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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 is the foreign earned income exclusion?

Americans working abroad must report their earnings to the IRS, but they are allowed to avoid paying federal income taxes on an amount adjusted for inflation, which is just over $100,000 as of 2016. Americans working abroad often enjoy a few tax advantages. One of which is the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion. The reasoning is that they are probably paying some form of tax in the county in which they are working, even though this is sometimes not the case. 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 the House Price Index (HPI)?

The House Price Index (HPI) tracks average prices of homes using data from sales and refinancing, tracking the data for the same residential properties over many years. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) publishes it quarterly and relies on data from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The HPI is an important index for the real estate and mortgage industry, as well as the economy as a whole. It uses information from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac about home sale prices and the refinancing value of homes, tracking the sales and refinancing prices of homes in the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac databases, all the way back to 1978. They do this using a weighted repeat-sales method. It is published quarterly by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). Continue reading...

What is the Federal Housing Administration (FHA)?

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is to lenders what FDIC insurance is to savers; it protects lending institutions from mortgage defaults. By protecting lenders, the FHA was begun with the intention to stimulate the housing market. The FHA was established in 1934 in an effort to stimulate the construction and purchase of new homes by offering insurance protection to the institutions (banks and mortgage companies) who make mortgage loans. Continue reading...

Should I sell my house without a real estate broker?

While it is possible to sell your house without a broker, it may prove to be more trouble than it’s worth. If a person can sell their own house or property without a real estate broker, he or she can avoid paying broker’s fees out of the proceeds. A person should realize, however that brokers are well-acquainted with the real estate marketplace, and may possibly already have some potential buyers in their pipeline.They are also ready to spend the time and money to market and show your property. Continue reading...

What is Housing Expense Ratio?

When deciding whether to issue a mortgage loan to a customer, a bank or lender will look at the housing expense ratio, which is the annual cost of the mortgage payments, including all insurance and expenses related to owning the property, divided by the gross income of the individual. Gross income is used because tax deductions can be taken for mortgage payments. If a proposed mortgage leaves the borrower with a housing expense ratio (HER) over 28%, they will usually not be approved for this mortgage loan. The HER is found by dividing all annual costs associated with the new home with the gross annual income of the (proposed) borrower. Continue reading...

What are foreign currency effects?

Companies with significant operations or sales abroad will be affected by changes in foreign currency exchange rates. If the dollar strengthens relative to a foreign currency, the price paid for the goods in the country will not be worth as much domestically when the company converts their profits back to dollars. Some foreign currencies fluctuate much more than the US dollar does, but even the dollar can behave unpredictably. This can have a tremendous effect on the bottom line of companies engaged in significant amounts of business abroad. Continue reading...

What are foreign exchange reserves?

Central banks and sometimes other banks and large corporations, hold reserves in foreign currencies as a hedge against exchange rate risk and perhaps to satisfy the liquidity needs of positions they may have in Forex derivatives. Central banks and large institutions which engage in international trade and Forex transactions will find it prudent and sometimes necessary to hold substantial reserves in a foreign currency. Central banks frequently engage in various types of Forex transactions to balance their exposure to trends, risks, and other effects in the currency market. Continue reading...

What is an Accidental Death Benefit?

Accidental Death Benefits are paid only if the cause of death is deemed to be an accident. Sometimes a regular life insurance or health insurance contract will offer an Accidental Death rider. The rider is appended to the contract for a relatively inexpensive additional premium and will pay a specified death benefit if the insured’s cause of death results from an accident. There are several exclusions to the definition of accident, and usually these are things like dangerous activities (sky diving, cave diving), acts of violence and war, and accidents resulting from driving under the influence or other examples where the insured has willfully put themselves in danger, or committed a crime, will usually not be covered. Continue reading...

What are Housing Bonds?

The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 took several steps to patch up the housing market after the subprime meltdown, one of which was the authorization of states and municipalities to issue mortgage revenue bonds (MRBs) which they could then use to help local lending institutions fund mortgages for lower-income Americans. Housing bonds are issued by state and local governments as a way to raise revenue that can help local banks and lending institutions fund mortgage loans to the community. Continue reading...

What is foreign investment?

Foreign investment is the act of an individual or corporation, or institutional investor, acquiring a large stake in a company, which may be a controlling or non-controlling interest. When it is a controlling interest, it is known as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Foreign corporate expansion in terms of newly acquired domestic facilities and equity interest in domestic companies tends to be monitored by domestic governments. Continue reading...

What is a Reverse Mortgage?

A reverse mortgage is basically an annuity paid for with home equity. In a reverse mortgage, instead of paying to for your home, you’re getting paid for your home. It is considered a loan, but it does not have to be repaid, except by the proceeds from selling the home. Older Americans who need the income and aren’t concerned about their heirs getting their house might apply for a reverse mortgage. It is also known as a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM). Continue reading...

What is the foreign credit insurance association?

The Foreign Credit Insurance Association protects American businesses from non-payment in international trade deals where goods were sold on credit. The Foreign Credit Insurance Association (FCIA) is a group of insurance companies which underwrite the foreign credit insurance sold by the Export-Import Bank of Washington DC. The Export – Import Bank, also known as the Ex/Im Bank, is an independent government entity that facilitates and encourages some international trade activity of American companies. Continue reading...

What is Form 706: Estate Tax and Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax?

IRS Link to Form — Found Here The Form 706 is required not only if there is a tax implication for an estate, but also to claim exclusions. Each person has an exclusion of 5.49 Million as of 2017. For married couples, that goes double, such that heirs to an estate under $11 million probably will not owe any estate taxes. A surviving spouse should still report the inherited portion of the deceased spouse’s estate up to the exclusion amount, otherwise the exclusion will be lost. There are also lines for the lifetime gift exclusion amount and the generation skipping transfer tax. Continue reading...

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 Income Tax?

Income tax is paid to the government based on the amount of income earned. There are federal income taxes, and some states have their own income taxes, too. As an employee for a company, income taxes will be withheld from paychecks using the company’s best estimation of your annual earnings. At the end of the year it may turn out that they withheld too much, and the government may give you a tax refund for what was overpaid. Continue reading...

What is currency in circulation?

Currency in circulation tends to be defined as the currency held by commercial banks, and currency with the public, without including long-term deposits or investments. As much as 2/3rd of Currency in Circulation is held outside of the borders of the US, and is estimated to be around $1.5 trillion as of 2016. Currency in Circulation is one part of what’s known as the money supply. Money supply is divided into four levels: M0, M1, M2, and M3. Some might define currency in circulation as the larger part of M0, which is the money base, constituted by the currency held in commercial banking institutions and excluding central bank reserves / Federal funds. This definition disregards the Currency with Public, which is included in other definitions and is part of M1. Continue reading...

What is a foreign currency swap?

These are generally referred to as currency swaps or cross-currency swaps , since “foreign” is a little redundant (currencies are from different countries anyway). Central banks and large institutions sometimes swap principal amounts and loan interest in their domestic currency in exchange for a foreign currency, to provide liquidity and a hedge. Currency swaps are where banking institutions, particularly central banks, exchange a loan in one currency for a loan in another currency. Continue reading...

What is foreign exchange risk?

Foreign Exchange Risk is the possibility that exchange rates will move against you when you have pending payment on transactions in another currency or other investment positions in foreign currencies or foreign assets which will be affected by Forex fluctuations. Foreign Exchange Risk can also be called Forex risk, and it is the potential loss to an investor or institution when doing business in a foreign currency if the exchange rate swings unfavorably. Companies and countries take various measures to hedge against exchange rate risk, including holding reserves of other currencies and buying derivative contracts on various currency pairs. Continue reading...