March 19, 2010
My time here in Thailand is finally coming to an end, at least for now. On Monday morning, after I stop by the US embassy to pick up my renewed passport, I’ll be headed to Hong Kong.
I should briefly mention something about passports. Starting in 2007, the US government began manufacturing all new passports with RFID chips– small devices which record and transmit data.
Malaysia was actually the first country to issue RFID passports back in 1998; since then, most of the developed word has adopted them. The data which is collected/transmitted varies by country but generally includes some personal information as well as some travel data.
The RFID chips have a range of up to 10 meters, and many countries do not have encryption devices.
I’ve spent the last year searching around the world for an embassy in some remote country that hasn’t moved to RFID yet. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful, so from now on I’ll be walking around with a passport that transmits my personal information.
My understanding is that there are passport ‘shields’ available which absorb most of the transmissions, and I will definitely be looking into this more closely.
On to this week’s questions…
William says, “Simon, thank you for the IRA information this week. I know that Congress has changed the law– do you think that now is a good time to consider the new IRA structure? Can I use it to move my retirement funds overseas?”
Great question. First of all, I must apologize because this only applies to US citizens.
32 million Americans will need to make a decision this year; it’s a unique situation because, this year alone, there are several things coming together: first, the IRS has changed the rules, making it a smooth process to switch from a traditional to Roth IRA.
If you combine that with the devaluing rules, and the concept of an Open Opportunity IRA, you’re looking at a potentially enormous tax savings… but only for a limited time while the IRS keeps this window of opportunity open.
Also, once the structure is established, it’s really a fantastic vehicle for moving cash overseas, or even buying foreign property in many instances.
If you want to plant a flag overseas with your retirement savings, this is really the best way to do it, and the time to do it is now while you can still save on the taxes.