8

Background

I am a natural-born US citizen and lifelong US resident.

My friend, who I will call V, is a Mexican citizen living in Mexico. She is trying to improve her financial situation. She has just gotten a degree in biotechnology. Biotechnology career prospects in Mexico are poor, so she wants to immigrate to the US to start her career.

V needs funds to immigrate, to cover expenses such as transportation, housing, food, etc. She wants to create a fundraiser, and receive $7,500-$10,000 in donations to make the move. V has found that many fundraising platforms are restricted in Mexico, and concluded that one of her more viable options is to have someone in the US create the fundraiser, receive the donations, and then transfer the donations to her.

I want to do this for her, but I have to imagine that there are governmental implications.
To clarify, I reached out to V about the possibility of me helping her in this way, not her to me.

Question

Is this a bad idea? What should I consider in terms of financial and legal implications? I am particularly concerned about:

  1. How my tax filing will be effected by receiving up to ~$10,000 in donations
  2. What the government will have to say about me gifting up to ~$10,000 to someone in Mexico
  3. As I am a college student, the implications of this on me receiving Federal Student Aid

Followup

Q:

The gofundme site seems to have Mexican pages. Have you verified that the restrictions V claims are real?

A:

I have verified this. While gofundme allows campaigns for persons in Mexico, they are not currently able to transfer money directly into Mexican banks. On their website, they explicitly endorse the receiving of funds from someone in an accepted country in this situation.

link

You can start a GoFundMe campaign in any one of the countries supported by our payment partners. We are working to expand our services to more countries in the future, but for now, your campaign must be created in one of the following countries and the person withdrawing the funds must meet the withdrawal requirements from that country:

(list of countries, does not include mexico.)

If you do not meet the requirements for one of these supported countries, then please do not create a campaign. You will need to ask someone in one of the countries above to raise money for you instead.

Q:

How is she planning to legally immigrate? TN? H-1B? I would suggest she get a job offer first, hopefully one that will offer relocation money.

A:

Answer from V:

I’ve checked all the process. In any potential country I want to go (especially USA and Canada) you first need a formal accepted job offer from any employer in order to get the Work-VISA (USA) or Work permit (Canada).

I tried to check if companies support the costs, and they do, however you must have an impressive CV and background to got such support, for example to hold an MS or PhD, to be a business person, to be an startup entrepreneur, etc.

If you are not granted company’s financial support you must demonstrate that you can pay for the moving prices yourself, that’s the funding for.

That’s part of the reason I’m targeting more startup companies rather than big companies. Somehow startups are more accessible and open to do this, meanwhile big companies tend to have automatic “standards” that discard immediately anyone who doesn’t meet the features.

  • 2
    Is this a bad idea? Also, it raises all sorts of parental alarms regarding fraud on your alleged friend's part. – RonJohn Aug 2 at 19:43
  • @RonJohn I am cognizant of the alarms, but all the details over the last few years I've known V seem to check out. – Phoenix Aug 2 at 19:57
  • 1
    @RonJohn I lack the context to understand your first comment, and am unsure if it is meant as serious advice. – Phoenix Aug 2 at 19:58
  • 4
    Is this a friend as in someone you've met in real life, maybe even gone to school together, or a "friend" as in "We've talked on social media for a while." The line about fundraising being restricted in Mexico so I need you to do it for me, lights up "Possible scam" in flashing red letters. You need to be aware that people simply lie on social media all the time. – Charles E. Grant Aug 2 at 23:08
  • @CharlesE.Grant I have not met V in person. I am interested in ways to protect myself against scamming, but I am not interested in entirely dismissing this on the grounds that it may be a scam, unless I am lacking significant information. My primary goal with this question is to establish the implications of going through with this. – Phoenix Aug 3 at 1:29
1

You could run the fundraiser in your name, collect the money, then gift it to your friend. Generally money raised through gofundme and similar sites need to be declared as regular income so you'll have to pay taxes on that money. You could estimate what that added liability would be and keep some of the money to pay it. Of course make sure that your friend is OK with that and make that clear in the gofundme request so that the donors understand how their money will be used.

That higher income will show up in your FSA application, but I doubt it will have any significant effect on you aid eligibility - $10,000 is just not that much money in the grand scheme of things. You could try estimating the effect using this online calculator https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa/estimate

You can send the money over to your friend in Mexico, that's not a problem. If over $10,000 the payment processor (bank, WesternUnion, etc) will report it to the government. Don't try to avoid that by sending smaller amounts to stay under the $10,000 limit - that's a crime. As long as you are not knowingly supporting a terrorist organization there is nothing to worry about.

I suggest you reach out to GoFundMe's customer support and ask them to explain the tax implications. I'm not an accountant but I doubt you'll be able to tax deduct the money you've raised. In any case, ask them on their recommended way of doing this.

-2

Don't do it. Maybe help her do her own fundraising but don't get involved, financially.

  • 4
    Welcome. Can you add reasons? One-line answers are not particularly helpful. – Jan Doggen Aug 6 at 13:14
  • 3
    This does not attempt to answer any of my questions, and does not give any information. – Phoenix Aug 6 at 15:30

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