Wednesday, October 6, 2010

US green card- a tax burden for Indians

Tax laws in the US empower the Internal Revenue Service, the apex body for US tax administration, to tax global incomes of those holding US citizenships or the green card. As a result, Indians who hold a US citizenship or green card, face the threat of being taxed in the US for income generated in India, even if the Indian business has no territorial nexus with the US. For example, many Indians in the US send money back home, which is invested in the stock market in India, where dividend and long-term capital gains are tax exempt.Nevertheless, they are liable to pay tax in the US for income generated in India.

There is another side to this development. Even if a person is not residing in the US, he is liable to pay tax if he holds a green card or has citizenship. In other countries, for example India, a person is bound to pay tax in the country if he resides there for more than 182 days in a year. However, the number of days a taxpayer resides in the country is irrelevant for the purpose of taxation in the US. What matters is whether he holds US citizenship or a green card. Although these laws have been in force for some time, it was only two years back that the US government decided to strictly enforce them after the government detected unreported accounts of US citizens with the Swiss bank, UBS. Ever since, the US administration has initiated the project to collect as much data as possible about the global income of US citizens not reported to the Internal Revenue Service.

A number of chartered accountants, who don't want to be identified, said they have even advised their clients against going to the US for delivery of children. "These are from well-to-do clients for whom US tax laws would become a liability later in life. Most of them complied with the advice," said a chartered accountant.