Friday, July 21st, 2017

Planning For the Future – Wills & Incapacity in the US & Israel

February 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Estate Planning, Latest Articles

TOGETHER WITH AACI IN TEL AVIV

Planning For the Future – Wills & Incapacity in the US & Israel

 

  • Do I need an Israeli Will? A US Will? Both?
  • What is a trust? Do I need one?
  • What is a Guardian (in Hebrew “Apotropos”)? When would I need one and how is he or she chosen?
  • I’ve been putting off writing a Will. Why should I do it now?

If you have minor children, if you own anything in the US, or if you don’t have a Will yet, come learn about your options!

You will hear the information you need to make important decisions for your family.

 

When:     Monday, 27th February, 2017AACI picture for lecture

Time:      5pm.

Cost:      Members: NIS 25.  Non-members: NIS 30.

Venue:   AACI, 94A Allenby, Tel Aviv.

Registration essential:

AACI: 03-696 0389 or aacicentralregion@gmail.com

 

Speakers include:

Felicia M. Seaton, Esquire - Attorney with 20 years’ experience advising dual citizens, Israelis & green card holders having anything to do with the US and US tax, renunciation of US citizenship/green cards

Adv. Caroline Walsh is dual-qualified as both an Israeli lawyer and an English solicitor and has been working in Israel for over 20 years. Caroline specializes in residential property work and trusts and estates, in particular advising people with assets or family in more than one country.

U.S. amnesty window of opportunity

January 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Estate Planning, Latest Articles

Published in the Jerusalem Post · 5 Jan 2017 · • By FELICIA M. SEATON and LEON HARRIS

Reprinted by Permission

This article can either be read below, or online at: http://pressreader.com/@O_S.2/rsC2x8fmEtHACLYOo36gSNxKfMnvi4C4tK9ZRXa3GPg1

 

U.S. persons have a rare window of opportunity. It is important to take advantage of this window. That window provides us the ability to bring families up to date with U.S. tax and related filings (FBARs, etc.), either without penalties or with relatively minimal penalties. It may also be a get out of jail free card because there may be no criminal charges either.

Did you know?

The premise behind this opportunity, however, is that the tax payer did not know they were legally obligated to file in the U.S.. With extensive media coverage, Israeli banks demanding proof of U.S. tax filings and professionals such as lawyers and accountants advising their clients that they are legally obligated to file, it is becoming increasingly difficult for a tax payer to claim that they did not know of their obligation.

The obligation is quite clear: If one is a U.S. citizen, you need to file in the U.S. if you reach specified thresholds, and there are a vast number of professionals throughout Israel and the world who will help a taxpayer know whether you reach such thresholds, often free of charge. Of course, the Internet also helps a taxpayer with this. Therefore, taxpayers are approaching the point when they can no longer truly claim today that they did not know they were required by law to file.

In 2016, Caroline Ciraolo, the acting assistant attorney general, made comments at a tax conference in the U.S. clearly stating that this window of opportunity is in fact, narrowing, if not closing: “After three very well publicized voluntary disclosure programs, nearly 200 criminal prosecutions, ongoing criminal investigations and the increasing assessment and enforcement of substantial civil penalties for failure to report foreign financial accounts, a taxpayer’s claims of ignorance or lack of willfulness in failing to comply with disclosure and reporting obligations are, quite simply, neither credible nor well received.” There has been no indication yet that the U.S. government intends to close the Streamlined Procedure, which is the program described above. However, from these comments, it appears that filings will be more closely scrutinized.

FATCA: In addition, in September, Israeli media publicized Knesset committees’ decisions to implement provisions of the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) between the U.S. and Israel by the end of 2016.

This agreement calls for Israeli financial institutions to collect information regarding their customers, particularly signed IRS forms, to establish clearly whether a customer is a U.S. citizen or green card holder (if you held a green card that expired, you may have a tax obligation as well). Israeli financial institutions will then transfer this information to the Israel Tax Authority (ITA), which will transfer this information to the IRS.

Israel is not the only country to cooperate with the IRS and provide it with information regarding U.S. citizen taxpayers owning accounts outside of the U.S. There are currently 113 countries that have signed IGAs. The U.S. is in negotiations with additional countries to exchange information.

Passport problems:

In November, 2016 ,an email from the U.S. Embassy in Israel clarified that a U.S. citizen will be denied a passport if the applicant fails to provide their Social Security number. This new demand is a result of a new law passed in December 2015, which enables the State Department to penalize people who owe a significant amount in U.S. taxes. The sanction prohibits entry into the U.S. for taxpayers who owe $50,000 or more (including interest and penalties) and revokes an existing passport.

U.S. persons may be thinking: “I couldn’t possibly owe more than $50,000 in U.S. taxes. I pay Israeli taxes. There’s a credit.” But penalties can easily bring you up over $50,000 because some penalties are $30,000 per year per form not filed.

Yes, the U.S. State Department can revoke your passport if you owe a significant amount in U.S. taxes.  This is a new era. It requires a new mindset. Many are wondering whether any of this will still be valid under the new U.S. administration, as we do anticipate an extensive overhaul of the U.S. tax laws. However, the new administration’s platform does not mention any change in the IRS goal of seeking out U.S. taxpayers who are not filing or are not fully filing their returns, FBARs, etc. At this time, we do not foresee any modification of the U.S. compliance and disclosure programs.

Get started: As mentioned, there is a window of opportunity – before Israel exchanges your information with the IRS and before the IRS assesses penalties in amounts easily surpassing the $50,000 arbitrary amount the law set. Now is the time to come clean – or perhaps to decide U.S. citizen ship isn’t worth this? Take this window of opportunity.

What about Israel? If you have an unfulfilled Israeli tax reporting obligations, take separate Israeli advice; the Israeli tax amnesty program ended at the end of 2016 for all Israeli taxpayers except diamond dealers. But the ITA is still in the business of collecting Israeli taxes.

As always, consult experienced tax advisers in each country at an early stage in specific cases.

Felicia M. Seaton is a lawyer licensed in the U.S. and registered as a foreign lawyer in Israel, located in Jerusalem, managing a worldwide practice. She practices U.S. estate planning and inheritance and U.S. income tax compliance.

Leon Harris is a certified public accountant and tax specialist at Harris Consulting & Tax Ltd. leon@hcat.co

Lecture: Wills, Inheritances & Taxes in the U.S. & Israel

January 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Estate Planning

Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017 at 7:30 pm in Rehovot

 Topics will include:

  • Should I have a U.S. Will and an Israeli Will?
  • What will happen if I can’t make decisions anymore?
  • Which taxes apply to me?
  • What planning is available to reduce those taxes?
  • If you have minor children, if you own anything in the US, or if you don’t have a Will yet, come learn about your options!

 Come hear the information you need, to make important decisions for your family. 

Speakers:

   Philip Weiss, C.P.A. (U.S.), M.B.A.Over 35 years experience providing business and personalized income tax planning and compliance.  Assistance with Streamlined Program submissions.

Felicia M. Seaton, Esquire – Attorney with 20 years experience, practicing US estate planning, inheritances (probate), renunciation of U.S. citizenship, U.S. income tax compliance     

Andrew Treitel, Adv. - Israeli and U.S. lawyer with 17 years of experience. Andrew advises Dual Citizens, Israelis with assets in the U.S., Americans with assets or heirs in Israel, and Israelis with parents or heirs in the U.S. Andrew also represents Israeli and U.S. companies on corporate matters.

Time and Location

7:30 pm on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017 at:

Swiss Havayot Community Center

52 Chaim Sireni Street, Rehovot

Reference Room in the Bazel Building, 1st floor

Admission is free.  Light refreshments will be served.

 

For more information, please contact myself or Phil Weiss at 054-211-3699 or at philweiss1818@gmail.com.

End of Year Planning

December 5, 2016 by  
Filed under Estate Planning

The end of the year is nigh! December 31 is a cutoff date for several tax benefits that you might be eligible to enjoy. Come hear what they are. If you are planning your end of year taxes, it’s a good time to implement some other ideas as well! Learn how to prepare your Will, especially if you’ve been putting it off.

For details on the AACI lecture in Beer Sheva: http://aacisouth.wixsite.com/aaci-southern-branch

or: https://www.facebook.com/events/701622449996119/

For those of you who cannot make it to Beer Sheva, here’s a taste: 

How Should I Plan for 2017? U.S. Taxes, Wills and In-Between

We have a few weeks left of 2016. Let’s use them wisely to reduce our tax exposure and to create a plan for some of the tasks we so willingly put off whenever possible.

Is Tax Reform Likely?

The IRS thinks so. “We have the big unknown coming in January,” said Adrienne M. Mikolashek, an attorney in the IRS Office of Chief Counsel (Passthroughs and Special Industries). “We have no idea moving forward what’s going to change,” she said Nov. 14 at the American Institute of CPAs National Tax Conference.

The new administration in the U.S. promised tax reform repeatedly, and continues to do so as 2017 approaches. Passing the House should not be a challenge given the Republican majority. The Senate is the wild card. The Republican party is proceeding carefully with this reform. The legislation will either have to be bipartisan or set to expire within ten years, if the budget reconciliation process is used. Therefore, though there will be reform, we cannot know the details yet.

If the tax reform does in fact pass into law in 2017, we anticipate that it will be sooner rather than later, and that it will apply to the entire 2017 year. There is precedent for this.

I have chosen not to discuss the various options raised for reform, because they are all speculation until actually passed.

How Do We Plan?

If you have a current estate plan or estate tax plan in place, this is not the time to make changes based on tax considerations. Of course, if you need to make changes for any other reasons, do so. Don’t put off making changes in your plans.

If you do not yet have a plan, now is the time to formulate one and to implement it. Estate plans are important to have in place for reasons other than tax considerations, such as (among many others):

  • To provide for your family if something should happen to you;
  • To make transition as smooth and painless as possible, in the event something happens to you; or
  • To ensure that what you have worked hard to have happen with your family’s wealth, is actually implemented, whether you are here to do it yourself, or not.

Given the inherent volatility of tax laws, your choice will be whether to plan for the possibility that there will in fact be a U.S. estate tax again at some point during your lifetime, or to plan solely for the current laws in effect as of 2017.

Of course, thorough and knowledgeable professional advice is essential to make these important decisions.

 

Partnering with AACI Down South

May 8, 2016 by  
Filed under Estate Planning

AACI Navigational Lecture Series

Get the inside scoop on information you need to ease your life in Israel.

Wills and Trusts in Israel and Abroad

Monday, May 23 at 7pm

  • Should I have a US Will and an Israeli Will?
  • What will happen if I can’t make decisions anymore?
  • If you have minor children, if you own anything in the US, or if you don’t have a Will yet, come learn about your options!
  • We’ll talk about those taboo subjects – What will happen if….?
  • You know you’ve had this on your list forever – “I need to write a Will”. Come learn about your options!
  • We will give you the information to make important decisions for your family.

Free consultations will be available with the speakers before the lecture by appointment only.

The Speakers:

Felicia M. Seaton, Esquire
Andrew Treitel, Adv.
Steven Ettinger, US Tax attorney
In Beer Sheva: WeWork, Building 2, Gav Yam Negev Park.
Admission: Free for AACI members. RSVP to mgreen@aaci.org.il.
Cost: 10 NIS

What We Need to Know

September 10, 2015 by  
Filed under Estate Planning

At this time many of us tend to review the past year, to learn from it, and ensure that we are prepared for the new coming year. I thought that a checklist would help in the estate planning realm:

 Do you know what you own?

  • Where is it located? What is the contact information for where the asset is held?
  • What is it worth today?

Clients called a couple weeks ago. We have been working together for two years, to probate their late father’s estate in the U.S. They discovered three additional pieces of real estate that he owned, so we will have to start the process as to those properties as well now. He passed away in 2012. Apparently his papers were not in any order that enabled them to make sense of it all.

It is important to know what you own and keep a list, or a stack of relevant papers about it either in a pile in a safe place or online in a safe place.

 When do you need to do estate planning?

  • If you reside in Israel and do not have an Israeli Will – to make sure your Israeli wealth (all assets and accounts) go to your loved ones in the way you wish them to.
  • If you have minor children – to avoid guardianship (costly, heavily supervised by a court and bureaucratically burdensome).
  • If you own any US assets other than retirement plans and life insurance – to avoid probate (costly, prolonged).
  • If you are married and only one of you is a U.S. citizen – complex tax issues.
  • If you have a high net worth – to reduce exposure to U.S. estate taxation.

What is estate planning?

A financial and legal process involving decisions about who you want to inherit from you, to care for you if you can no longer do so, who will raise your minor children and who will pay their bills and invest their money until they can. Yes, these are hard questions. Most of us do not want to ask them. But then again, most of us do not want to look back at the past year and admit where we need improvement either. Despite this, we do so annually. We need to put our financial affairs in order only once every five years. Now is the time.

It is important to get this done, and so many of us educated, successful, busy people – do not. We put it off. I hope that my message is clear – just do it. Whether you engage my services or those of many other competent estate planners worldwide, now is the time.

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Experienced US Estate Planning Attorney Felicia M. Seaton will help you safeguard your family’s best interests while enduring difficult times. She can help you formulate & implement a comprehensive plan to give you peace of mind. Contact her today click here or call 0526182582/US: 3028923336

 

 

Cyber Spring Cleaning – Really?!?

April 1, 2015 by  
Filed under Estate Planning

At this time of year when we clean our homes, and occasionally find things that we forgot that we had, we can easily overlook our ‘digital assets’.  As more and more of our lives are conducted online (such as on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and other social media), and as more and more of our personal items (such as emails, photos, videos, letters, documents, music, client lists, financial records, bank accounts, bill-paying, etc.) are stored online (whether on the cloud, Dropbox or in online based emails), access to such information becomes more and more crucial. These are digital assets.

Do you know all of the sites to which you have access?

Do you know all of your passwords? Do you have a list?

Does someone else know where to find that list?

Do you want someone else to know all of the sites to which you have access?

Do you want someone else to be able to access the history in your internet browser to see which sites you have visited?

While much attention has been placed on how to protect our online information from others, less thought has been given to who should have access to such information if we are unable to access it ourselves (if we are incompetent, for example) or after we have passed away.

One of our goals in estate planning is to make it easy for our agent, guardian, heirs, or family, to “pick up where we left off” instead of starting long and tedious procedures that could take weeks or months.

An important step toward maintaining this goal is deciding whether to grant our trusted ones access to our digital assets, including to our passwords to online accounts.

One of the first elements of a comprehensive estate plan (planning ahead for incapacity and death) is preparing a complete list of your passwords, online accounts, and other digital assets—and keeping it up to date. This list helps trusted or loved ones and family members find your valuable and significant online accounts and digital property, keep administration costs down, provide for a smooth administration, and ensure no property is overlooked.

But admittedly, some of us may read this and decide that we do not want to grant unfettered access to all of our loved ones. Perhaps there are some accounts that we wish to have some view, but not others, out of concern for them and relationships that we feel are precious.

If we fail to make these choices ourselves, now, we will not have this choice later. If we fail to designate someone to have access, we will have no say in who gains access later.

The time to act is NOW.

I advise that you take action now to avoid:

-        Exposing your loved or trusted ones to going through hoops with each site or internet provider, and other companies, each having their own policy;

-        To avoid months of dormant accounts because no one could gain access to them;

-        To avoid losing online financial assets due to no one taking over various accounts, because they lacked a password or other information; and

-        To avoid identity theft which can result from deaths or incapacities publicized online.

Our Suggestions

  1. Prepare a complete list of your passwords, online accounts, and other digital assets—and keep it up to date.

Notify at least two trusted individuals of where the list is kept or stored. If the list is password protected, give the password to the trusted individuals.

If you have been storing valuable or significant data solely in online accounts (for example, your digital photos), we suggest that you occasionally back up that data to local storage media—to your computer’s hard drive, a USB flash drive, a CD, a DVD, etc.—so that your trusted ones and family members will have access to that data without the additional obstacles that online accounts have.

Decide whether you wish to update your durable Power of Attorney to add a section granting your agent powers to access, control, recover and use your digital assets and passwords.

Decide whether you wish to update your trust documents to add a section granting your trustee powers to access, control, recover and use your digital assets and passwords.

 

Please contact us if you would like to review your current plan or discuss any of the items suggested above.

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Andrew Treitel has been practicing law for 20 years and is licensed to practice in Israel and New York. Andrew is a graduate of Columbia Law School and a former clerk to Israeli Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner. He can be contacted at: atreitel@gmail.com

 

Experienced US Estate Planning Attorney Felicia M. Seaton will help you safeguard your family’s best interests while enduring difficult times. She can help you formulate & implement a comprehensive plan to give you peace of mind. Contact her today click here or call 0526182582/US: 3028923336

 

 

 

 

Additional Partnering with AACI – What To Expect This Tax Season

March 15, 2015 by  
Filed under US Income Tax Compliance

What To Expect This Tax Season: US & Israeli Taxes    7.30pm Wednesday 18 March
The 2014 US and Israeli tax-filing season has commenced. For US citizens living in Israel, this year may seem particularly challenging. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) came into force on 1st July 2014.

Our speakers are Alan Deutsch, a CPA with over 30 years’ experience and Felicia Seaton US Licensed Attorney

Their talk will cover the following issues:
    US income tax updates 
    Complying with Obamacare taxes
    2014 US tax returns
    FATCA compliance- Israeli banks, the IRS and you
   What to do if you are not yet filing US tax returns
Members NIS 20 Non-members NIS 30

Location: Netanya AACI, Beit Oleh America Netanya AACI, 28  Shmuel  Hanatziv, Netanya, 4228132

Tel: 09 833 0950

Partnering with AACI: Making Sense of US Income Taxes

November 18, 2014 by  
Filed under US Income Tax Compliance

 

AACI

SOLUTIONS TO YOUR FATCA  PROBLEMS

 

 The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) finally came into force on 1st July 2014. Here are some troubling questions for US non-resident citizens living in Israel:

 

  • Now that Swiss banking secrecy is a thing of the past and billions have been paid in penalties to the U.S. IRS, what is next on the horizon?
  • What investment solutions are still available to non-resident Americans living in Israel?
  • What reporting needs to be done in order to comply with U.S./Israel income tax compliance laws?

 

 Hear the latest tax news as well as some valuable investment ideas still available to US non-residents. Come with your questions and get them answered from the experts.

 

FATCA pic

Monday,  24th November 2014 at 7pm.

 

AACI, 94A Allenby, Tel Aviv.

 

Members : NIS 20.  Non-members : NIS 30.

 

REGISTRATION ESSENTIAL : AACI – 03 – 696 0389 or aacicentralregion@gmail.com

 

For more details : Steven Feigenbaum: 09 – 961 1342 or stevenf@piowealth.com

 

 

Speakers:

 

  • Katherine Lapidoth Senior Wealth Manager – licensed in the U.S. and Israel, Pioneer Wealth Management. Katherine has been serving the U.S. community in Israel for more than 27 years.
  • Felicia Seaton, Esquire – practicing law since 1996 including foreign tax law in Israel since 2007. Her practice focuses on US estate planning and income tax compliance law.

 

A Taste of US Taxation of Estates

September 4, 2014 by  
Filed under Estate Planning

Thanks to the generosity of the International Business Structuring Association (IBSA), my article on Estate taxation in the U.S. was published. This is a consise overview of issues that frequently arise.

http://www.istructuring.com/knowledge/article/taxation-of-estates-in-the-united-states/

For more information or any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me.