Definition of “U.S. person” for FBAR (Report on Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts) Purposes

Since October of 2008, the definition of a “U.S. person” has been going through a turbulent phase of uncertainty with periodic expansions and retractions. The pre-2008 FBAR instructions (dating back to July of 2000 version) defined the “U.S. person” broadly as: “(1) a citizen or resident of the United States, (2) a domestic partnership, (3) a domestic corporation, or (4) a domestic estate or trust.” See IRS Announcement 2010-16.

Two important features of this definition stand out. First, the term “person” is defined to include not only individuals, but also virtually any type of business entity, estate or trust. 31 C.F.R. §103.11(z) Even a single-member LLC, which is generally disregarded for tax purposes, may be classified as a U.S. person because it has a separate juridical existence from its owner. A partnership or a corporation created or organized in the United States is considered to “domestic” under 26 U.S.C. §7701(a)(4). Second, the definition of who should be considered as a U.S. resident is interpreted under 26 U.S.C. §7701. Under 26 U.S.C. §7701(b), an individual is a U.S. resident if he meets any of the three bright-line tests: (1) lawful admission for permanent residence to the United States (“green card”); (2) substantial presence in the U.S.: the sum of the number of days on which such individual was present in the United States during the current year and the 2 preceding calendar years (when multiplied by the applicable multiplier determined under the following table) equals or exceeds 183 days; (3) and first-year election to be treated as a resident under 26 U.S.C. §7701(b)(4). Thus, the definition of a U.S. resident under the tax rules is much broader than the one used in immigration law.

In October of 2008, the IRS revised the FBAR instructions and further expanded the definition of a “U.S. person” by including the persons “in and doing business in the United States.” This revision caused a widespread confusion among tax professionals. The outburst of comments and questions prompted the IRS to issue Announcements 2009-51 and 2010-16, suspending FBAR filing requirement through June of 2010 (i.e. for calendar years 2008 and 2009) for persons who are not U.S. citizens, U.S. residents, and domestic entities. Instead, the tax professionals were referred back to July of 2000 FBAR definition of a “U.S. person.”

In the meantime, in February of 2010, the IRS published new Proposed FBAR regulations under 31 C.F.R. §103. The proposed rules modify the definition of a “U.S. person” as follows: “a citizen or resident of the United States, or an entity, including but not limited to a corporation, partnership, trust or limited liability company, created, organized, or formed under the laws of the United States, any state, the District of Columbia, the Territories, and Insular Possessions of the United States or the Indian Tribes.” 75 Fed. Reg. 8845 (proposed February 23, 2010) (to be codified as 31 C.F.R. 103.24(b)). This definition applies even if an entity elected to be disregarded for tax purposes. Id. The determination of a U.S. resident status is to be done according to 26 U.S.C. §7701(b) and regulations there under, except the meaning of the “United States”(which is to be defined by 31 U.S.C. 103.11(nn)). Id.

Thus, if the proposed regulations will ultimately be codified in their current form, the definition of the “U.S. person” will be slightly broader than that of the July of 2000, but will represent a major regression from October 2008 definition. Nevertheless, based on even existing (July of 2000) definition of the “U.S. person,” the IRS has been able to cast a wide net over U.S. taxpayers, trying to force disclosure of as many foreign financial accounts as possible.

Net Worth Requirement for Money Transmitter License in Minnesota

An applicant for a money transmitter license in Minnesota must comply with Minn. Stat. §53B.05 net worth requirements. Under Minnesota law, each licensee engaging in money transmission in three or fewer locations in the state, either directly or through authorized delegates, must have a net worth of at least $25,000. However, if a licensee engages in money transmission at more than three locations in the state, but fewer than seven locations (either directly or through authorized delegates), he must have a net worth of at least $50,000. If there are more than six locations in the state, the licensee should have a net worth of $100,000 and an additional net worth of $50,000 for each location or authorized delegate located in the state in excess of seven, to a maximum of $500,000. The net worth is calculated in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”).

The required net worth must be maintained throughout the licensed period. Failure to meet the statutory net worth requirement may lead to license revocation and denial of the license renewal application. Minn. Stat. §53B.19 (2).

The burden of proof is on the initial licensee. This means that when the applicant files its money transmitter license application for the very first time, he must prove by preponderance of evidence that he satisfies the net worth requirements and any other issues raised by the Minnesota Department of Commerce (“Department”). When an application for license renewal is filed, however, the issue of who bears the burden of proof is not yet settled by courts. There is a very good argument that the Department bears the burden of proof once the initial burden of production is satisfied by the applicant. Sherayzen Law Office can help you make this argument once the need arises.

It is very important to hire a Minnesota attorney to review your license application. The regulatory compliance costs are very high and making sure that your application satisfies the statutory requirements prior to its filing may be crucial to containing legal expenses and even ultimate ability to obtain (for the first time) or renew the license.

If, however, you submit your license application without professional review of a Minnesota attorney and the Department raises issues with respect to the application, it is indispensable to retain a Minnesota business lawyer as soon as possible. Timely professional intervention may lead to quick resolution of the issues and led to significant savings in accounting and legal expenses.

Sherayzen Law Office can help you file a new license application as well as a renewal application. If your application has been rejected and you appeal the case with the Office of Administrative Hearings, Sherayzen Law Office will provide you with a vigorous yet cost-effective legal representation. Call now: (612) 790-7024!

Eugene Sherayzen is a new Legal Advisor to Bright New Ideas

It is with pleasure that Sherayzen Law Office announces that on May 5, 2010, Eugene Sherayzen became a Legal Advisor to the Bright New Ideas (“BNI”), a Minnesota non-profit corporation devoted to the alleviation of worldwide poverty through the use of solar energy. In his new capacity, Mr. Sherayzen will help overview the BNI’s U.S. and international contracts, and provide legal support for the BNI’s import and export strategy.

Tax-Exempt Organizations Must File Form 990 by May 17, 2010

Under the Pension Protection Act of 2006, most tax-exempt organizations, with the exception of churches and church-related organizations, must file Form 990 with the IRS effective the beginning of year 2007. Any tax-exempt organization that fails to file the relevant version of the form for three consecutive years automatically loses its federal tax-exempt status.

All Form 990-series returns are due on the 15th day of the fifth month after an organization’s fiscal year ends. Many organizations use the calendar year as their fiscal year, which makes May 15 the deadline for those tax-exempt organizations. This year, however, since May 15 falls on a Saturday, the deadline is actually on May 17, 2010. Absent a request for extension, there is no grace period from filing by the original due date.

Small tax-exempt organizations with annual receipts of $25,000 or less can file an electronic notice Form 990-N. Other tax-exempt organizations with annual receipts above $25,000 must file a Form 990 or 990-EZ, depending on their annual receipts. Private foundations must file Form 990-PF.

Commercial Lease Negotiation: Priority Issues for Landlords

It is impossible to know what issues will actually arise during the term of a lease. Hence, it is important for a landlord to hire an attorney to carefully analyze the landlord’s specific situation, spot potential problems and address them in the lease agreement. The process of addressing these issues in the lease, however, can become very contentious since landlords and tenants often disagree about the terms that the other party wishes to include in the lease. This may lead, in turn, to multiplication of disagreements and eventually even ruin the deal altogether.

Therefore, it is very important for the landlord to prioritize the issues in order to know when to concede an issue and when to hold the ground and insist on an agreeable resolution. In this essay, I will identity and discuss six most crucial commercial lease issues for the landlord; these issues are worth fighting for and must be given priority in a commercial lease negotiation.

A. Tenant Payments During the Term of the Lease Agreement

This is the most fundamental part of the lease agreement – the lease agreement (“Agreement”) must require tenant to make the rent payments for the duration of the lease agreement. In order to do so, the landlord should consider adopting four strategies. First, the Agreement should clearly set forth the tenant’s obligation to pay under the lease. Second, the landlord should strive to minimize the number of conditions to the obligation of the tenant to pay rent and operating expenses. Third, minimize the number of events that give the tenant the right to terminate the lease. Finally, eliminate the right of the tenant to set-off payments if the landlord defaults. Similar attitude should be adopted to the rent abatement situations.

B. Control Over the Leased Property

Leasing the property does not automatically mean that the landlord should give up all control over it. Usually, a landlord’s attorney will insist on requiring landlord’s consent to anything that could interfere with the smooth operation or safe condition of the leased property. Another strategy is for the landlord to retain reasonable control over who will occupy the leased property.

C. Unhindered Ability of the Landlord to Finance or Sell the Leased Property

Closely related to the previous topic of control, the landlord should make sure that his ability to finance and/or sell the leased property is left unhindered by the provisions of the Agreement. It is also suggested that the Agreement includes provisions typically expected by lenders, such as subordination and attornment requirements as well as provisions mirroring typical borrower-to-lender covenants.

D. Clear Obligations and Reasonably Enforceable Remedies

This is another priority area for the landlord. The Agreement should set forth clearly both parties’ obligations and responsibilities, conform notice requirements to the landlord’s standard practices, and provide for reasonable remedies such as: adequate security (security deposit, guarantees, letters of credit, etc.), record-keeping of the tenant’s gross sales, realistic late fees and interest, and the landlord’s self-help rights.

E. Insurance and Indemnification Provisions

The Agreement should strive to make sure that there is an insurance against every risk, whether the insurance is provided by the landlord or the tenant. It is suggested, however, to avoid needlessly requiring both landlord and tenant to carry multiple levels of insurance coverage.

F Avoidance of Unexpected Costs

The Agreement should plan for unexpected costs by providing for expenses that vary based on occupancy. The landlord should work toward including in the Agreement provisions reimbursing him for out-of-pocket expenses in connection with attorney’s fees incurred in dealing with tenant requests for lease assignment and sublease. Other professionals’ fees (such as design professionals who review or supervise construction projects) may also be incorporated in the reimbursement provisions.

Conclusion

The purpose of this essay is to familiarize the readers with the very dense and complex landlord issues in a commercial lease negotiation setting. Obviously, in order to achieve better understanding by my non-lawyer audience, I necessarily over-simplified the issues and greatly narrowed the description of the lease provisions. I hope, however, is that I provided sufficient legal background for you to be able to better explain your goals and wishes to the attorney who will be drafting your commercial lease agreement.