applec wrote:Indeed I forgot to mention that I'm not planning to do any 401k or IRAs. So it would be all in a taxable account.
Fair enough. You might be giving up some employer match, though, and if the match is large enough, it's possible that you could be better off taking it even if you later have to pay early withdrawal penalties on the 401k. Just a thought.
applec wrote:I'm trying to do my homework and research those 'landmines' but I'm pretty confused, professional help that is really familiar with this is also hard to find... The 'exit tax' you mention should be the expatriation tax but that doesn't apply to me as I'm not a US citizen.
The 'exit tax' also applies to 'long term' permanent residents, where 'long term' is currently defined as eight years, though it can be as low as six years, since the IRS counts years in perverse ways. Permanent residents are green card holders, aka "resident aliens", which may or may not be you. (Closely allied to the 'exit tax' is the often-overlooked 'sailing permit'. Google that and weep at the lunacy!)
applec wrote:You believe I should follow the advice I read elsewhere on the forum about investing in irish-based ETFs (advice for non-resident aliens), even if -for this year at least- I'm a resident?
No. NO. NO
! Holding non-US domiciled ETFs while you are a US resident will cause a world of tax pain. While in the US and under US tax jurisdiction, avoid non-US domiciled things like the proverbial plague. Once you leave the US, the converse may be true -- depending on where you move to, you may then need to avoid US-domiciled things like the plague.
This is why you need to stay flexible. On leaving the US the best plan is often -- again, depending on where you go -- to take all your money and assets with you, and disconnect entirely from the US and the IRS as best you can.
applec wrote:If you could choose based only on tax reasons (and investment reasons), would it be best to be resident alien, non resident alien, or potentially green-card holder?
You don't really have that choice. Unless you're on a J (student) visa, if you live in the US then you are a 'US resident for tax purposes', and all you can do is to design your portfolio to avoid the major US tax landmines for US residents. That would be, typically, PFIC rules on holding non-US domiciled funds. If you don't live in the US, and are not a US citizen or green card holder, you are a non-resident alien, and now you must avoid the US tax landmines for US non-resident aliens. That would be things like higher than necessary dividend taxes and the potential for US estate tax, which you can sidestep by holding only non-US domiciled funds.
In a nutshell, while in the US invest exactly as a US citizen would, and if/when you leave, be prepared to move everything around so that you invest exactly as a non-resident alien would.
US citizens and residents are heavily encouraged
by US tax rules into holding only
US domiciled funds. Non-resident aliens are (often) heavily discouraged
by US tax rules from holding any
US domiciled funds.