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Should You Keep Your U.S. Citizenship When Moving Overseas?…



Moving to the welcoming beaches of Belize needn’t cost the earth, or your citizenship.

“While expatriating (renouncing your citizenship) is a step not to be taken lightly, the data say that increasing numbers of Americans are willing to take that step, nonetheless.”

A new report from International Living addresses the question: Does it make sense for Americans considering a move overseas to renounce their U.S. citizenship?

“Most of the roughly nine million U.S. citizens living abroad opt to keep their U.S. passports,” says Jennifer Stevens, Executive Editor, International Living. “But, if U.S. federal taxes on the wealthiest increase, they may choose in greater numbers to first get a second citizenship and then, in turn, renounce their U.S. citizenship.

“At International Living, we’re already seeing an increase in interest for information about second passports. Now, to be clear, there are other reasons to get a second passport—increased flexibility in travel and residence among them—but it is also the first step a person has to take if they’re considering giving up their U.S. citizenship. After all, once they’ve turned in their U.S. passport, they have to have somewhere to go.”

While only a few hundred Americans based abroad renounced their citizenship annually in the first decade of the 2000s, a whopping 6,705 gave up their citizenship and passport in 2020.

“While expatriating (renouncing your citizenship) is a step not to be taken lightly, the data say that increasing numbers of Americans are willing to take that step, nonetheless,” says Jeff D. Opdyke, editor of Global Intelligence Letter, a publication of International Living. “If taxes on the wealthy surge, I wouldn’t be surprised to see expatriation step up even higher.

“In particular, if you’re an American who’s approaching the exit-tax limit of $2 million in global wealth, I can see a case for pursuing expatriation before your wealth exceeds the limit. And I think there is a fair number of Americans who are thinking about this right now.”

“Frankly, we’re still in the early stages of this game,” Opdyke says. “Over the remainder of this decade, as America’s debt explodes higher, I think we’re going to see increased taxation demands and a realization that the only way to avoid the crisis to come is to get out of the blast zone. And for many Americans, that will mean expatriating to a more tax-friendly country.”

U.S. citizens are taxed on their worldwide income, no matter where they reside. For retirees—whose tax liability tends to be lower than that of working Americans—this is typically not problematic. But as remote working gains popularity, the question of what to do about U.S. citizenship becomes more pressing for more people.   

This new International Living report written by Mark Nestmann, author of The Lifeboat Strategy, provides some guidelines to consider when renouncing U.S. citizenship can make sense.

The Dreaded Exit Tax

According to International Living’s report, a 2008 law imposes an “exit tax” on “covered expatriates” (defined below), which applies to both U.S. citizens and long-term residents—green card holders who have lived in the United States for eight or more of the 15 years prior to expatriation.

The exit tax is based on a legal fiction that you sell all of your worldwide property at its fair market value on the day before you expatriate. Tax on the fictional gain is payable at the time your tax return is due for the year of expatriation. You can defer payment by posting acceptable security with the Treasury Department and paying an interest charge on the amount deferred.

Only individuals defined as “covered expatriates” are potentially subject to the exit tax. You’re in this category if you:

  • Have a global net worth exceeding $2 million (not adjusted for inflation); and/or
  • Had an average annual net income tax liability for the five preceding years ending before the date of the loss of U.S. citizenship or residence exceeding $172,000 (2021 threshold, adjusted annually for inflation); and/or
  • Fail to certify under penalty of perjury that you have complied with all U.S. federal tax and reporting obligations for the five years preceding expatriation.

Withholding Tax on Pensions, Social Security, and Non-Grantor Trusts

Distributions from pensions or deferred compensation plans to non-U.S. persons— i.e., individuals who are neither U.S. citizens nor permanent residents— are taxed very differently than similar payments to U.S. persons. In most cases, they’re subject to a 30% withholding tax. Social Security benefits are withheld at a flat rate of 25.5%.

Distributions from a non-grantor trust are also withheld at a 30% rate.

These withholding taxes can only be recovered under the provisions of a tax treaty in effect with the country where you now reside. But if you’re a covered expatriate, you can’t use the treaty to reduce this withholding tax. You could be forced to pay tax twice—once in the country where you reside, plus the 30% tax imposed by the U.S. The total tax could easily exceed 50%.

Traditional IRAs fare even worse if you’re a covered expatriate. IRA payments to a non-U.S. person are generally withheld at the 30% flat rate. But if you’re a covered expatriate, the full value of tax deferred holdings in traditional IRAs and other “specified tax deferred accounts” is subject to income tax, as if you received that income the day prior to expatriation.

…And Don’t Come Back!

An often-overlooked nuance to expatriation is that you might not be able to ever return to the United States, even to visit. You’ll need a visa to re-enter the United States unless you have a passport from a visa waiver country.

The visa application process requires that you visit a U.S. consulate for a personal interview. Consular officers are required to assume that applicants for visitors’ visas are lying about their intention to leave the United States after their temporary stay. The burden of proof is on you to demonstrate that you will return to your home country. Any remaining ties to the United States make it more difficult to establish that intent.

Expatriation is a big decision. If you expect income from a U.S. source such as IRA or Social Security payments, it’s unlikely to be your best option.

You can read the full report here: Should You Keep Your U.S. Citizenship?

Editor’s Note: Members of the media have permission to republish the article linked above once credit is given to

Further information, as well as interviews with expert authors for radio, TV or print, is available on request. Photos are also available.

For information about content republishing, source material or to book an interview with one of our experts, contact Editorial Director for Web Content, Social Media, and PR, Donal Lucey,




About International Living

Since 1979, has been the leading authority for anyone looking for global retirement or relocation opportunities. Through its monthly magazine and related e-letters, extensive website, podcasts, online bookstore, and events held around the world, provides information and services to help its readers live better, travel farther, have more fun, save more money, and find better business opportunities when they expand their world beyond their own shores. has more than 200 contributors traveling the globe, investigating the best opportunities for travel, retirement, real estate, and investment.

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Proptech: Lessen Closes $35 Million Series A Funding Round



Lessen, a marketplace that connects property owners to a network of vetted professionals for renovation, maintenance, and other services, has announced that it has closed a $35 million Series A funding round. According to Lessen, the funding is being led by Fifth Wall, a VC firm focused on tech for the global real estate industry.

Also participating in the funding were seed-round investors including Khosla Ventures, General Catalyst and Navitas Capital. Total funding to date stands at $44 million.

Dan Wenhold, a partner at Fifth Wall, will be joining Lessen’s Board of Directors.

Jay McKee, founder and CEO of Lessen, said the industry is “poised for a revolution in the way that property services are performed, delivered, and managed at scale.”

“Lessen is excited about building a platform that will enable service professionals to increase earnings and reduce stress, while allowing property owners to lower their costs and completely outsource property management concerns.”

Wenhold added that the COVID-19 health crisis has “supercharged” the single family rental market and Lessen stand to benefit from the growing sector by “offering a streamlined solution to the entire property services lifecycle.”

“We believe the opportunity for Lessen is massive, and we’re thrilled to support the company through this next phase of its evolution and beyond.”

Lessen, based in Scottsdale, reports that it currently has more than 1,000 service providers, across 26 markets, which have completed more than 2,000 jobs for institutional investors of single-family residential, multifamily residential, and short-term rental properties.

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Fintech secures $90M in debt and equity to scale its digital mortgage lending platform



A lot of startups were built to help people make all-cash offers on homes with the purpose of gaining an edge against other buyers, especially in ultra-competitive markets. is a Denver-based company that is attempting to create a new category in real estate technology. To help scale its digital mortgage lending platform, the company announced today that it has secured $90 million in debt and equity – with $78 million in debt and $12 million in equity. Signal Fire led the equity portion of its financing, which also included participation from existing seed investors Y Combinator and DN Capital. describes itself as an iLender, or a “technology-enabled lender” that gives people a way to submit all-cash offers on a home upon qualifying for a mortgage.

Using its platform, a buyer gets qualified first and then can start looking for homes that fall at or under the amount he or she is approved for. They can purchase a more expensive home, but any amount above what they are approved for would have to come out of pocket. Historically, most buyers don’t know that they will have to pay out of pocket until they’ve made an offer on a specific home and an appraisal comes under the amount of the price they are paying for a home. In those cases, the buyer has to cough up the difference out of pocket. With, its execs tout, buyers know upfront how much they are approved for and can spend on a new home “so there are no surprises later.”

SignalFire Founding Partner and CTO Ilya Kirnos describes as “the first and only iLender.”

He points out that since it is a lender, doesn’t make its money by charging buyers fees like some others in the all-cash offer space.

“Unlike ‘iBuyers’ or ‘alternative iBuyers,’ fronts the cash to buy a house and then makes money off mortgage origination and title, meaning sellers, homebuyers and their agents pay no additional cost for the service,” he told TechCrunch.

IBuyers instead buy homes from sellers who signed up online, make a profit by often fixing up and selling those homes and then helping people purchase a different home with all cash. They also make money by charging transaction fees. A slew of companies operate in the space including established players such as Opendoor and Zillow and newer players such as Homelight.

Image credit: Left to right: Co-founders Adam Pollack, Nick Friedman and Ian Perrex.

Since its 2016 inception, says it has helped thousands of buyers, agents and sellers close on “hundreds of millions of dollars” in homes. The company saw ”14x” growth in 2020 and from June 2020 to June 2021, it achieved “10x” growth in terms of the size of its team and number of transactions and revenue, according to CEO and co-founder Adam Pollack. wants to use its new capital to build on that momentum and meet demand.

Pollack and Nick Friedman met while in college and started building with the goal of “turning every offer into a cash offer.” The pair essentially “failed for two years,” half-jokes Pollack.

“We basically became an encyclopedia of 1,000 ways the idea of helping people make all-cash offers wouldn’t work,” he said.

The team went through Y Combinator in the winter of 2019 and that’s when they created the iLender concept. In the iLender model, the company uses its cash to buy a house for buyers. Once the loan with is ready to close, the company sells back the house to the buyer “at no additional cost or fees.”

“Basically what we learned through those two years is that you have to vertically integrate all of your core competencies, and you can’t rely on third parties to own or manage your special sauce for you,” Pollack told TechCrunch. “We also realized that if you’re going to build a cash offer for anyone who could afford a mortgage, you’ve got to make it a full bona fide cash offer that closes in three days as opposed to a better version of what existed. And you have to own that, and take the risk that comes with it and be comfortable with that.”

The benefits of their model, the pair say, is that buyers get to be cash buyers, sellers can close in as little as 32 hours, and agents “get a guaranteed commission check.” 

“Our mission is that everyone should have an equal chance at homeownership,” Friedman said. “We not only want to level the playing field, we want to create a new standard.”

Buyers using win 6-7 times more frequently, the company claims. With its new capital, It also plans to double its team of 90 and enter new markets outside of its home base of Denver.

SignalFire Partner Chris Scoggins believes that is different from other lenders in that its focus is on “winning the home, not just servicing the loan, with a business model that’s 10x more capital-efficient than other players in the market.

The team is driven…to level the playing field for homebuyers who today lose out against all-cash offers from home-flippers and wealthy individuals,” he added. “We see an enormous opportunity for to become the backbone of the future of mortgage lending.”

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Real Estate

Title Alliance Expands its Footprint in New Mexico With New Office



News Image

Our commitment to innovation and leading customer experience sets us apart from the competition – and we look forward to welcoming you to our new location.

Title Alliance, Ltd., a family of full-service title insurance and escrow agencies, is pleased to announce an expansion in New Mexico. Title Alliance Advantage, a partnership with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, is the company’s second joint venture in the state and is part of Title Alliance’s strong success in establishing innovative partnerships in the Southwest.

“Title Alliance recently celebrated our five-year anniversary of arriving in the Southwest, and our team in New Mexico exemplifies the service and integrity our customers enjoy when trusting us with their real estate transactions,” said Jim Campbell, Chief Executive Officer of Title Alliance. “We are thrilled to announce a continuation of our strong track record in this amazing area of the country and are charting the course for a bright future in New Mexico, Arizona and the region as a whole.”

Title Alliance Advantage joins Title Alliance of New Mexico in serving the state. Along with the New Mexico location, Title Alliance is celebrating the opening of Title Alliance Northwest, a partnership with Keller Williams Puyallup in Washington, and two new offices in Arizona with locations in the Phoenix metro area communities of Mesa and Gilbert.

“With its fast-paced housing market and vibrant communities, growing our services in New Mexico is an exciting next step for Title Alliance,” said Lindsay Smith, Chief Strategy Officer for Title Alliance. “Ramping up our presence in the state allows us to serve additional home buyers, Realtors, lenders and builders with our efficient and profitability-boosting joint ventures. Our commitment to innovation and leading customer experience sets us apart from the competition – and we look forward to welcoming you to our new location.”

About Title Alliance:
Title Alliance, Ltd., has been forming successful single and multi-state joint ventures with lenders, Realtors and builders since 1983. We work with our partners to establish in-house title and settlement operations, dramatically enhancing their customer service and increasing their profit. Started and headquartered in Media, Pa., Title Alliance’s family of companies are currently in 11 states and across 60 offices. More information at

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Real Estate

Where Middle Market ESG Reporting Is Heading



“To stay competitive these days, you have to be serious about ESG regardless of your size. It’s impacting smaller firms and not just PE. Hedge funds are seeing the same pressure from LPs [limited partners].”

The Martec Group, a global market research and consulting firm, recently partnered with Goby, The ESG Platform, to study and advance ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) solutions for private equity (PE) firms.

In a recent study conducted by Martec and Goby, one respondent said:

“To stay competitive these days, you have to be serious about ESG regardless of your size. It’s impacting smaller firms and not just PE. Hedge funds are seeing the same pressure from LPs [limited partners].”

ESG progress and outlook

The overall outlook is very positive for ESG-related solutions as general interest in ESG goals and data has spiked in the past 12 – 18 months and is not expected to slow. Further, management solutions, specifically ESG software, have been experiencing significant demand in the PE space over the past 12 months. Expectations are that the recent spike in demand will continue to accelerate and expand as LPs focus on ESG and other similar initiatives.

The number of firms seeking ESG investments is vast

The macro-overview of the market indicates a high likelihood of success for companies advancing ESG solutions, in particular software solutions.

For example, a recent search in the PitchBook database yielded ~2,000 firms that state they are “seeking ESG investments.” This includes PE buyout, asset managers, venture capital, impact investing, and real estate firms leading the way.

What’s driving interest in ESG solutions

Capital Sources – public-facing LPs are requesting ESG information, including government agencies, public pensions, banks, and insurance companies.

  • These businesses typically send questionnaires for general partners (GPs) to fill out
  • PE firms repeatedly point to LPs as the primary drivers for increasing ESG initiatives

o In our research, the two most frequently mentioned types include pension funds and endowments

Geographical Focus – the EU is far ahead of the US in terms of ESG and likely to enact more regulations that will drive issues even further.

Market Focus – environmental issues have been taken into consideration for many years for deals that focus on environmentally sensitive markets (e.g., oil & gas).

  • Societal and governance issues are increasingly important for specific sectors (e.g., services and labor-intensive markets)
  • B2B, B2C, and information technology (IT) companies are showing the highest levels of interest in ESG solutions

Regarding market focus, it’s important to know what investors have in place so that a firm can better report disclosures. If investors in the market follow CDP guidance, chances are climate risk and carbon emissions are very material to the industry and that might be something to investigate. Similarly, in the real estate market, GRESB might be the right framework to use. Goby and Martec consultants can help PE firms gain a better understanding of which frameworks are predominantly used in the industry.

Other key areas of focus impacting interest in ESG solutions are fund size and investment philosophy. A firm’s investment philosophy can play a key role as motivation levels are changing across the ecosystem.

Middle market firms (companies with annual revenues between $500 million – $2 billion) may benefit most from ESG software solutions. These firms have seen the most dramatic change to their process and an intensifying need for ESG management solutions. Organizing sustainability initiatives and ESG data with a cloud-based solution, like Goby, could work well for firms in this space.

Lower middle market firms are next

Lower middle market firms (companies with annual revenues under $500 million) see a less urgent need to implement ESG initiatives. However, respondents in this group believe the importance of ESG will increase in the next 3 to 5 years. One respondent said:

“[There is] a lot more talk in the media than in boardrooms currently. But this is growing in importance, and we’re definitely talking more about ESG before, during, and after deals.”

Expect to see more Social Sustainability and ‎Sustainable Governance

Growth can be more about the “S&G” (social, governance) than the “E” (environmental) for PE firms.

  • EH&S (environment, health, and safety) has been a focal point for many years
  • S&G is growing due to cultural shifts, increasing investment in human capital businesses, and more socially responsible investing and impact investing

Goby and Martec study findings point toward the bulk of ESG growth in PE being S&G focused – with diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives.

Regardless of where a firm may be today, ESG initiatives and data will continue to factor into future financial investments and performance. Goby and Martec can help firms of all sizes, but particularly the middle market, complete ESG and due diligence (DD) engagements.

Goby and Martec will be reviewing the results of this research as well best practices and trends in an upcoming webinar on Wednesday, July 14. Sign up here.


Contact info:

Chuck Bean, Martec Group Partner/CMO

(248) 327-8005

Danna Hileli, Goby/VP, Marketing

(734) 730-5746

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