Tuesday, February 22, 2011


by Linda Jones Neil

Those who have rental properties in Mexico can now rest easy. SAT, Mexico’s Uncle Sam, has provided a straightforward and relatively simple way to declare and pay taxes on rental income for those foreigners who have long wished to be in compliance but did not know the way to do so.

As of February 2010, SAT eliminated the requirement for a taxpayer identification number (RFC) which had previously been obtained only through extreme efforts,

Now the foreign taxpayer has two options: One to obtain the taxpayer identification number (RFC), file monthly declarations whether there is income or not, and enjoy a deduction of expenses. This is Option One.

Option Two provides for the taxpayer to make a declaration when income is received, pay a flat tax and obtain a receipt to take to the tax authorities in his/her tax residence, for credit or deduction of taxes in the home country.

On any rental the owner, or his/her property managers, are responsible for collecting the IVA tax (the added value tax) which is 11% on the Baja Peninsula and the Yucatan peninsula and 16% elsewhere. Owner or property manager must also collect the state hospitality tax which is 2 to 4% of the rental amount. These taxes must be delivered to the federal and local governments, as applicable.

It is important for the foreign person with rental property in Mexico to make arrangements for payment of these taxes since penalties can be high in Mexico for non-payment and, additionally, these same tax payments and expenses can be deducted or credited against income in taxpayer’s home country.

The next part of the equation for the US taxpayer has been deciding how to declare this income and enjoy the deductions in their US returns.

Don Nelson, Attorney and Certified Public Accountant located in California reports the following regarding tax treatment for U.S. taxpayers:

  • If the Mexican rental property owned in an individuals name or through a Fideicomiso, all rental income and expenses are reported on Schedule E of the form 1040.
  • Allowable rental expenses are the same as for a US property.
  • Management fees, interest, property taxes, utilities, repairs, maintenance, association dues, insurance…ALL are deductible!
  • Depreciation on a Mexican property is 40 years straight line
  • Taxpayer can take a Foreign Tax Credit against the US income tax paid on the net rental income for income taxes paid in Mexico on that income.
  • IVA (added value tax) collected from the renter must be included in rental income, but then deducted out so no double taxation.
  • The special Vacation Home rules applicable to US rental property occupied part time by the owner is also apply to Mexican rental property.
  • IN A SALE OF THE PROPERTY, net gain is taxed in the US at the applicable lower capital gains rates and Mexican ISR paid is a credit against that US tax on that profit.

For further information on the Rental Payment Program for Mexican properties, please contact: Lic. Quirino Parra: quirino.parra@settlement-co.com.

For further information on the payment of US taxes when Mexican income is involved, please contact attorney and CPA Don D. Nelson: ddnelson@gmail.com . His website is at www.taxmeless.com.

Author Linda Neil is the founder of The Settlement Company. It is the first escrow company in Mexico, and is dedicated to counseling buyers and sellers, processing the trusts and title transfers of Mexican real estate for foreign buyers and sellers for properties located ANYWHERE in Mexico and, now, for payment of taxes on rental income for foreigners with properties in Mexico.. Ms. Neil is also licensed as a Real Estate Broker in California, is an Accredited Buyer Representative through NAR, and has over thirty five years of hands on experience in all aspects of Mexican real estate. She holds membership in AMPI, NAR and FIABCI and PROFECO Certificate 00063/96.

copyright 2011, Consultores Phoenix, S.C., reproduction prohibited without permission.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

IRS Today Announces New Voluntary Offshore Disclosure Program for 2011 for Undisclosed Foreign Assets and Financial Accounts

The IRS TODAY announced a New 2011 Voluntary Offshore Disclosure Program which will be available through August 31, 2011. It gives taxpayers who are hiding assets abroad, or not disclosing those assets on their tax returns as required by tax law , or those who failed to  file the required forms disclosing their assets abroad asecond chance to come out of the closet. The new program will give participants  reduced penalties from those they would have paid if they did not enter the program. The new program's penalties however are in many circumstances higher than those charged participants in the 2009 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program which ended 10/15/09.  Over 15,000 taxpayers participated in the original program and over 3,000 taxpayers have  since that time have filed to  disclose foreign bank accounts which had not previously been disclosed to the IRS.

Many informal estimates indicate that there are a large number of US Citizens not disclosing their bank accounts, real estate and corporation ownership in Mexico. This program offers the opportunity to reduce your potential criminal and civil penalties if you have not been reporting these assets as required by the Federal Tax Laws.

Read more about the program here.  Our firm counseled and represented many  clients concerning the previous Disclosure program. Please contact us if you need assistance of an Attorney CPA with this New program.You can discuss your situation and we can help you develop a strategy with the protection provided by the confidentiality of Attorney-Client Privilege. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Fast US Tax Facts for Americans Living and Working in Mexico By Don D. Nelson, Attorney, C.P.A.

Fast US Tax Facts for Americans Living and Working in Mexico
By Don D. Nelson, Attorney, C.P.A.

If you are a US Citizen you must file a US tax return every year unless your income is less than $ 9,700 (for 2010 and lower for earlier years) or have self employment-independent contractor net income of more than $ 400 US per year. You are taxable on your world wide income regardless of whether you filed a tax return in Mexico.

· As an US expatriate living in Mexico on 4/18/11, your 2010 tax return is automatically extended until 6/15 but any taxes due must be paid by 4/18 to avoid penalties. The return can be further extended until 10/15/10 if the proper extension is filed.

· For 2010 if you are a qualified expatriate you get a foreign earned income exclusion (earnings from wages or self employment) of $91,500, but this exclusion is only available if you file a tax return.

· If your spouse works and lives abroad, and is qualified, she can also get at $91,500 foreign earned income exclusion.

· You get credits against your US income tax obligation for taxes paid to foreign country but you must file a return to claim these credits.

· If you own 10% or more of a Mexican corporation or hold an interest in Mexican property through a Fideicomiso you must file special IRS forms each year or incur substantial penalties which can be greater including criminal prosecution if the IRS discovers you have failed to file these forms.

· Your net self employment income in Mexico is subject to US self employment tax of 15.3% (social security) which cannot be reduced or eliminated by the foreign earned income exclusion.

· Forming the correct type of Mexican corporation and making the property US tax elections with respect to that corporation can save you a significant amount of US income taxes.

· If at any time during the tax year your combined highest balances in your Mexican bank and financial accounts (when added together) ever equal or exceed $10,000US you must file a FBAR form with the IRS by June 30th for the prior calendar year or incur a penalty of $10,000 or more including criminal prosecution. This form does not go in with your personal income tax return and is filed separately at a separate address.

· We understand the Mexican income tax laws and can coordinate your US taxes with those you pay in Mexico to help you achieve the optimum tax strategy.

· In the past several years the IRS has hired more than 2,200 new employees to audit, investigate and discover Americans living abroad who have failed to file all necessary tax forms.

· Often due to foreign tax credits and the the foreign earned income exclusion expats living in Mexico and file all past year unfiled tax returns and end up owing no or very little US taxes.

· Beginning in 2011 a new law is in effect which requires all US Citizens report on a new form filed with their tax returns all of their world wide financial assets if in total the value of those assets are $50,000 or more.

· Income from certain types of foreign corporations are immediately taxable on the US shareholder's personal income tax return.

· If you own investments in a foreign corporation or own foreign mutual fund shares you may be required to file the IRS forms for owning part of a Passive Foreign Investment Company (PFIC) or incur additional, taxes and penalties for your failure to do so. A PFIC is any foreign corporation that has more than 75% of its gross income from passive income or 50 percent or more of its assets produce or will produce passive income.

· The IRS is now matching up your US passport with your US tax records and now knows if you have not been filing all required US tax returns while you are living in Mexico.

· Download your 2010 US tax return questionnaire drafted expressly for Americans living in Mexico at www.TaxMeLess.com or at www.ExpatAttorneyCPA.com

Don D. Nelson, US Attorney, CPA
US Phone: (949) 481-4094, US Fax: (949) 218-6483
Skype: dondnelson

We have been preparing tax returns and assisting clients in Mexico with their US/Mexican tax planning for over 20 years.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


By Don D. Nelson, Attorney at Law, C.P.A.
If you own your Mexican real estate through a Fideicomiso you have a yearly U.S. Tax filing obligation with the IRS.  There are  two informational forms which must be filed each year by  Fideicomisos which have been deemed to be foreign trusts.   These filing requirements are set forth below:
    Form 3520A is due on March 15th following the end of each calendar year. The due date of this form can be extended for six months if the extension is filed before the due date..  None of the Banks in Mexico who act as trustee will file this form for your as required by US tax law.  Therefore, you must file it yourself since it is you the IRS will penalize if it is not filed. There is a penalty of 5% of the value of the assets in the trust for failing to file this form. This penalty can be waived for resonable cause. The form contains information on the Fideicomiso, its beneficiary(ies), its income and expenses, and the value of its assets, etc.
    Form 3520 is due on the extended due date of your personal tax return. However it is filed separately from your personal return. Failure to file this form can result in a penalty equal to 35% of the value of the Mexican real estate  transferred to  the Fideicomiso. This penalty is currently waived if you provide the IRS with a reasonable late filing excuse.  This form mostly duplicates the same information contained in the form 3520A the addition of other informational items.

    The Fideicomiso must secure a US Federal ID number from the IRS.  The ownership of all US owners must be reported.

    If you the property you own in your Fideicomiso has been your primary personal residence for 2 out of the past 5 years, and you filed jointly with your spouse, the first $500,000US  ( $250,000US if you are singled) can be exempt on your US tax return.  You can claim a foreign tax credit for taxes paid on your sales gain in Mexico against your US tax on any gain on the sale in excess of the exemption amount.

    If the property in your Fideicomiso is a rental, you must report the income and expenses on of the rental on your US tax return.  You must  depreciate the value of the improvements and structure on the property over a 40 year period.  Keep in mind that you must also file and pay income and IVA taxes on your rental income in Mexico or risk problems with the Hacienda.

In the past year several attorneys have written articles analyzing the IRS foreign trust filing requirements and have expressed their opinion that a Fideicomiso is not a foreign trust and should not have to file Form 3520 and 3520A. That is good theory, but does not reflect the position of the IRS.  Unfortunately the  Fideicomiso document is worded  as a foreign trust, holds title to the property in your behalf, and is administered by the Mexican Bank trustee. The IRS has never issued any pronouncement in  writing  that exempts Fideicomisos from filing the forms. Representatives of the IRS have indicated that it does not  have any plan to exempt Fideicomisos from filng these forms. Therefore, if you chose not to file you are at risk of  being assessed the high penalties for nonfiling as set forth previously.
If you own your Mexican real estate through a Mexican corporation you are required to file Form 5471 each year with your US income tax return. This form reports various information on the shareholders, income and expenses, and assets and liabilities of the corporation and the property it holds.  Failure to file this form on filing it late can result in a $10,000 per year penalty.  If you have a reasonable excuse for late filing that penalty is currently usually waived, though this policy may change in the future.

Don D. Nelson is a U.S. Attorney and C.P.A.  who has been assisting US Citizens who live, work or own property in Mexico with their US tax  return filing requirements  and tax planning for over 20 years.  He is a recognized US international and expatriate tax expert.  In the past six years he has assisted a large number of Americans file their Fideicomiso US Tax Forms and has been  to date very successful in helping all of them avoid any penalties for filing past years or filing late.

No  need to visit his office. All services and return preparation is provided to clients by phone, email, fax and the internet. Contact him if you need assistance filing the required Fideicomiso US Tax forms.  Most accoutants and tax preparers do not understand these forms or know they exist. Since the forms are not filed with your personal tax return, they can be prepared and filed separately from that return.  Our if you wish, we can prepare all of your US and state income tax forms.

 Visit Don' websites at www.TaxMeLess.com & www.ExpatAttorneyCPA.com  Email: ddnelson@gmail.com   US Phone (949)481-4092.

For the lastest developments and news concerning US and Mexican taxes visit his blog at www.us-mexicantax.blogspot.com

Friday, February 4, 2011

IRS Releases Inflation Adjusted Foreign Housing Expense Deduction Limits

The IRS has provided the inflation-adjusted limitations on foreign housing expenses for 2011 (Notice 2011-8).

Under IRC § 911(a), a qualified individual can elect to exclude from gross income his or her foreign earned income and housing costs. Section 911(c)(1) provides a formula for determining the excludible amount of the individual’s foreign housing costs. Generally, under section 911(c)(2)(A), a qualified individual will be limited to maximum housing expenses of $27,870 in 2011.

Expats can deduct foreign housing
However, the IRS can adjust the maximum limitation based on geographic differences in housing costs relative to housing costs in the United States, and since 2006 it has issued annual notices adjusting the limitation for qualified individuals who live in countries with high housing costs compared to U.S. housing.

Notice 2011-8 provides a table of more than 400 foreign locations for which the IRS is allowing an increased limitation on housing expenses. Some of the highest limitations for 2011 are for Bermuda ($90,000 for the full-year limitation); Hong Kong ($114,300); Paris ($84,800); Tokyo ($118,500); and Moscow ($108,000). 

In locations where the amount has increased from the amount in 2010 (listed in Notice 2010-27), the notice also allows taxpayers who incurred housing expenses in 2010 to elect to apply the 2011 limitation amount to the 2010 year.