Retirement Options for US Expats

May 3, 2023 | Retirement, US Expats

Retirement Options for US Expats: A Comprehensive Guide

Retirement planning is a crucial aspect of one’s financial journey, and it becomes even more complicated for US expats who are living abroad. As a US expat, you might be wondering what your options are for retirement planning and what tax implications they carry. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the various retirement options available to US expats and their pros and cons.

Social Security

Social Security is a government-funded retirement plan that provides a monthly income to eligible retirees. US expats who have paid Social Security taxes for at least 10 years are eligible for Social Security benefits. However, the amount of benefits you receive depends on several factors, including your earnings history, the age you start receiving benefits, and the number of years you have paid into the Social Security system.

One important thing to note is that if you are living outside the US and receiving Social Security benefits, you may be subject to different tax laws and regulations. For example, some countries have Social Security Totalization Agreements with the US that allow you to pay Social Security taxes in one country rather than both. It’s essential to consult with a tax professional to understand your tax obligations and opportunities related to Social Security.

Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs)

IRAs are tax-advantaged retirement savings accounts that allow you to save for retirement while reducing your tax liability. There are two types of IRAs available to US expats: traditional and Roth IRAs.

Traditional IRAs allow you to make pre-tax contributions, which can reduce your taxable income. However, you will have to pay taxes on your contributions and earnings when you withdraw them during retirement. Roth IRAs, on the other hand, allow you to make after-tax contributions, but your withdrawals during retirement are tax-free after age 59 and 1/2.

It’s worth noting that as a US expat, you may face some limitations on your ability to contribute to an IRA, depending on your income level and whether you have earned income from a foreign source.

Another issue people face is being able to receive advice in your country of residence. There are benefits to having access to an advisor who is licensed in the US as well as in your country of residence. This is a gap that SJB Global fills and we work with product providers that allow you to roll over your 401k into an IRA that can be managed for US expats.

Lastly, if you receive your funds tax-free from source in the US, it doesn’t mean they will be tax free in your country of residence. It´s important to understand the tax treaty and speak to a tax adviser to understand your tax liability in both the US and your country of residence before planning for retirement.

Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans

If you are working for an employer abroad, you may have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a 401(k) or a pension plan. These plans work similarly to their US-based counterparts and offer tax advantages, such as pre-tax contributions and tax-deferred growth.

It’s important to understand the specific rules and regulations governing the retirement plan offered by your employer, as they may differ from US-based plans. You should also ensure that your plan is compliant with US tax laws and regulations to avoid any penalties or additional taxes.

Non-US Retirement Plans

If you are living and working abroad, you may also have access to non-US retirement plans, such as the UK’s Personal Pension, Australian Superannuation or a US retirement plan designed for US expats who want to make contributions to a tax efficient vehicle. These plans can offer tax advantages and may have more flexible withdrawal options than US-based plans. However, they may also be subject to different rules and regulations than US-based plans, and it’s crucial to consult with a tax professional to ensure compliance with US tax laws and regulations.

At SJB Global, we understand the unique challenges and opportunities that US expats face when it comes to retirement planning. Our team of experienced financial advisors can help you navigate the complex landscape of retirement options and create a customized plan that fits your individual needs and goals. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you work toward a secure and comfortable retirement.

Investing involves risk including the loss of principle.  No guarantees of investment success are offered. A rollover of a company retirement account is not the best option for everyone and you should consult your account for another opinion.

This communication is for informational purposes only based on our understanding of current legislation and practices which are subject to change and are not intended to constitute, and should not be construed as, investment advice, investment recommendations or investment research. You should seek advice from a professional adviser before embarking on any financial planning activity. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the information contained in this communication is correct, we are not responsible for any errors or omissions.

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Schedule an Obligation-free Call With an Adviser

By scheduling an appointment with an adviser they will reach out to you at your requested time. 
Personal advice, whenever it suits you.

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