Singapore Expats Forum

CPF and interest income - taxable as earned in the US?

Discuss about getting a well paid job or career advancement. Ask about salaries, expat packages, CPF & taxes for expatriate.

Adyth
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu, 02 Apr 2015

CPF and interest income - taxable as earned in the US?

Postby Adyth » Thu, 02 Apr 2015 11:32 pm

Hi!

Does anyone know if the interest income generated annually in our CPF accounts is taxable as earned by the IRS in the US?

I figure it's not withdrawable until retirement so it should only be taxable when we actually retire and start withdrawing right? *hopes* I googled and get contradicting opinions...

Thanks!

User avatar
sundaymorningstaple
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 34338
Joined: Thu, 11 Nov 2004
Location: Still Fishing!
Contact:

Re: CPF and interest income - taxable as earned in the US?

Postby sundaymorningstaple » Fri, 03 Apr 2015 12:12 am

Nope. You have to report it every year as taxable income AND you have to fill out the 8938 and the FinCen every year as well (those little tick boxes at the bottom of schedule B). Welcome to the world of a US expat. It's a royal pain in the arse. It's what I've been sitting here for the last couple of hours doing. (long weekend so I think I can get it all done this weekend.) Most on the board here use a tax service that will cost you around $500 up I reckon, depending on the complexity of your return. I've been doing my own since 1967 and I'm not in jail for tax fraud. Yet. ;-)

Here some help on the 8938 FAQs from the IRS: http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Corporati ... -Form-8938

Adyth
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu, 02 Apr 2015

Re: CPF and interest income - taxable as earned in the US?

Postby Adyth » Fri, 03 Apr 2015 12:22 am

Hi! Thanks for the response.

I can still kind of understand if the interest income is taxable as earned, but having to report my CPF balances to FinCen and on Form 8938 surprises me. Per the Singapore-US IGA and the IRAS e-tax compliance guides (see links below), it appears CPF investment accounts at least are not defined as "financial accounts" under FATCA and the CPF is non-reporting. If the CPF investments accounts are not financial accounts, I can't imagine why the other ordinary/special etc accounts would be financial accounts that are reportable? Again, reporting versus taxable is different, but I don't see why we would have to fill 8938 or FBAR if they are not considered "financial accounts".

Thoughts?

https://www.iras.gov.sg/irashome/upload ... re_IGA.pdf
- See pages 45-46 Appendix Section V.A.4

https://www.iras.gov.sg/irasHome/upload ... 0FATCA.pdf
- See pages 40-41 Section 7.3.1., especially example 2.

User avatar
sundaymorningstaple
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 34338
Joined: Thu, 11 Nov 2004
Location: Still Fishing!
Contact:

Re: CPF and interest income - taxable as earned in the US?

Postby sundaymorningstaple » Fri, 03 Apr 2015 2:10 pm

The biggest thought is I notice the second link file was published in January of this year and I'd not seen it! Prior to that, there was nothing in print specifically pointing to the CPF board so I stand corrected and am rather pissed off that I've adjusted the last 7 years return (last year) in order to get into compliance!. Fortunately, it had negligible tax impact for me, but was a pain in the arse! And now, I find I don't have to report it. However, I'm still not exempted from filing the FinCen or the 8938. I just get to leave that shit off it it now. But I have to report on the 8938 that I'm not reporting it! ](*,)

I stand corrected and many thanks for you own research. Mine infor/research was outdated. I will, however, continue to report the interest as that way, if/when I bail out of here with a lump sum withdrawal, I can prove that the interest has already been reported as has 20% of the contributions (that from my own salary) therefore I should only be liable for the 16~17% employer's contributions that were not reported as Income (much like the payroll taxes in the US) on withdrawal.

GSM8
Chatter
Chatter
Posts: 155
Joined: Sat, 14 Dec 2013
Location: Singapore

Re: CPF and interest income - taxable as earned in the US?

Postby GSM8 » Fri, 03 Apr 2015 8:23 pm

My interpretation of these 2 links would be that regardless of exemption from FATCA reporting provisions for the "sovereign operator" of CPF, the individual's requirement to file FBAR, form 8938, and report annual "as accrued" CPF interest on 1040 remains.

CPF works out like a 401k plan for most nationalities except US - thanks to citizenship based taxation. In fact, apart from being liable for tax on the employer's contribution to CPF, the employee's contribution must also be excluded from foreign earned income exclusion FEIE (and is thus one is subject to the full marginal tax rate on their own contributions to CPF)
http://www.irs.gov/pub/lanoa/pmta00173_6973.pdf

In spite of that, there is also reduction in benefits for past SS tax contributions, due to Windfall Elimination Provision
http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10045.pdf

I've posted on this forum in the past, about how I felt CBT is unethical and unfair. I've also, in personal capacity, raised the issue with AmCham in Singapore, international organizations like American Citizens Abroad, and written to my congressman. Encouragingly, our perspective is being heard and I believe it helps to write in personally. For those interested, this weblink lists recent developments and some interim proposals (including recognition of foreign retirement plans on par with what's available to Americans living in America) that fall short of RBT.
https://americansabroad.org/issues/taxation/

User avatar
sundaymorningstaple
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 34338
Joined: Thu, 11 Nov 2004
Location: Still Fishing!
Contact:

Re: CPF and interest income - taxable as earned in the US?

Postby sundaymorningstaple » Sat, 04 Apr 2015 12:16 am

GSM8 wrote:My interpretation of these 2 links would be that regardless of exemption from FATCA reporting provisions for the "sovereign operator" of CPF, the individual's requirement to file FBAR, form 8938, and report annual "as accrued" CPF interest on 1040 remains.

I concur, at least that is the reasoning why I'm reporting it. I'll probably continue to leave it on the 8938 and FBAR as well. That way I should still be in compliance.

CPF works out like a 401k plan for most nationalities except US - thanks to citizenship based taxation. In fact, apart from being liable for tax on the employer's contribution to CPF, the employee's contribution must also be excluded from foreign earned income exclusion FEIE (and is thus one is subject to the full marginal tax rate on their own contributions to CPF)
http://www.irs.gov/pub/lanoa/pmta00173_6973.pdf

I'm missing something here. With 8 or 9 tabs open with various code links and the various links you started me with, as far as I can discern, the employee's contribution is still considered Earned Income but the Employer's contribution has to be excluded from the FEIE, thereby making it liable for the full marginal tax rate as the employer's contributions are not actually Earned Income at all. this would then make a maximum of an additional $9,630 dollars income excluded from FEIE and subject to full marginal tax rates.
[ max contributions for CPF are based on an income cap of 5000/mo with the employer's share being 17% or 850/month x 15 mos max or SGD 12,750 / 1.3242 (ex.com 31/12/14) or USD 9,628.45 taxed at full marginal rates]


In spite of that, there is also reduction in benefits for past SS tax contributions, due to Windfall Elimination Provision
http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10045.pdf

Yeah, that one sucks.

I've posted on this forum in the past, about how I felt CBT is unethical and unfair. I've also, in personal capacity, raised the issue with AmCham in Singapore, international organizations like American Citizens Abroad, and written to my congressman. Encouragingly, our perspective is being heard and I believe it helps to write in personally. For those interested, this weblink lists recent developments and some interim proposals (including recognition of foreign retirement plans on par with what's available to Americans living in America) that fall short of RBT.
https://americansabroad.org/issues/taxation/

GSM8
Chatter
Chatter
Posts: 155
Joined: Sat, 14 Dec 2013
Location: Singapore

Re: CPF and interest income - taxable as earned in the US?

Postby GSM8 » Sat, 04 Apr 2015 2:08 pm

sundaymorningstaple wrote:
GSM8 wrote:CPF works out like a 401k plan for most nationalities except US - thanks to citizenship based taxation. In fact, apart from being liable for tax on the employer's contribution to CPF, the employee's contribution must also be excluded from foreign earned income exclusion FEIE (and is thus one is subject to the full marginal tax rate on their own contributions to CPF)
http://www.irs.gov/pub/lanoa/pmta00173_6973.pdf

I'm missing something here. With 8 or 9 tabs open with various code links and the various links you started me with, as far as I can discern, the employee's contribution is still considered Earned Income but the Employer's contribution has to be excluded from the FEIE, thereby making it liable for the full marginal tax rate as the employer's contributions are not actually Earned Income at all. this would then make a maximum of an additional $9,630 dollars income excluded from FEIE and subject to full marginal tax rates.
[ max contributions for CPF are based on an income cap of 5000/mo with the employer's share being 17% or 850/month x 15 mos max or SGD 12,750 / 1.3242 (ex.com 31/12/14) or USD 9,628.45 taxed at full marginal rates]

Employer's contribution being considered taxable income that is not excludable under FEIE, as you noted, can be logically argued (although CBT that makes this a moot point in the first place, remains IMO unreasonable :mad: ).

However, the circa 1997 IRS memo appears to further opine that Employee contribution is also considered "income" but not "earned income" because it is mandatory contribution that the employee does not have the option of receiving in hand. Hence, in the example you cited above it can likely be interpreted that: 17% (employer contribution) + 20% (employee contribution) must be excluded from FEIE, or S$(850+1000) * 15 mos max or SGD 27,750 / 1.3242 or USD 20,965.05 taxed at full marginal rates.

User avatar
sundaymorningstaple
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 34338
Joined: Thu, 11 Nov 2004
Location: Still Fishing!
Contact:

Re: CPF and interest income - taxable as earned in the US?

Postby sundaymorningstaple » Sat, 04 Apr 2015 3:37 pm

It would seem you are correct. Although as you say, the whole CBT is a crock of shit in the first place. So, do you reckon, once I retire, I'll be allowed to withdraw all my funds without tax liability? After all, I'm reporting all every year and paying full taxes on the contribution AND the interest earned? Therefore a lumpsum withdrawal shouldn't incur any tax liability at all. This could very well be a blessing in disguise? Suppose you are a PR who gives up his PR, withdraws all of his CPF and returns to the US where he continues to work. Will the lumpsum withdrawal be subject to taxes again (remember the full amount (37%) and the interest is being fully taxed as it's not excludable). This sucks for the high income earner.

User avatar
kaseyma
Chatter
Chatter
Posts: 210
Joined: Sat, 05 Apr 2008
Location: in question

Re: CPF and interest income - taxable as earned in the US?

Postby kaseyma » Sat, 04 Apr 2015 7:42 pm

Adyth wrote:Hi! Thanks for the response.

I can still kind of understand if the interest income is taxable as earned, but having to report my CPF balances to FinCen and on Form 8938 surprises me. Per the Singapore-US IGA and the IRAS e-tax compliance guides (see links below), it appears CPF investment accounts at least are not defined as "financial accounts" under FATCA and the CPF is non-reporting. If the CPF investments accounts are not financial accounts, I can't imagine why the other ordinary/special etc accounts would be financial accounts that are reportable? Again, reporting versus taxable is different, but I don't see why we would have to fill 8938 or FBAR if they are not considered "financial accounts".

Thoughts?

https://www.iras.gov.sg/irashome/upload ... re_IGA.pdf
- See pages 45-46 Appendix Section V.A.4

https://www.iras.gov.sg/irasHome/upload ... 0FATCA.pdf
- See pages 40-41 Section 7.3.1., especially example 2.

You may not need to file Form 8938.
For taxpayers living outside the United States the thresholds for reporting are much higher.

Married taxpayers filing joint - only if total value > $400,000 on the last day of the tax year or more than $600,000 at any time during the tax year.

Unmarried taxpayers & Married taxpayers filing separate income tax returns - only if total value > $200,000 on the last day of the tax year or more than $300,000 at any time during the tax year.

User avatar
sundaymorningstaple
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 34338
Joined: Thu, 11 Nov 2004
Location: Still Fishing!
Contact:

Re: CPF and interest income - taxable as earned in the US?

Postby sundaymorningstaple » Sat, 04 Apr 2015 8:33 pm

That's all well and good, but it doesn't absolve one from having to declare and pay the full taxes on 100% of the CPF Contributions (37% of 5000 x15 mo.) and on the interest earned on those compounded amounts annually on the 1040 itself. The FinCen and 8938 are just a pain in the arse but don't collect any taxes (of course there are plenty of penalties if you don't file), so to me, as confusing as it is, they still require filing as you won't know when the bastards change the rules again, without telling anybody. I'd rather file than be caught with my pants down again! :mad:

GSM8
Chatter
Chatter
Posts: 155
Joined: Sat, 14 Dec 2013
Location: Singapore

Re: CPF and interest income - taxable as earned in the US?

Postby GSM8 » Sat, 04 Apr 2015 10:17 pm

sundaymorningstaple wrote:It would seem you are correct. Although as you say, the whole CBT is a crock of shit in the first place. So, do you reckon, once I retire, I'll be allowed to withdraw all my funds without tax liability? After all, I'm reporting all every year and paying full taxes on the contribution AND the interest earned? Therefore a lumpsum withdrawal shouldn't incur any tax liability at all. This could very well be a blessing in disguise? Suppose you are a PR who gives up his PR, withdraws all of his CPF and returns to the US where he continues to work. Will the lumpsum withdrawal be subject to taxes again (remember the full amount (37%) and the interest is being fully taxed as it's not excludable). This sucks for the high income earner.

One would think that the lump sum should be tax free upon withdrawal if paying US tax on all as-accrued interest (as SMS suggested). Alternatively, it can be taxed on withdrawal only if not paying as-earned taxes (as Adyth felt). But not both. Either way, disallowing FEIE is based on a weak argument. SSA clearly doesn't consider it an ordinary withdrawal as they curtail SS benefits citing WEP, regardless of whether the withdrawal in monthly payments or lumpsum (can't seem to find the link to that specific precedent upon cursory google search). But who is to say that IRS won't selectively pick the interpretation that's advantageous to them, by invoking the argument that CPF is a non-qualified retirement plan, therefore it's taxable again at the time of withdrawal as well. Much of this still appears to be a big grey area and no one seems willing to acknowledge the elephant in the room.

It may be worth filing per your own justifiable interpretation, and if IRS differs they will send a bill (hopefully only for the claim+interest, no willful misrepresentation penalties). IRS interpretation will probably prevail though, unless one has a strong argument or able to take it to tax court. But as of now, all expats are just rich greedy tax scamming FATCAT's who deserve to be penalized and punished, innit ](*,)

User avatar
maneo
Reporter
Reporter
Posts: 731
Joined: Sat, 15 Mar 2008
Location: Titik Merah Kecil

Re: CPF and interest income - taxable as earned in the US?

Postby maneo » Sun, 05 Apr 2015 9:25 pm

Adyth wrote:Hi! Thanks for the response.

I can still kind of understand if the interest income is taxable as earned, but having to report my CPF balances to FinCen and on Form 8938 surprises me. Per the Singapore-US IGA and the IRAS e-tax compliance guides (see links below), it appears CPF investment accounts at least are not defined as "financial accounts" under FATCA and the CPF is non-reporting. If the CPF investments accounts are not financial accounts, I can't imagine why the other ordinary/special etc accounts would be financial accounts that are reportable? Again, reporting versus taxable is different, but I don't see why we would have to fill 8938 or FBAR if they are not considered "financial accounts".

Thoughts?

https://www.iras.gov.sg/irashome/upload ... re_IGA.pdf
- See pages 45-46 Appendix Section V.A.4

https://www.iras.gov.sg/irasHome/upload ... 0FATCA.pdf
- See pages 40-41 Section 7.3.1., especially example 2.

Thanks for the links.
Looks like I've got some reading to do now.

Warning: Be careful about interpreting the IRAS document.
It represents what Singapore is going to do (i.e. not report CPF balances), not what the Treasury Department (i.e. FinCEN) requires.

Disclaimers: IRAS shall not be responsible or held accountable in any way for any damage, loss or expense whatsoever, arising directly or indirectly from any inaccuracy or incompleteness in the Contents of this e-Tax Guide, or errors or omissions in the transmission of the Contents. IRAS shall not be responsible or held accountable in any way for any decision made or action taken by you or any third party in reliance upon the Contents in this e-Tax Guide.

Ironically, if CPF were like US Social Security (a governmental defined benefit pension plan) the CPF accounts would not need to be reported on the FBAR (FinCEN 114). This is essentially the answer to Q14 in the "Basic-Questions-and-Answers-on-Form-8938" link that SMS provided.

However, CPF is a defined contribution plan. When asked directly about reporting SG CPF accounts, a FinCEN Senior BSA Tax Law Specialist in the BSA Compliance Department said that since these CPF retirement accounts are distinct and separate for each participant that they must be reported.

Now maybe this has been changed with the signing of the IGA.
One could hope.
I still might err on the side of reporting.
However, with all the confusion surrounding this I would think that you've got a good excuse if you choose not to do so. Just be sure that you have reported the annual CPF interest on Schedule B.

sundaymorningstaple wrote:The biggest thought is I notice the second link file was published in January of this year and I'd not seen it! Prior to that, there was nothing in print specifically pointing to the CPF board so I stand corrected and am rather pissed off that I've adjusted the last 7 years return (last year) in order to get into compliance!. Fortunately, it had negligible tax impact for me, but was a pain in the arse! And now, I find I don't have to report it. However, I'm still not exempted from filing the FinCen or the 8938. I just get to leave that shit off it it now. But I have to report on the 8938 that I'm not reporting it! ](*,)

I stand corrected and many thanks for you own research. Mine infor/research was outdated. I will, however, continue to report the interest as that way, if/when I bail out of here with a lump sum withdrawal, I can prove that the interest has already been reported as has 20% of the contributions (that from my own salary) therefore I should only be liable for the 16~17% employer's contributions that were not reported as Income (much like the payroll taxes in the US) on withdrawal.

The employer's contributions ("the 16~17%") to your CPF account should also be reported as Income.

http://intltax.typepad.com/intltax_blog/foreign-pensions/

"In 1996 and 1997, the I.R.S. concluded that all of the contributions (including the amount withheld from the employee’s wages) was taxable under Code §402(b). Thus, the I.R.S. concluded that none of the contributions into the Fund could be excluded from income under the foreign earned income exclusion."

By the way, are you sure you need to include Form 8938 with your tax filing?
The threshold for reporting is 8x higher for overseas taxpayers, something like US $400K total at the end of the year or US $600K total during the year.

http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Corporations/Do-I-need-to-file-Form-8938-Statement-of-Specified-Foreign-Financial-Assets

For those paying a tax preparer by the page, this might matter.
For you, I guess it's just a little extra time making essentially a duplicate of what you need to send in June anyway.


Note: edited to correct misspelling.
Last edited by maneo on Mon, 06 Apr 2015 9:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
maneo
Reporter
Reporter
Posts: 731
Joined: Sat, 15 Mar 2008
Location: Titik Merah Kecil

Re: CPF and interest income - taxable as earned in the US?

Postby maneo » Sun, 05 Apr 2015 9:40 pm

GSM8 wrote:One would think that the lump sum should be tax free upon withdrawal if paying US tax on all as-accrued interest (as SMS suggested). Alternatively, it can be taxed on withdrawal only if not paying as-earned taxes (as Adyth felt). But not both. Either way, disallowing FEIE is based on a weak argument. SSA clearly doesn't consider it an ordinary withdrawal as they curtail SS benefits citing WEP, regardless of whether the withdrawal in monthly payments or lumpsum (can't seem to find the link to that specific precedent upon cursory google search). But who is to say that IRS won't selectively pick the interpretation that's advantageous to them, by invoking the argument that CPF is a non-qualified retirement plan, therefore it's taxable again at the time of withdrawal as well. Much of this still appears to be a big grey area and no one seems willing to acknowledge the elephant in the room.

As long as you have included all CPF contributions (i.e. including the employer's contribution) as gross income in each year and reported the annual CPF interest each year, you should not be liable for paying taxes again on withdrawal (checked this with a "big-4" tax accountant).

However, things might be more complicated if you put CPF funds into unit trusts.
Capital gains on these would be considered taxable.

User avatar
sundaymorningstaple
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 34338
Joined: Thu, 11 Nov 2004
Location: Still Fishing!
Contact:

Re: CPF and interest income - taxable as earned in the US?

Postby sundaymorningstaple » Sun, 05 Apr 2015 9:58 pm

I'm just leaving it there as the interest rates are hard to beat risk on risk. Should make a nice golden handshake at some point in the future. Until the theives on capitol hill decided they want that too.! :mad:

CLNorth
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue, 07 Apr 2015

Re: CPF and interest income - taxable as earned in the US?

Postby CLNorth » Tue, 07 Apr 2015 9:59 am

Hi, should CPF interest be reported in Fincen114, schedule B or 8938? Thank you!
Last edited by CLNorth on Tue, 07 Apr 2015 11:40 am, edited 2 times in total.


  • Similar Topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Return to “Careers & Jobs in Singapore”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests