for people who are thinking of renouncing their citizenship before the end of the year.

More information about the exit tax webinar is on our website. You will get the same stuff I tell lawyers and accountants. Plus there will be plenty of time to ask questions.

Taxation of Multinational Families – November 15, 2013

My full-day program for the California Society of CPAs will be held on November 15, 2013 in San Mateo. Sign up here for the live event. I like to call this my “If a border runs through your balance sheet” program. Wealthy parents outside the United States, children living in the USA. That’s the typical scenario. Money and people moving across the border will create tax problems. We talk about them in this course.

The course is also webcast–live–on November 15, 2013. You can ask questions even if you are watching online. Sign up for the webcast here.

International Tax Conference (San Francisco) – December 6, 2013

I am returning as the Chairman of the International Tax Conference on December 6, 2013 — in San Francisco. It is sponsored by the California Society of Certified Public Accountants.

Elena Redko, CPA of our firm will be doing an hour-long presentation on PFICs. I will be doing an hour on expatriation, in addition to my duties as the international tax version of Vanna White.

More information about the International Tax Conference is on the CalCPA website. The webcast signup is here.

Lunchtime discussion meeting (Pasadena) – December 13, 2013

We are hosting a “bring your own lunch” event in our conference room on December 13, 2013. Noon to 1:30 p.m. We will provide beverages (no adult beverages, sorry!). However, you need not be a lawyer, accountant, or EA to attend.

This is an experiment, aimed at starting a discussion group that covers international tax topics.

I will do a quick presentation, then it is a “Bring your hardest questions” social brainstorming event. If you spend a lot of time wrestling with international tax problems, please attend. If you have a topic you would like to talk about, we can feature you next time.

The group yesterday for my “Taxation of Multinational Families” course at LAX was populated with people who were experienced, sharp, and willing to think creatively. It was challenging! I got a new idea for dealing with problematic CFCs from one of the CPAs attending yesterday’s event. This is what I am hoping for with this discussion group.

Please email me if you want to attend. Just hit “reply”, give me your contact info, and we’ll put you on the list. Our conference room is not the biggest venue in the world, so we’ll have to limit attendance. Otherwise it will get really, really toasty and warm in the conference room.

I’m looking forward to this one. I like to meet people. I’m a people person. Heh. :-)

Oh. We have a very nice starfish speakerphone that sits on the table in the conference room. If there is enough demand, we’ll set this up for people to dial in remotely and listen/participate over the phone. Let me know. (That was another idea from the October 30, 2013 course I taught for CalCPA.)

Finally . . . Talk To The Government

As John Apuzzo (he’s a CPA at Deloitte in Orange County) once said to me, “Tax returns are the way you talk to the government about money.” So, speak nicely. Don’t mumble. Be organized. And tell the truth–it’s easier.

We are reaping the rewards of this knowledge in a couple of cases we’re working on now. One of the things we do well is clean up prodigious messes. When things have really gone wrong, the guiding principle is “Make this a money problem only.” The alternative outcome in serious tax cases is far worse than writing a big check.

For a couple of these massive projects we are seeing the virtuous cycle–spend the time being OCD about the underlying accounting. (We have a couple of people on staff who really, really like digesting large piles of data into meticulous spreadsheets). (One of our clients told us that OCD is a good thing if it an operating philosophy, not a way of life. That captures it, I think.)

The data goes on tax returns. The tax returns are filed. They make sense and they are readable. Every number on the return has a reason for being there, and data to back it up.

For the two huge projects we are working on now, those tax returns are going to hit the IRS and be clean. They had better be. The financial (and *ahem* other) stakes are extreme. It’s nice to be trusted with something as critical as this. It’s even better when you know you can — and are — do a better-than-pro job. These tax returns are going to talk nicely to the IRS.

I’m just telling you this because a few of you might not see the latent benefit of doing exquisite tax returns. And the thought of doing the task yourself horrifies and bores you.

Don’t sweat it. For every task you find horrible and boring, there is someone else on the planet for whom the project is cheesecake and champagne. Boxes of financial data? Having to make decisions when the law is opaque or there is no law? We love it. Bring it on.

Jello Shot Number 2

Jello Shot Number 2.

(Shameless promotion: subscribe to my email newsletter.  There’s a place in the sidebar of this blog where you can sign up.)

Just finished

Just finished a private mortgage project with a nonresident lender. U.S. partnership bought commercial real estate. Thought you should know how these work.

The good stuff

The borrower gets a tax deduction in the U.S. for mortgage interest paid.

The nonresident lender doesn’t pay U.S. income tax on the interest income received from the borrower even though a U.S. taxpayer is paying the interest.

How it works

Normal mortgage. Make it 30 year fixed interest, fully amortized. Or floating interest rate. Whatever you want. The debt is secured against the real estate so if the borrower flakes out, the lender can foreclose. In other words, standard real estate finance.
The borrower gets money to buy real estate (good). Borrower gets a tax deduction for mortgage interest paid (good).
The lender ordinarily gets taxed at 30% on the interest earned on loans to U.S. borrowers. We make that go away — the new U.S. tax rate is zero. (Very Good).

Why it works

Application of multinational debt financing concepts.

Think of IBM in its heyday. European pension plan says “I’d buy those bonds but I don’t want to pay U.S. tax on the interest you give me.” IBM goes to Congress and whines. Congress creates an exemption making certain types of “foreign lender/domestic borrower” situations tax-free.

You use that exemption, even though you’re not IBM.

Other uses

Any kind of borrowing. Working capital lines of credit for businesses work well, too.

More information

Ping me an email or call me. +1-626-437-2500 (mobile).

Jello Shot Number 1 – an example so you’ll subscribe

This went out to the subscribers on my email list.  If you want to be on the list, there’s a subscription box in the sidebar.  Sign up.  (The box is on the right under the cartoon.) You’ll get more like this.

Jello Shot number 1.


Capital gains tax on real estate investments will more than double for some nonresidents if a new tax law is enacted.

Who specifically is at risk?

Nonresidents who use “disregarded entities” in their holding structures. This means a corporation which has elected (using Form 8832) to be ignored for U.S. income tax purposes.

Who REALLY needs to worry?

All of the folks on my mailing list who are trust officers — you people will have many, many structures that need to be examined and updated. Get ready. It’s going to be a fire drill.

Why does this risk exist?

The Federal government is proposing new tax laws which will largely eliminate our ability to use disregarded entities in holding structures for U.S. real estate investments by nonresidents.

What to do?

Take inventory. Are you at risk? If so, create your blueprint for what to do if/when this tax law is enacted. Watch Congress and the President and see whether the proposal becomes law.

More information?

I blogged about this today. Subscribe to the RSS feed on my blog for future updates or go back periodically for more information. I’m not going to abuse these emails and send zillions of updates.

Or call me. Mobile +1-626-437-2500.