Author Topic: A brand new start in the US  (Read 15286 times)

Exflyboy

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Re: A brand new start in the US
« Reply #50 on: November 16, 2015, 12:12:14 PM »
I think if you can get your name off the mortgage, and your Husband files MFS THIS year you should be in the clear.

The problem will be if they sell it at a later date and you make a real profit.. How will they give you the money without it becoming a taxable event in the US?

I would put it on the market and see if you could complete the sale by the end of the year.


Oslo_gal

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Re: A brand new start in the US
« Reply #51 on: November 16, 2015, 12:41:49 PM »
I think if you can get your name off the mortgage, and your Husband files MFS THIS year you should be in the clear.

The problem will be if they sell it at a later date and you make a real profit.. How will they give you the money without it becoming a taxable event in the US?

I would put it on the market and see if you could complete the sale by the end of the year.

It looks like selling to my parents is the best option right now.. And I would make profit if I sell to them at market value. Selling before Christmas is highly unlikely - it's a slightly tedious process to begin with and likely a dead market .

Scandium

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Re: A brand new start in the US
« Reply #52 on: November 16, 2015, 12:46:53 PM »
I think if you can get your name off the mortgage, and your Husband files MFS THIS year you should be in the clear.

The problem will be if they sell it at a later date and you make a real profit.. How will they give you the money without it becoming a taxable event in the US?

I would put it on the market and see if you could complete the sale by the end of the year.

Just an aside, if this is the case the parents can give them $56,000 per year under the gift tax exclusion ($14k from each parent, to each of the husband+wife).

Oslo_gal

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Re: A brand new start in the US
« Reply #53 on: November 16, 2015, 12:58:12 PM »
I think if you can get your name off the mortgage, and your Husband files MFS THIS year you should be in the clear.

The problem will be if they sell it at a later date and you make a real profit.. How will they give you the money without it becoming a taxable event in the US?

I would put it on the market and see if you could complete the sale by the end of the year.

Just an aside, if this is the case the parents can give them $56,000 per year under the gift tax exclusion ($14k from each parent, to each of the husband+wife).

I am learning so much today.. This has been both the most stressful and informative forum thread I have ever participated in! Thank you so much :)

Exflyboy

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Re: A brand new start in the US
« Reply #54 on: November 16, 2015, 01:25:31 PM »
I think if you can get your name off the mortgage, and your Husband files MFS THIS year you should be in the clear.

The problem will be if they sell it at a later date and you make a real profit.. How will they give you the money without it becoming a taxable event in the US?

I would put it on the market and see if you could complete the sale by the end of the year.

Just an aside, if this is the case the parents can give them $56,000 per year under the gift tax exclusion ($14k from each parent, to each of the husband+wife).

Is that true when the gift is from a foreigner?... I don't know the answer but I would want to be sure.

flan

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Re: A brand new start in the US
« Reply #55 on: November 16, 2015, 01:26:05 PM »
I pretty much live amongst the three cities of Houston, Austin, and San Antonio, so hopefully I can try to answer some Texas-specific questions when they come up :)

For now, I would say... you probably could safely sell your heavier articles of clothing - it really doesn't hit "winter" here unless you're in very North Texas.

Savings/Tax thoughts: If you and husband don't have an income yet, you probably want to throw some money into a Roth IRA ($5,500K max for each person) since this is the kind of retirement account where you put in post-tax money first, and later don't have to pay taxes on the gains, I think. You can withdraw the principal amount any time, but would be penalized if you tried to withdraw the gains before age 59.

Texas/life: STAY HYDRATED from March through November! Seriously, some days get really hot, and you don't want to go outside without water (in your own reusable water bottle, of course). Use sunscreen so you don't get sunburnt. Look into some gas-efficient vehicles, because you're probably going to have to (unfortunately) drive some places, especially if you're just starting out. Most of our cities don't have great public transit, unfortunately.

$500 for a 3BR is insanely awesome! I have no idea where you're at, and COL in Texas is relatively low, but I bet you could rent out a room or two and almost be landlords (so long as you read your leasing terms and make sure that's ok)

Oslo_gal

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Re: A brand new start in the US
« Reply #56 on: November 16, 2015, 02:47:06 PM »
I pretty much live amongst the three cities of Houston, Austin, and San Antonio, so hopefully I can try to answer some Texas-specific questions when they come up :)

For now, I would say... you probably could safely sell your heavier articles of clothing - it really doesn't hit "winter" here unless you're in very North Texas.

Savings/Tax thoughts: If you and husband don't have an income yet, you probably want to throw some money into a Roth IRA ($5,500K max for each person) since this is the kind of retirement account where you put in post-tax money first, and later don't have to pay taxes on the gains, I think. You can withdraw the principal amount any time, but would be penalized if you tried to withdraw the gains before age 59.

Texas/life: STAY HYDRATED from March through November! Seriously, some days get really hot, and you don't want to go outside without water (in your own reusable water bottle, of course). Use sunscreen so you don't get sunburnt. Look into some gas-efficient vehicles, because you're probably going to have to (unfortunately) drive some places, especially if you're just starting out. Most of our cities don't have great public transit, unfortunately.

$500 for a 3BR is insanely awesome! I have no idea where you're at, and COL in Texas is relatively low, but I bet you could rent out a room or two and almost be landlords (so long as you read your leasing terms and make sure that's ok)

OK, a Roth IRA. I've been curious about those types of plans, and it sounds like a good idea to factor them into our future plans. And yes, I am very happy about the $500 deal on the house. It's fairly central in San Antonio (inside the "loop", northeast of centrum, if that means anything to you) and my husband is renovating it right now with his father (his parents own it) while getting paid to do so.

Sunscreen is a given. I usually use 50 SPF in the summer here in Norway! I really hate to be stuck in a car, but I suspect I'll come to love it during those hot summer months everybody talks about :)

flan

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Re: A brand new start in the US
« Reply #57 on: November 16, 2015, 03:21:04 PM »
I am very happy about the $500 deal on the house. It's fairly central in San Antonio (inside the "loop", northeast of centrum, if that means anything to you) and my husband is renovating it right now with his father (his parents own it) while getting paid to do so.

That sounds like a really good location! Once you move in and evaluate how much of the house you're actually using and how comfortable you'd be with sharing the space, I can't imagine that you wouldn't be able to get a renter to rent out 1BR for that $500/mo price tag.

Also, rejoice! Texas has no income tax.

The general approach to savings in US-specific type accounts is probably:

  • (0. Have some liquid cash in a checking account since you guys don't really know what expenses look like yet and are paying a lot of start-up costs, I imagine, like buying a car, etc.)
  • If your husband is working for a corporation, they likely offer a 401K with a company match of his contributions to the traditional 401K up to a certain percentage. Definitely have him contribute up to that company match - that's straight up free money.
  • Pay down any debts with over a 5-6% interest rate.
  • Max out Roth IRA contributions (especially if you guys are expecting that your current salary is lower than future salary).
  • Contribute up to federal max for the traditional 401K ($18,000 for 2015, I believe).
  • Open a personal investment account that gets taxed normally for the remainder of your savings.

This isn't a hard and fast rule or anything, but a more "general" list to get you started on understanding the types of accounts here in the US. As you learn more about the system and learn more about what your earnings and expenses will look like, you can of course tweak it.

nobodyspecial

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Re: A brand new start in the US
« Reply #58 on: November 16, 2015, 04:49:45 PM »
The general mustachian advice about maxing out various tax-advantaged accounts is great but...

If you aren't super-sure you are staying in the US forever it might be worth waiting a year.
You don't want to move back in a year and spend the rest of your life having to file US tax return for a few $1000 locked in a US retirement account.

If your husband is American and you intend to stay then this may not apply to you.

Tom Bri

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Re: A brand new start in the US
« Reply #59 on: November 16, 2015, 06:45:35 PM »
My wife is a green card holder. One thing that helped her considerably was finding a group of women from her home country to chat with. They meet regularly at each other's homes and share food and just talk things over. (I suspect they mainly complain about their American spouses!)
I would strongly suggest you hunt up a few Norwegian women. Also, she follows blogs set up by people of her nationality who live in the US, where they discuss how to handle common concerns.
As for the heat, it's all a matter of getting used to it. I moved from northern US to Florida, and had no problem with the heat after a few weeks. Get out in it as much as possible, and just get used to it. Of course this only holds true if you are of normal body weight, and no health problems!
Re the 'problem' of socialism. Tell people that Norway is just like Alaska, a super-rich oil giant, and government pays for all this stuff out of excess cash from the oil wells. They might understand that, and it is pretty much true... :-)

nobodyspecial

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Re: A brand new start in the US
« Reply #60 on: November 16, 2015, 08:45:12 PM »
Tell people that Norway is just like Alaska, a super-rich oil giant, and government pays for all this stuff out of excess cash from the oil wells. They might understand that, and it is pretty much true... :-)
Although they might not understand why they  pay 50% income tax and 25% sales tax ;-)

Tom Bri

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Re: A brand new start in the US
« Reply #61 on: November 16, 2015, 09:13:02 PM »
Tell people that Norway is just like Alaska, a super-rich oil giant, and government pays for all this stuff out of excess cash from the oil wells. They might understand that, and it is pretty much true... :-)
Although they might not understand why they  pay 50% income tax and 25% sales tax ;-)
Is that literally true? I'll admit to not knowing the specifics of tax policy in Norway!

Scandium

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Re: A brand new start in the US
« Reply #62 on: November 17, 2015, 08:47:40 AM »
My wife is a green card holder. One thing that helped her considerably was finding a group of women from her home country to chat with. They meet regularly at each other's homes and share food and just talk things over. (I suspect they mainly complain about their American spouses!)
I would strongly suggest you hunt up a few Norwegian women. Also, she follows blogs set up by people of her nationality who live in the US, where they discuss how to handle common concerns.

Pah, don't do this. Don't be one of those people that cling to the old language and culture (and who eat gross norwegian food..) Rip the bandaid off and embrace your new homeland. When people ask about Norway say, as I do, that you escaped an oppressive communist regime. I imagine this will be even more popular in Texas than up here!


re taxes: I'm not quite clear on it either, but I believe you'll be close to 40% with a pretty average salary. With a professional job 50% sounds likely. And sales tax is indeed 25%. Cap gains tax is also 27%.
This table shows tax percent at levels of average wage. There are countries that looks worse, although this does not included government "fees" which Norway loves to use instead of taxes.
https://no.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skatt_i_Norge#cite_ref-Tax_Database_8-1
This is what "free" healthcare and college looks like..
« Last Edit: November 17, 2015, 08:59:27 AM by Scandium »

gaja

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Re: A brand new start in the US
« Reply #63 on: November 17, 2015, 01:18:34 PM »
Our last five tax returns (total tax/ total household income):

2010: 14%
2011: 16%
2012: 17%
2013: 24%
2014: 23%

The increase reflects an increase in salary. Theoretically, the tax rate is 27-50%, but there are so many deductions that noone pays that.

Yes, there are tax on consumer goods, it varies between 8 (transport and culture), 12 (food) and 25 % (other stuff). A lot of (but not all) municipalities have property tax. In those that do, it varies between .2 and .7 % of home value, and most municipalites have a base threshold. Our house is worth around $250 000, and we pay property tax on $100 000. The cost of water and renovation comes in addition, of course.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: A brand new start in the US
« Reply #64 on: November 17, 2015, 01:25:12 PM »
Our last five tax returns (total tax/ total household income):

2010: 14%
2011: 16%
2012: 17%
2013: 24%
2014: 23%

The increase reflects an increase in salary. Theoretically, the tax rate is 27-50%, but there are so many deductions that noone pays that.

Yes, there are tax on consumer goods, it varies between 8 (transport and culture), 12 (food) and 25 % (other stuff). A lot of (but not all) municipalities have property tax. In those that do, it varies between .2 and .7 % of home value, and most municipalites have a base threshold. Our house is worth around $250 000, and we pay property tax on $100 000. The cost of water and renovation comes in addition, of course.

I find it odd that food would be taxed more heavily than transport and culture. Any idea why?

Tom Bri

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Re: A brand new start in the US
« Reply #65 on: November 17, 2015, 08:31:29 PM »

[/quote]Pah, don't do this. Don't be one of those people that cling to the old language and culture (and who eat gross norwegian food..) Rip the bandaid off and embrace your new homeland. When people ask about Norway say, as I do, that you escaped an oppressive communist regime. I imagine this will be even more popular in Texas than up here! [/quote]

:-) You certainly have a point, and I agree to an extent. But, I know my wife got pretty lonely.

Oslo_gal

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Re: A brand new start in the US
« Reply #66 on: November 23, 2015, 07:53:40 AM »
A little update:

I disappeared from this thread due to the massive shock of a possible huuuuge tax. Once I realised that the threat was very real my focus shifted from the practical sides of moving, and I have been in tax crisis mode the last days. I have spent my time researching IRS's webpages, talking to my parents and in-laws and even a tax consultant specializing in international tax.

I found that you were absolutely right about the currency transaction gain tax, and that I might have to pay around $20 000 to the IRS if I sell my apartment after Christmas!!! My husband might have done his taxes the wrong way earlier by not reporting my Norwegian income, and this situation is equally bad for him, not just me. But thanks to this forum we found out in time, and have now taken several (legal) measures to avoid this tax. I will not be going to Texas this Christmas (which sucks so much!!), and I will sell my apartment to my parents before the end of the year. That way I will pay back the mortgage before I become a US resident for tax purposes. We still haven't talked to the bank, but we've looked into ways of doing it. My husband and I will proabbly sign a prenuptial agreement (should have done that before we even married!), and he will have a statement on his 2015 tax return saying that he is filing his taxes unaware of any international income his wife might have (which is true - he really is clueless about my finances).

Summed up: You might have saved me a bill of $20 000! THANK YOU!

And since I'm on this tax rant and have been going through my Norwegian taxes: I paid 26,8 % tax in 2014 (on an income of 518 000 NOK), but expect to pay less this year due to the tax benefits from having a mortgage in Norway (there are some upsides).

And lastly: Norwegian food is not gross :) I have some favorites that I will take with me for sure: crisp breads (I make my own), sour cream porrige, Norwegian pancakes, fish burgers, school buns and meat cakes. Others will be missed dearly: Macrell in tomato sauce (in a tube), fish balls in curry sauce, salt-dried lamb, lamb-and-cabbage.. :)

lhamo

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Re: A brand new start in the US
« Reply #67 on: November 23, 2015, 08:32:06 AM »
Good luck with working everything out with the apartment sale and your move to the US.

One piece of advice:  If you aren't already doing so, be talking with your husband about what your mutual expectations are about where you will live at different stages of your life, and keep those discussions active as your relationship and your family develops.  My husband and I met and married in the US, but pretty quickly relocated to China, where we lived for the last 13 years.  We didn't really have a concrete plan for how long we would stay -- just kind of played it by ear, and made choices mostly based on our career tracks.  Long story short, I became increasingly unhappy there and wanted to move back to the US.  My husband didn't/doesn't agree.  We're currently split across the Pacific, trying to work through these issues, which is hard.  Better communication about expectations at the outset and all along as our situation was changing and as we were changing as individuals would most likely have helped us avoid this conundrum.     

Exflyboy

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Re: A brand new start in the US
« Reply #68 on: November 23, 2015, 09:07:26 AM »
so you are going to pay my 10% for saving you the $20k in tax right?...;)

Bracken_Joy

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Re: A brand new start in the US
« Reply #69 on: November 23, 2015, 09:22:04 AM »
I love this forum. Seriously. You guys saved us from deducting the full amount of a tIRA last year when we weren't eligible.

Honestly, this forum is so cool.

Oslo_gal

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Re: A brand new start in the US
« Reply #70 on: February 03, 2016, 06:58:43 AM »
Update # 2: My apartment is sold and I have entered (and exited) the US successfully in 2016. We made quite a nice profit on the apartment: I bought it for 2 090 000 NOK in October 2014, and sold it for 2 620 000 this january (after first selling it to my parents, and then selling it for them trough a "power of attorney consent agreement"). I sold it to my parents at a quite high price, and managed to sell it for them at the exact same price. That is super good news, as they would have been taxes on any gains or losses made on the sale. The real estate agent fees eats up some of my profit, leaving me with an actual profit of 440 000 NOK (about 50 000 USD in these horrible NOK/USD-currency times). Because of the exchange rate I'll keep most of my money in Norway for now, and will even tuck some of it into an low-cost (mutual) index fund here. I am not planning on living off these savings alone in TX, so I think I can safely leave some money behind in Norway. I plan to keep an eye on both the value of my account and the exchange rate, and to transfer the money once I hit a sweet spot on both.

I've finally been to San Antonio! It was a lot of fun, and kinda overwhelming :) The transition to driving everywhere will be a challenge, as will having to navigate amongst blinking billboards everywhere (I saw a funny one outside a church: "Political correctness is just the liberals demand for compliance" - how can you put that up next to a highway and not distract innocent drivers?). Texas is not the dry desert I imagined, and so I'm really looking forwards to doing some gardening and learning more about the climate. Also kinda exited about the food! And the grocery stores... to me, they are like the best museums/galleries ever. Totally modern art :D

The currency rate between Norwegian Kroners, NOK, and the US dollar is horrible (for me) right now, but that could also be a good thing. I was expecting "everything" to be less expensive in Texas, but most prices were kinda high when converted to NOK. I'm hoping this will reset some of the lifestyle inflation that I've fallen victim to over the last years. And it makes me very motivated to find a job ASAP, no matter what the job is initially. I've quit my Norwegian job, but the long resignation period means I'll stay in Norway until April.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: A brand new start in the US
« Reply #71 on: February 03, 2016, 07:20:05 AM »
So glad to hear an update! It sounds like everything is working out as best as could be hoped for. How exciting. And I love the description of grocery stores as modern art... lol! Save yourself some times and inches on your waist and shop the edges of the grocery store =P Most of the products in the middle aren't even worth making eye contact with!

Re: the billboards. That is fantastic. I saw some similarly amusing ones when I visited Mississippi. I hope there's a tumblr collection of them somewhere!

flan

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Re: A brand new start in the US
« Reply #72 on: February 03, 2016, 08:04:19 AM »
Welcome to Texas! Yeah, the long drives do wear on ya. Grocery stores are fun, though! Take Braken_Joy's advice and do try to shop the outer edges - it's where they have the actual grocery essentials you came in for - produce, dairy, fresh meats. If you go to the inner aisles, you will probably find lots of items to point and laugh at. "Do Americans really eat THAT?"

Exflyboy

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Re: A brand new start in the US
« Reply #73 on: February 03, 2016, 08:36:01 AM »
Great,

Now you probably already know this by now but the first year you submit taxes in the US you will have to file an "FBAR" form. This simply states that you have a foreign bank account. The penalties are $10,000 if you happen to forget.

Also if you have a pension back in Norway and you Know the value by "readily available means" then you have to declare that on IRS form 8893 if the value exceeds $100,000 for a married couple. The penalty for not doing so?.. You guessed it $10,000 for every year you didn't file the form.

Oslo_gal

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Re: A brand new start in the US
« Reply #74 on: February 03, 2016, 03:45:13 PM »
Great,

Now you probably already know this by now but the first year you submit taxes in the US you will have to file an "FBAR" form. This simply states that you have a foreign bank account. The penalties are $10,000 if you happen to forget.

Also if you have a pension back in Norway and you Know the value by "readily available means" then you have to declare that on IRS form 8893 if the value exceeds $100,000 for a married couple. The penalty for not doing so?.. You guessed it $10,000 for every year you didn't file the form.

Thanks for the heads up. I am so scared of the IRS after the phantom gain spook - I'll be super careful with my taxes from now on!

I recently checked my pension, and it is not over $100,000 unfortunately. It's not too bad, though, maybe $70,000. Once I know if this really is a permanent move, I can transfer it to the US.

Oslo_gal

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Re: A brand new start in the US
« Reply #75 on: February 03, 2016, 03:57:31 PM »
So glad to hear an update! It sounds like everything is working out as best as could be hoped for. How exciting. And I love the description of grocery stores as modern art... lol! Save yourself some times and inches on your waist and shop the edges of the grocery store =P Most of the products in the middle aren't even worth making eye contact with!

Re: the billboards. That is fantastic. I saw some similarly amusing ones when I visited Mississippi. I hope there's a tumblr collection of them somewhere!

Yeah, I'll have to be quite restrictive with the inner isles. I do love the selection, tough.. miles of slightly different variations of mac'n'cheese - stuff like that is just extremely exotic to us minimalistic Scandinavians ;)

Exflyboy

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Re: A brand new start in the US
« Reply #76 on: February 03, 2016, 07:01:51 PM »
Yes the reporting threashold is $100k for a married couple.

You have to take the value in Norwegian money and then use the published exhchange rate (on the IRS website) at the end of the year to get the dollar value.

its not a question of being super careful.. They can make a rule up (like the FBAR and the foreign pension thing) and you have no way to know there is a rule that affects you.

Then you get fined (with penalties that are much higher than for tax evasion) for failure to declare.. All very fair and resonable.. NOT!