Telecommuting/Remot...
 

Telecommuting/Remote work  


aadziemiela
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I am a remote worker. My employer is based in Atlanta. I asked to change my address to St. Thomas. The HR department is telling me that they would have to pay 15,000 dollars to get legal status in St. Thomas in order for me to work there. This doesn't sound right to me. I thought it was just like any other state. I would be getting paid from Atlanta for remote work. I would just be living in St. Thomas. Does anyone have experience with this?

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RevFD
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Posted by: aadziemiela

I am a remote worker. My employer is based in Atlanta. I asked to change my address to St. Thomas. The HR department is telling me that they would have to pay 15,000 dollars to get legal status in St. Thomas in order for me to work there. This doesn't sound right to me. I thought it was just like any other state. I would be getting paid from Atlanta for remote work. I would just be living in St. Thomas. Does anyone have experience with this?

My wife works for a large multinational and had a similar issue, though she was not given a specific reason.

They initially ok'd her residing in the USVI, but when the time came to make the transition they told her it had to be stateside. They don't care if she works from the USVI as long as she has a residence on the main land.  We are still residents in our home state where we own property, but in the process of selling it and establishing a residency in FL, anticipating the same issue with my employer.

The tax laws are antiquated.  I wouldn't worry about the bona fide residency issue, it's a murky subject and hard to prove. Besides, not sure what the motivation would be for the govenment to enforce that rule, since no SALT down here. 

The greater concern is connectivity given that we live in an area without cell connection and rely 100% on an Internet connection for Internet and Phone (VIYA). Both of us have "dummy terminals" that run off company servers, so I can't even type a word doc without an Internet connection.  Hence, we use a battery pack that powers the internet box for 2 hrs during an outage, and a main generator (plus a small backup) for longer outages.

 

 

 

 

 

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aadziemiela
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Same situation. Let me know how the move to FL goes. I plan on doing the same thing. My company has an office there, and I want to move my seat to that office. 

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Gator's Mom
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Are you a licensed professional  - particularly a medical professional? This is gray area on whether or not you need to be licensed in the VI if that's where you sit to treat/advise patients.

In the VI, if you are a bona fide resident, you file your income taxes with the IRB instead the IRS.

If your employer understands USVI is part of the US, they may think they will need to establish a relationship with the VI IRB for your income tax withholdings. That's incorrect - getting tax money to IRB is your responsibility if your circumstances dictate you do that - but it's not always easy to become a bona fide resident of the VI territory. 

The VI tax code generally defines a “bona fide resident” as a person who:
      is present for at least 183 days during the tax year in the Virgin Islands;
     does not have a tax home outside the Virgin Islands during the tax year and
     does not have a closer connection to the U.S. or a foreign country than to the possession.

My advice is to ask your employer about their main concern and address it. Then talk to an accountant or attorney to help you address their concern if you can't make headway on your own. 

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aadziemiela
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I am not a licensed professional. I am a software designer.

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aadziemiela
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If you are not a bona fide resident, wouldn't I just file to the IRS? Is there any situation, bona fide or not, in which they would have to establish a relationship, or obtain any legal status if I am not a licensed professional?

Thank you so much for your help.

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Gator's Mom
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I am a remote worker, too. I haven't quite moved to the VI yet but my husband has.

My employer is in FL and I will continue to file taxes with the IRS since my primary source of income is in FL. I will keep some sort of address in FL, too, to avoid confusion. I will have a friend review my mail and send what's important to me in the VI.

Your employer may be concerned about benefits as well. Some health insurance won't work in the VI - particularly if you're plan is an HMO. 

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aadziemiela
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Thanks. My insurance is HRA. Are you planning on telling your employer that you live in FL, and having your W2s reflect FL residency?

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jaldeborgh
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Posted by: Gator's Mom

it's not always easy to become a bona fide resident of the VI territory. 

The VI tax code generally defines a “bona fide resident” as a person who:
      is present for at least 183 days during the tax year in the Virgin Islands;
     does not have a tax home outside the Virgin Islands during the tax year and
     does not have a closer connection to the U.S. or a foreign country than to the possession.

This is interesting, is there a reason the Territory government makes it difficult?  Common sense would suggest that the more “Bona Fide Residents” the more tax dollars they would collect.  Am I missing something?

If I’m understanding the criteria correctly, in my case where I was born in New England, still own a home in the States, disqualifies me from qualifying as a “Bona Fide Resident” even if I spend 183+ days a year on the island.  Is that correct?

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Gator's Mom
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Posted by: jaldeborgh
Posted by: Gator's Mom

it's not always easy to become a bona fide resident of the VI territory. 

The VI tax code generally defines a “bona fide resident” as a person who:
      is present for at least 183 days during the tax year in the Virgin Islands;
     does not have a tax home outside the Virgin Islands during the tax year and
     does not have a closer connection to the U.S. or a foreign country than to the possession.

This is interesting, is there a reason the Territory government makes it difficult?  Common sense would suggest that the more “Bona Fide Residents” the more tax dollars they would collect.  Am I missing something?

If I’m understanding the criteria correctly, in my case where I was born in New England, still own a home in the States, disqualifies me from qualifying as a “Bona Fide Resident” even if I spend 183+ days a year on the island.  Is that correct?

Bona Fide Residency rules are established by the IRS, not the VI government. 

https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p570.pdf

Uncle Sam wants you LOL.

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vicanuck
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Posted by: jaldeborgh
Posted by: Gator's Mom

it's not always easy to become a bona fide resident of the VI territory. 

The VI tax code generally defines a “bona fide resident” as a person who:
      is present for at least 183 days during the tax year in the Virgin Islands;
     does not have a tax home outside the Virgin Islands during the tax year and
     does not have a closer connection to the U.S. or a foreign country than to the possession.

This is interesting, is there a reason the Territory government makes it difficult?  Common sense would suggest that the more “Bona Fide Residents” the more tax dollars they would collect.  Am I missing something?

If I’m understanding the criteria correctly, in my case where I was born in New England, still own a home in the States, disqualifies me from qualifying as a “Bona Fide Resident” even if I spend 183+ days a year on the island.  Is that correct?

I also own a home on the mainland but I've been a bona fide resident of the VI for 15 years.

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Gator's Mom
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My employer doesn't care where I live but I work for a HUGE business.  

Your employer may have some control issues - and may in the end not be comfortable with you sitting at a desk in the VI.  Did you tell them in advance of moving or did you assume it would be okay? Drill down, find out their objections and see if you can work it out. Make sure they know any commute by you to the mothership will be on your own dime. And that you'll be responsible for internet, telephone and office setup, too.

An HRA is not insurance. You might want to check on using it to purchase a high deductible medical/evac plan being sold by Elan in the VI right now.  Any illness that requires more than a band aid may require you to be jetted off island if you want to get treatment. 

Home

There are no individual health insurance plans available in the VI.

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aadziemiela
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My mistake, I guess it's an HDHP with HRA. My company is global, and they have an office in Puerto Rico. I suspect that someone in the compensation dept. is misunderstanding the situation. Nothing I can find suggests that a company would have to pay 15k to allow a remote worker to move to St. Thomas.

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Darkmuse
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My wife and I both telecommute from St. Croix. although quite frankly I can work from anywhere..  Connectivity had not been a major issue, insurance however is a different story.  Insurance on the islands overall is massively underserved and isolated from mainstream competition.  The costs are far higher and the options far less than what we had back in the mainland.   Honestly, this was the largest surprise that we have had since purchasing our home here.

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Gator's Mom
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Your tax home is where your principle place of business is located, regardless of where you reside. 

This gets a bit murky for home workers who are employees.

 

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Scubadoo
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Posted by: Gator's Mom

Your tax home is where your principle place of business is located, regardless of where you reside. 

This gets a bit murky for home workers who are employees.

 

Or retirees with two homes and no business.  Or self employed working at home, any home.  Like an independent author.  My wife can write in a house, in the car, in a plane, on the beach, on a bus, at the Starbucks and c an publish online anywhere there is an internet connection including 4G.  So there is no such thing as place of business, not even principle.

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Gator's Mom
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Posted by: Scubadoo
Posted by: Gator's Mom

Your tax home is where your principle place of business is located, regardless of where you reside. 

This gets a bit murky for home workers who are employees.

 

Or retirees with two homes and no business.  Or self employed working at home, any home.  Like an independent author.  My wife can write in a house, in the car, in a plane, on the beach, on a bus, at the Starbucks and c an publish online anywhere there is an internet connection including 4G.  So there is no such thing as place of business, not even principle.

Tax home is a specific concept and part of IRS tax code. Does your wife travel for her writing business? Then, her tax home is where she travels FROM when accounting for travel expenses. Your tax home is not necessarily where you reside but it can be. 

In my case, my employer only allows employees to expense travel FROM its main location. So I cannot expense travel FROM my home or my home office - though I am a home worker. When I'm in the VI and commute to FL, I cannot expense that trip because I am going TO my work location.  Thus, my employer's location is my tax home (for better or worse). I can reside in the VI full time but I will pay taxes to the IRS as long as I work for this employer. That doesn't keep me from being a legal resident of the VI though.

And, yes, this is an antiquated concept but nonetheless a significant one if you want to live in the VI and retain employment in the US. 

I'm not sure how the IRS looks at retirement income from stateside sources and how that affects where your tax home is. 

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jaldeborgh
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The 183 days for residence is very straight forward, the Tax Home is less so.  As I read it, at least for a retired person, the issue is having greater than $3K of earned income from the mainland.   So pension, investment and social security income is not counted as it is all considered as unearned income.  If someone were to consult (not an employee) for a mainland company, as a residence of the USVI, then the Tax Home would still be the USVI, again assuming a minimum of 183 days of residence in the USVI.

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Exit Zero
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You may find this useful.

https://intltax.typepad.com/intltax_blog/2008/06/us-state-tax-residency-domicile.html

Since the USVI has no state tax due to our IRB it mat be very beneficial to file here if you are here more than 183 days in the tax year.

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Gator's Mom
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Posted by: Exit Zero

You may find this useful.

https://intltax.typepad.com/intltax_blog/2008/06/us-state-tax-residency-domicile.html

Since the USVI has no state tax due to our IRB it mat be very beneficial to file here if you are here more than 183 days in the tax year.

Ah, yes. thank you. Jimmy Buffett and Herman Wouk.

The Hill Crowd

God rest ye merry gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
With Kinja as our domicile
There's so much less to pay
We pay our taxes here
The IRS is far away
Domicile is our comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
Domicile is our comfort and joy

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singlefin
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Nailing down the 183 days is a difficult thing to prove.

For better or for worse.

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aadziemiela
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How is the internet/cellular service on St. Thomas/St. John in 2019?

I've read plenty of articles from early 2018 that made it seem like it was useless. Has it gotten any better?

Which providers are reliable? ATT, Sprint, Verizon, TMobile?

I heard that Verizon recently categorized the USVI as in-network.

Do any of you work in the USVI and use video conferencing daily?

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Gator's Mom
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Posted by: aadziemiela

How is the internet/cellular service on St. Thomas/St. John in 2019?

I've read plenty of articles from early 2018 that made it seem like it was useless. Has it gotten any better?

Which providers are reliable? ATT, Sprint, Verizon, TMobile?

I heard that Verizon recently categorized the USVI as in-network.

Do any of you work in the USVI and use video conferencing daily?

If you check the Verizon Wireless website, you'll see the USVI is not in-network. 

Most people I know in the VI use ATT or Sprint service. It's helpful to have a phone with WiFi calling capability. A WiFi hotspot also is good to have as part of your phone service as backup when the electricity is down.

Viya and Broadband VI offer plans with enough bandwidth for video conferencing. Viya is the cable company and brings internet service to you via wires. Broadband VI uses radio wave technology for its internet service. Pick one - or choose both - lot's of backup planning.

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STTsailor
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AT&T cellular is the best. I have never used Verizon. 

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latayvia
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i am a 22 year old jamaican ,soon to be gradurant , in a bachelors in dental hygiene and would like to relocate to st Croix and would like to know the procedure in finding a job . 

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CruzanIron
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Do you have a Visa in place yet? 

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singlefin
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I’m currently contemplating going off grid. (Solar with batteries)

Yes, WAPA’s rates are high, and continue to rise, but a steady, dependable flow of electricity is probably my biggest concern. If your going to run any kind of business which requires telecommunications, finding a residence with a dependable, independent power grid should be a priority for you. 

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Gator's Mom
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From further research, interstate taxation is a complicated issue for many companies. My guess is that the cost for a company to set up a tax withholding relationship and maintain it with any given state could cost $15K though that does seem high. A traveling employee could theoretically owe state income taxes in every jurisdiction to which he/she travels.

What's different about the VI is it's a territory and not a state. The IRS Bona Fide residency policy, in most cases, would remove the employer's responsibility to set up any type of formal relationship with the VI BIR. Your tax home would be where your employer is located by definition of tax home and your responsibility is to pay taxes to the IRS but would have no state tax to pay. 

The complication would be an accountant wanting to withhold taxes on behalf of the VI like he/she would for a state which would be impossible and not required. Easier to say no than to figure it out.

 

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aadziemiela
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You are my hero Gator's Mom. In the scenario outlined above, does it matter if you are bona fide or not?

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Gator's Mom
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Posted by: aadziemiela

You are my hero Gator's Mom. In the scenario outlined above, does it matter if you are bona fide or not?

You won't be a bona fide resident of the VI as long as your employer is on the mainland. 

https://www.irs.gov/publications/p570#en_US_2011_publink1000221340

 

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Exit Zero
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In the info mentioned by Gators mom:

 

f you are a bona fide resident of the USVI and have non-USVI source income, you also must file Virgin Islands Form 1040INFO, Non-Virgin Islands Source Income of Virgin Islands Residents, with the Virgin Islands. Attach Form 1040INFO to your USVI tax return before filing. You can get Form 1040INFO by contacting the address or website given earlier.

If you are a bona fide resident of the USVI for the entire tax year, file your return and all attachments with the Virgin Islands Bureau of Internal Revenue at:

Bureau of Internal Revenue
6115 Estate Smith Bay
St. Thomas, VI 00802
 
 
****If you reside in the USVI for over 183 days - you are a bona fide resident.
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Gator's Mom
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Posted by: Exit Zero

In the info mentioned by Gators mom:

 

f you are a bona fide resident of the USVI and have non-USVI source income, you also must file Virgin Islands Form 1040INFO, Non-Virgin Islands Source Income of Virgin Islands Residents, with the Virgin Islands. Attach Form 1040INFO to your USVI tax return before filing. You can get Form 1040INFO by contacting the address or website given earlier.

If you are a bona fide resident of the USVI for the entire tax year, file your return and all attachments with the Virgin Islands Bureau of Internal Revenue at:

Bureau of Internal Revenue
6115 Estate Smith Bay
St. Thomas, VI 00802
 
 
****If you reside in the USVI for over 183 days - you are a bona fide resident.

To be a bona fide resident you have to meet 3 tests.

The tax code generally defines a “bona fide resident” as a person who

1) is present for at least 183 days during the tax year in the Virgin Islands;
2) does not have a tax home outside the Virgin Islands during the tax year and
3) does not have a closer connection to the U.S. or a foreign country than to the possession.

If you are a remote worker whose employer is on the mainland you will not pass the tax home or closer connection tests. Consequently, you cannot be a bona fide resident of the VI for tax purposes.

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debsrep
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Any update on the original topic? Did your company approve it?

I am going through the exact same situation now with a Fortune 500 company - I got approval from my leadership to work remotely in USVI temporarily (10 months - coming back stateside 1x per month), but blocked by HR with the reason that the company would need to register in USVI if that is where I am working from (and they are unwilling to do that).  I will not be a bona-fide resident in USVI (will def. be more stateside than USVI), but does that make a difference for the company needing to register?

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Scubadoo
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Read through IRS Publication 570 to get an idea of how earned income is treated, what is taxable to VI and therefore what employer withholding is done for the VI.

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