Author Topic: Premarriage counselling/Tax questions...  (Read 4776 times)

Kaminoge

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Premarriage counselling/Tax questions...
« on: October 13, 2015, 06:26:39 AM »
Hi All,

Two totally separate questions (although both stemming from the getting married thing).

1. My boyfriend and I got engaged. We're planning to marry in a few months and we'd like to do some premarriage counselling online (online because we live in a country where we don't speak the language). Just thought I'd ask on the off chance someone here has a recommendation. It's easy enough to find places online, what's not easy is knowing if they're any good.

2. I'm after a good source for advice on what getting married will mean financially. I'm Australian, he's from the US. Right now he purposely spends less than 35 days per year inside the US which allows him to avoid federal income tax. I'm a non-resident (of Australia) for tax purposes so I'm not paying tax in Australia on my income (I do pay on earnings from other investments). Once married we'll initially continue to live where we are now (which is in the EU)...Any recommendations for someone who would specialise in giving advice to this kind of situation? Obviously I don't want to pay any more tax than is required but I also don't want to inadvertantly not pay tax that we should and have it come back to haunt us should we ever decide to move to Australia or the US.

Kaminoge

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Re: Premarriage counselling/Tax questions...
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2015, 12:56:43 AM »
145 views and no replies... I may finally have found a question (or 2) that random strangers on the internet can't answer!

PFHC

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Re: Premarriage counselling/Tax questions...
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2015, 01:13:47 AM »
Hi All,

Two totally separate questions (although both stemming from the getting married thing).

1. My boyfriend and I got engaged. We're planning to marry in a few months and we'd like to do some premarriage counselling online (online because we live in a country where we don't speak the language). Just thought I'd ask on the off chance someone here has a recommendation. It's easy enough to find places online, what's not easy is knowing if they're any good.

2. I'm after a good source for advice on what getting married will mean financially. I'm Australian, he's from the US. Right now he purposely spends less than 35 days per year inside the US which allows him to avoid federal income tax. I'm a non-resident (of Australia) for tax purposes so I'm not paying tax in Australia on my income (I do pay on earnings from other investments). Once married we'll initially continue to live where we are now (which is in the EU)...Any recommendations for someone who would specialise in giving advice to this kind of situation? Obviously I don't want to pay any more tax than is required but I also don't want to inadvertantly not pay tax that we should and have it come back to haunt us should we ever decide to move to Australia or the US.
No clue on #2 or #1.

But, I can comment on #1. I'm married and never did counseling. We just talked and got to know each other and thought and spoke to married couples we respected and thought some more. Then got married since it all seemed to make sense and we loved the funk out of each other. Simple. :)

expatartist

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Re: Premarriage counselling/Tax questions...
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2015, 01:14:53 AM »
Look for accountants who specializes in tax advice for expats from your respective home countries. You may need one each. They should have up to date info. I've made enquiries with onlinetaxman.com for US expat citizens.

Good luck!

MEJG

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Re: Premarriage counselling/Tax questions...
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2015, 06:38:21 AM »
Dh and I were required to do premarital counselling and it didn't help us much at all.  We had already been dating for 6 years and living together almost a year when we tied the knot, and we have always been very open and honest in our communication.  I do know some couples who found things out in pre marital counselling that they didn't know before, and we have had plenty of posts on this board about spouses and poor communication. 

To me the biggest areas to talk about and know backwards and forwards about each other are 1) how each of you communicates in general 2) kids, if you want them, if you don't, how many you want, how you want them (bio/adopted/foster parents) 2) and money- who has what, how you will deal with debt, future goals etc.  The other thing I've found is that the 'problems' or sources of friction that were there in our first 6 months are still the ones we have today.  So don't expect anyone to change- people generally don't.

As to taxes... we lived in Australia for 4.5 years and then moved back to the US.  The only way for us, and we are not unintelligent people, to sort it out was to have a good accountant.  We did end up in some tangles  because we were not filling in the US (were not home for 35 days) but we did have investments.  It was all sorted with a good accountant pretty quickly. 

Kaminoge

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Re: Premarriage counselling/Tax questions...
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2015, 09:22:41 AM »
Thanks for the replies. I'll check out onlinetaxman.com as a starting point. MEJG he's not filing in the US because of that 35 day thing, I'm not filing in Australia because I'm not a resident so I'm not declaring my income there (although this year I did file because I started to get nervous about that). It's all going fine for now but who knows what will happen... I really wish they'd make it more straightforward for those of us who wander around the globe.

We're thinking (hoping) that premarriage counselling won't reveal much at all but we figure better safe than sorry. We've been dating about 18 months and living together on and off in that time (due to visa issues he can't live permanently in the EU until we get married). We've talked about everything we can think of to talk about (including using lots of questions that you find on premarriage discussion type pages) and I think our communication is pretty good... but we figure if there's even one issue that comes up that we didn't think of ourselves it's probably worth it. We've talked about kids (simple discussion, I'm really too old to consider them), money (I'm forever telling him about stuff I read on here) and general life goals. Maybe we've covered it all but we'd like to be as sure as possible.

Cpa Cat

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Re: Premarriage counselling/Tax questions...
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2015, 09:32:39 AM »
So the 35 day rule is part of the Physical Presence Test for the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion. There's also a Bona Fide Resident Test which ignores the 35 rule if your husband legally lives somewhere else (ie: has a visa indicating he's legally allowed to live in the country where he resides).

Here's the problem. In order to claim the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion... he's supposed to actually file a tax return. And if he's self-employed, he may or may not be exempt from self-employment tax.

Kaminoge

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Re: Premarriage counselling/Tax questions...
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2015, 09:34:45 AM »
I don't understand any of that at all! But I'll pass it on. He doesn't legally live anywhere else but will once we're married (right now he just floats around the world). He's not self employed, he works for a US company. It all seems crazy to me since none of his income is foreign earned but apparently (according to the tax person he checked with it's all legal).

Evgenia

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Re: Premarriage counselling/Tax questions...
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2015, 09:56:46 AM »
You are so smart for thinking about this. Tax planning is the only thing we'd do differently about our marriage if we had it to do over again because it *really* bit us.

1. Get advice from a tax accountant, ideally one who has a record on immigration and expats. A tax accountant is a specific thing in the U.S. It's not the same role as a general accountant, tax preparer, or financial adviser. A tax accountant can handle both the federal and state level tax implications for you, s/he is usually licensed to practice in one state, and they can help with tax preparation and filing but also much more than that. (Where do you live? If you live in California, I strongly recommend ours.)

2. You will also see services called "pre-nuptial tax counseling" or similar. These may be good, but also make sure you have a tax accountant working on your specific situation for tax filing time (April 15).

3. In the U.S., the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) retroactively marries you for the entire calendar year, no matter when you actually got married. We were married in early October of 2009, for example, but the IRS considered us married for all of 2009. We did not know this. (This marked a rare failing at research on our part, but we had a lot going on: my MIL died of a long struggle with cancer a few months before we were married, we'd been doing months of hospice care, etc; then my fiancee lost his job; I was working full time with our now only income AND in my last year of grad school and thus dissertation defense hell; and more!)

Anyway. This meant that, when we met with our tax accountant in early 2010, we found out that -- due to our new, "combined income" level from 2009 (which was NOT TRUE, as had not actually married and had NOT combined finances beforehand) -- I'd lost ALL of the tax deductions I'd had when I was single. I lost my tuition write-offs (higher education tax credits), which had been substantial, as I paid for my part-time Ph.D. in cash and in full like a good Mustachian. I lost some deductions for the property I still owned in another state, to which my fiancee had, unsurprisingly, contributed nothing. And the list went on, including our being pushed into Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) territory, but I'll spare you that saga.

I do not exaggerate when I say I wept at the tax accountant's desk as all of this was revealed. Yes, I'm so frugal that I will weep as you pull the money from my hard-working hands and give it to the magical thinking IRS instead. The tax accountant felt so bad for me that he drove us to the subway station and wouldn't let me walk there.

The moral of this story? If we had it to do over, we'd have gotten married on Jan. 2 or something, earlier in the tax year, to make things more neat, give us time to prepare, and give us a true year of combined finances.

Best of luck!

Kaminoge

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Re: Premarriage counselling/Tax questions...
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2015, 10:09:11 AM »
Wow Evgenia. So sorry to hear you went through all that. We had no idea about the retroactive thing. Just so happens we're planning to get married early February but that's just good luck on our part. I just read your reply to my boyfriend and we both agreed that we REALLY have to have a meeting with a good tax accountant. The state thing is a bit of a confusion, I guess we'd probably go with Florida since that's where my boyfriend is from but part of the issue is that he's not living in the US (and hasn't been for several years). Once we're married he'll get residence in Bulgaria (through my visa) but he'll still be employed in the US (but in Nth Carolina, not Florida).

We want to do the right thing but it's so hard to figure out exactly what that is! I'm also investigating the Australian end of the deal (because even though I'm a non-resident I still have investments there) and the Bulgarian end (because even though neither of us are EU citizens we'll both have a residence visa once we're married.

Cpa Cat

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Re: Premarriage counselling/Tax questions...
« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2015, 10:14:41 AM »
I don't understand any of that at all! But I'll pass it on. He doesn't legally live anywhere else but will once we're married (right now he just floats around the world). He's not self employed, he works for a US company. It all seems crazy to me since none of his income is foreign earned but apparently (according to the tax person he checked with it's all legal).

His income is earned in the place where he is located. Hence - foreign earned. He doesn't have to be a legal resident of anywhere to get that exclusion, he just has to not be physically within the USA while working.

So he's following the correct rule in order to qualify for that exclusion... he just technically isn't claiming it until he files a tax return! Until he actually files the tax return, the IRS doesn't know he's living abroad and the default assumption will be that he lives and works within the US.

Filing the tax return is how he informs the IRS that he qualifies for the exclusion.

Sailor Sam

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Re: Premarriage counselling/Tax questions...
« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2015, 10:26:48 AM »
Hi Kaminoge, I think this webpage covers most of the topics that should be discussed before marriage. Like MEJG said, it covers kids and money, as well as views on elder-care, spirituality, expectations, sex, and fighting. Once you grind through that list, sit down and think of one-offs that aren't included. I'd personally add views towards pet ownership, and the way the toilet paper and paper towels should unroll from the roll*.

As for actually finding marriage counseling, I'd hunt around online for firms you like the looks of. If the one you settle on is brick & mortar, then call and ask if they'd be willing to have skype, etc sessions.

*Teh flap, it must be up. So everything unrollz from teh top. Everything else is wrong. I won this argument through sheer pedantic fuckery.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2015, 10:42:13 AM by Sailor Sam »

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Re: Premarriage counselling/Tax questions...
« Reply #12 on: October 14, 2015, 10:38:58 AM »
DH and I completed pre-marital counselling, and I agree that with a good question list, you can cover this yourselves, unless a topic comes up that you have trouble dealing with together.

Most questions were things that couples need to discuss before making that commitment... like.

Do you want kids, how many.
Who would you consider the head of the household?
If you have kids, do you have any reglion that you plan on raising them in?  What traditions are important?
Does one of you plan to have an extended break from work - sabbatical, mat leave or SAHP, new carreer in your mid to later life?


We also completed a MBTI (Meyer Briggs) weekend with other couples, as a framework to talk about communication differences and styles.  Highly worth it.   5 Love languages discussion is also recommended by me.  If I had known the 5 love languages, a lot of communication issues could have been solved years earlier, I think!

Money questions -- goals for retirement, how to use / plan for money. --questions are strictly to talk about alignment or reveal issues from previous, but not a lot of details.


The money / tax questions are actually better put to a CPA with expat taxation / immigration taxation, and a CFP (financial planner) to help discuss options around debt, retirement, savings, goal planning, mingling (or not) accounts, etc.

I think many CFP's work online / skype system from USA / Canada / Aus., just like life coaches do.  The tax / CPA type professional may be dual language already for you, or work over a phone call or two.   

Ask  your expat community there who they use for dual filing of taxes, and someone will have a name for you.


Good luck!


Apples

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Re: Premarriage counselling/Tax questions...
« Reply #13 on: October 14, 2015, 12:57:40 PM »
DH and I completed pre-marital counselling, and I agree that with a good question list, you can cover this yourselves, unless a topic comes up that you have trouble dealing with together.

Most questions were things that couples need to discuss before making that commitment... like.

Do you want kids, how many.
Who would you consider the head of the household?
If you have kids, do you have any reglion that you plan on raising them in?  What traditions are important?
Does one of you plan to have an extended break from work - sabbatical, mat leave or SAHP, new carreer in your mid to later life?


We also completed a MBTI (Meyer Briggs) weekend with other couples, as a framework to talk about communication differences and styles.  Highly worth it.   5 Love languages discussion is also recommended by me.  If I had known the 5 love languages, a lot of communication issues could have been solved years earlier, I think!

Money questions -- goals for retirement, how to use / plan for money. --questions are strictly to talk about alignment or reveal issues from previous, but not a lot of details.


The money / tax questions are actually better put to a CPA with expat taxation / immigration taxation, and a CFP (financial planner) to help discuss options around debt, retirement, savings, goal planning, mingling (or not) accounts, etc.

I think many CFP's work online / skype system from USA / Canada / Aus., just like life coaches do.  The tax / CPA type professional may be dual language already for you, or work over a phone call or two.   

Ask  your expat community there who they use for dual filing of taxes, and someone will have a name for you.


Good luck!

I've been married 1.25 years, and I second the 5 Love Languages-figure out what each of your languages are!  You can just google around for a quiz.  This made things make so much more sense the first year we lived together, half of which we were married for.  Ex. 1:  I need you to be sympathetic about something I tell you about my day, b/c my love language is Words of Affirmation.  Ex. 2:  He needs me to hang out with him when he does stuff around the house/garden even if we (I) don't talk because his love language is Quality Time.  I later figured out my MIL and SIL are Gifts people, which doesn't jive with me, and probably why SIL thinks I don't like her.  The Love Languages solve so many issues.

Kaminoge

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Re: Premarriage counselling/Tax questions...
« Reply #14 on: October 15, 2015, 01:29:29 AM »
I agree that the love languages thing is really useful. When I first came across it many many years ago I was sharing with a flatmate. After I'd done the quiz I got her to do it too and we talked about the results. We were doing it in a "hey this is interesting" sense rather than to fix any problems (we got on fine) but what we found out changed the way we related and helped make some of the things she did make a lot more sense to me.

My boyfriend and I have done it and talked about it. It actually made a difference because it helped me explain how important words are to me (either spoken or written). He's really worked on showing love to me using words (not his default way of doing things) and not only the words but the effort he's made has meant a lot to me.

Kaikou

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Re: Premarriage counselling/Tax questions...
« Reply #15 on: October 16, 2015, 11:11:40 PM »
I agree that the love languages thing is really useful. When I first came across it many many years ago I was sharing with a flatmate. After I'd done the quiz I got her to do it too and we talked about the results. We were doing it in a "hey this is interesting" sense rather than to fix any problems (we got on fine) but what we found out changed the way we related and helped make some of the things she did make a lot more sense to me.

My boyfriend and I have done it and talked about it. It actually made a difference because it helped me explain how important words are to me (either spoken or written). He's really worked on showing love to me using words (not his default way of doing things) and not only the words but the effort he's made has meant a lot to me.

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