I kid you not. This. Is. Real.

 As you may remember, I devoted most of last week’s newsletter to the complexity of having to deposit a US government Economic Impact Check when living overseas. It turns out that this may not be much of an issue after all, whether the taxpayer lives in the USA or abroad.

Earlier this week, during one of my many bouts of reading,  I came across this website: www.eipcard.com. It seemed just a little too cute to be real. Right?

EIPCARD.com, really? Surely this had to be a joke, like The Onion?

But I got curious and I started to dig a little deeper into the matter, and kept finding evidence upon evidence, even in official government websites! that the EIP card was indeed a real thing.

So….what’s the upside? According to the FAQs, the EIP card works like a prepaid credit card, and

  • it can be used in any store that accepts visa cards, including online shopping,
  • it can be used with peer to peer apps like Venmo or PayPal,
  • there’s no cost for the first domestic ATM withdrawal and only a $3 fee to withdraw cash from a foreign ATM (the foreign exchange rate to convert to your local currency should be Visa’s foreign exchange rate, which is generally quite reasonable),
  • it allows a four-digit PIN to keep the money secure, and
  • there’s even a way to order a replacement card if you lose it or it gets stolen.

If these representations are correct, it sounds a lot more convenient than a check, especially for those of you living outside the USA.

As of May 8th, per IR-2020-91, the IRS had paid more than $200 billion in Economic Impact Payments to 130 million individuals, including close to a billion dollars ($977,830,929) to close to 600,000 Americans living overseas. Most of these payments were made by direct bank deposit, but the IRS also started mailing checks to taxpayers on May 1st.

I have heard of taxpayers receiving EIP paper checks, but I have not heard yet about any US taxpayer receiving the Economic Impact Payment cool card.

If you get one, please let me know, and also send me a photo!

I’m very curious about your experience using the card, particularly if you live abroad.

More stimulus legislation expected in the USA

The new EIP card may not even your last card.

Steven Mnuchin, the US Treasury Secretary, believes that there is need for additional stimulus to the US economy, as 2.4 million American workers filed for unemployment this week, bringing the total unemployment applications filed since mid-March to close to 39 million.

As a matter of fact, the House of Representatives passed a $3 Trillion  aid bill on May 14th that includes a second round of $1,200 payments to US taxpayers. The bill, however, faces strong opposition in the Senate.

One of the issues that the House’s bill addresses is the disallowance of EIP checks to US citizens married to foreign spouses without social security numbers.

If you remember from our discussion in a prior post of the Crossborder Planner, many US citizens married to foreign spouses are ineligible for the EIP check because their spouse does not have a Social Security Number (SSN), even though they would otherwise qualify for the EIP based on income.

The correction of this inequity would be a welcomed change for many married immigrants living in the USA, including married students, researchers and certain work-visa holders whose spouses are not allowed to work in the USA, and therefore are not eligible for SSNs.

The change would benefit Americans overseas as well, as many of them are married to foreign, non-US taxpaying spouses, who also do not have SSNs.

I expect we’ll have more news about a second significant stimulus round in the coming weeks, and it’ll be interesting to see if this correction makes the cut. Fingers crossed!

It’s getting closer to tax time once again – July 15th is almost around the corner

Time flies, and the filing deadline for your 2019 US tax return is getting closer by the minute. July 15th is less than two months away.

To help taxpayers understand their tax responsibilities, the IRS is offering an in-depth 2-hour webinar for US taxpayers living abroad on May 28th . You can read more about the webinar below and use this link to register. IRS webinars are usually extremely informative, although they are not the most exciting. If you have any serious questions about your tax obligations, you should really consider attending:

The Crossborder Planner’s sister initiative, The Crossborder Academy is offering its own webinar, The 7 Top Tips for Americans in Switzerland filing their 2019 Tax Return on June 18th at 17:00 CET.

If you live in Switzerland and have questions about your tax situation, you can register and submit your questions using the link below

If you live abroad, but not in Switzerland, and are a member of a group interested in hosting a 2019 US tax return webinar, please reach out to us by email or through our website to ask about putting together a webinar tailored to your country of residence and group. We’ll be happy to help you!

As always, please share this information with anyone who may find it useful, and enjoy the rest of your Sunday. To all of you based in the USA, enjoy the long Memorial Day Weekend.

Until next week. Much love.

Marina