Expat income, banking, and flag theory

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Mister Imperceptible
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Re: Expat income, banking, and flag theory

Post by Mister Imperceptible »

@Seppia

That’s a fair question.

By your description and my definition the Japanese are more honest.

If they don’t like you, they are honest about it. :P

@brute

Can I FaceTime you? :roll:

jacob
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Re: Expat income, banking, and flag theory

Post by jacob »

Seppia wrote:
Sun Jan 27, 2019 4:40 pm
You can literally go to the bathroom and leave your $3000 MacBook Pro on an outdoor table at the cafe in the middle of a crowded place and it will be there when you come back (saw this happen, I was totally awe struck).
Petty theft carries a hefty sentence in Japan. Stealing a candy bar would get you 1-2 years in prison. That might explain it.

prognastat
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Re: Expat income, banking, and flag theory

Post by prognastat »

And from what I understand presumption of innocence isn't really a big part of the justice system there...

Mister Imperceptible
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Re: Expat income, banking, and flag theory

Post by Mister Imperceptible »

And I would be afraid to take a job in Dubai because if you steal, they chop your hands off.

Not that I would steal anyway, but as an ethnic-European American would greatly fear arbitrary local law enforcement.

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Jean
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Re: Expat income, banking, and flag theory

Post by Jean »

I you get raped in Dubai, you actually go to jail for adultery.

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Seppia
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Re: Expat income, banking, and flag theory

Post by Seppia »

jacob wrote:
Fri Feb 01, 2019 10:14 am
Petty theft carries a hefty sentence in Japan. Stealing a candy bar would get you 1-2 years in prison. That might explain it.
I would think there is a strong cultural element too, otherwise the death penalty would be a much bigger deterrent than what it is, and Norway should be the most crime-plagued country on earth (have you seen their prisons? they look like 3 star hotels).

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Ego
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Re: Expat income, banking, and flag theory

Post by Ego »

Seppia wrote:
Wed Oct 03, 2018 3:30 am
- Opening a bank account somewhere in Asia: my new job already brings me there often,I'd like to open in one of the safest countries, thinking about Singapore or HK.
@Seppia, has your thinking on opening an account changed with the recent unrest?

@Jacob, you mentioned in another thread working on an account in Denmark. Was this part of your strategy?

I saw this today and thought of you...

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/03/opin ... n-law.html

Any concerns that you and DW do not share the same passport?

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Re: Expat income, banking, and flag theory

Post by jacob »

@Ego - No, that was/is a legacy account that I opened when I was like 6 years old. However, FATCA reporting costs make it increasingly harder for small banks to deal with US persons, so the bank has been doing everything they can to get rid of me as a customer ... so I'm in the process of shutting it down. For flag theory, I'd rather go with a reputable international bank. Unfortunately, Denmark is too small for bigger international banks to do business directly (e.g. branch offices). Some of the [few] Danish banks that do do international business have been involved in various money laundering schemes in recent years, so I'm avoiding those too.

Yeah, I have plenty of concerns about the whole passport thing. The whole nationalism drive complicates things as the rules now change often (every couple of years) and randomly. There's no real good solution, but because many(*) people get caught up in these policy shenanigans, there are several known workarounds. For example, one can move to a border town in Germany or Sweden (and there are people in place who will help setting that up doing the paperwork, help in finding an apartment, etc.) for a while (I think 6 months) after which one can move to Denmark under the EU rules which aren't as ... randomly ill-conceived. Don't ask me how that works in detail---I just know it exists. One piece of good news was that the nationalist populist parties (there are three) got thoroughly trounced in the last election, where the party mentioned in the article (the biggest one) lost 57% of their seats in parliament.

(*) But not enough that politicians won't throw us under the bus in the name of populist measures ... then it takes a few years before "common decency" reverts the policy once the newspapers publish a few high-profile cases. Then they go again ... I figure the best approach is to "do nothing" (make no changes) rather than becoming a test case.

The Old Man
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Re: Expat income, banking, and flag theory

Post by The Old Man »

jacob wrote:
Wed Dec 04, 2019 10:18 am
For flag theory, I'd rather go with a reputable international bank. Unfortunately, Denmark is too small for bigger international banks to do business directly (e.g. branch offices).
For what purpose do you need a reputable international bank?

For ATM purposes I use Charles Schwab plus Fidelity. For a credit card with Chip & PIN priority I use UNFCU and First Tech. Additionally, for international online transactions I also have TransferWise and PayPal. This is all feasible for a USA resident.

Sometimes even though I have a Chip & PIN priority credit card there are issues, but swiping is generally available. Occasionally, there are systems that are locked to national cards (debit or credit), but cash always works.

With the above setup, I've had very few issues despite not having a local bank.

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Seppia
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Re: Expat income, banking, and flag theory

Post by Seppia »

@Ego
I should move to Asia end of Q1 next year, at that point I’ll for sure open an account in HK for practical reasons.
The recent unrest made me think of alternative plans on where to keep the bulk of my assets though.

For the interim, I added a Revolut account that I have now been testing for a while. I like its flexibility a lot but would not trust them with a lot of money either (I use it as a transit account).

ertyu
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Re: Expat income, banking, and flag theory

Post by ertyu »

Represent! Citizen of country A, currently working in Country B, cash invested in the US/EU stock market (Country 3)

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Re: Expat income, banking, and flag theory

Post by jacob »

The Old Man wrote:
Wed Dec 04, 2019 8:09 pm
For what purpose do you need a reputable international bank?
"Reputable" in the sense of the bank making it their business to deal with internationals. I can sort of understand why my local bank wants to ditch me. I'm likely one of just a handful of US persons they have as customers in total. I have zero loans with them... just a couple of accounts with money sitting there and the central bank charging them -0.75% for the pleasure. The FATCA reporting hassle surely comes with a few hours of work for them every year(*)(**). When I do a currency transfer, that little bank has to go through a couple of bigger banks to get to my US bank, IOW, as a customer I'm a net losing proposition to them.

(*) Why many smaller banks refuse to deal with Americans and US persons.
(**) It takes me about half an hour per year to find all the forms and numbers... so I presume it takes the same amount for them x the number of customers they have.

Whereas an international like HSBC, say, would already have all the systems in place for dealing with all the reporting, money transfers, etc. Also because they have a lot more international customers ... so they're much less likely to throw anyone under the bus lest they lose a big part of their business.

The Old Man
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Re: Expat income, banking, and flag theory

Post by The Old Man »

jacob wrote:
Fri Dec 06, 2019 8:51 am
...
Yes, but why do you need a local bank? Aside from using the ATM machine I have been inside a bank exactly once in 20+ years.

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Re: Expat income, banking, and flag theory

Post by jacob »

I don't understand the question. I've had that [Danish] bank for 30+ years now. I don't need it. It's just how it was.

George the original one
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Re: Expat income, banking, and flag theory

Post by George the original one »

The Old Man wrote:
Fri Dec 06, 2019 10:02 am
Yes, but why do you need a local bank? Aside from using the ATM machine I have been inside a bank exactly once in 20+ years.
When fraud is carried out (forged check, improper card charges, fake ATM stole your account), it's much easier at the bank to deal with someone that knows you.

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Bankai
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Re: Expat income, banking, and flag theory

Post by Bankai »

George the original one wrote:
Fri Dec 06, 2019 1:05 pm
When fraud is carried out (forged check, improper card charges, fake ATM stole your account), it's much easier at the bank to deal with someone that knows you.
That was the case maybe two decades ago. Nowadays they just refer you to a contact centre to deal with it (there are no fraud advisors based in branches afaik - at least in the UK).

The Old Man
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Re: Expat income, banking, and flag theory

Post by The Old Man »

jacob wrote:
Fri Dec 06, 2019 10:25 am
I don't understand the question.
I was wondering why you need/want a local bank. Modern day banking inclusive of the FinTech firms seems to make a local bank no longer necessary - perhaps desirable, but not necessary.

Mister Imperceptible
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Re: Expat income, banking, and flag theory

Post by Mister Imperceptible »

Any Americans with a UBS account, that could share their experiences? It appears Credit Suisse and HSBC are pretty short on physical branches in the USA. Or Americans that know of a better alternative?

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Seppia
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Re: Expat income, banking, and flag theory

Post by Seppia »

UBS is another one of the very few really international banks.
They do tend to cater to high nw individuals though, unless you have a couple millions at least I’ve heard you’re almost non existent to them.

Did they close that many HSBC branches? There were multiples of them in NYC just a couple years ago

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Re: Expat income, banking, and flag theory

Post by shemp »

jacob wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 5:38 pm
...t seems to me that things have changed and there's a lot more clawing and regulations from governments who don't like to lose their best to greener pastures while also wanting to kick their worst, however these are defined...
And going to get worse. In particular, expect fact of multiple citizenships to be made known to all governments concerned, more sharing of financial information, etc.

I gave one of my email addresses to sovereignman.com, in order to get a free report, and now each day I get some hysterical email about how USA is about to go full Venezuela/Zimbabwe. Yesterday, owner of that site (Simon Black) announced that he was generously thinking of allowing new applications for the currently closed to new members Total Access level of membership, for the low fee of $9995, and that in turn would allow me to buy citizenship from St Lucia for only $12500 (not including $100,000 zero interest bond investment which is returned after a few years).

Now think about it. When the going gets tough and your USA or European passport won't get what you want, can you really maintain a straight face while presenting a passport from St Lucia? How long before the USA and Europe together issue an ultimatum to St Lucia: give us a list of all of our citizens who bought one of your passports, and notify us of their movements and provide us with financial info on these persons both in your country and anywhere they used your passport to enter, or else we'll slap an embargo on travel and banking to/from St Lucia.

One thing I actually need now is abilty to stay beyond 90 in 180 days in certain countries, but a second passport will NOT help in that case, because the 90 days applies to a person, not passport. (Which is why losing and then obtaining a replacement passport from your embassy is not a way to get around the 90/180 rule.) Only thing it might help with is if I lose my USA passport because I get into trouble in the USA: criminal, child support, unpaid taxes. But I would really hate having to rely solely on a St Lucia passport. Simpler to plan ahead and avoid getting into trouble in the USA, though if course most USA citizens don't havr the luxury of spending most of their time outside the USA like me.

Now a passport from Russia is another story, but citizenship in Russia has obligations as well as rights, so not very tempting. European passports would allow me to stay permanently in Europe, but there are easier/cheaper ways than citizenship if all I want is residency rights as a retiree. And likely to be easier still in the future, as more countries compete to attract retirees with a good income by local standards.

With regards to saving money on taxes, Puerto Rico currently offers some extraordinary deals for USA citizens with location independent (software, etc) businesses. Discussion of this is one area where sovereignman.com is actually valuable.

Right now, I tend to agree with posters above who emphasize simplicity. So, as a USA citizen, I just keep all my assets in USA banks or brokerages, have paper mail (including replacement debit/credit cards) sent to a USA mailbox service, use a USA GoogleVoice number for SMS login confirmations. When outside the USA (which is most of year), get money from ATMs using a Schwab debit card. 4 other banks besides Schwab, in case the Schwab card is lost or stolen or damaged or the account itself is locked. All banks have small balances and cards are kept disabled until needed (using the bank website). When I need more money, transfer from Vanguard to Schwab or another bank. Bottom line, I'm very dependent on the USA, so I make sure to be on best behavior there: no tax cheating, no responding to violence with violence, no unprotected sex with women of child-bearing age. Save any misbehavior for other countries.

One thing those "flag theory" and multiple passport people don't disclose is that ordinary 90/180 tourists often get much better treatment than citizens and permanent residents. Less taxes, less bureaucratic hassles, often friendlier treatment by police. Legal residency like so many things in life (housing, ground/air/water transport machines, girlfriends): better to rent temporarily than own permanently.

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