Pay your taxes
US IMMIGRATION NOTES - Atty. Marco F.G. Tomakin (The Freeman) - April 14, 2019 - 12:00am

As the idiomatic expression goes, there are only two things certain in this world --death and taxes. It is already nearing crunch time for every US taxpayer to file their income tax returns due on April 15, 2019.

One thing I would like to emphasize today is that all individuals who are required to file income tax returns must report their income whether those are earned inside the US or outside. It is common for us Filipinos to have investments in the Philippines either in the form of rental properties, stocks, or bonds and cash deposits. I have heard people telling me that they do not bother to declare their income in the Philippines, anyway the US government does not know. They may not know now but eventually they will, sooner than you think.

Also, there is what is called Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts which must be filed if you had a financial interest in, or signature or other authority over, any bank, securities, or other financial account(s) in a foreign country, the aggregate value of which exceeds $10,000 at any time during the calendar year.

Here are some examples why you need to file your correct tax returns even if earned abroad, at least in the immigration aspect. First, if you are trying to petition someone, one of the forms needed to fill out is the Affidavit of Support. If you are the petitioner, you should have all your taxes already paid as your tax returns are important for the USCIS to make sure that the alien applicant will not become a public charge. In the application for greencard, you will be asked if you filed your tax return and if you have been paying your taxes on time. The issue of filing taxes and paying for it always also comes into play when applying for US naturalization. Also when you need to file a waiver or are fighting against deportation, you also need to show you have been a good citizen by filing and paying for your taxes. When applying for a returning resident visa, you also need your tax returns to show you are still maintaining ties in the US by filing those. Also, when you do not report your other income earned abroad, there may come a time when you need to assert your ownership of the said property. It will help tremendously if you can show that you also reported the income of such property and paid taxes dutifully.

If you have not been reporting your income earned abroad, you should note that the US has now strengthened its efforts to make sure that everyone complies.

This column is not a substitute for professional legal advice obtained from a US-licensed immigration attorney. The information contained herein does not constitute a warranty or guarantee or legal advice regarding a reader’s specific immigration case. No attorney-client relationship is and shall be established with any reader.

For any questions, comments and observations, please contact Atty. Marco Tomakin at mtomakin@gmail.com

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