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What is a foreign fund?

A foreign fund is a mutual fund that invests solely in companies abroad and does not invest in corporations owned in the US. Owning foreign companies can be a very good diversification strategy and is considered a core holding in the portfolio of most investors. Foreign exposure means that if the US economy hits a rough patch, you may have a hedge in the foreign fund if the companies or markets in other parts of the world are not entirely correlated. Continue reading...

What is the foreign corrupt practices act?

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act attempts to reduce the possibility that a corporation with American affiliations will engage in the bribery of foreign officials. The act was created in 1977 and has since been amended and expanded several times. The SEC and the Department of Justice are both responsible for enforcing the FCPA, which is a law designed to prevent US-based companies from engaging in corrupt practices abroad. Continue reading...

What Does it Mean to have a "Duty of Best Execution"?

To have a “duty of best execution” means that a broker or entity fulfilling a trade request has to do so at the best possible execution for their client. The ‘duty of best execution’ is more than just a guideline - it’s an SEC law. Broker-dealers must report quarterly to the SEC on how they route customers' orders, to ensure compliance. "Best execution” refers to both timing and price. What is the Fiduciary Standard? What is the Suitability Standard? How do Advisors Charge and How Much Should I Pay? Continue reading...

Who Establishes a 401(k)?

Employers make the decision to establish a 40(k), but it has to be good enough for employees to want to participate. An employer is responsible for establishing a 401(k) and for overseeing it as the sponsor and fiduciary. A self-employed individual can also establish an Individual 401(k), which has the same contribution limits and requires none of the testing or auditing of a regular plan. Other options for work-site retirement plans are SIMPLE IRAs, SEP IRAs, and various kinds of profit-sharing and deferred compensation arrangements. Continue reading...

What is a foreign institutional investor?

Institutional investors are corporations, banks, pension funds, mutual funds, and other forms of pooled capital which act as one entity to engage in securities transactions in the best interest of the constituents or company that they represent. Foreign Institutional Investors are those whose company is based in another country. Investments made on behalf of foreign companies, foreign financial institutions, and foreign funds (such as the foreign equivalent of hedge funds, mutual funds, and pension funds) are foreign institutional investments. There are usually reporting requirements for both the foreign government for the county in which the interests are held and for the domestic government of the institutional investor. Continue reading...

What is a foreign tax deduction?

Workers who earn income in foreign countries will frequently pay taxes on the income in the country in which the wages were earned. In such cases the worker may be eligible to take deductions for the amount of taxes paid so that their entire income is not subject to taxes again in their country of citizenship. Ex-patriot workers who earn income overseas are generally eligible for tax deductions, credits, or exclusions to account for the taxes that they have already paid on their income in the foreign country. Continue reading...

What is a foreign tax credit?

A foreign tax credit (or deduction) allows a citizen who earned income in another country to reduce the amount of domestic income taxes owed if the foreign government has already taxed the income abroad. Workers who earn income in a foreign country may be entitled to a credit or deduction on their domestic income taxes if they show that this income was already taxed by the foreign government where the income was earned. In the US, there are at least three types of foreign income tax exemptions, with a foreign tax credit being one of them. Continue reading...

What are the Contribution Limits for My Keogh Plan?

The contribution limit for a Keogh Plan depends on what type of Keogh Plan you set up. There are Defined Contribution and Defined Benefit Keoghs. Defined Contribution plans could be profit-sharing or money-purchase plans. As of 2013, a Defined Contribution Keogh Plan allows the employer to contribute up to 25% of your income, or $53,000, whichever is less, and this will constitute the profit-sharing or money-purchase aspect of the plan. Continue reading...

What is Chapter 15?

Chapter 15 bankruptcy is a newer type of bankruptcy filing that has only been around since 2005. It allows foreign companies access to the US bankruptcy court system in certain circumstances. This is part of the US’s compliance with international trade laws. Part of the aim of bankruptcy law is to preserve employment and protect investment. In an increasingly globalized economy it is understandable that the US could offer hearings to corporations which straddle national borders but are not based in the US. Continue reading...

What is Publication 515, Withholding of Tax on Nonresident Aliens and Foreign Entities?

IRS Link to Publication — Found Here Publication 515 serves as a guide for employers with regards to the tax withholding requirements for nonresident alien employees. It also addresses income being paid to foreign corporations and partnerships, foreign trusts and estates, and foreign governments and international organizations. Income paid by companies to employees who are not US residents will have to follow regulations including withholding and filing requirements outlines in this Publication and the referenced forms. Continue reading...

What is Foreign Investment Funds (FIF) tax?

New Zealand and Australia, in particular, have instituted a tax regime for offshore investments that fall into the definition of Foreign Investment Funds (FIFs). FIFs will generally be mutual fund companies that are based overseas, but can also include cash value life insurance underwritten by a foreign company and some stock portfolios from overseas stock exchanges. The US has the PFIC tax, which is a passive foreign investment corporation tax. The PFIC category generally applies to mutual funds or pooled investment companies from foreign countries. Continue reading...

What is a Living Will? (in-depth)

A living will is sometimes called an advance directive or a medical directive, and it specifies a person’s wishes regarding life-prolonging medical procedures and other end-of-life issues. If a person is in a coma, for instance, it is intended to provide instructions for their care, including whether or not to use oxygen or “feeding tubes” to keep them alive. This might require a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) waiver of some kind, which tells medical staff not to intervene if the person is dying. The living will is different than the “will” that most people are familiar with, which is a Last Will and Testament, stipulating the person’s wishes for their estate after he or she has died. Continue reading...

What is foreign exchange intervention?

If a central bank takes actions that intentionally and artificially affect the value of a currency, particularly its own, it is engaging in what is known as a Foreign Exchange Intervention, or an interventionist policy. Central banks occasionally use interventions in foreign exchange markets to achieve a desirable end. The banks will intentionally make trades and hold certain amounts of currencies or derivatives with the sole purpose of manipulating the value of their domestic currency. The reasons for that manipulation might be to slow down inflation or to make their county’s exports look more attractive by pushing the value of their currency lower. Continue reading...

What is the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA)?

The Federal Unemployment Tax Act was passed in 1939, and it set up trust funds for the purpose of providing unemployment insurance. Businesses, not individuals, are taxed to provide funds for the program. There are 53 state funds (including D.C., Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands), 4 federal accounts, and 2 associated with railroad retirement. The Federal Unemployment Tax helps states fund their own unemployment programs. Continue reading...

What is a Foreign Portfolio Investment (FPI)?

When foreigners purchase shares of domestic companies that represent less than 10% of the voting shares in the companies, and the investments are not those of company expansion or market penetration, but rather to add diversification to the foreigners’ investment portfolios, it is known as Foreign Portfolio Investment (FPI). FPI is the passive investing that foreigners do in a domestic market. It is separate from investments that companies might make into joint ventures or purchase facilities or acquire controlling interest in a domestic company — all of those are active investing and are usually called Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). FPI can be done by individuals or institutional investors. Institutional investors might run a mutual fund or pension fund in another country. Continue reading...

What is a Currency Transaction Report (CTR)?

CTRs (Currency Transaction Reports) are required filings to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to report all transactions and deposits in cash (in any currency) worth over $10,000. This includes multiple transactions that add up to over $10,000. This rule is closely tied to Anti-Money Laundering (AML) rules and reporting requirements which have become more stringent since the turn of the century. Continue reading...

What is the Form 6251: Alternative Minimum Tax, Individuals?

IRS Link to Form — Found Here The Form 6251 is used to calculate the alternative minimum tax (AMT) for individuals who may have high income but relatively low taxes due after deductions. The individual first computes his or her adjusted gross income, which does not allow for some deductions that may have been taken for the tax filing. If the AMT is higher than the taxes already paid, the individual will have to pay the difference. Continue reading...

What are Accounting Policies?

Accounting policies are the internal controls of a company which stipulate the methods by which the books will be kept. Accounting policies are the agreed-upon accounting methods, conventions, and practices of an accounting cycle. A business must establish guidelines and training to ensure that accounts are kept in ways that satisfy their needs for documentation, security, liquidity, management, and the observation of applicable laws. Continue reading...

What Health Insurance Do I Need if I Don't Have a Job?

Unemployed people are still required to have health insurance. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), you will likely qualify for a federal subsidy to help you pay for it. Younger people can buy a catastrophic policy, which offers minimal coverage but can still help prevent eroding all of your savings in the event of a major accident. How Much Will Individual Health Coverage Cost? What is Medicare Part D? Continue reading...

What is the Investment Advisor Registration Depository (IARD)?

The IARD system is maintained by FINRA, and keeps track of all adviser registrations, which states they are licensed to work in, all licenses they hold, and any customer complaints. It simplified the registration requirements of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. The Investment Adviser Registration Depository (IARD) was established in 2001 to streamline the registration requirements of the Investment Advisors Act of 1940. The act required that all advisers register with the SEC and the states in which they practice. Continue reading...