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BANGKOK 20 February 2019 06:08


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About skatewash

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  1. What a dilemma! Who am I going to believe? My personal experience getting four retirement extensions with interest-bearing accounts (fixed deposit and regular savings accounts) in Thai banks at Phuket Immigration or Godfree?
  2. I guess you would need to start over by going to a nearby country and applying for a non-imm O. I have had fixed deposits accepted in the past at Phuket Immigration but past performance is no guarantee of future success. You can proactively ask at your immigration office and hope that your query is understood.
  3. Personally, I think it's better to get the withheld interest refunded from Thailand than to apply for a credit on my US taxes. I probably feel that way because as is the case with a number of retirees I have no actual taxes due because my income in retirement is small and most of my income is from interest, dividends, and capital gains. But point taken about the credit. Of course, you can only do one or the other, get it refunded in Thailand or claim against income for US income taxes, not both. Any interest income earned by Americans is reportable to the IRS whether a 1099-INT is issued or not. Financial institutions aren't required to report interest earned if it's less than I think $10, nevertheless you as a taxpayer are obligated to report that income on your income tax return even if no 1099-INT is issued. I'm a bit surprised to learn that Citibank Thailand does issue 1099-INTs to its customers in Thailand. I don't think either Bangkok Bank or Krungsri Bank do the same, that is, I've never received a 1099-INT from either of them. I do report the interest earned from my Thai bank accounts, by just filling out the interest received on a 1099-INT entry form in TurboTax (or similar) and checking the "no actual 1099-INT form received" box. I imagine you could do the same if you go the US tax credit route. I would imagine the IRS would accept the substitute 1099-INTs you create because the bank is a foreign bank and the IRS would know that foreign banks don't always do that (evidence to the contrary from Citibank Thailand notwithstanding). Anyway, I do agree with your point that one shouldn't have to pay the tax twice, I just think it's probably better (in my circumstances) to get the tax refunded in Thailand than to take a credit I couldn't use to reduce my taxes due in the US. Meanwhile, the non-US citizens can thank their lucky stars they are not enmeshed in the US tax system web.
  4. My only experience with fixed deposit accounts was at Bangkok Bank and yes they were the ones with promotional rates. The highest interest rates at the time where 3-month or 4-month terms. At that time, you had to go into the bank and close the old fixed deposit account and switch to a new fixed deposit account by opening a totally new account (otherwise it would continue but at a much lower interest rate). Since I'm American I had to do the additional IRS paperwork for opening a new account including producing an actual Social Security Card to show them. Yes, even though I had several other accounts there, that was how they decided to comply with the due diligence necessary to comply with FATCA and other Know-Your-Customer regulations (and I can't say I blame them, either). Also, I ended up having to report on more accounts to satisfy my yearly FBAR filing obligation (anther American-only thing). So at the time, it was a bit of a hassle, lining up the fixed terms so that it wouldn't necessitate a change during the three-month seasoning period. I think that's no longer the case at Bangkok Bank and I wouldn't be surprised if it's different at different banks, but I don't have the experience necessary to comment about that. I never used my Mee Tae Dai account for daily use, it was strictly for the retirement extension. But as I lived on the money brought over for that, every month I would withdraw 30,000 or so and deposit that into my daily activity saving account which I used to pay my actual day-to-day type expenses. The debit/ATM card associated with the MTD account was mostly kept in my home safe. I never worried about going below the thresholds in this scenario, but I could see how someone using the account for daily expenses would have to be careful. I wouldn't want to have to live off the kindness of immigration officers if the balance every dropped below the threshold. Also, there are now even more restrictions on the account (400,000 forever, and 800,000 for six months), so one has to be even more careful.
  5. The interest rate mentioned in the OP for fixed deposit account is 1.5%, so the difference between interest earned in that account versus a 1.3% interest-earning Mee Tae Dai account would be (800,000 * 0.2% = ) 1,600 baht which if not huge is also not inconsiderable. It would almost pay for your retirement extension. I can understand someone deciding to go that way. Once you've done it the first year it's not that hard to do every year. I used to do it myself. I guess I've just gotten lazy. Of course, if you can find an account paying more than 1.5% it gets even more attractive to go that way.
  6. I've been through the process and while I'm not going to pretend it's as much of a pain in the neck as painting the Sistine Chapel, if you don't have to do it (if no interest was ever withheld) I doubt many people would miss having to file a Thai Personal Income Tax Return. Most of the difficult work is doing it the first year. Find and visit the proper tax office (I got there in two tries), apply for a Thai Tax ID. Hopefully, there will be someone there who speaks sufficient English to help you file your first Personal Income Tax Return. There was for me for which I was very grateful. The only evidence of where I lived I had at that time was my Sales and Purchase Agreement for my condo. They made a copy of all 60 pages, each page of which I had to sign. Then make a copy of your tax return so you can use it as an aid to file for the next year. Each year: visit your banks and ask for your interest withholding statements. Use your tax return from last year as an aid to fill in your tax return for this year. If memory serves it's a four-page document you can print out at home. Take the filled out tax return and the withholding statements to your local tax office. Wait for 3-8 weeks for a return to be mailed to you. Take check to deposit into your bank. If you read Thai or have patience you can probably file online instead which would make it a lot easier each year. Or, you can open a Krungri Bank Mee Tai Dai savings account, put the 800,000 baht in, and basically forget about it. Yes, you only get 1.3% interest this way vs. more interest that could be earned in fixed deposits. But, your life might be a lot simpler. Up to you. I've done both and I know which I like better.
  7. Why don't you simply keep your 800,000 in a Krungsri Bank Mee Tae Dai savings account currently paying 1.3%? No moving money around. No concern about one fixed deposit maturing and moving the money to a new fixed deposit. No concern about a fixed deposit maturing during the seasoning period. No interest withholding because not a fixed deposit. No need to claim back interest withheld by filing a Thai Personal Income Tax return. Interest calculated daily, paid monthly, so no interest lost due to early withdrawal. Only one bank letter needed. Two free withdrawals per month encourage you to minimize activity in this account (withdraw once or twice a month to deposit in another day-to-day account savings account to pay current expenses). Easier, less work for the Immigration Officer, doesn't have to use a calculator.
  8. It's good to have if someplace insists on two-forms of photo ID. Worth the extra $30 when you renew your passport even if you never plan to use it for re-entering the US from Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean. I remember getting my Driver's License in Florida and they were asking for such things. Used both my passport (book) and passport card. Note: the passport number is not the same as the passport card number.
  9. Upon further reflection, it's even worse than I thought initially. The Immigration Officer would have to go through each of the five accounts looking for the lowest balance during each relevant period, which would be each month. He would have to tally the minimum balances for all five accounts for each of the twelve months in the year. So, at a minimum 12 different sums of 5 numbers. Once he determined the minimum balance per month across all five accounts he would have to apply the relevant threshold (800,000 or 400,000) to each month to see if you met the requirement. Short answer, if I were your Immigration Officer you wouldn't be getting an extension of stay from me. I think he would have the sympathy of everyone else in the office, too. It's like going to the police station to pay a fine for not wearing a helmet and showing up with a bag of 50 and 25 satang coins. Not strictly illegal but a very, very bad idea.
  10. Probably it is in everyone's interest for there to be a single account at a single bank. Otherwise, you will need a separate bank letter from each bank and possibly even each account. You will need to obtain bank statements for each account or provide copies of the passbooks involved. Your Immigration Officer will have to get out the calculator to add together all your bits and pieces of the 800,000. If I were an immigration officer and someone brought in something like that (meaning anything other than a single bank account) I wouldn't be especially happy. I don't think it's likely codified in the rules and regulations, but common sense would dictate that it's probably not a very good idea. Also, probably not a good way to endear yourself to the people waiting in line behind you to get their extensions of stay.
  11. How do I know if I'm grandfathered? Easy! Did you ever have to show only 200k for your retirement extension? If yes, then you might be (of course, you would already know this if you were). Did you ever have to show only 500k for your retirement extension? If yes, then you might be (of course, you would already know this if you were). If you've only ever had to show 800k then, unfortunately, you are not covered by any grandfathering clause. You are covered by the new rules, whatever they might turn out to be.
  12. The most important thing to note about the grandfathering clause, and this important thing will affect almost everyone trying to get a retirement extension is this: the new rules (the ones that have been issued over the last few months) do not have a grandfathering clause. That is, the new rules apply to everyone (except for those people covered by the original grandfathering clause and those people who are in that situation basically by definition have to know it applies to them because they've been using it for the last 20 years!).
  13. The grandfathering clause is true. It's been on the books for many years. It is not new and it hasn't been modified by anything that's happened in the last few years. For it to apply to you, you had to have been getting your retirement extension many (19 or so) years ago, and continued without interruption to get one year after year. It means that those people who meet that requirement can continue to operate under those long ago rules even though the rules for all other people have changed in the intervening years. Basically, if the grandfathering clause applied to you would already know about it because you would be using it every year to get your retirement extension. So why it's even brought up in a news article is rather mysterious. If it could do you any good you would already be using it. I think it was added to this article because the author felt it wasn't confusing enough without it being added into the mix.
  14. https://www.thephuketnews.com/holding-the-balance- phuket-immigration-clarifies-new-rules-on-retirement-visas-to-start-march-1-70401.php?fbclid=IwAR1ekxmTaBRAX6gkmOMUDFROVqXUkTFLpJjRspRzyRQghFaBt6xIzh6cphE#I2wGcgRDstQsJcdp.97 I guess the good news is that Phuket Immigration thinks there are four ways to get a retirement extension: (old) embassy income letter, (new) monthly deposit method (to replace the embassy income letter method for those unable to get them), (modified) bank lump-sum method, and (modified) combo method. Not sure the article sheds much more light on the matter than that. If people didn't actually need to comply with these rules it would be most amusing. "Confusing explanations will continue until comprehension improves."
  15. I was referring to the OP where it's missing. It was an oversight by the OP. It would make no sense (logical or otherwise) for the monthly deposit method to include the embassy income letter since the new method was created specifically to give people who can no longer get the embassy income letter an alternate path.
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