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Tax Solutions for Clients Relocating to the U.S.


For foreign nationals looking to relocate to the U.S., Dilendorf Law Firm designs pre-immigration planning structures and solutions that substantially minimize U.S. taxation.

Given the worldwide reach of the U.S. income and transfer-tax systems, timing a non-resident’s status is essential.

Once an individual becomes a U.S. resident for U.S. tax purposes, he or she will be exposed to U.S. income taxes on worldwide income and estate and gifts taxes on worldwide assets.

All pre-immigration tax planning must be completed before an immigrant becomes a U.S. resident alien to achieve maximum results and minimize taxes. 

Pre-immigration tax planning strategies include:

  • recognizing capital gain on appreciated assets (real estate, stocks, shares in privately held companies);
  • accelerating income and deferring (postponing) deductions;  and
  • transferring appreciated assets to a foreign trust for the benefit of grantor’s (trust creator) family.

You’re considered a resident alien for a calendar year if you meet the green card test or the substantial presence test for the year.

For example: In 1999,  Mr. X purchased an apartment in France for $100,000. In 2021, Mr. X became a green-card holder.  In 2022, the fair market value of Mr. X’s apartment in France was $1,500,0000.  Mr. X wants to sell his property.  The capital gain is $1,400,000 ($1,500,000 – $100,000).
Mr. X will have to pay more than 40% in U.S. federal and state income taxes in connection with the sale of his apartment in France (more than $560,000 in U.S. income taxes), although he was not a U.S. resident when he purchased the property in 1999.
Once Mr. X became a permanent legal resident, all of his assets abroad became subject to U.S. income taxation.   With proper pre-immigration tax planning, Mr. X’s exposure to this capital gain tax could have been minimized or eliminated.

Years of representing foreign individuals in connection with U.S. business, tax and immigration matters allowed Dilendorf Law Firm to develop various pre-immigration tax planning solutions that allow our clients to significantly reduce exposure to U.S. taxes.

Form 1040-NR, Capital Gains or Losses From Sales or Exchanges of Property



Represented a leading global gold retailer in connection with planned relocation to the U.S. and advised on corporate restructuring, asset restructuring and tax optimization of worldwide operations


Represented a client in connection with planned relocation to the US and designed a two-tier Maltese operating structure in order to defer U.S. income taxation and ensure preferred dividend distribution rates


Advised a foreign client on establishing an irrevocable trust structure to purchase and hold $12.5 million in Manhattan real estate for the benefit of the investor’s family members prior to U.S. tax residency

Minimizing U.S. Income Taxation:

  • Exploring strategies to benefit from the step-up in basis of assets to their fair market value so that only appreciation will be taxable once client becomes a U.S. tax resident
  • Accelerating income and accelerating recognition on account receivables prior to becoming a U.S. tax resident
  • Accelerating gain in appreciated assets (real estate assets, artwork, corporate stocks, options, etc.) prior to becoming a U.S. tax resident
  • Deferring losses until after a client becomes a U.S. tax resident
  • Disposing or restructuring foreign corporations with passive income to avoid “Subpart F” and other applicable regimes
  • Planning with trusts as a non-resident can make irrevocable gifts to non-U.S. persons in trusts with proper structuring and avoid U.S. income taxes on future income earned by the trust and U.S. gift and estate taxes on transfer of such assets

Minimizing Exposure to the U.S. Gift & Estate Taxation:

  • Planning with irrevocable discretionary U.S. trusts for the benefit of taxpayer or family members to ensure that assets will not be subject to U.S. estate tax on the taxpayer’s death (life insurance could be purchased to minimize income tax as well)
  • Planning with foreign irrevocable trusts
  • Planning with gifts to U.S. persons and between spouses prior to becoming U.S. tax resident

Pre-immigration strategies

The following are strategies to minimize U.S. transfer taxes on an immigrant’s gratuitous transfers of property. Because determining domicile depends on a person’s subjective intent, a nonresident alien should be careful to take these steps before he or she begins to live in the United States, even with a definite present intention to leave.

1. Accelerate gifts

Gifts of non-U.S. property will not be taxed to a non-U.S. domiciliary. However, the gift tax will apply to all gratuitous transfers while a person’s domicile is the United States, regardless of where in the world the property is located. Consequently, a non-U.S. domiciliary should make gifts of non-U.S. property before establishing domicile in the United States.

Curiously, stock in a U.S. corporation is not considered U.S. property for purposes of the gift tax, but it is for purposes of the estate tax.27This means that if a non-U.S. domiciliary gratuitously transfers shares in a U.S. corporation before immigrating, he or she will not be subject to the gift tax on that transfer, and will remove the stock from his or her gross estate for purposes of the estate tax.

Example: A non-U.S. domiciliary owns 100 shares of stock in a U.S. corporation and non-U.S. rental real estate. If he becomes a U.S. domiciliary and keeps those assets until he dies, each will be included in his gross estate for estate tax purposes, subject to up to a 40% tax. However, if before becoming a U.S. domiciliary, he gratuitously transfers each asset to another person, then the assets, and the income generated by them during his life, will not be included in his gross estate.

2. Establish a foreign trust before immigrating

In addition to the income-tax benefits of a foreign trust discussed earlier, establishing a foreign trust before immigrating to the United States also has transfer-tax benefits. The gratuitous transfer of non-U.S. property to the trust will not be subject to the U.S. gift tax if completed before the transferor establishes domicile in the United States.

Additionally, the property owned by the trust will not be included in the transferor’s gross estate for estate-tax purposes. This means that the property transferred, and any income generated by it during the transferor’s life, will not be subject to the U.S. estate tax when he or she dies.

For a consultation about pre-immigration tax planning solutions, contact Dilendorf Law Firm by email or call us at 212.457.9797 .

Unlike in the context of the U.S. income tax, the foreign trust does not need to be established more than five years prior to immigrating to the United States. Consequently, even if it is not feasible to establish a trust more than five years prior to immigrating, there are still advantages to doing so.

Example: A non-U.S. domiciliary established a foreign trust in January 2012 using all non-U.S. property. In March 2016, she became a U.S. domiciliary. Although the trust’s income will be taxed to her, she will not be subject to the U.S. gift tax for the initial transfer of property, and the property owned by the trust will not be subject to the U.S. estate tax when she dies.

State and Local Taxes

In addition to the federal taxes discussed above, those planning to immigrate to the United States must be mindful of the additional state and local taxes to which they will become subject. These taxes vary by state and locality, and may include income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, gift taxes, and inheritance or estate taxes.

Because each state and locality has its own blend of taxes, the prospective immigrant should compare the tax regimes in each state and locale to which he or she is considering moving to determine where his or her taxes will be lowest.

Pre-Immigration Tax Planning Resources:

For a consultation about our pre-immigration tax planning solutions

send Dilendorf Law Firm an email or call 212.457.9797

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