This year's annual BABC British Expats Evening took place on April 25th, 2018 in the sleek offices of OFX. During the evening, guests were treated to a chance to mingle with fellow expats with food and drink, before sitting down to hear from our panel of Bay Area experts in immigration, banking, tax, and pensions. The panel consisted of: Devan Friday, (Spott Lucey & Wall), Adrian Millen (Bank of the West), Emma Cockerton (Florin Pensions LLC), James Mayock (E & M Mayock) and was moderated by Charles Cockerton, (Florin Pensions LLC).
After answering a set of FAQs that had been prepared for them, the panel fielded some direct questions from the audience about their own situations, and provided excellent feedback and advice. The event concluded with more networking, and the guests enjoyed the opportunity of being able to speak one on one with the panelists.
Charles kicked the discussion off by asking the panel a number of frequently asked questions that often come up from new and old expats in the US.
Adrian addressed questions of banking and credit, and how it differs from the UK. Giving his insight he stressed the importance of being able to demonstrate your ability to manage your money, rather than the importance of the money itself, stating that 'it doesn't matter how much money you have in the bank, you still need to demonstrate that you can pay your bills'. Further, he noted that one must be careful with the way credit is used, as there are a number of habits, such as applying for multiple credit items at once or maxing out your credit card, that can be red flags, and damage your credit score.
Devan then addressed issues surrounding tax in the US. He addressed a swathe of issues, noting various differences between US and UK tax, and the criteria that effects your tax status as a 'US tax resident' or not. He also commented on the criteria that affects what you have to disclose as a US tax resident, noting that 'once you become a US tax resident, you are subject to worldwide taxation in the US'. Devan also spoke on the importance of remembering the difference between state and federal taxes, and the potential pitfalls that this can raise, saying 'California has a different system for determining if California is your 'tax home' including owning housing, etc., so it is important to make sure you are aware of your status'
The discussion then turned to immigration and Visas. Charles addressed the FAQ of 'now that I'm here legally, how can I get a Green card?' Jim noted that there are numerous ways to go about getting the green card, the most common being to demonstrate a shortage of labour suitable for the role that you are applying for, and the second most common being through marriage. However he also spoke of how the Trump administration has begun clamping down on these avenues, and that the process is now taking longer and longer.
Jim also discussed the differences between types of visa when it comes to changing employer. He noted that different visas have very different levels of flexibility, with H1 and J1 visas offering much more flexibility than L1 visas, as an example.
Emma then discussed the questions they are most often asked by British expats regarding pensions. She noted that in the recent past, many people started putting their pensions into foreign countries when they left the UK into what is called a QROPS, however she argued that this is not a good idea, as the UK government has started to clamp down on this to avoid people taking their money out of the country, as such QROPS can be subject to massive taxes. She then also noted that people should be careful with how they withdraw their pensions if they do leave the UK, as there is potential to be double taxed on it. She pointed out 'the best idea is to just leave it where it is, in the UK, to accumulate value until you need it'
The panel then fielded a number of questions from the audience, regarding a number of different scenarios that they were facing, topics included requirements when leaving the US, resolving undeclared income issues, to name a few.
After the panel discussion finished the guests enjoyed more time to network with one another and enjoy more food and drinks, and the panelists stayed to mingle with everyone and share one on one insight.
Thanks go to our Platinum sponsors; E&M Mayock and Florin Pensions
and to Bronze sponsors Spott Lucey and Wall and our hosts OFX
Check out the photos from the event here