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Taxes and USA Citizens on collaborative divorce mode.

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Inglewood Report – IRS and Citizenship Law

Taxes Prompt More Americans to Renounce Citizenship

PERSONAL FINANCE, TAXES, IRS, US CITIZENSHIP, IMMIGRATION, GREEN CARD, US ECONOMY, US VISA, CCL, F
Reuters
| 16 Apr 2012 | 03:21 PM ET

A year ago, in Action Comics, Superman declared plans to renounce his U.S. citizenship.

“‘Truth, justice, and the American way’ — it’s not enough anymore,” the comic book superhero said, after both the Iranian and American governments criticized him for joining a peaceful anti-government protest in Tehran.

Last year, almost 1,800 people followed Superman’s lead, renouncing their U.S. citizenship or handing in their Green Cards. That’s a record number since the Internal Revenue Service began publishing a list of those who renounced in 1998. It’s also almost eight times more than the number of citizens who renounced in 2008, and more than the total for 2007, 2008 and 2009 combined.

But not everyone’s motivations are as lofty as Superman’s. Many say they parted ways with America for tax reasons.

The United States is one of the only countries to tax its citizens on income earned while they’re living abroad. And just as Americans stateside must file tax returns each April — this year, the deadline is Tuesday — an estimated 6.3 million U.S. citizens living abroad brace for what they describe as an even tougher process of reporting their income and foreign accounts to the IRS. For them, the deadline is June.

The National Taxpayer Advocate’s Office, part of the IRS, released a report in December that details the difficulties of filing taxes from overseas. It cites heavy paperwork, a lack of online filing options and a dearth of local and foreign-language resources.

For those wishing to legally escape the filing requirements, the only way is to formally renounce their U.S. citizenship. Last year, IRS records show that at least 1,788 people did, and that’s likely an underestimate. The IRS publishes in the Federal Register the names of those who give up their citizenship, and some who renounced say they haven’t seen their name on the list yet.

The State Department said records it keeps differ from those published by the IRS. They indicate that renunciations have remained steady, at about 1,100 each year, said an official.

The decision by the IRS to publish the names is referred to by lawyers as “name and shame.” That’s because those who renounce are seen as willing to give up their citizenship primarily for financial reasons.

There’s also an “exit tax” for the very rich who choose to leave. During the last 25 years, a number of millionaires and billionaires have renounced their citizenship. Among them: Ted Arison, the late founder of Carnival Cruises , and Michael Dingman, a former Ford Motor director.

But those of more modest means renounce, too. They say leaving America is about more than money; it’s about privacy and red tape.

Liability, Not Priviledge

On April 7, 2011, Peter Dunn raised his right hand before a U.S. consular officer in Toronto and swore that he understood the consequences of giving up his U.S. citizenship. Dunn, a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen who has lived outside the United States since 1986, says he renounced because he felt American citizenship had become more of a liability than a privilege.

As an American, Dunn had to file tax returns and report all of his bank accounts – even joint accounts and his Canadian retirement fund. If he didn’t, he would be breaking U.S. law and could face penalties of up to $100,000 or 50 percent of his undeclared accounts, whichever is larger. Dunn says he was tired of tracking IRS policy changes, and he had no intention of returning to the United States. Renouncing his citizenship, as he puts it, was “a no-brainer.”

“If it was just me then it would be one thing,” says Dunn, a part-time investor who worried that having to share information with the IRS would deter future business partners – and upset his wife, who is Canadian. “Disclosing joint accounts I hold with my wife and anyone I ever want to do business with — that’s just too much. My wife’s account is none of their business.”

Dunn, who blogs about expatriation, takes issue with being characterized as a tax evader. He says the taxes he pays in Canada are higher than what he would pay in the United States, and he says he had always complied with the IRS before renouncing. But, Dunn says, the IRS approach to enforcing compliance is misguided. “It’s making life difficult for a lot of people,” he says. “It’s driving us away.”

Old, New Regulations

Dunn is referring to two filing requirements that affect Americans abroad: the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts — which has been around since 1970 but now carries penalties for noncompliance — and the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, passed in 2010 with the aim of reducing offshore tax evasion.

The first regulation requires all Americans, including those living abroad, with at least $10,000 in overseas bank accounts, to file a supplementary form disclosing all of their foreign accounts. That includes any accounts in which the U.S. citizen has a financial interest. That could include a joint account with a spouse or child, accounts for corporations in which the American owns more than 50 percent of the value of shares of stock, or any trust or estate that benefits the U.S. citizen.

The tax compliance act — the newer law — asks foreign financial institutions such as banks, hedge funds , and private equity funds to provide the IRS with information on U.S. clients.

The United States and five European Union countries recently announced their intent to allow institutions to report the information through their own governments, rather than directly to the IRS. Institutions that do not comply will be subject to a 30 percent withholding tax on certain U.S.-sourced payments and proceeds of property sales beginning in the 2013 tax year – for instance, dividends on investments in U.S. companies.

Some expatriates say they were unaware of the first regulation for years and even decades. In 2008, the IRS received only 218,840 such filings. American nationality law grants citizenship to almost everyone born in the United States or born abroad to American parents, regardless of how much time they’ve spent in the United States. Many may not even know the extent of their U.S. ties.

In 2004, the stakes for noncompliance rose. Failure to file meant potential fines and criminal charges. Americans abroad can be punished for noncompliance even if they owed no income tax – and IRS data show that most of them don’t owe money.

Income up to $95,100 isn’t taxed under a rule called the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion. In 2009, the income cap was $91,400, and 88 percent of all taxpayers claiming the foreign earned income exclusion owed nothing. Since 2008, the IRS has offered several voluntary-disclosure grace periods during which expatriates can file back taxes without facing criminal charges – but with the possibility of incurring penalties.

Marylouise Serrato, head of American Citizens Abroad, a nonprofit organization based in Geneva, says that many members feel scared about reporting requirements they did not know existed. Their disenchantment, she says, is pushing some to renounce.

“Americans abroad are terrified. We’ve had people pay tens of thousands of dollars in fines. We’ve had people . pay huge amounts of back taxes,” she says. “Up to this point, we never heard of anyone renouncing, or if they did, they didn’t talk about it,” says Serrato, who says her group does not advocate renunciation.

“Now,” she says, “we’re seeing a lot of people speak openly about it and come to us for information.”

Congress is taking note. “While I fully support measures that reduce fraud and address offshore havens, the U.S. should not have policies that place undue burdens on legitimate Americans abroad,” says Representative Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and the chair of the Congressional Americans Abroad Caucus. Maloney says she has taken the matter to the Department of the Treasury, which oversees the IRS.

‘Too Expensive to Keep’

Lawyers report that banking is a big reason why people renounce. “I hear about banking problems again and again and again,” says Phil Hodgen, an attorney who has been helping Americans expatriate since 2008. The new reporting rules, he says, pose “a huge administrative burden. It’s made Americans too expensive to keep.”

Francisca N. Mordi, vice president and senior tax counsel at the American Bankers Association, says she has received a number of calls from Americans in Europe complaining about banks closing their accounts. “They’re going to drop Americans like hot potatoes,” Mordi says. “The foreign banks are upset enough about the regulations that they’re saying they just won’t keep American customers, and it’s giving (Americans living abroad) a lot of sleepless nights.”

Taxpayer complaints sometimes make their way to Nina Olson, the U.S. taxpayer advocate for the IRS, who addressed some of the international tax issues in a December report.

“The complexity of international tax law, combined with the administrative burden placed on these taxpayers, creates an environment where taxpayers who are trying their best to comply simply cannot,” the report reads. “For some, this means paying more U.S. tax than is legally required, while others may be subject to steep civil and criminal penalties. For some U.S taxpayers abroad, the tax requirements are so confusing and the compliance burden so great that they give up their U.S. citizenship.”

In the same report, the IRS responded to the criticism, stating that the penalties for failing to report foreign accounts issued in its guidelines are maximums, not set amounts. It said the agency will not fine filers if the lapse is due to a “reasonable cause.” The IRS also acknowledged the need for more public awareness, and it detailed its efforts to inform Americans overseas through fact sheets, a telephone help line and Twitter.

The IRS did not respond to requests for comment.

Around the world, American women’s clubs — known for promoting American culture overseas through Fourth of July celebrations and Thanksgiving dinners — are growing empathetic toward those who renounce.

The American Women’s Club in Dusseldorf, for instance, now links to renunciation information on its Website. The Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas has opposed new IRS rules, in part because the rules were pushing members to give up their citizenship. “The candidates are not tax-evaders or un-patriots,” reads the organization’s last annual report.

In Europe, American women say they feel pressure to renounce even from their husbands.

“American women married to non-Americans are only just now finding out that they have to disclose years and years of income and accounts,” says Lucy Stensland Laederich, a leader of the women’s club who lives in Bordeaux, France.

Laederich has been acting as the group’s liaison with politicians and bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., and plans to attend a meeting to discuss expatriate tax issues with Maloney and Treasury Department officials on Tuesday.

“When they decide to come clean and report everything,” she says, “they have to go ask their husbands for all of their bank information, retirement funds, and investment accounts, everything.”

Some of their husbands, Laederich says, refuse to hand over information to the IRS. That leaves the women in difficult predicaments.

“Your options are to ignore the IRS and stick your head in the sand; take your name off of all the accounts and live in a completely cash economy; divorce; or renounce U.S. citizenship,” Laederich says. “We’ve seen all of these things happen.”

Divorce or Disclose

Genette Eysselinck, a friend of Laederich’s, renounced early this year. Her husband, a European Union civil servant, saw no good reason to share his account information with the IRS, she says. And after considering all her options, Eysselinck decided that renouncing was the best path.

“It created a lot of tensions around here,” she says. “Divorce seemed a little extreme, so I asked myself, ‘What am I gaining as an American?’ And the cons outweighed the pros.”

Eysselinck was born in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and says she grew up on military bases all over the world. Her father, she says, was an Air Force pilot. Eysselinck has lived abroad for decades and no longer has any close connections in the United States.

She spent her final months as an American collecting paperwork and filing tax returns from the past five years, even though she says she owed nothing. Her last act as a citizen was to swear before an American flag that she renounced all ties with the United States. She called the process “gut wrenching.”

“I grew up in a military family where patriotic feeling was very strong” Eysselinck says. “I’m amazed at how terrible I felt renouncing. But it was the only way to get them off my back. It’s very distressing and time consuming to keep up with all the paperwork. But if it’s this bad when I’m 64, how bad will it be when I’m 74?”

URL: http://www.cnbc.com/id/47064295/page/2/

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Japan is reported to run without nuclear power plants this summer

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Inglewood Report – Japan Nuclear without power plant service this summer 

 

From AP -

 

TOKYO — Japan may go “momentarily” without nuclear power next month when the only one reactor still in operation shuts down for maintenance work, the country’s industry minister warned Sunday.

Yukio Edano made the comment as the government prepared to restart two offline nuclear reactors amid criticism from media and environmental groups sceptical over the safety of atomic power after the Fukushima accident.

“The number of nuclear reactors operating across the country may go down to zero, perhaps momentarily, from May 6,” he said in a seminar in Tokushima, western Japan.

The government of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda announced on Friday that it was safe and necessary to restart the reactors at the Oi nuclear power plant in western Japan, which could help prevent power shortages in the summer months.

Only one of Japan’s 54 reactors — in northernmost Hokkaido — is in operation at present, but it is scheduled to be shut down for maintenance work on May 5.

But it was not certain if and when the government could gain approval from regional authorities around the Oi plant for the reactors to be restarted amid persistent public distrust.

“Without nuclear reactors, it is understandable that there will be considerable strain on many areas in this summer,” Edano added.

Edano on Saturday called on the governor of Fukui, where the Oi plant is located. The governor, Issei Nishikawa, did not give an immediate response to his request for approval of the plan.

But the major daily Mainichi Shimbun said Sunday: “It is hard to understand why the government is in such a haste to restart the reactors.”

It added in an editorial that more thorough checks were needed to ensure safety.

“Independent studies show that there will be no power shortages,” said Wakao Hanaoka, the Japan campaign manager for the environment watchdog Greenpeace.

A massive earthquake and tsunami in March last year caused reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. None of reactors shut for regular checks before the disaster have resumed operation amid safety concerns.

“The nuclear industry and the government were totally unprepared for the disaster at Fukushima Daiichi and now they are trying to pretend they can call Oi safe without improving safety or emergency measures,” Hanaoka said.

The government set criteria nine days ago for restarting nuclear reactors included measures to prevent a nuclear accident even if reactors are hit by natural disasters as severe as those that ravaged the Fukushima plant.

“It is uncertain if the plan will ever gain an understanding of communities which have raised objections to the resumption of the reactors,” the Asahi Shimbun reported Sunday.

The influential daily criticised the Noda administration for being “inconsistent” over its nuclear power policy.

Before Noda took office last September, he promised to follow his predecessor Naoto Kan in ridding Japan of nuclear power, Asahi said.

But he backtracked last January when he said in a policy speech that the resources-poor country would reduce its dependence on nuclear power “as much as possible on a medium- and long-term basis”.

Striking a more positive tone, the conservative daily Sankei Shimbun called on Noda to visit Fukui himself and “speak clearly in his own words about his government’s energy policy and why it is necessary to restart reactors”.


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President Obama vs Governor Romney, Ready, Set, Campaign!

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President Obama-Governor Romney turn on the campaign focus on each other now that Senator Santorum is out of the race.

 

The US Presidential 2012 election now shifts focus to President Obama and Governor Romney.  All attention is about how they will lead the voter to a general election.  The nomination for Romney is not yet official.  The GOP election will be in Tampa later this year.  President Obama on the other corner already has the Democrats nomination. 

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South Bay, Los Angeles Wildlife Galleria – 1 of 5 Report

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Inglewood Report – Los Angeles South Bay Beaches offer incredible wildlife views

 

The Southbay is a jewel for all kinds of wildlife, and for nature lovers, its a Galleria!  The south-bay beaches offer killer wrap-around ocean trails with some very exquisite sunsets.  Take a day and visit your favorite Southbay spot or ask a friend where they like to go.  Take a camera and bring back some of the most lovely wildlife pictures anywhere.  In this Wildlife Galleria report Inglewood Reports visited the Palos Verdes peninsula.  Enjoy the video below!

 

 

 

 

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Inglewood Father Killed Shielding Son

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Inglewood Report – Fredrick Martin Jr., 28, was struck in the torso and abdomen and died in surgery.

 

Family members are now offering $10,000.00 reward for information leading to the arrest of the shooters.  Friends and family said Martin, a college graduate was not ever in gangs.  Police Chief Mark Fronterotta said he hopes the public can help solve this shooting.

Call the INGLEWOOD POLICE HOT LINE with any information at: Anonymous Tipline 1-800-412-7463 or the police station at: 310-412-5246.

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Inglewood Forum | The Great Western Forum Photo Report | LA Forum video and photography by Inglewood Reports

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Inglewood Forum Photo and Video Report – Elva Martin and Jaime Medina Photo Video Journalists

 

 

 

 

Inglewood Report Video and Photos of the Inglewood Forum.  The Great Western Forum is considered to have a buyer this year in MSG – The Garden – according to news reports.

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The Forum (known for a 15-year period as the Great Western Forum) is an indoor arena, in Inglewood, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. From 2000 to 2010, it was owned by the Faithful Central Bible Church, which occasionally used it for church services, while also leasing the building for sporting events, concerts and other events. Along with Madison Square Garden, it was one of the most well-known indoor sports venues in the US, during its time operating as a major venue. The Forum achieved its greatest fame as the home of the Los Angeles Lakers, of the NBA and of the Los Angeles Kings, of the NHL from 1967–1999, when the teams moved to Staples Center. The building was also the home of the Los Angeles Sparks, of the WNBA, from 1997, until they too moved to Staples Center in 2001. The Forum was the site of the 1972 and 1983 NBA All-Star Games, the 1981 NHL All-Star Game, Basketball at the 1984 Summer Olympics and hosted the Big West Conference men’s basketball tournament from 1983–1988 and also the 1989 Pacific-10 Conference men’s basketball tournament. In December 2010, Madison Square Garden, Inc. was reported to be finalizing a deal to purchase the Forum. A possible refurbishment project for the venue is in the works. The Forum is located at 3900 West Manchester Boulevard, across 90th Street (re-dedicated as Pincay Drive in December 2003) and to the north of the Hollywood Park racetrack and casino, about three miles east of Los Angeles International Airport. It is a prominent feature on the landing approach to the airport from the east.

 


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The Greatest Single Threat to Humanity: Fuel Pool Number 4

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Japanese Nuclear Power Plant Radioactivity is NOT OVER.

Scientists say that there is a 70% chance of a magnitude 7.0 earthquake hitting Fukushima this year, and a 98% chance within the next 3 years.

Given that nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen says that an earthquake of 7.0or larger could cause the entire fuel pool structure collapse, it is urgent that everything humanly possible is done to stabilize the structure housing the fuel pools at reactor number 4.

Tepco is doing some construction at the building … it is a race against time under very difficult circumstances, and hopefully Tepco will win.

As AP points out:

The structural integrity of the damaged Unit 4 reactor building has long been a major concern among experts because a collapse of its spent fuel cooling pool could cause a disasterworse than the three reactor meltdowns.

***

Gundersen (who used to build spent fuel pools) explains that there is no protection surrounding the radioactive fuel in the pools. He warns that – ifthe fuel pools at reactor 4 collapse due to an earthquake – people should get out of Japan, and residents of the West Coast of America and Canada should shut all of their windows and stay inside for a while.

The fuel pool number 4 is apparently not in great shape, and there have already been countless earthquakes near the Fukushima region since the 9.0 earthquake last March.