Foreign Buyers do not have to be in the US to Close the Deal
At the closing of the transaction, when the property is transferred to the new owner, the new owner does not need to be in the US. Rather, the new owner can provide his or her representative with “Power of Attorney” and the representative will have the right to close the deal on behalf of the new owner. This is quite common and convenient for the buyer who does not want to come back to the US for the closing.
Foreign Buyers Should Consult with their Home Country Tax Specialists
A Foreign Buyer’s overall tax liability may be different than that of a US resident depending upon the buyer’s home country’s tax treaty with the US, if any. Therefore, it is best to consult a local tax advisor that is familiar with the tax treaty. For instance, the capital gains rate for US residents is 20% (if the property was owned for more than one year). Foreign Nationals, however, could be required to pay a higher rate, depending upon their home country’s tax treaty with the US and how they structure their purchase. A local tax lawyer who is familiar with your home country’s treaty would be the best resource for answers to these questions.
Foreigners can Defer Capital Gains Taxes by Buying Another Investment Property
The US government allows Foreign Sellers to use Section 1031 of the IRS Code to defer capital gains taxes. The rules are quite complex and one must not stray from the rules, otherwise the transaction won’t qualify for deferral..
Foreign Buyer Must “Elect” to Pay US Income Taxes on Net Rental Income
The US government requires that the Foreign National “elect“ to pay US income taxes on any net income (rental revenues less expenses) derived from rental property. If this election is not made in a timely fashion (e.g., US income tax returns not filed), a tax of 30% of the gross rental income will be assessed. Under this scenario, the investor would not be able to deduct any expenses such as depreciation, interest, property taxes, common charges, etc. Even if the Foreign Investor is incurring tax losses in the beginning years of their investment, and, therefore, doesn’t owe any taxes to the government, they still must file their tax returns in a timely manner in order to make the election.
No Income Tax For the First 10 to 15 Years When Financing Real Estate Purchases
Foreign buyers who finance their purchases with a 40% to 50% down payment will likely not pay income taxes on the net rental income for the first 10 to 15 years, since the US government is very generous when it comes to those expenses that are allowed to be deducted from rental income. Since mortgage interest, common charges, property taxes, depreciation of the asset over 27.5 years, insurance, and amortization of closing costs are all deductions against income, in the early years the property will generate negative taxable income. In future years, when the apartment is generating taxable income, such income can be offset by the prior year’s negative taxable income (a.k.a. tax loss carry forward). This results in no income taxes for many years.
Foreign Investment in Real Estate Property Tax Act (FIRPTA)
When a non-resident sells US property, the Internal Revenue Service wants to be sure they get paid capital gains taxes. Accordingly, the IRS withholds 10% of the gross purchase price of the property. When a US tax return is submitted reporting the capital gains tax, if there is any refund due that money will be refunded to the filer. There is an exemption up to $250,000 sale if the new buyer sign an affidavit that the property will be their primary residence.
Foreign Buyers Must Plan to Avoid the US Estate Tax
When a Foreign Buyer dies, his or her estate will be taxed by the US government at close to 46%. This is easily avoided if the Foreign Buyer does some upfront planning. The planning involves setting up a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) and a Foreign Corporation. The LLC would own the property, the Foreign Corporation would own the LLC, and the buyer would hold shares of stock in the Foreign Corporation. Under this scenario, since the property is “owned” by the Foreign Corporation, the US government would receive nothing upon the death of the Foreign Buyer. This is a great tax savings for Foreign Buyers and is not very expensive to implement. This structure also allows for the easy transfer of the property from one party to another by the selling of shares of the corporation rather than the sale of the property, which might trigger a taxable event.
Our team of real estate agents, attorneys and CPAs have in-depth knowledge about each of the issues facing Foreign Buyers. We are here to educate our Foreign Buyers on all of the consequences of a real estate purchase.
FOREIGN NATIONAL LOANS at a glance –
*condo must meet Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or FHA guidelines.
Bridge Mortgage Bankers
998 NE 167th St
Miami, FL 33162
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