Saturday, September 15, 2007

Move 1-2-3 (Part 3)

...the story continues...

10. Green Cards
By the time we decided to come back we had just received our green cards - not wanting to give up something that we had spent so much time waiting for (ofcourse we were considerably lucky than our peers, one of my co-workers had an approved labour cert which he vacated to jump onto wife's GC app, thus allowing me to leap frog the most long and painful part of the whole GC process that stalled so many people - dumb luck if you can call it that. So THANK YOU Avina / Karan!). So, anyhow, we had our GC's did not want to give it up. Here is the short of it - after talking to a battery of lawyers and doing a lot of research on the internet..

- If you stay outside the US for more than 6mths, its upto the discretion of the immigration officer to let you in.
- If you stay outside the US for more than 1 year, you are deemed to have abandoned your resident status. Its still upto the immigration officer, but at this point you're essentially done.
- The bypass is to get a "Re-Entry Permit", these are valid for 2 years at a time, you must be in the country when you APPLY for it, you need stick around for approval. The re-entry permit is pretty easy to get once you apply for it - the form is pretty easy to fill - I filled it out - but had a lawyer file it for me - lawyers can receive your approval and then fedex it to your India location - more reliable. The lawyer was also reasonable and charged me less since I had done all the research on my own! :)
- You can renew your re-entry permit ONCE. This means you can stay outside the US without losing your resident status for upto 4 years. After that if you still stay out, you're done.
- If you travel frequently, there is no need to take a re-entry permit, I did and in hindsight I shouldn't have. The immigration officers dont give you any issues.
- An important part of maintaining residency is to file federal / state taxes regularly.
- Thats about it, I also maintain a residential address in the US, its my friend's house (THANKS Rudra / Tanya), this is useful for my mail, credit cards etc. Just easier when I'm travelling to the US, which I do often.

11. Dual Taxes
This bring me to the dual taxation - yes, you pay taxes in India as well as in the US. In the US you file to keep your GC alive, in India, if you stay longer than 180 days then you become eligible to pay taxes in India. Interestingly the India / US taxation atleast for me works out pretty much 1:1. I file for a Foreign Tax Credit and get back my taxes from the US government and I have to pay ALL that money back to the Indian IT folks. In my situation I still end up getting my salary in the US so I still have income and hence need refunds etc. Note that CA doesnt recognize foreign tax credit and makes you pay state taxes - bummer!

I was unable to find any CA that would take on my case, so had to do the research myself - beaware of US CA's that claim to know how to file returns for you - most people cant handle returns beyond the basic 1040 - after that its all guesswork for them. I used to use a guy called Viren Lalka, terrible, un-recommended. Two years in a row I had to do the research myself and tell the guy how to file my return. Anyhow, hopefully google indexes this post and people looking for references to Viren Lalka and Lalka Tax Services can read about my plight!

...Thats it for the move-back posts, I think I've covered everything that I encountered during my move back. The dual taxation is a pain really, because when one tax year ends, the other begins - so I feel like I'm paying taxes all year long! :))

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