About the author
I am a french mathematician and programmer living in Hong Kong. I started to invest in real estate in the late 90's. As I work in Asia since 2006, I started to compare my european investments with Japan, Hong Kong, and invested there. As I saw the recovery after 2009 financial crisis, I came to the conclusion that the US real estate was one of the best investment given the high rental yields and affordability of housing in the US.
My tax status is Non Resident Aliens (NRA). In 2013, I started to gather information on taxation for US real estate investors as a NRA. Taxation of rental property income is a very significant determinant of net yield, and ultimately key to comparisons with other investments. Yet, I found it difficult to obtain relevant advise for an investor whose sole US income is the $1000 per unit per month he gets from his property.
In such a case, paying susbtantial fees to a tax preparation specialist undermines the profitability of the investment. Moreover, I found that the knowledge of such specialist on matters of international taxation was limited, and that they could hardly comment on the comparative profitability of the many possible setup that are available to foreign investors.
I decided that understanding how taxes are filed would enable me to make for informed decision concerning real estate comparative profitability compared to other investments such as bonds and equities.
I obtained an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) in late 2013, and filed my first tax return in 2015 for the 2014 tax year as a NRA. This is what I found to work adequately for an NRA investor based whose sole US income source is rent.