JANUARY/ENERO 8, 2008 -
Maya Newsletters: of primary interest to property owners on the Costa
Maya, - Mahahual / Mahajual - Rio Indio - Placer - Uvero - Punta Herrera
- Xcalak and other points along the coast
- Message Board discussion: Tabano - what's your experience?
- U.S. Expatriates and Filing of US Tax Returns
- Veterinary Clinic in Mahahual and Xcalak
- Watch for that turnoff
- News from Mahahual
- News from Xcalak
- Good Post-Dean News from Bacalar
- New and improved - vacation rentals!
In this area of Mexico, there is a nice tradition at New Years involving
grapes. While drinking is involved, of course, more importantly, it
is the opportunity to look toward the new years with hope. Everyone
takes 12 grapes -- big juicy grapes that are over an inch across-
each representing a month in the new year. Each grape is associated
with a wish. At midnight, everyone eats the grapes. If the grape is
sweet, the wish will come true. There are some variations of this
theme, where resolutions are combined with wishes, but the concept
is similar. I'm happy to announce that all my grapes were sweet as
can be! We hope all of your wishes for the new year come true!
Mayan Beach Garden opened this year with lovely guests and renewed
traditions. We ate traditional Bacalau for Christmas Eve in the Restaurant
and then roasted turkey and the Christmas roast for Christmas day
dinner. On Jan 6th (Epiphany) we ate Rosco de las reyes and dunked
it in chocolate milk. We hunted furiously for the trinkets hidden
in the bread and celebrated when they were found. It was nice to be
in business again, meeting old and new friends and celebrating traditions,
new and old. Already the new year seems more positive with lots of
activity, many mentioned below. Most of the hotels in the area were
full - a testament to the fact that life continues without the cruise
ship. I actually enjoy going into Mahahual now. I know people are
poorer this year because of less business, but I think there are more
restaurants now than there were pre-dean. This is a great time to
visit Mahahual. Don't wait until the cruise ships come back!
The online version of this Newsletter can be found at: http://www.mayanbeachgarden.com/PropertyOwners_Newsletter07_Dec.html
(includes some pictures)
MESSAGE BOARD DISCUSSION: TABANO - WHAT'S YOUR EXPERIENCE?
Most of us have been bitten by Tabanos at one point. If you don't
know what a Tabano is, it is the pesky yellow biting fly from the
family Tabanu. They are similar to Green heads, dear fly and the
much larger cousin - horse fly. Since the hurricane, there haven't
been too many of them, but they still exist here and there. Anne
Guerin, who has been here many times has recently had a bite and
is looking for remedy's. At one time, I was severely allergic and
thought I could never go outside in the months of June - August.
Thankfully, I grew immune to the nasty things.. If you have an experience
or can give some remedies for Anne, please chime in!
Message Board topic : Tabanos
US EXPATRIATES AND FILING OF US TAX RETURNS
The following article on "US Expatriates and Filing of US
Tax Returns" is valid for anyone moving out of the US on a
permanent basis and comes from Glazer Financial Network. It should
be of special interest because the IRS and Hacienda (the Mexican
equivalent) have plans to share information in the near future.
Hacienda is now fully computerized as of the beginning of 2007,
so this may come soon.
"One of the major issues that faces anyone when moving out
of the country and becoming an expatriate is the filing of US tax
returns. Numerous US citizens and lawful permanent residents (Green
Card Holders) move to a foreign country and forget or choose not
to file a tax return.
The US requires an accounting based on worldwide taxable income
when residing in or outside the United States. This could become
a major issue if a person chooses not to file their tax return.
The statute of limitations never runs out. Therefore, if you live
abroad for ten (10) years and then return to the United States,
the penalties and interest may exceed the actual tax.
Section 513 of the Health Insurance and Accountability Act (Pub.
L. 104-191) directs the Secretary of the Treasury to make sure that
citizens and lawful permanent residents, residing outside the United
States, comply with the US Income Tax Law. The Internal Revenue
Service is working with the Department of State and the Immigration
and Naturalization Service to improve this compliance.
However, a US Citizen or Resident Alien need not file a tax return
unless the gross income equals or exceeds certain minimum amounts.
For 2006, that amount is $16,900 for a married couple filing a joint
return. If one spouse is over 65 years of age then the amount is
$17,900. If both spouses are over 65 years of age then the amount
is $18,900. The amount for a single individual is $8,450. If the
single individual is over the age of 65 years than the amount is
$9,700. The amount for a head of household is $10,850. If the head
of household is over the age of 65 years then the amount is $12,100.
The amount for a qualifying widow or widower is $13,600. Other things
to remember is if you have W-2 income withholding tax or self employed
income where self-employment tax is due.
Even if required to file a return, the foreign earned income exclusion
and housing exclusion and deduction, currently for 2006 up to the
amount of $82,400 and living expenses in excess of $34 per day respectively,
plus the foreign tax credit, could reduce or eliminate the US tax
liability. If married and you both earn income, each of you can
exclude up to the amount of $82,400.
If you are self-employed and no foreign social security is being
withheld from your earnings you must file a Schedule C with your
US Tax Return and pay US self employment tax on your net earnings
after deducting your expense. The self-employment tax is 15.3% and
is not reduced by the foreign earned income exclusion or foreign
If you own more than a 10% ownership in a foreign corporation you
are required to file a special form reporting that interest. If
making a profit, it will be a controlled foreign corporation
and you could owe US tax on its earnings.
If you are a beneficiary or trustee of a foreign trust, (i.e.,
Fideicomiso) or have a bank account with a balance over $10,000,
you must file a special form.
Failure to file any of these forms can result in penalties up to
$10,000 or more and can be assessed many years from now when the
US, IRS and Mexican Hacienda finally start sharing more information.
You can also be liable for individual state income taxes.
Code Section 911 dictates the deductions from gross income and
also the foreign housing costs paid on behalf of or housing costs
paid by the individual that are in excess of a base amount. These
items need to be filed on Form 2555 or 2555 EZ. A very important
item is that the Internal Revenue Service has tried to explain the
necessity to file even if the income earned is less than the excludable
Code Section 901 allows US Citizens and long-term permanent residents
to take a credit for taxes paid to a foreign government. This is
reported on Form 1116. Almost 50% of individuals filing show no
tax liability because of the two codes, Sections 901 and 911.
There is a special tax on former citizens and long-term permanent
residents whose principal reason for moving to a foreign country
was the avoidance of US Income or Estate and Gift Taxes. Section
877 imposes this tax regardless of intent.
Expatriates who have a net worth of $500,000 or more (adjusted
for inflation) and have a net average annual net income tax liability
of $100,000 or more for the five years preceding expatriation are
subject to this tax. All expatriates who are subject to this tax
under the code has to submit a statement of residence and citizenship
and a statement of assets and liabilities.
Code Section 877 also provides a limited class of expatriates to
submit a ruling request to avoid this presumption. This class
consists of the following:
- Expatriates who were dual citizens at birth who have remained
citizens of the second country;
- Expatriates who at the time of expatriation were citizens of their
country of birth or the country of birth of their spouses or of
either of their parents;
- Expatriates who for the 10 years prior to expatriation were present
in the United States for no more than thirty (30) days in any year;
- Expatriates who renounced US citizenship before attaining the
age of 18 ½.
The Internal Revenue Service has initiated many programs to identify
non-filers and improve compliance. In the Middle East alone there
was s 51% increase in the number of returns filed because of compliance
They also created Form 2555EZ to simplify filing and revised Publication
593, tax highlights for US Citizens and Residents going abroad to
encourage taxpayers to file.
In addition, Publication 519, US Tax Guide for Aliens and the instructions
to Form 1040 NR to make former citizens and long term resident aliens
aware of their potential tax liability under Section 877.
There are also many programs that the Internal Revenue Service
has instituted to identify non-filers. Eventually you will realize
that you will be identified as a non-filer, so the best idea is
to file. The Internal Revenue Service is improving compliance and
is constantly looking for methods to improve filing for individuals
who reside in a foreign country.
If the reason for becoming a foreign resident is tax avoidance then
Section 877 might be invoked. Assets over $500,000 and an average
income tax liability of $100,000 over 5 years allows the government
to assume that tax avoidance is the reason for being an expatriate.
In summary, the United States taxes its citizens on their worldwide
income regardless where they live. The end result might be zero
tax but there is a definite requirement to file a tax return.
VETERINARY CLINICS IN MAHAHUAL AND XCALAK
Finally, Free veterinary clinics are scheduled in Mahahual and
Xcalak. The dates in Xcalak are January 13-15 and January 16-18
in Mahahual in the Casitas. This is sponsored by the humane society
of Mexico with foreign volunteers. Many local establishments are
donating housing for the volunteers. If you are in the area and
know of any dogs that could use shots or Spay and Neutering -- please
bring them to the clinic. Please do not bring dogs that may belong
to someone else. They will take strays, but if they belong to someone
else, you will need their permission to treat the dogs. I plan on
taking some of the Construction site dogs into town on one of those
PAPAYA (CARICA PAPAYA)
Native to the lowland tropics of South America, Papaya is now cultivated
world- wide. Pre-Dean, Mayan Beach Garden had several of them on
the property and you will find trees growing along the side of the
roads everywhere, many towering over shorter jungle trees.
The tree grows easily from seed and reaches 20 - 30 feet quickly.
The fruit can grow to be huge, dangling from the main trunk. Although
the size of the fruit seems to be directly related to the amount
of water it receives early in the process. Mexican papayas produce
fruits weighing up to 10 lbs (4.5 kg), on much larger plants.
The fruit on my wild Papaya tree was light orange, while most of
the ones you purchase in the stores are much darker and reddish
in color. The taste is different depending on the variety you plant.
Like avocados, Papayas will ripen off the tree at room temperature.
Here in the Yucatan, they score the skin to speed up the ripening
process. They never chill papayas until they are completely ripe.
The young leaves are sometimes eaten like spinach, although I've
never tried it. The unripe papaya fruit and the leaves are the source
of papain, an enzyme that digests protein and that is used as a
dietary supplement to aid in digestion. Papain is used as a meat
tenderizer, to clarify beer, in the processing of natural silk and
to give shrink resistance to wool. Who would have guessed! And it
grows in the sand!
Papaya requires a male and female plant. Its pretty easy to tell
the difference. The male has lots of small white flowers on stems
while the female has large flowers along the trunk. They like plenty
of sun and the fruit is sweater when grown in the sun. The Papaya
plant is short lived - only producing large fruits for one year,
and thereafter only small fruits.
WATCH FOR THAT TURNOFF
A downside of the aftermath of the hurricane is that the road signs
are down and therefore it is possible to get lost - we just had someone
drive all the way to Bacalar before they noticed they had missed a
turnoff (AND they owned property and had been here many times!). The
first noticeable sign down is on 307 at the turnoff to Mahahual. This
is approximately at km 64, but because of construction, that km marker
may be missing. Make sure you look carefully after the town of Limones.
It is the first major intersection to the left after you leave the
The second notable sign missing is the sign at Tampalam turnoff.
This is the first left hand turnoff you come to on the Cafetal-Mahahual
highway, but it is unmarked. It is right after the gas station, but
it too is missing signs. In fact, the gas station looks closed because
of the storm debris that has yet to be cleared. No fear, it is open
24 hours despite a lack of lights and signs.
Please warn everyone you know so that people have a positive visit
to the Costa Maya. Getting lost is no fun!
NEWS FROM MAHAHUAL
Malecon: The vision of the Mahahaul Malecon is nearing reality
- and its not a bad reality if they don't over do it. The sea-wall
portion of the Malecon is about done and hundreds of new palms have
been planted. During the holiday season, most of the restaurants along
the beach were open and serving meals. The town was crowded with locals
vacationing on the beach. The waiters would serve meals, crossing
the malecon's trench via boardwalks. It was great -- the beach was
clean, wide and full of plastic tables, chairs and umbrella stands.
Hopefully they will stop before the project gets out of hand, but
right now, it looks like a pretty good vision! Look for property values
in the town of Mahahual to sky-rocket after the Malecon is finished.
New access roads: It has always been painful going into Mahahual
because of the condition of the roads and especially during cruise
ship visits. New roads are nearing completion that enter Mahahual
from Cafetal. Expect more topes to slow traffic down as you approach
these new accesses. The roads are well on their way to completion
and quite wide. Can't wait!
Cruise ship pier: This is really progressing rapidly. You
can see the pier inch out daily. We haven't heard any new reports
of completion dates, so assume the September 2008 date is still valid
and at the rate it is going looks likely to make it. We have heard
reports that the cruise ship will anchor off shore and the passengers
will be tethered to Mahahaul as early as March, but that hasn't been
Power lines stolen: For many years there has been power lines
to Uvero Beach club. The power lines extended from the power station
at the Tampalam junction to Uvero. After the Hurricane, the lines
were rapidly repaired, but there was nothing at Uvero to connect to
--no power usage. Within two weeks, someone cut most of the lines
and stole the wire. After the hurricane, many copper pipes were stripped
from homes as well. My workers say the price of copper line is $100
pesos a Kilo of copper, while copper pipe is only $30 pesos a kilo.
NEWS FROM XCALAK (From Paula Preston this month)
"Polly is very busy this month with her Vet Spay and Neuter
Clinic project that is coming up January 13 - 15th so she asked me
to say a few words about Xcalak. The Holidays were lovely. Both "the
Leaky Palapa" and Toby and Moses's "Caribe Restaurant"
had great Christmas and New Years dinners and there was a rockin good
party on into New Years Eve upstairs at the Caribe. The resorts are
very busy and except for some chilly (for us) weather which folks
have patiently waited out.. . I have been deeply involved in a project
that has finally come to fruition. It was a quilt that was created
over the last few months and then raffled. I asked for decorated squares
6x6. I got drawings, paintings, embroidery, appliquéd and photo
copied on fabric squares and then assembled them. They were done by
families in the village, tourists, locals and part timers who had
them sent down with other folks who came for the holidays. People
bought chances at the different stores and restaurants and via pen
pal. Yesterday we had the drawing and Joe and Sue McDowell who have
a real estate office in town won the quilt. I hope they consider hanging
it in their office for all the town to continue to be able to see
and be proud of and contemplate what they will do for next year. The
money we made will be used by the parents association to help with
their Computers for Kids project. We are asking folks to recycle their
used lap tops and bring them down here for the kids to learn on.
I am glad Mayan Beach Garden is up and running. It is so beautiful
that everything is leafing out and blooming. Have a wonderful New
Year. Peace, Paula "
GOOD POST-DEAN NEWS IN BACALAR
One of my workers who lives in Bacalar had is home destroyed by Dean.
He lived on the poorer side of town, but what the wind didn't destroy,
the large tree that fell on it did. He now is the recipient of a new
home - courtesy of the government and completely free! Over 1000 homes
were completely or partially destroyed during the hurricane. Now 700
owners have new concrete homes with bathrooms. These 4 meter by 8
meter structures are hardly luxurious, but provide safe places to
go in the event of future hurricanes. They all have concrete roofs
but individuals will have to finish them. I applaud the Mexican government
for doing this. I don't know if the homes are paid for by the federal
or state government, but it appears that the promises made after dean
were fulfilled. How novel!
NEW AND IMPROVED VACATION RENTALS
Many vacation homes reopened this Christmas vacation due to Herculean
efforts on the part of owners. Despite the damaged area -- the guests
were great and most enjoyed the opportunity to really get away from
it all. The beaches are better than ever and many property owners
took the opportunity to improve their homes, adding things they didn't
have before and taking renewed interest in their properties. Beau
and Kitty Speed added a third bedroom to their vacation rental and
we added more spacious decks and kitchenettes. There is also have
a new home - Oasis Rio Indio. Rentals are starting to pick up again
after being very slow after Dean. That's good news for everyone! You
can view pictures of the new rentals at http://www.mayanbeachgarden.com/Rental_Homes.html.
Oasis Rio Indio - Brand NEW! check
out this property!
La Brisa: Newly remodeled - opened for Christmas!
Casa Porto Vino:- Costa Maya's most spectacular property
Jollymon: cute economy Villa
Villa Costa Maya
The editor of this newsletter (me) makes no claims that the information
here is completely true. I am not a news reporter, Spanish is not
my native language, the newspapers are notorious for not verifying
information and this is not my primary business, but rather a service
to the neighborhood. If you find something untrue PLEASE let me know
and I will print a disclaimer. I try to verify the information but
even the newspaper prints up rumors, so I can only report what I read
Unless otherwise stated, all content is copyrighted by MMB Contractors
Until Next month...
Regards from your Costa Maya Neighbor
Mayan Beach Garden, Boutique hotel on the Costa Maya