Guides for Indians in New York

Family & Kids
Health & Wellness
Legal & Finance
Eat & Drink
Beer Garden - Stamford, CT

Beer Garden - Stamford, CT

by Akanksha Kochhar

Pretty chilled out hangout spot by the Long Island sounds in beautiful Connecticut - 40 mins train ride from GCT. Open space with a beer bar and awesome food trucks in the summer. Amazing live music performances with hangout games. Open for season - May to October
What to do when you get homesick for India

What to do when you get homesick for India

by Chandana Menon

No matter where in India you are from, the feeling is familiar and we all know it. Just when you think you’re having the time of your life walking down Broadway with a Starbucks in your hand, it hits you. And it hits hard. And you just want to take the first plane back. Except, you can’t. Because life. Also, we know tickets need to be booked way in advance if you want a good deal. Here are some ways that I deal with the homesickness and bring a comforting dash of India back in my every day life. 1. Hotstar instead of Netflix and Chill. Hotstar has the most amazing selection of current Indian tv shows and movies across almost all major languages. Putting up my feet with an episode of Koffee with Karan or the Maniratnam movie I missed makes all the difference. 2. Have a random conversation with another Indian. Preferably a complete stranger. One thing that’s amazing about India is that you can develop long standing relationships with your sabziwala, the family you sat next to one time on a train journey, your mom’s tailor! I miss those conversations. Chatting non stop with another Indian that I randomly meet somewhere always makes me feel better. 3. Order in from an Indian restaurant. This is a no brainer. But I’m quite picky about what I order when I’m specifically homesick. Gulab Jamun. Rasmalai. Basically, Indian sweets. Everyone has an Indian comfort food. What’s yours? 4. Call friends you don’t call that often. Most of us call home and family regularly. But now and then, I have to make sure that I speak to some of my friends in India. They keep you rooted and they also let you know that all your favorite brands are now available back home so no big deal. 5. Take your Indian clothes for a walk in the sun. Sometimes you just need to slip into your favorite Biba Kurti or even just wrap yourself in your favorite Razai to feel enveloped by home. I like to find ways to wear something Indian every day, even though I lived in Jeans back when I was home. 6. Find an Indian charity or non profit to donate to. Sitting here, it’s easy to forget all the hardships that people go through back home. Finding causes, charities or even Individuals to give to through sites like Milaap or giveIndia make me feel a little more connected with my country. My personal favorite cause is wildlife sos, a non profit that works very hard to help animals in need in India. 7. Put on some music and dance the blues away. My current favorite song to dance to is Lambhorgini. And I don’t even speak Punjabi. But it doesn’t matter. Put together a playlist of the songs that make you feel like you’re home in your room and dance like Prabhudeva. Don’t worry about the neighbors. Everyone understands. One tip: Do not play songs from Swades. You might cry like I do. One other thing I’ve been doing recently is connecting with other Indians on Homeis. It’s nice to chat with and meet people going through the exact same things as you. Living in Manhattan makes it hard to meet other Indians and this is a really nice space to connect and hopefully, find new ways to be homesick together.
How to get around NYC with no phone

How to get around NYC with no phone

by Taruna Prabhala

A journey to NYC feels like a journey to the center of the earth!

Wow! Here I am in this ginormous city of dreams. Clueless, and phoneless. Had no idea which way to go! Unlike in India, where people would tell you. Hey! “Hyderabadi Slang - Take a right at Paradise Biryani hotel and then left at dadus pan shop, and you will find Ashoka trees, ask anyone, they will tell you which way to go. Idharich Hai Miya.” A mazing…

Well, here I am, NYC 150 west 17th Street on a cold winter night making my way to reach my first ever Photography meetup… Phew! It would have been great if I had paid more attention to high school geography. This was definitely mid-life crises of being geographically challenged!

It was a difficult task, to ask people in NYC. None seem to be relaxed, It looked as if they are running for their life. Thank heavens, all are helpful.

I made my way to the destination for the day. It just took a smile/ please/ thank you to get my way around NYC.

Useful Apps and tricks

  • Download offline google maps before you leave home
  • Download Path Train Schedule
  • Download NYC Subway app
  • Take a printout or screenshot of the address - Offline maps do not show walking directions
  • Carry a positive attitude! No place for a panic attack.
When Do You Need To File Form 8938, “Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets”?

When Do You Need To File Form 8938, “Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets”?

by MYRA Wealth… The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) was passed to mandate U.S. taxpayers to report their foreign account assets. This is the United States’ effort to identify tax evasion by U.S. taxpayers holding financial assets abroad. Individuals need to be aware of how this law impacts the reporting of foreign assets. FATCA not only affects individuals, but foreign financial institutions and foreign governments as well. Financial institutions abroad and foreign governments who have entered in an agreement with the United States submit reports to the Internal Revenue Service which contain information on the international finances of US taxpayers (including United States citizens, Resident Aliens and Non-Resident Aliens). Failure to report, as required, by any individual, financial entity or government can result in stiff penalties. FATCA requires U.S. taxpayers holding financial assets outside the United States to report those assets to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets. This is in addition to the requirement to report foreign financial accounts on FinCEN Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) to the Department of Treasury. You may also be subject to filing requirements of Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets, if you have an interest in foreign financial assets which exceed a predetermined threshold. Reporting thresholds are based on marital status, whether you file an individual or joint federal income tax return and whether or not you live in the United States. Unsure if you should file Form 8938 or FinCEN Form 114? The Internal Revenue Service provides a side-by-side comparison tool which details who must file, reporting thresholds, what is reported, filing due dates, and outlines penalties for failure to file. The tool also includes 19 types of foreign assets and indicates which are reportable under which form. Foreign Financial Assets Subject to Reporting The IRS provides examples of financial accounts that must be reported but is careful also to state that you may be required to report other items that do not appear on the list. The list below is a partial list as reflected on the IRS website as of the date of this article. Savings, deposit, checking, and brokerage accounts held with a foreign bank or broker-dealer Stock or securities issued by a foreign corporation A note, bond or debenture issued by a foreign person An interest rate swap, currency swap, basis swap, interest rate cap, interest rate floor, commodity swap, equity swap, equity index swap, credit default swap or similar agreement with a foreign counterpart An option or other derivative instrument with respect to any of these examples or with respect to any currency or commodity that is entered into with a foreign counterpart or issuer A partnership interest in a foreign partnership An interest in a foreign retirement plan or deferred compensation plan An interest in a foreign estate Any interest in a foreign-issued insurance contract or annuity with a cash-surrender value The Exposure Risk of Failure to Report U.S. taxpayers with an aggregate value of foreign assets exceeding $50,000.00 (USD) are subject to reporting using Form 8938. Failure to file this report could put you at risk for a penalty of $10,000.00 (USD) (and a penalty up to $50,000.00 (USD) for continued failure after IRS notification). Keep in mind that it’s not only about reporting foreign assets but about reporting them completely and accurately. Underpayments due to a failure to disclose foreign financial assets may subject you to an additional 40% penalty. What to Do If You Failed to Report in Prior Years We first need to understand that the IRS has set time limits on when it can assess taxes. This is known as the statute of limitations. If you fail to file or adequately report a foreign financial asset, the statute of limitations is limited to three (3) years following the time you submit the required information. On the other hand, if you were required to report and you omitted from your gross income more than $5,000.00 (USD) that was to be attributed to a foreign financial asset, the IRS statute of limitations is extended to six years after you properly submit your tax return. If you can successfully present evidence to the IRS that you did not intentionally fail to report as required, it’s possible that no penalty will be imposed for failure to file Form 8938. Final decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. Due to the ongoing changes in tax and reporting laws in the United States, please consult with a tax attorney or qualified tax professional for details on how to handle your particular situation. The information shared in this article is not intended nor a substitute for legal or tax advice from a qualified professional. We also encourage readers to further explore this topic via these resources: FATCA Intergovernmental Agreements About Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets Instructions for Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) Are you looking for financial advice tailored to your unique needs as a US immigrant? Get In Touch with a MYRA Wealth Advisor today or learn about our Services.

What is Maha Shivaratri and why is it celebrated?

What is Maha Shivaratri and why is it celebrated?

by Madhuri Jain

Maha Shivaratri comes once a year, usually during the 11th month in the Hindu calendar, right before spring arrives. It is known as the Great Night of Shiva. On this day, Shiva is said to have saved the world from destruction, on the condition that people worship him with pride and exuberance. So this holiday symbolises overcoming darkness and ignorance in the world.

It is one of the major festivals within Hinduism culture. During the day, part of the custom is to observe and remember Shiva, by changing prayers, fasting, doing yoga, and meditating. These actions mark virtues of self-restraint, honesty, forgiveness, and kindness. Devotees would offer milk, dhatura, bhaanfg, akwan flowers, and worship the God of destruction, Shiva. Since Shiva is also considered the ideal husband, unmarried girls and women pray for a husband like him.

Many people fast the whole day and night during Maha Shivratri, and attend temple in the morning. In the temple they perform the puja of traditional Shivalingam, and hope to receive what they have prayed to the god. In India, it is custom to take a bath in the holy water of the Ganga early in the morning before sunrise, and wear clean clothes after this sacred bath.

Maha Shivratri is a celebration that holds faith ideal and a lot of cultural presence. It is not simply a “celebration” but a practice of the traditional worshipping ideals and core values of Hinduism.

Happy Maha Shivratri!

Do I Qualify for the 20% QBI Deduction?

Do I Qualify for the 20% QBI Deduction?

by Sahil Vakil

Have you heard about the 20% QBI deduction for pass through small businesses? Are you wondering if you qualify?…

Do I Qualify For The 199A QBI Deduction ?

Do I Qualify For The 199A QBI Deduction ?

by MYRA Wealth… The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act introduced the 199A deduction in 2018. Taxpayers earning domestic income from a trade or business operating as sole proprietorships, partnerships, S corporations, or LLCs may be eligible for this deduction. This 20% deduction against qualified business income will be effective until the end of 2025 unless extended by Congress. While it is attractive, 199A has complex requirements. Here’s an overview of this new tax provision and how it may benefit you. What is the 199A Deduction? This deduction allows pass-through entities with domestic businesses to reduce their Qualified Business Income (QBI) by up to 20%. QBI refers to the U.S. income of the business excluding investment income from: Dividends and any dividend income equivalent Interest income not allocable to the business Capital gains and losses For a sole proprietor, the qualified business income (QBI) refers to the profit or loss from the business as reported on Schedule C of Form 1040. What does "Pass-Through Entities" refer to? Pass-Through Entities refer to S corporations, LLCs, sole proprietorships, and partnerships where the tax is imposed on the personal tax return of the owner and not on the business. In other words, the income "passes through" the business and falls on the individual. How do I know if my business is a pass-through entity? If you are not paying income tax for your business by filing a separate Corporate Tax Return (Form 1120) but you are declaring income from all sources including that business in your personal tax return (on Schedule C of Form 1040), your business is a pass-through entity. Where does the name "199A" come from? This deduction comes from Section 199A of the Tax Cuts and Jobs act, hence the name. It is also referred to as the 20% Qualified Business Income (QBI) of Pass-Through Entities since it applies to businesses where income is taxed on the personal tax return of the owner or the partner. Who needs to know about this deduction? Who can take this deduction? The 199A deduction is applicable to those who are earning income from a pass-through business but has exceptions. The amount of the deduction will also depend on certain thresholds. If you are at or below a taxable income of $315,000 (for joint filers) and $157,500 (for single filers), any type of pass-through business can take the full deduction. Above this income threshold, the deduction is based on whether you are a specified service trade or businesses (SSTB) or not. The law designates certain trades or businesses as SSTBs including the following: Athletics Accounting Health Actuarial sciences Law Consulting Investing Financial services Investment management Trading Any other business or trade whose primary asset is reliant on the skill or reputation of the company’s employees When the taxable income is between $315,000 to $415,000 (for joint filers) and $157,500 to $207,500 (for single filers), SSTBs and non-SSTBs can still get the deduction with limitations. Above the $415,000 / $207,500 thresholds, SSTBs are not allowed to apply the 199A deduction. Meanwhile, non-SSTBS will compute the deduction subject to the limit imposed by wages paid by the business and/or the property owned. Anyone performing services as an employee is disqualified from taking this deduction. Why should you care? The 199A deduction provides significant tax savings. With the 20% deduction, a taxpayer on the top bracket paying 37% will only pay taxes based on 80% of their QBI. This decreases the effective tax rate to 29.6%. How does it work? Anyone who owns or is a partner in a pass-through business, you may qualify for the 199A deduction. Here is a flow chart to help you determine how 199A works. How can you maximize your 199A deduction? 1. Keep your income under the threshold. Below the $315,000 threshold for joint filers and $157,500 threshold for other taxpayers, the deduction is less restrictive. The nature of your business will not matter either. If your income goes over the limit, consider accelerating deductions, deferring income, or making additional contributions to your retirement plans including IRAs, 401(k)s, and defined-benefit plans. 2. Make changes to owner wages. You can’t get a 199A deduction on your income from compensation. To maximize QBI and get a larger 199A deduction, you can decrease the compensation you receive as long as the amount is still reasonable compensation. Take note that this compensation will be considered under the W-2 limitation. 3. Shift money from guaranteed payments to income. Avoid guaranteed payments to partners since this will not increase the wage limitation computation or the QBI. A better way to enjoy benefits under the 199A deduction is to opt for priority allocation of profits. Doing this can be tedious as the partners have to renegotiate an allocation with substantial economic effect. They need to amend the partnership agreement. 4. Invest in REITs. Income from qualified REITs and Publicly Traded Partnerships (PTPs) are not subject to the SSTB limitation or a W-2 limitation. These income sources are eligible for a 20 percent deduction. The only component to consider is the overall limit based on the taxable income over net capital gains. How can you “structure” to avoid personal service business designation? Due to the explicit disqualification of businesses engaged in providing personal services, many taxpayers are looking for ways to be eligible for the deduction. There is a de minimis exception for SSTB. This exception sets a minimum threshold for businesses to escape the SSTB designation in any of the following circumstances: Gross receipts from SSTB is 10% or less if total gross receipts is $25 million or less, or Gross receipts from SSTB is 5% or less if total gross receipts is more than $25 million Taxpayers looking to infuse qualified business into a disqualified business have to meet the requirements above to get the 20% deduction under 199A. Another approach is to create a separate entity which provides business and administrative support to a disqualified business. Forming a new LLC to provide alternative services to the business is safer. For instance, if an LLC leases a building to the business, that LLC can qualify for 199A deduction provided that rental payments are at a justifiable rate. Main Takeaways About the 199A Deduction For SSTBs the best way to enjoy the 199A deduction is to keep taxable income below the threshold. Under the new tax law, no entity is penalized but many businesses may be disqualified from taking the 199A deduction. Businesses other than SSTBs should consider strategies to increase W-2 wages if their income is above the threshold. Plan strategies on how to increase or decrease QBI depending on your income level. Plan with Caution: Beware of Anti-Abuse Rules The 199A deduction is a new tax item which is open to interpretation. In fact, the IRS just issued a new regulation to guide taxpayers. Always keep anti-abuse rules in mind when drafting a tax minimization plan. The IRS and the Treasury have specific rules for employees shifting to independent contractors and for SSTB businesses creating another entity to get the 199A deduction. At this point, it’s better to consult an expert to have a solid grasp of your options and if the strategies you plan to implement is actionable. While understanding this deduction provides significant tax savings, remember that 199A is just a single consideration of your tax-planning roadmap. You need to think how the recent changes in the tax law affect you on a macro level. Doing this will help you implement a better strategy to minimize taxes. Looking for help with the 199A QBI Deduction or your 2018 Tax Filing? Are you looking for financial advice tailored to your unique needs as a US immigrant? Get In Touch with a MYRA Wealth Advisor today or learn about our Services.