US–Hungary Totalization Agreement Enters Into Force

On September 1, 2016, the US–Hungary Totalization Agreement entered into force. In this article, I will briefly discuss the main benefits of this Agreement to US and Hungarian nations.

US–Hungary Totalization Agreement: What is a Totalization Agreement?

The Totalization Agreements are authorized by Section 233 of the Social Security Act for the purpose of eliminating the burden of dual social security taxes. In essence, these are social security agreements between two countries that protect the benefit rights of workers who have working careers in both countries and prevent such workers and their employers from paying social security taxes on the same earnings in both countries.

Usually, such a situation arises where a worker from country A works in Country B, but he is covered under the social security systems in both countries. In such cases, without a totalization agreement, the worker has to pay social security taxes to both countries A and B on the same earnings.

US–Hungary Totalization Agreement Background

The US–Hungary Totalization Agreement was signed by the United States and Hungary on February 3, 2015 and entered into force on September 1, 2016. This means that Hungary now joined 25 other countries – Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom – that have similar Totalization Agreements with the United States.

US–Hungary Totalization Agreement: Key Provisions

There are three key provisions of the US–Hungary Totalization Agreement which are relevant to Hungarian and US workers. First, protection of workers’ benefits and prevention of dual taxation. US workers who work in Hungary and are already covered under Hungarian social security system should be exempt from US social security payments, including health insurance (under FICA and SECA only), retirement insurance, survivors and disability insurance contributions. However, US–Hungary Totalization Agreement does not apply to the Medicare; US employees must still make sure that they have adequate medical insurance coverage. Similarly, Hungarian workers who work in the United States and are already covered by the US social security system should be exempt from Hungarian social security taxes.

The second key provision of the US–Hungary Totalization Agreement provides for a Certificate of Coverage. The Certificate can be used by an employee to remain covered under his home country’s social security system for up to 60 months. Additional extensions are possible upon approval by the host country.

Finally, under the US–Hungary Totalization Agreement, workers may qualify for partial US benefits or partial Hungarian benefits based on combined (or “totalized”) work credits from both countries. This means that, where there is insufficient number of periods (or credits in the United States) to claim social security benefits, the periods of contributions in one country can be added to the period of contributions in another country to qualify to these benefits.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for US Tax Issues Concerning Hungarian Assets and Income

If you have foreign accounts and other assets in Hungary and/or income from these Hungarian assets, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help. We have helped hundreds of clients throughout the world, including in Hungary, with their US tax issues and we can help you!

US International Tax Attorney On The Necessity of Anti-Deferral Regimes

As a US international tax attorney, I am fully aware of the crucially important role that the US international tax anti-deferral regimes (the Subpart F rules and PFIC rules) play in the Internal Revenue Code. Yet, the enormous complexity of the US international anti-deferral regimes often makes some people wonder about why we even have them.

As a US international tax attorney, I feel that it is important to educate the general public about the necessity of the anti-deferral regimes and how this necessity is deeply grounded in our tax system. I also wish to address here the issue of why the US anti-deferral regimes are so complex.

US International Tax Attorney: Anti-Deferral Regimes are a Natural Product of Our Tax System

The anti-deferral regimes is a natural legislative response to the anti-deferral strategies that originate from the deep policy contradictions that form the core of the US tax system. The most important of these contradictions arose from the recognition of income rules.

Generally, the US government imposes an income tax only when income is “recognized.” The recognition rules are complex, but there is a basic asymmetry in the treatment of individuals and corporation. On the one hand, the US citizens are taxed on their worldwide income which is usually (though, with important exceptions) recognized when it is earned.

On the other hand, in general and without taking into account any anti-deferral regimes, the individuals are not be taxed on the corporate income (even if this is a one-hundred percent owned corporation) until: (a) the income is distributed (for example, as a dividend), or (b) the shares of the corporation are sold.

In the past, US international tax attorneys would combine these rules with the fact that, in general, foreign corporation would not be subject on foreign-source income earned outside of the United States, to build an effective investment strategy – contribution of all investment assets to a foreign corporation in order to avoid current US taxation of the taxpayers’ investment income. If a US international tax attorney was able to extend this strategy indefinitely, then it brought his clients benefits almost as valuable as not paying taxes at all.

Obviously, such an indefinite offshore deferral of US taxation of otherwise taxable income was not considered consistent with the fundamental goals and policies of US government. This is why the US Congress deemed it necessary to enact various anti-deferral regimes to combat offshore tax avoidance.

US International Tax Attorney: Why Are There Two Anti-Deferral Regimes Instead of One?

Even a US international tax attorney would agree that having multiple esoteric anti-deferral regimes with complex interrelationship between each other cannot be the best way to combat offshore tax avoidance investment strategies. Yet, this is our present reality and it is important to understand why this is the case.

There are four reasons for having multiple anti-deferral regimes. First, the US Congress did not create all of the anti-deferral regimes at the same time. Rather, the anti-deferral regimes appeared gradually over time with multiple amendments and shifting IRS interpretations.

Second, undoubtedly, the political influence of various lobbies with competing policies has greatly hampered the creation of a more transparent anti-deferral regime and elimination of many loopholes and exceptions.

Third, as I explained above, the offshore investment policies arose from the basic contradiction between different income recognition rules of the Internal Revenue Code. This contradiction in itself necessitates a more complex approach to combating any strategies of US international tax attorneys that seek to exploit it. It is difficult to do so with only one anti-deferral regime.

Finally, the combination of the sheer complexity of international commerce, conflicting policy priorities (for example, the Congress does not want to stifle the US companies’ ability to compete overseas just for the purpose of completely closing off some offshore investments) and the great variety of various fact patterns makes it virtually impossible to address the offshore investment strategies in a simple way. This factor partially explains why there is such a variety of international tax rules that form part of the anti-deferral regimes.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Help with Anti-Deferral Regime Compliance and Planning

If you are a US person who owns a foreign business or foreign brokerage accounts, you are very likely to run into either Subpart F rules or PFIC rules. At this point, the extremely complex nature of these anti-deferral regimes makes it a reckless gamble to attempt to conduct business overseas without an advice from an experienced US international tax attorney.

This is why you should contact the experienced US international tax professionals of Sherayzen Law Office. We have helped clients around the globe to comply with and plan for the US anti-deferral regimes, and we can help you!

So, Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Initial Consultation!