My mom just sold our small weekend house in a non-EU European country for something like US$35K. It was our family property.

What would be the most elegant (meaning free of taxes, paperwork and scrutiny) way to send it here to me in the States? Will simply transferring it to a checking or savings account raise any regulatory alert? If yes, can I just make a large lump sum payment into my mortgage account whose balance is more than that? Do payments of US debt from abroad raise less scrutiny than depositing into ready-to-withdraw accounts?

I don't need the cash really bad. If paying debt with it would make the transaction a single sheet of paperwork lighter, I would go for it.

2 Answers 2


You can simply transfer the money as usual (wire transfer, or any other means). There are no tax implications for moving money into and out of the US, and nobody will care (unless you transport it in cash).

The tax implications are from having that home in the first place. You are required to report on your tax filings all income and property outside the US, although it is of course possible that the house produced no income for you.
If the house was owned by your mom, and she is gifting you the amount now, this is a taxable gift, which she - not you - has a US tax liability for, if she is a US person (and independantly, potentially a tax liability in her home country, which you didn't name).

For a mother-to-son gift, the US tax exclusion is 15000 per year; only money above this is taxable. Note that this limit is per person, giver and receiver, so if either your mom or you are married, both parents could gift each to both of you each 15000 tax free, resulting in 60000 tax free.

There are no tax consequences of using any amount you happen to have to pay off part of your mortgage.
Make sure you do it right, as some mortgage companies have funny rules about larger payments - they could consider it a 'pre-payment of your next N monthly payments' and as such just 'safekeep it interest free' for you, and pay your monthly rate every month from it. This is obviously bad for you, and not what you want; you want it applied to the principal immediately, so make sure this is what happens.

Overall, no paperwork, and no tax consequences for you. No worries.

  • I'm trying to avoid "taxable gift" scenario
    – amphibient
    Commented Apr 23, 2020 at 0:23
  • Understood. But in a nutshell, for the IRS, if you have money today you didn't have yesterday, it's either taxable income, or a taxable gift. If you can split it 15000-pieces from your mother, your father, your aunt, etc. to you, your spouse, your son, etc, you could stay under the 15k annual limit, and just do nothing.
    – Aganju
    Commented Apr 23, 2020 at 0:35
  • 1
    Realistically, the IRS has little time to follow up on anything below several millions, so chances they even look at it is pretty much zero. But of course, I am not recommending you to simply ignore it and don't report anything.
    – Aganju
    Commented Apr 23, 2020 at 0:38
  • I think I might just pay off some debt
    – amphibient
    Commented Apr 23, 2020 at 0:38
  • So the IRS doesn't consider the scenario of you having maybe assets in another country and just moving your own money to here? Like the US is a planet unto itself...
    – amphibient
    Commented Apr 23, 2020 at 2:42

Depending on what country the money is coming from, Transferwise might be an option. If they offer transfers out of the county in question it would probably be the cheapest option in terms of transfer fees. If you use a regular bank you are going to get screwed on fees and exchange rate to the tune of 3 to 5% of the amount transferred. Just have your mother make several transfers under 10k each, no tax consequences. Also, why on earth would you want pay your mortgage early right now? You can probably negotiate something with your bank, so you don't have to pay anything for a couple of month without any impact on your credit. At the very least, look into refinancing at a lower rate, which you probably can, after the recent rate cuts.

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