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May 29, 2017

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AIT nixes Ma claims, explains Green Card rules

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) yesterday said a person's United States Permanent Resident Card or Green Card would automatically expire once he or she doesn't travel to the U.S. for one year.

"In general, if a person with Green Card doesn't travel to the U.S. for one year, then my understanding is that the Green Card is expired," AIT spokesman Mark Zimmer told local media yesterday.

The spokesman made the remark in response to questions raised by local media regarding if President Ma Ying-jeou's Green Card is still valid.

Zimmer yesterday stressed that the AIT does not comment on individuals' visa or immigration status for privacy reasons.

However, generally speaking, the AIT spokesman said there are different ways for a person to renounce his or her green card.

One can file the application at the AIT headquarters in Taipei to invalidate the card. Also, if a Green Card holder doesn't travel to the U.S. for one year, then his or her card automatically expires, he noted.

The newer card has an expiration date on it so if a holder doesn't renew it before the expiration date then it also expires, Zimmer said.

"Once the card expires, you cannot renew but you can reapply for it," he added.

The issue on whether Ma's Green Card is still valid was a hotly debated issue during the 2008 presidential campaign.

During his campaign for the presidency in 2008, Ma had repeatedly said that he had abandoned the Green Card he had once applied for to facilitate his studies and work more than 20 years ago, amid accusations raised by opposition Democratic Progressive Party candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷).

Green Card Controversy

The issue resurfaced yesterday as local Chinese-language Next Magazine reported that the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) office in Beijing confirmed to the magazine that Ma's Green Card status made him subject to the provisions of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), requiring him to file taxes to the IRS.

Asked to comment on the report, Zimmer said yesterday that the IRS office in Beijing was simply replying to a question raised by the magazine regarding U.S. tax laws in general instead of focusing on the case of Ma.

Nothing has changed with regard to tax responsibilities with FATCA, he noted.

"American citizens and legal U.S. permanent residents will still have the same obligations toward money earned both in the U.S. and overseas."

Any individual who has abandoned their legal U.S. permanent resident status is not subject to U.S. taxes on their income earned outside of the U.S., he added.

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