At White Lighthouse we believe strongly in helping clients make good decisions and through the articles we write we generally take financial concepts that may be complicated and break them down into useful pieces of information that can support effective decision making. The articles are free to the general public and many have been published in the press. We like to write on topics that are not always widely covered and more specifically on cross border financial, tax and legal issues. We also publish a quarterly newsletter; though this is only for clients of White Lighthouse Investment Management. We hope you like our articles and feel free to pass them along to anyone who you think may find them interesting and useful. If you have an idea for an article, please feel free to contact us.

Recent Articles

US Tax Code Disproportionately Burdens Americans Abroad

“…the burden of citizenship-based taxation, or CBT, a regime shared by the United States with the small African country of Eritrea (and soon South Africa), has increased in complexity and severity.”
Law 360 | April 2019

Protecting your Credit and Financial Information after the Equifax Data Breach

“This latest data breach confirms what perhaps we should all have assumed before; our personal data is not safe and we should start acting as though much of our private information is available for a very low cost on the internet. “
September 2017

Moving Abroad? Here’s the Checklist: Part Two

“Planning to move overseas for a job, retirement, or just a change of scenery? Here is our second instalment of ideas to help you be prepared.”
WSJ | September 2016

 

Moving Abroad? Here’s the Checklist: Part One

“Planning to move overseas for a job, retirement, or just a change of scenery? That’s great, but you have a job ahead of you before you go.”
WSJ | September 2016

 
 
Investing

Mutual Fund Restrictions for Overseas Americans

“In a move that is certain to make investing more challenging, buying US based mutual funds has now also come under attack.”
2014

 
 
Advisors, Fees & Expenses

Evaluating a Financial Advisor

“The world of financial advice contains many traps for the uninitiated, and it’s always smart to do some comparison-shopping before choosing an advisory firm to manage your life savings.”
WSJ | May 2015

 
 
Saving for Retirement

US Financial Accounts when Retiring Overseas

Reader Question & Answer
WSJ | May 2015

How to correct
Roth IRA contribution
errors

“Roth IRAs allow workers to contribute a portion of their after tax earnings into an account that grows tax free and can be distributed tax free at retirement, as long as the required Roth account conditions are met. However, contributions to Roth IRAs are not unlimited.”
April 2015

Ten Considerations when Evaluating a 401(k) Rollover

“Deciding whether to leave a 401(k) with a former employer or roll it over to an IRA is not a simple decision and several factors come into play.”
March 2015

 

US Individual Retirement Accounts for Overseas Americans (in Switzerland)

“Individual Retirement Accounts for US tax payers; whether they live in the United States or abroad (eg Switzerland) can play an important role in helping individuals prepare for their retirement.”
January 2013

Non US Swiss Residents – Cash in your US Retirement Account

“If you are a Swiss resident, a nonUS Person (Not a US Citizen or Permanent Green Card Holder) and you have a retirement account (E.g. Traditional IRA, SEPIRA, 401k, 403b) in the United States, now may be the right time to cash in your US based retirement plan; even or especially if you are no where near age 65.”
L’Agefi | Page 2 | October 2009

 
 
Living in Retirement

US Financial Accounts when Retiring Overseas

Reader Question & Answer
WSJ | May 2015

US Individual Retirement Accounts for Overseas Americans (in Switzerland)

“Individual Retirement Accounts for US tax payers; whether they live in the United States or abroad (eg Switzerland) can play an important role in helping individuals prepare for their retirement.”
January 2013

Non US Swiss Residents – Cash in your US Retirement Account

“If you are a Swiss resident, a non US Person (Not a US Citizen or Permanent Green Card Holder) and you have a retirement account (E.g. Traditional IRA, SEPIRA, 401k, 403b) in the United States, now may be the right time to cash in your US based retirement plan; even or especially if you are no where near age 65.”
L’Agefi | Page 2 | October 2009

 

Moving Abroad? Here’s the Checklist: Part Two

“Planning to move overseas for a job, retirement, or just a change of scenery? Here is our second instalment of ideas to help you be prepared.”
WSJ | September 2016

Moving Abroad? Here’s the Checklist: Part One

“Planning to move overseas for a job, retirement, or just a change of scenery? That’s great, but you have a job ahead of you before you go.”
WSJ | September 2016

 
 
Taxes

US Tax Code Disproportionately Burdens Americans Abroad

“That the average Americans living overseas are high-net worth individuals and therefore able to pay the increased tax burdens and the tax filing costs associated with hiring professional tax advisers is a common misconception of theoreticians with little on the ground experience of the issues.”
Law 360 | April 2019

How Can I Easily Go Back and Find All Of My Travel Records?

“Do you need to figure out how many days you spent in the United States in a given year? It is easier than you think.”
WSJ | September 2016

Tax Planning for non-Americans owning American Investments

“Be prepared: Owning US assets as a non-US citizen can create big tax surprises.”
WSJ | March 2016

 

Tips For U.S. Expats Coping With New FAST Law Affecting Passports

“In case you missed it, on Dec 3, the US Congress overwhelmingly passed the FAST (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) Act and on Dec 4 President Obama signed it into law. For many Americans this could be even worse than FATCA.”
WSJ | December 2015

Changes Coming to U.S. Expats’ Fbar/Fincen Filing Experience

“Attention American expats and US taxpayers with non-US financial accounts: changes are on the horizon for your 2016 Fbar filing, including a new April 15 due date.”
WSJ | August 2015

Fatca Relief Coming for U.S. Expats Via ‘Same Country Exception’?

“Managing personal financial issues is challenging for most people. For American expats, the normal complexities and expenses are compounded by a panoply of post-financial crisis legal requirements mostly relating to taxes and bank account reporting.”
WSJ | July 2015

 

BE-10 Filing for certain US persons with US Investment Real Estate or Ownership stakes in foreign businesses

“You may have lived in the US last year - or were a US government employee anywhere in the world - and had a small business or rental property outside the country. If so, get ready for yet another potential filing requirement from Washington DC,…”
WSJ | June 2015

How to correct
Roth IRA contribution
errors

“Roth IRAs allow workers to contribute a portion of their after tax earnings into an account that grows tax free and can be distributed tax free at retirement, as long as the required Roth account conditions are met. However, contributions to Roth IRAs are not unlimited.”
April 2015

J Lachowitz Submission to Senate Finance Committee on Intl Tax Report

April 2015

 

Opinion: Expats Can Give Uncle Sam Their Views on U.S. Tax Policy by April 15

“In the latest indication that tax-law changes in Washington, DC, have a chance of moving forward, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch a Republican from Utah, and Ron Wyden, the ranking Democratic Senator from Oregon, have launched a new effort to seek input from the public on bipartisan tax reform.”
WSJ | March 2015

Ask an Expert: Everything U.S. Expats Need to Know About IRS Tax Forms (But Were Afraid to Ask)

“Overseas Americans are no exception, as practically all Americans with any income anywhere in the universe are required to file a US return. As most expats are painfully aware, this process is not only more complicated than for their compatriots back home, but the risks and potential penalties are higher even for simple mistakes.”
WSJ | February 2015

Ask an Expert: Senate Proposal Could Aid ‘Marginalized’ U.S. Expats

“Overseas Americans may have new friends in the US Senate. The Republican staff of the Senate’s Finance committee released a 300-page report on Dec 11 which lays out a strong case and framework for Congress to reform Federal Taxation of Individuals and Companies on their overseas income.”
WSJ | December 2014

 

Answering an Expat Reader’s Real-Estate Sale Query

WSJ | December 2014

FATCA Implications for Switzerland - English (Original Version)

“While the FATCA IGA Model 2 agreement signed on February 13th between Switzerland and the United States is a very positive step forward for both countries in the fight against tax evasion, the 544 pages of complexity released by the US Treasury and the IRS on January 17th [Following the 388 pages released February 8, 2012] has some very clear winners and losers…”
February 2013

FATCA Implications for Switzerland - French 3 parts:
Feb-Mar 2013

“L’accord FATCA IGA selon le modèle 2 entre la Suisse et les Etats-Unis signé le 13 février représente une avancée très positive pour les deux pays dans leur lutte contre l’évasion fiscale. Mais le document complexe de 544 pages publié le 17 janvier par le Trésor des Etats-Unis et l’IRS, faisant suite aux 388 pages du 8 février 2012, fait certains gagnants et perdants très clairs.”
L’Agefi | February 2013

 

Post Financial Cliff Tax Planning for Overseas Americans

“The Financial Crises and its aftermath have been tough enough for households to navigate but being an overseas American is a burden that your friends and family back in the US just don’t seem to understand; and now you have heard of FATCA and the Fiscal Cliff you wonder could it possibly get worse?”
January 2013

US Individual Retirement Accounts for Overseas Americans (in Switzerland)

“Individual Retirement Accounts for US tax payers; whether they live in the United States or abroad (eg Switzerland) can play an important role in helping individuals prepare for their retirement.”
January 2013

Can the Obama Administration make things even worse for Overseas Americans and the Swiss?

“…tax filing and just trying to do the right thing in the eyes of the URS are about to get a whole lot more difficult when it comes to complying with the US tax code, if the Obama Administration has its way.”
February 2010

 

Tax tips for US Expats

“As an American citizen living overseas, one of your biggest financial risks is making a misstep when filing (or not filing) your US tax return each year. Tax nightmares can generally be avoided with a combination of regular filing, good planning and a basic understanding of the US tax code (as it relates to overseas Americans).”
Expatica.com | November 2009

 
 
Estate Planning & Gifting

Expat Estate-Planning: A Tragedy Prompts Adviser to Weigh In

“Richard Lakin, 76, an American citizen and the father of a childhood friend, died earlier this week, two weeks after being wounded in a terrorist attack in Jerusalem. I grew up with his son, Micah, in Glastonbury, Conn., where Richard was principal of an elementary school.”
WSJ | October 2015

6 Estate-Planning Tips for U.S. Expats

WSJ ”asked Johnathan Lachowitz of White Lighthouse Investment Management for tips on how US expats should handle estate planning.”
WSJ | March 2015

Update your Swiss Estate Planning – New Laws on Decision Making during Incapacity

“Most people are familiar with the primary component of Estate planning as having a will prepared to control the disposition of their wealth upon death with more advanced and detailed planning including various types of Trusts or other legal structures. However, wills only apply in case of death; but what happens if someone becomes temporarily or permanently incapacitated?”
2013

 
Moving Overseas

MOVING ABROAD? HERE’S THE CHECKLIST: PART TWO

“Planning to move overseas for a job, retirement, or just a change of scenery? Here is our second instalment of ideas to help you be prepared.”
WSJ | September 2016

Moving Abroad? Here’s the Checklist: Part One

“Planning to move overseas for a job, retirement, or just a change of scenery? That’s great, but you have a job ahead of you before you go.”
WSJ | September 2016

Practical Guide for US Expats - French

“Qu’il s’agisse de mariage transatlantique, de l’usage de sa carte de crédit, de l’idée d’investir dans un 3e pilier, du rachat d’un 2epilier ou d’une donation, le microcosme des expatriés américains en Suisse a un besoin accru d’informations vérifiées concernant les situations complexes dans lesquelles ils se trouvent”
L’Agefi | October 2009

 

Tips for American Expatriates – English

“I want clients to get an education by working with me, something they can use when working with other professionals.”
L’Agefi | Page 8 | October 2009

 
 
Miscellaneous

Protecting your Credit and Financial Information after the Equifax Data Breach

“This latest data breach confirms what perhaps we should all have assumed before; our personal data is not safe and we should start acting as though much of our private information is available for a very low cost on the internet. “
September 2017

How Can I Easily Go Back and Find All Of My Travel Records?

“Do you need to figure out how many days you spent in the United States in a given year? It is easier than you think.”
WSJ | September 2016

Ask an Expert: Tips for Expats Dealing With Swiss Franc Turmoil

WSJ “asked Jonathan Lachowitz of White Lighthouse Investment Management about how to aproach the surprising decision by the SNB to remove the cap on the Swiss franc’s strength against the euro.”
WSJ | January 2015

 

Ask an Expert: Tips for U.S. Expats Using 529 College Savings Plans

“529 plans can be a powerful savings and tax-planning vehicle to finance higher education, although there are some additional considerations for US expats.”
WSJ | January 2015

Ask an Expert: 6-1/2 Expat Tips for Protecting Your Credit Rating

“If you are an expat and there’s a chance you will return to the US, here are some tips for securing your credit rating.”
WSJ | December 2014

Tips for Swiss Expatriates in the United States

“A number of issues such as social security, savings & investing or the banking system should be considered carefully before moving to the United States. ”
May 2011

 

Practical Guide for US Expats - French

“Qu’il s’agisse de mariage transatlantique, de l’usage de sa carte de crédit, de l’idée d’investir dans un 3e pilier, du rachat d’un 2epilier ou d’une donation, le microcosme des expatriés américains en Suisse a un besoin accru d’informations vérifiées concernant les situations complexes dans lesquelles ils se trouvent”
L’Agefi | October 2009

Tips for American Expatriates – English

“I want clients to get an education by working with me, something they can use when working with other professionals.”
L’Agefi | Page 8 | October 2009

Beware the Devils choice giving up US Citizenship

“The increased aggressiveness of the IRS towards U.S. persons holding financial accounts outside the U.S., including many Americans living overseas, seems to be highly correlated with the increased waiting time for Americans trying to renounce their U.S. citizenship at the Embassy in Bern, Switzerland.”
December 2009

 

BE-10 Filing for certain US persons with US Investment Real Estate or Ownership stakes in foreign businesses

“You may have lived in the US last year - or were a US government employee anywhere in the world - and had a small business or rental property outside the country. If so, get ready for yet another potential filing requirement from Washington DC,…”
WSJ | June 2015