Are you a Pondstraddler?
One of the most frequent lines of questioning I receive from readers is to do with islanders’ increasing interconnection with the outside world — and all of its rules and regulations.
In response to that, the Moneywise column, on the last Saturday of each month will feature Pondstraddler*** Life frequently asked questions and answers relative to living in a globally mobile society.
We Bermuda islanders are a highly physical and electronically mobile society. It is a rare Bermuda resident who was born here, but has never left the island, only used Bermuda dollars, never bought global investment products, never used the internet and social media, does not have a smart phone, never mailed or received anything from abroad and is probably perfectly happy, nevertheless.
The rest of us are completely globally connected, totally all-in.
And with global mobility comes complexity in all things, especially travel and finance, the equivalents of residency and investing.
Our island, too, has become a modern sophisticated international finance centre, with a dominant position in global insurance, reinsurance and financial intermediation. Bermuda’s phenomenal success story has been accompanied by the financial complexity of total global connectivity.
A global world in constant change has encompassed our shores: international finance, cross-border transactions, conflicting judiciary systems and legal structures, different tax compliance regimes, multinational people, and multiple-jurisdictional business strategic initiatives — all moving at electronic speed.
Since the inception of this column in February 2000 — yes, it has been my privilege and honour to write for you, readers, and for more than 18 years — I’ve focused on topics that have encompassed the spectrum of the financial influences on your domestic lifestyles on the Dot in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
You wonderful readers have written letters of support, requests for additional information, and help consistently during the entire time frame.
Increasingly, I’ve noticed that the most frequent requests have focused on the international planning issues of Bermuda islanders’ connections to other countries’ tax, immigration, finance, citizenship, and residency laws and how different regime compliances and reporting standards (Fatca, Gatca, CRS, CbC Reporting, Beps, etc) may impact them and their families.
These new global transparency initiatives mean that various countries’ revenue agencies now demand greater tax accountability of their residents and citizens.
Internationally mobile residents of just about every country, including Bermuda residents, now have to grapple with an unending, bewildering stream of compliance and reporting requirements for any jurisdiction where they may have connections: financial, legal, regulatory, tax, immigration, residency, citizenships, nationalities, domiciles, and so on.
These new transparency initiatives are a challenge for even the most sophisticated finance professionals, while adhering to such complex concepts are overwhelming for ordinary individuals working and getting on with their lives.
Additionally, the sophisticated methodology for tracking globally mobile people continues unabated: Iris scan identifications, body movement perceptions, face spotters and the like.*
What this means is that now, more than ever, Bermuda islanders are perennial Pondstraddlers with all of the precisely defined accountability, and verification.
You (and every government revenue agency of countries you visit, stay, or invest in) need to know who you are, where you are, what place is your real tax home, how are you connected to that place, where you consider yourself permanently domiciled, and what you earn, own, or invest in that may be subject to tax, in one or more countries.
You cannot escape this accountability. But, you can plan for it.
So the Pondstraddler reader FAQ will be coming the last Saturday of every month. I’ve written of these issues so many, many times over the years — to the boredom of some of you, and the annoyance of other readers.
However, if you are interested in learning more about this topic, please send me your questions. I will answer them or write a correlated article based upon your query and provide the references. Any personal information will be omitted — always kept confidential.
Some examples of basic questions readers have sent to me over the years:
• My friend thinks she stayed too long in the US at her grandmother’s cottage. She thought it was OK because her grandmother is American.
• Our cousin lived in the US for 20 years and just moved back home to Bermuda. He says he is “free and clear” of the US tax system.
• We are leaving Bermuda, moving permanently to Florida and have purchased a small retirement home. We are not US citizens or US green card holders, but friends have said that is not a problem.
• I’m a UK non-dom, I lived in Bermuda for 40 years, but my group-term life insurance is with a UK insurance company. Is that a serious connection. What about my estate?
• We spend a lot of time in Canada, but we don’t consider ourselves residents.
• Can I start a business in Canada if I’m not Canadian?
• If we move to the UK, can we keep our Bermuda rental property in a trust without paying UK tax?
• I want to transfer my Bermuda national pension to the US.
• I’m a US green card holder, but haven’t been back to US in a few years. A friend said she read I should be filing tax returns. Is that true?
• Can I transfer my Bermuda pension to the UK?
• My Bermudian friend who is retired just found out he has an American father. What is he supposed to do?
Now is your chance!
Pondstraddler definition: a person with one foot on each shore whose heart resides in both countries.
Could you be a Pondstraddler? Take the Pondstraddler quiz to find out! http://www.pondstraddler.com/AreYouaPondstraddlerQuiz.htm
*New Iris Tracking Method using a Generalised Particle Filter
Cameras know you by your walk. https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21528835-600-cameras-know-you-by-your-walk/
• Martha Harris Myron CPA JSM: Masters of Law — International Tax and Financial Services, Pondstraddler* Life™, financial perspectives for Bermuda islanders and their globally mobile connections on the Great Atlantic Pond. Personal finance columnist for The Royal Gazette, Bermuda. Contact: email@example.com