Ben21

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42 Six by nine

About Ben21

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  • Location Cologne
  • Nationality USA
  • Gender Male
  • Year of birth 1987
  1. Thanks for your input, Lisa. I have been doing a bit more reading, and yeah it definitely does look like it’s not so easy to get a visa to live in the US. I guess I am also rather overestimating how many times I actually would be moving back and forth. It’s not like it’s really that easy to uproot your life every couple years...   I just know that if we do leave Germany in the future and go back to the US, my doorway back to Europe is then pretty much shut for good. That is a pretty depressing thought.
  2. Thought experiment here...   My wife and I are both US citizens and are coming up on being eligible to naturalize here in Germany. There’s no chance we could retain our US passports through the income barrier, so if we wanted to naturalize, we’d have to renounce our American citizenship. This is pretty much a deal-breaker, at least for my wife, who wants to retain the ability to go back to the US at any time and stay there indefinitely should our situation bring us there.   Hypothetically, say only I renounce— would I still have the ability to live and work in the US through my wife? And would she easily be able to live and work in Europe through my future DE passport? I understand visas would still be necessary, but in my limited research, it seems quite easy for a spouse of a US citizen to get a visa and vice versa (at least here in Germany).   Our future plans are still up in the air, so l really would like to keep as many doors open as possible for us. Could this then be a solution for at least having the right to live in both places?
  3. Steuerklasse for married couple: 4/4 or 3/5?

    You can put your exact numbers into this calculator. Just realize that you will still owe the same amount of tax at the end of the year (the calculator will tell you how much that is), and you might end up underpaying if you’re 3/5 without any other serious tax deductions. I learned this the hard way. Our Nachzahlung was over 3k€ last year. Needless to say we switched to 4/4 with Faktor and now we come out roughly even. A Steuerberater will be able to advise you what would be best.
  4. Wireless HDMI setup

      You could always just download the SD version of the media you’re trying to play on the projector. Or go with an HDMI - Component Adapter instead, depending on what’s available on your projector. Like this.   HDCP is really a gigantic pain in the ass sometimes...
  5. Tax Declaration for non-active UG company

    I would get professional help to make sure you do everything correctly with your company. There are a lot of legal pitfalls that you can easily get into if you’re trying to set up a company without the advice of a lawyer and a tax professional. And I sure wouldn’t trust that any info you get on a public forum such as TT would be 100% legally sound.
  6. VoIP service questions

    Get a US Google Voice number (free) and use the Hangouts App on a smartphone or directly from gmail on a computer to make calls to the US (also free). I actually ported my US cell phone number to it before I left for Germany and with the app I can make and receive calls with that number and it’s totally free for both parties. My wife uses it to call her parents in the states all the time and they don’t have a smartphone / computer— just a landline which rings as usual when she calls. Voice quality is superb as well... just need to have internet service.   Guide can be found here.
  7. Wireless HDMI setup

      Does your projector have a DVI port or component ports (the red, yellow, white ones)? If so, get an HDMI-DVI or an HDMI-component adapter which will let you plug your Apple TV into it. You won’t get audio if you use DVI (you’ll need to plug the ATV into an external speaker of some sort with its optical audio port), but it should work with video, assuming the content is not “HDCP” (copy protected).   Something like this should work.
  8. ALG II - Will I have to pay it back?

      They will not ask you to pay it back.
  9. ALG II - Will I have to pay it back?

    From my 5 mins of Googling I doubt leaving Germany is grounds for being penalized by the JobCenter. When you finalize your plans to leave, just submit a “Verzichtserklärung” (renunciation statement) that states as of [date] you are renouncing your benefits claim. I don’t think you’d need to give a reason, but if it’s required, just say you found a job in England and are moving back. There’s no rule against that.   This might complicate getting benefits in England if you return as EU countries are supposedly linked somehow with regard to welfare but I can’t speak to that.    Edit: Here’s a guy with a similar question
  10.   And I had the opposite happen to me. My Ausländeramt in Köln told me I need to come with an A1 certificate in order to get the NE. This is also after having the interaction totally in German. She told me that she’s not qualified to assess my German level and I need to bring proof of it in from a Sprachschule.   @ OP — I would email them and ask, but don’t be surprised if you have to go sit an A1 test. Personally it’s not worth my time to do this so I just renewed my Blue Card.
  11.   Thanks for the offer Starshollow. Had a chance to run through the report today and it was about what I expected as far as risk is concerned. Was really nice to see some of my thoughts visualized though.   If anyone else wants a nice overview of their own personal risk tolerance, I’d highly recommend reaching out to Starshollow and taking him up on his offer.   Thanks again!
  12. US expat tax filing and German pension funds

    Can’t edit my post, but check this site out. May be worth consulting with a CPA if these conditions apply to you. You probably already should be seeking help to get your previous returns filed anyway so I would just ask them regarding the pension topic as well.   Let us know if you find out any more information.
  13. US expat tax filing and German pension funds

    Disclaimer: Not a tax professional and I can’t guarantee the accuracy of what I am posting.   I haven’t ever claimed my company pension on my US tax returns due to what you said— that you’re not receiving a current payout from it and all dividends are reinvested. For any “normal” investments you don’t have to report it if you’re not receiving dividends or haven’t sold any part of it. You don’t get any tax benefits from it though from the US perspective (like you do with a traditional IRA).   When you hit retirement age, however, and start receiving a monthly payout, then you have to declare it.
  14. US state taxes for expats - with driver's license

    I did some more research.  This year, stop filing your Illinois tax return as it's not necessary.  You don't live there and you have no "Illinois-sourced income" (understood as-- worked for an Illinois-employer or made money in the state via an established Illinois-business).  The fact that you have interests and dividends is irrelevant as it's not "Illinois-sourced".   You *generally* do not have to file state tax returns if your permanent living location is outside the US (there are some situations where it's necessary in some states, and you have to prove you are not coming back if you used to live in New Mexico, Virginia, South Carolina, or Colorado, but Illinois is not one of them that requires either).  This can be proven by following the US IRS standards of "non-residency" that you have to prove when taking the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion.  Meaning if you take the exclusion every year on your Federal returns, there's your proof to the state that you don't live there.  They will not chase after you for money you owe them as it says right in their law that non-residents are not required to file a state return.
  15. Tax on dividends received from company shares

    Hi Panda, thanks so much for the response.  It looks like I won't fall under the 25% income tax rate, so am I understanding you correctly that I won't even have to mention the dividends received on the Steuererklärung?   I might ask Deutsche Bank to provide me the Steuerbescheinigung anyway for my US returns, which will definitely need to be included in my US tax return.  Hopefully all the information given on this form + the fact that the taxes were already paid to Germany will be enough to satisfy the US government.   Thanks again!