Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act Rolls Forward to India! Four Things Indian Nationals and NRIs Need to Know

Offshore tax evasion is not going to be a piece of cake anymore with the introduction and implementation of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act or FATCA. The new U.S. law creates an umbrella of scrutiny that immediately targets nations throughout the world to effect formal compliance.

Of course, there are always two sides to a story and the latest in tax policy is no different. The U.S. tax code has not made a revision in offshore tax haven accountability in more than 50 years but this is about to change with the implementation of FATCA. The “C” in FATCA stands for compliance. If you are compliant, you have nothing to fear. If not, brace yourself because it can get complicated. These are emerging changes signaling the beginning of a global tax evolution.

Commonsense Reform Was the Goal. President Obama’s initial FATCA premise was “commonsense reform to restore balance and fairness in our tax code” and to “crack down on illegal tax evasion, close loopholes and make it profitable for companies to create jobs in United States.” As the law has evolved for implementation, there have been Congressional additions and scope creep of the law. While the U.S. opened this conversation, understandably hungry for money after its 2008 fall from financial grace and the need to look for revenue, other countries suffering under global economy woes are also looking for their fair share of new revenue from any available sources, individual or corporate.

Global Players, Indian Shores. Global country players including England, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, Mexico, Ireland, Germany and Spain have already signed compliance agreements, and many other country agreements (probably 80) are still pending. This outreach includes India and for Indian Nationals or Non-Resident Indians, including those who are citizens of the United States, an understanding of this new law may soon be critical.

Back in 2012, US Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernake and US Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geither met with Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh in New Delhi, to open up examination of ways to prevent offshore tax evasion. As the date of FATCA compliance- January of 2014, rapidly approaches, the Securities and Exchange Board of India and the Reserve Bank of India are about to finalize FATCA, which means that Indian and all global banks, mutual funds, brokerage firms and depositories begin reporting accounts belonging to US citizens or with US addressees.

“After Singh Law held its first information session last month, it raised the profile on how important this law is becoming,” says Seema Singh, Managing Director of Singh Law LLC., based in Princeton, New Jersey. “Our goal is to assist individuals and small businesses as the law rolls out.”

Indian Income and Assets. U.S. residents who have Indian income and assets in India must know the following.

Green Cards Must Declare. Green card holders who are staying in the United States or abroad and all other tax residents in the U.S. must declare global income in their Federal tax return and pay their tax.

Institutions Must Report. Institutional financial investments in India must also be reported to the US Treasury by June 30th of each year if the maximum value of those investments exceeds $10,000 in U. S. dollars.

Foreign Taxes are Deductible. It is important to realize however that taxes paid to India can be claimed against tax payable in the U.S. This means if you have paid tax in India, you can file paperwork, which will allow you to deduct that taxable income from your U.S. tax payments.

$50,000 Plus Financial Assets Must Be Reported. Following the stringent rules of compliance, financial assets- even including personal loans- need to be reported with Form-1040 if those assets exceed $50,000 in U.S. dollars as demanded by FATCA.

New Law, New Challenges. Despite the debate about how much the U.S. will actually receive, estimates range from $8 billion to $210 billion over 10 years but the sum is not verified. The law has inspired controversy regarding privacy and excessive paperwork. Some Americans are even renouncing their citizenship, particularly those living abroad, because they are unwilling to deal with the “excessive paperwork and invasive rules.”

Andrew F. Quinlan, President of the Center for Freedom and Prosperity asserts a disturbing claim in his article:

 With trillions invested in the U.S. from foreign sources each year, a loss of a mere fraction of this could spark another recession. It’s thus easy to see why the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated the law would raise a paltry $800 million per year, which is less than 1 percent of the $100 billion the law’s backers dubiously claim is lost to tax evasion each year.

 Although many might wish the law would go away, NRIs and Indian Nationals are getting a new wake up call. The new reality is here. Hopefully, this blog series Indian Income on the Global Stage, may point you in the right direction, but, if you fall into these four categories, it would certainly be prudent to speak to your tax attorney or adviser in detail. Give yourself enough time to plan and take the action that is right for you. Compliance is only a few months away and the clock is ticking!

 Seema Singh is a practicing attorney and Managing Director, Singh Law LLC, with offices in Princeton, New Jersey and New York City. Her firm has more than 16 law practice areas including Business Law and Corporate Law. Seema speaks on business law issues like FATCA. For more information, contact




Money over Emotion –Violence Trends for Asian Women in the U.S. and Globally

              The motivating force for marriage is universal – love. However, in some cultures beyond the shores of the U.S. and within, there are other equally powerful motivators like money. When money is in the game, an Asian bride has to be careful because the groom’s family could bite, torture, or even kill.

For women in America, there are endless varieties of abuse, generally thought of in relationship to the Caucasian, Afro-American and Hispanic communities. But even though this variety of madness challenges the liberty of so many of our citizens, the plot thickens when we realize that emotionally motivated violence, common in these ethnicities, is not the sole motivator of violence.  For other cultures, also residing in America, there are other drivers for domestic violence that reflect something different than purely emotionally driven rationalizations.

For instance, money.

It’s not the kind of money described in movies where some upper echelon families ‘encourage’ marriages between wealthy bank accounts. In some global cultures, marriages are arranged. It’s still expected that dowries will be provided at the time of the wedding and beyond in order for the woman to be safe in her new marriage and life. Such is still the case in many Indian marriages and the price for families who don’t pay can be torture, severe abuse, or death. In fact, a woman dies every 9 minutes in India under the dowry system, a system which became illegal in 1961.

Despite this legal mandate to stop, many families still participate in this tradition, however unholy. In fact, Indian brides are routinely burned to death though surreptitious plots hatched by the groom’s family- and thousands of other young newlyweds are subjected to physical, mental and emotional abuse aimed at extorting money from the bride’s family.  Talk about the wedding notes going off key! Although money, not emotion, is fueling this violence, the results are just as horrendous, if not more so.

Dowry deaths are not documented in the U.S., but domestic abuse against Asian Indian women comes from the groom and the groom’s family. It can be intense and safe passage requires watchful and informed eyes. According to the Asian Women’s Safety Net, there are resources available for help including special Domestic Violence Response Teams as well as a national database of Asian Indian support resources in 29 states. If you are a victim of domestic violence, make sure that:

  • ·you know where to go in case of emergency
  • ·you know your support system (contact numbers of DVRT, friends, counselors, local police)
  • ·you take into account your children’s welfare
  • ·you have an escape plan as well as a post-escape plan
  • ·you know who you can entrust with your important documents and belongings

The Asian Indian population is the 3rd fastest immigrant population in the U.S.  Asian populations are growing faster than any other ethnic group. In December of 2012, the U.S. had about 18.9 million Asians including those from India, up 530,000 from the year before (~3% growth).  Only China and Mexico send more people to the U.S.

Many beautiful traditions exist in the Asian Indian culture, but domestic violence exists in every culture. We need to break through from all this madness- generated by greed, emotion or by tradition. To this end, we need to be vigilant with eyes wide open and with a determination to protect innocent women of all cultures.

For more information on tips and trends to empower Asian Indian women, and build awareness across cultures, contact Seema Singh at 

Living With Impact

Seema Singh is dedicated to
Living With Impact.

Advocate is an extensive and wide-ranging role that put Seema Singh on speed dial of virtually every New Jersey citizen, and what she did successfully in this passion was ‘answer the call’ that shed any lasting label of ‘accidental advocate.’ Seema rose through her career to become a government insider and civic leader, but her record demonstrates these roles helped her live one step closer to her destiny –living with positive and progressive impact on the lives of others. Seema is a multi-dimensional leader with a full-bodied resume of efforts that distinguish her beyond the numerous appointments alone. It is the breadth of opportunity that she created in the daily lives of NJ citizens.

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The People’s Good

The Esteemed Practice of Law
The people’s good is the highest law.
Cicero, De Legibus

Seema Singh is a committed attorney, consumer advocate, and warrior for human rights. Her tenacious zeal to fully prepare herself for a career in law and business is a journey marked by her deepest held belief in freedom of expression and visibility to those who require an advocate. Freedom of Expression requires training, commitment, and hard work.

Seema Singh’s success is built on her foundation of training. She received two Bachelors of Science degrees with the highest honors –one from Calcutta University in Zoology and one in Business from Rutgers University. She earned her Juris Doctor at Seton Hall University, School of Law in 1995.

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Seema Singh Speaks

Seema SinghSeema Singh, dubbed the “Accidental Advocate,” has a success formula that is no accident. Seema blazes new paths. From ages 8 to 80, Seema engages with a mission and a message that moves an audience. A veteran speaker of more than 500+ venues, Seema constantly renews her audience relevance by staying connected. Her words of wisdom, information, and motivation have been heard by diverse groups from ages 8 to 80.

She has travelled to the local community center in everytown New Jersey USA to candlelight vigils on behalf of domestic violence victims in the Asian Indian Community to the Tsunami-ravaged villages in India, and the corridors of legislative power and justice for people in government including Capitol Hill. Her topics are diverse including women in politics, domestic violence among the Asian Indian community, the power of an advocate in office and in the courtroom, a pioneer in the Energy Conservation message for all ages. Download her speaker marketing kit for the full range of information she can add to your event.

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Networking Life

Who speaks, sows; who listens,
reaps. Argentine Proverb

Seema is a platinum networker who has always savored rapport building as an opportunity to operate with a high degree of care, constancy, and earnestness. Her overarching professional life demonstrates Seema’s abilities as a savvy champion and autographs her networking life with a singular agenda– connecting with a purpose.

As a trailblazer for new career heights, accomplishments, and political leadership, Seema has the ultimate in a networking life. Her high level visibility across the East Coast and global scale propels a tapestry of conversations in her circles. What these conversations reveal is a breathing ability to inhale good people, inspiring connections, the great alliance, or even identify who should exit to the sideline. It is impossible to count the events and conversations but as one who imbibes the networking life for others, Seema connects with a purpose.

As the courageous leader of the Asian Indian Chamber of Commerce (AICC), Seema’s business savvy has transformed a niche chamber to a powerful beacon of business innovation. She leads passionate business owners and thought-leaders in this fast-growing community. Their chamber serves the NJ tri-state area (NJ, NY, and PA) but their effectiveness within this geography is a tremendously powerful force yielding a meteoric membership rise to more than 500 members (and still growing). The AICC is filling an entrepreneurial vacuum with business processes such as their Networking Nites and International Business Expositions to expand revenue growth in New Jersey and beyond. Their annual dinner gala is full of tradition with expanding components to introduce and honor the shining stars from various professions in their burgeoning Asian Indian community. For the purpose of promoting trade between India and New Jersey, Seema organizes an Annual Trade Mission and leads a delegation to India every other year.

Further, her government savvy and reputation has opened a blazing future of opportunity with broader NJ chamber alliances such as the Edison Chamber of Commerce as well as a new Strategic Alliances with the Small Business Administration. The latter has resulted in a Strategic Alliance Memorandum (SAM) which will develop and foster mutual understanding and a working relationship between the SBA and the AICC. Visit the Asian Indian Chamber of Commerce website for information on their chamber and events.

Live With Intention

My humanity is bound up in yours,
for we can only be human together.
Desmond Tutu

There is no greater reflection of empowerment than service in your local and global community. Seema’s priorities are evidence of her deep beliefs in service. Her schedule is tireless. Her intentions are actualized in the far-reaching and impactful ways she cares for people. Not only has she championed consumer education on energy and water conservation and performed community outreach of same, but she also devoted her attention to leading and organizing groups for political outreach, health and safety for Asian American citizens, protection of women and volunteerism on a large scale.

Seema founded the Rotary Club of Plainsboro and extended the long admired tradition of rotary services including providing food through soup kitchens and toys for tots. She led the club to new heights of fundraising for needed surgeries in several areas including—The Helen Keller Institute for the Deaf and Blind and the Jaipur Foundation for Limb Replacement.

When the Tsunami hit in 2005 creating a global introduction to the devastation that occurred in this type of disaster, Seema led the initiative to raise funds, visit the Tsunami devastated areas, and rebuild schools in India that were destroyed. She was steadfast in this purpose on personal and business travels to the country. She dedicated 3 days touring the affected areas only to see the mountains of devastation. Tapping her Chamber of Commerce relationships and a partnership with the United Way of Central Jersey, a multi-year initiative was launched, and continues, to reconstruct schools in India that were destroyed. Headlines of this area’s suffering have disappeared but the vigilance of rebuilding these lives with people like Seema and her network have never stopped. Seema does not forget nor does she allow others to forget.

Approached by a public servant with compassion for the plight of many Asian and Arab women who suffered domestic violence, Seema initially established the Asian Women’s Safety Net (AWSN) in 2006 as a project under the New Jersey Coalition of Battered Women. Seema’s role in the formation of the Asian Women’s Safety Net was pivotal in galvanizing an organization whose purpose is to break taboos and tackle the “guilty secret” of domestic violence for Asian and Arab women. No longer will the AWSN allow fear and communication barriers to block access to the state resources and services.

Today, the Asian Women’s Safety Net (AWSN) has become its own independent non-profit organization. The AWSN continues its purpose with passion under Seema’s leadership. It bridges the gap of communication with Asian Indian women who are battered and for some living with what is described as the “silent killer” of the spirit, mind, and sometimes, the physical being. A group of dedicated volunteers are trained to interface with Asian Indian battered women and reduce the fear of coming forward to use the state system of services. The volunteer training includes best practices on using their cultural language and familiarity to give Asian women a comfort level to save and protect their lives. The common ground for direct communication is a core component of the AWSN with valuable alliances in the justice system, prosecutor’s office, existing mainstream women’s groups and State offices.

Seema’s belief in the importance of the role as volunteer is embodied in her continuous service on the Advisory Board of the NJ Governor’s Office of Volunteerism. Established under the leadership of Governor Corzine, citizens are actively given a support resource in this executive initiative established by the governor.