Current Cross Border Issues Affecting Financial Planners

原文刊登於FInancial Planet http://www.financialplanet.org/2014/international-financial-planning-2/

Taylor Liao, CFPBy Taylor Liao, CFP, Chinese Taipei

由於跨國移民做生意的人愈來愈多, 因此一般的財務規劃也由原來的客戶只有居住在單一國家的情況, 變成是客戶需要的是跨境的服務,

財務規劃可能要跨2,3個國家的稅務/遺產/贈與稅法等等, 牽涉到的是多個國家的法律/稅法等需要去了解, 以替客戶做完整的財務規劃。

有很多客戶以前移民到美國, 或是只是拿了美國綠卡, 但是實際居住在台灣, 以前從未因為是雙重國籍的身份繳納美國的所得稅等, 現在因為 美國全球追稅祭出肥咖條款Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), 強迫各國金融機構將具美國公民身份的銀行帳戶的資料揭露 給美國國稅局, 因此造成雙重國籍身份的人大為緊張, 有些人甚至開始拋棄美國國籍。

有次另外一位CFP帶她的客戶來找我, 因為她客戶有一些財務規劃上的問題, 她不希望留太多財產給子女, 只要生活上夠用的就好, 因為她在二岸都有資產, 也在大陸經商, 部份資產在海外, 她本身也請律師幫她安排遺囑等事情, 會計師也會幫她處理公司的帳務等。

我們談了一些自益信託/公益信託等等, 如何來協助她做處理她的資產, 甚至是境外信託等, 如何讓她的資產受到保護, 讓她退休後生活有保障, 有部份的錢也可以拿來做善事。

我也建議她應該找一個可以信任的CFP當她的財務顧問, 萬一她如果有什麼意外發生, 這個人因為知道她的財務及資產的細節, 如果必要時可以協助她的子女依照她的意願來處理她的財產。

CFP財務顧問的角色跟律師會計師的定位不同, 我們不會像律師對法律那麼熟悉, 對會計也不會像會計師那麼專精, 我們是做客戶的財務管家, 為他們做綜合的檢視與規劃, 有必要的時候我們可以尋求專業人士的幫忙, 但是這些專業人士只是負責各自專業的領域, 他們無法為客戶擔任財務顧問的角色, 彼此有各自的專業與分工, CFP在為客戶做財務規劃時要清楚自己的定位。

未來跨境的財務規劃需求會愈來愈多, CFP應該吸收更多資訊與專業, 才能為客戶提供適宜的服務。

One year ago, I had a client who had a Taiwanese father, but had immigrated to the US a long time ago. He was born in the US and cannot speak Mandarin. He came to me for financial planning because his father has many assets in Taiwan, and he and his brother will face tax issues in the future. The estate tax is quite low; 10%, but it was 50% just two years ago. Even if the estate tax is only 10%, the amount for their estate tax will still be quite high and they need to plan for it in advance. In Taiwan, we use global taxation, meaning once somebody dies their global assets, not their local assets, will be summed up for the 10% estate tax. This means when you do financial planning for a client, you must take into consideration his/her global assets.

Working with Clients who are Dual Citizens

In this scenario, I felt like I only knew some of the necessary client information and that it wouldn’t be helpful for me to do a financial plan for him. If I could talk to a CFP certificant in the US to discuss his situation, then I would be able to provide a better, more complete suggestion. The tax laws in different territories can vary quite a bit, and more and more territories follow the rule that their citizens have to pay the estate tax based on their global assets, not their local assets. In this kind of cross border practice, when doing financial planning for a client, it is best if we can partner with a CFP certificant who is familiar with their local tax law and seek their advice for our clients.

Basic RGB

The issue we are facing today is that some of our prospects have two nationalities or they are doing business abroad, such as having investments in factories in China or other Asian countries. If I become his/her financial planner, knowing both countries’ law and tax regulation will become important. Normally, clients have a CPA to take care of their taxes, but CPAs can’t do financial planning for their clients. I know many clients who hire a CPA for their business accounting, but don’t share their personal financial information with him/her.

Financial Planners vs. Lawyers and Accountants

Financial planners are different from lawyers or accountants, because we care about the personal life details of our clients. We spend time trying to understand our clients’ ideas and life plans. Often when clients seek help from a financial planner, it is not because they have a tax or legal issue; it’s because they have an issue with their lives or dreams and they need a trustworthy advisor to help them out.

According to law, when a man with two sons passes away, each son will inherit half of his assets, but on occasion the man does not view the sons equally and would like to divide the inheritance unequally. The regulation is fixed, but human beings don’t work like machines. Clients have emotions and desires, especially when discussing the effort they put into their work and how they’ve accumulated their wealth. Clients also get emotional when thinking about inheritance for the next few generations. Some clients even consider donating their money to charity. Some people probably discount financial planners because they aren’t experts in taxes or laws, which is true, but financial planners work together with clients to help them achieve a better life. CPAs and lawyers don’t take the time to understand their clients’ lives, families, and financial statuses to develop a comprehensive plan based on their needs.

Of course financial planners need knowledge of tax and law to finish a well-thought-out financial plan, but the most important knowledge is understanding the client’s life plan. In today’s environment, clients will increasingly have cross border elements in their lives. In order to completely meet the needs of clients, you may have to work jointly with a CPA or lawyer, but don’t forget that financial planners are the major players in the financial planning process.

Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA)

This year, people with American green cards were concerned about FATCA. A growing number of wealthy Americans in Taiwan are exploring whether to renounce their U.S. citizenship or give up their green cards to avoid onerous tax obligations. The banks in Taiwan are forced by the US government to provide their clients’ asset information to the IRS, otherwise they have to pay 30% of withholdable payments to the IRS. Many Taiwanese who have dual nationality in Taiwan and the US actually live in Taiwan and never pay US taxes. These people are concerned about their property information (real estate, deposit…etc.) being disclosed to the IRS. These dual citizens will face a heavy financial penalty, so some of them are beginning to renounce their US nationality.

Dual citizens might work and live in Taiwan but they don’t pay the tax for their income or their investment in Taiwan. Now, because of FATCA, they may lose half of their property that they’ve worked their whole lives for. The shortage of national revenue is becoming a normal issue in nations around the world. An increasing number of our clients will face situations similar to FATCA.

The world has become globalized. Cross border practice is necessary in today’s environment, and that will be a challenge in planning for clients. CFP certificants will need to communicate more than ever to understand clients’ situations and to provide suitable comprehensive financial plans.