Overcoming Late IRC Section 1041 Transfer Presumption | IRS Lawyer & Attorney

In a previous article, I discussed that a late IRC Section 1041 transfer between former spouses is presumed to be unrelated to the cessation of the marriage. This means that such a transfer may not be considered tax-free for US tax purposes. In this article, I would like to explain what a late IRC Section 1041 transfer is and how to overcome the presumption that it is not related to the cessation of the marriage.

What is a Late IRC Section 1041 Transfer?

A transfer of property between ex-spouses is not taxable as long as it is “incident to divorce”. 26 U.S.C. §1041(a)(2). Temporary regulations state that such a transfer of property will be considered as incident to divorce as long as it occurs within one year of the date of the cessation of marriage or if this transfer is related to the cessation of marriage. Treas Reg §1.1041-1T(b), Q&A-6.

As I indicated in a previous article, a transfer of property is related to the cessation of marriage if it is done pursuant to a divorce or separation instrument and “occurs not more than 6 years after the date on which the marriage ceases”. Treas Reg §1.1041-1T(b), Q&A-7. If the transfer of property between ex-spouses occurs after six years of the cessation of marriage, then it is considered a late IRC Section 1041 transfer. Id.

Late IRC Section 1041 Transfer: Presumption that the Transfer if Not Related to Marriage

A late IRC Section 1041 transfer gives rise to a presumption that the transfer is not related to the cessation of marriage. Id. In other words, if an ex-spouse transfers a property to another ex-spouse more than six years after the cessation of their marriage, then the IRS will assume that the transfer is not related to the marriage.

Late IRC Section 1041 Transfer: Rebuttal of the Presumption

Luckily for US taxpayers, this presumption is not absolute and can be rebutted. “This presumption may be rebutted only by showing that the transfer was made to effect the division of property owned by the former spouses at the time of the cessation of the marriage.” Id.

The temporary Treasury regulations emphasize that the presumption can be rebutted by establishing two facts. First, the transfer was made late “because of factors which hampered an earlier transfer of the property, such as legal or business impediments to transfer or disputes concerning the value of the property owned at the time of the cessation of the marriage”. Id. Second, “the transfer is effected promptly after the impediment to transfer is removed.” Id.

Late IRC Section 1041 Transfer: PLRs Indicate Anticipation of Transfer in a Divorce Decree as the Crucial Factor

The IRS has issued a number of Private Letter Rulings (“PLRs”) on the issue of a late IRC Section 1041 transfer. Overall, the PLRs seem to follow an important trend in determining whether a taxpayer is successful in his rebuttal of the aforementioned presumption.

The key factor that appears in these PLRs seems to be whether a transfer of property (or an option to transfer a property) was part of the divorce decree. In other words, the most important question is whether this transfer of property was anticipated by the terms of the divorce decree. If it was and there is a good justification for the delay of the transfer of property, then the IRS is likely to rule that Section 1041 applies and the transfer would be deemed tax-free for federal income tax purposes.

Of course, it is highly important that a tax attorney review the situation to determine the likelihood that the IRS will agree on both points: anticipation of transfer in the divorce decree and the good reason for the delay of the transfer.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help Concerning Late IRC Section 1041 Transfers

If you are engaged in a divorce or you are an attorney representing a person who is engaged in a divorce, contact Sherayzen Law Office for experienced help with respect to taxation of transfers of property to an ex-spouse as well as other tax consequences of a divorce proceeding.

Ex-Spouse Property Transfers Incident to Divorce | Tax Lawyer & Attorney

This article introduces a series of articles on 26 U.S.C. §1041 and specifically the issue of tax treatment of ex-spouse property transfers incident to divorce. As a result of a divorce, it is very common for ex-spouses to transfer properties to each other as part of their settlement agreement. A question arises: are these ex-spouse property transfers taxable?

Note that this article covers a situation only when both spouses are US citizens and only direct transfers between ex-spouses (i.e. the transfers on behalf of an ex-spouse are not covered here).

General Rule for Ex-Spouse Property Transfers under 26 U.S.C. §1041

A property transfer between spouses is generally not subject to federal income tax. 26 U.S.C. §1041(a)(1). Transfers of property between former spouses are also not taxable as long as they are “incident to divorce”. 26 U.S.C. §1041(a)(2). For income tax purposes, the law treats the transferee spouse as having acquired the transferred property by gift. 26 U.S.C. §1041(b)(1). This means that “the basis of the transferee in the property shall be the adjusted basis of the transferor”. 26 U.S.C. §1041(b)(2).

It is important to emphasize that only transfers of property (real, personal, tangible and/or intangible) are governed by 26 U.S.C. §1041; transfers of services are not subject to the rules of this section. Treas Reg §1.1041-1T(a), Q&A-4.

Ex-Spouse Property Transfers Incident to Divorce

The key issue for the ex-spouse property transfers is whether they are “incident to divorce”. The statute and the temporary Treasury regulations describe two situations when a transfer between ex-spouses will be considered “incident to divorce”: “(1) The transfer occurs not more than one year after the date on which the marriage ceases, or (2) the transfer is related to the cessation of the marriage.” Treas Reg §1.1041-1T(b), Q&A-6; 26 U.S.C. §1041(c).

Ex-Spouse Property Transfers Not More Than One Year After the Cessation of a Marriage

Any transfers of property between former spouses that occur not more than one year after the date on which the marriage ceases are subject to the nonrecognition rules of 26 U.S.C. §1041(a). This is case even if a transfer of property is not really related to the cessation of the marriage. Treas Reg § 1.1041-1T(b), Q&A-6.

Ex-Spouse Property Transfers Related to the Cessation of the Marriage

26 U.S.C. §1041 does not actually define the meaning of “transfers related to the cessation of the marriage”. Rather, the temporary Treasury regulations explain this term.

The temporary regulations establish a two-prong test that states that a transfer of property is treated as related to the cessation of the marriage if: (1) “the transfer is pursuant to a divorce or separation instrument, as defined in section 71(b)(2)”, and (2) “the transfer occurs not more than 6 years after the date on which the marriage ceases”. Treas Reg §1.1041-1T(b), Q&A-7. The definition of divorce or separation instrument in the first prong also includes a modification or amendment to such decree or instrument.

If either or both of the prongs of this test are not satisfied (for example, the transfer occurred more than six years after the cessation of the marriage), then a transfer “is presumed to be not related to the cessation of the marriage.” Id. This is a rebuttable presumption and, in a future article, I will discuss how a taxpayer may rebut this presumption.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help Concerning Tax Consequences of a Property Transfer to an Ex-Spouse

If you are engaged in a divorce or you are an attorney representing a person who is engaged in a divorce, contact Sherayzen Law Office for experienced help with respect to taxation of transfers of property to an ex-spouse as well as other tax consequences of a divorce proceeding.

South Korean Inheritance Leads to Criminal Sentence for FBAR Violations

On January 25, 2018, a South Korean citizen and a US Permanent Resident, Mr. Hyong Kwon Kim, was sentenced to prison for filing false tax returns and willful FBAR violations; additionally, he had to pay over $14 million in FBAR willful civil penalties. I already discussed Mr. Kim’s guilty plea and the main facts of his case in an earlier article last year, but I would like to come back to another aspect of this case: South Korean inheritance. In particular, I would like to trace how a South Korean inheritance led to Mr. Kim’s guilty plea and a criminal sentence for FBAR violations.

From South Korean Inheritance to Swiss Account FBAR Violations

According to the US Department of Justice (“DOJ”), Mr. Kim became a US permanent resident in 1998. The DOJ describes him as a sophisticated business executive who ran family businesses with operations in the United States and internationally.

At some point after he became a US tax resident, Mr. Kim inherited tens of millions of dollars from his family in South Korea. Instead of properly reporting his South Korean inheritance (which would not have been subject to US taxation at that time), he decided to hide it in foreign accounts. You can find the details of his efforts to hide his accounts in this article.

In the end, despite his ingenuous efforts, the IRS was able to identify Mr. Kim as a willfully noncompliant taxpayer who deliberately failed to file FBARs and filed false income tax returns for the years 1999 through 2010. As a result of his willful FBAR and income tax noncompliance and as part of Mr. Kim’s guilty plea, U.S. District Court Judge Brinkema sentenced Mr. Kim to six months to prison, imposed a fine of $100,000 and ordered him to pay $243,542 in restitution to the IRS. Moreover, Mr. Kim already paid $14 million in willful FBAR penalties.

In other words, as a result of his actions, Mr. Kim lost the majority of his South Korean inheritance and all earnings on that inheritance in addition to going to be jail.

Failure to Report South Korean Inheritance Was the First Step that Led to Criminal FBAR Violations

While, undoubtedly, the entire history of willful failures to file FBARs and report foreign income on tax returns is the primary cause of Mr. Kim’s imprisonment in 2018, it is important to understand that his noncompliance was only possible because Mr. Kim did not properly report his South Korean inheritance.

In other words, had Mr. Kim disclosed on Form 3520 that he had received an inheritance from South Korea in the last 1990s, he would not have been tempted to hide his inheritance from the IRS. In fact, the disclosure of his South Korean inheritance, would have made it impossible for him to hide his foreign assets in Swiss banks afterwards.

Primary Lesson from Mr. Kim’s South Korean Inheritance Case

This is an important lesson from this case that many observers and tax attorneys have missed – Mr. Kim’s noncompliance began with failure to report South Korean inheritance, not from the failure to file FBARs and foreign income (even though, he was sentenced and penalized for the latter two activities).

In fact, a very high number of my offshore voluntary disclosure clients came from a similar background – they received an inheritance from a foreign country (and it could be any foreign country: Australia, Canada, China Colombia, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, South Korea, Thailand, et cetera) and they failed to report the foreign inheritance first (usually, due to lack of knowledge about proper reporting of foreign inheritance). This failure to report foreign inheritance later led to significant US tax noncompliance that could have only been corrected through a voluntary disclosure.

Starting in 2013-2014, I have also seen the steady rise in the “reverse discovery” inheritance cases – i.e. clients would receive a foreign inheritance and would come to me to discuss on how to best disclose it. Then, as a result of my due diligence checklist, we would uncover prior FBAR or other tax noncompliance with respect to other foreign assets my clients had prior to their foreign inheritance.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Proper Reporting of Your Foreign Inheritance

If you received a foreign inheritance, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help. Sherayzen Law Office is an international tax law firm that specializes in US tax reporting of a foreign inheritance. We can Help You!

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Broadcom Re-domiciliation Approved | International Tax Lawyer & Attorney

On January 29, 2018, Broadcom Board of Directors approved the plan for Broadcom re-domiciliation in the United States. This move was expected after Broadcom’s November of 2017 pledge to president Trump that the company would return to the United States.

Broadcom Re-domiciliation: A Story of Tax Inversion and Tax Remorse

The story of the Broadcom re-domiciliation began fairly recently in February of 2016. At that time, Broadcom did what was very popular during the Obama administration – tax inversion. California-based Broadcom allowed itself to be acquired by Singapore’s Avago Technologies Limited with the result of creation of a single Singapore entity.

The real motivation for the inversion was lowering the corporate taxes. At that time, during the political climate that existed in the United States, Broadcom thought that it was a good move.

Now, Broadcom believes that the tax inversion might not have been such a great thing to do in light of the new developments and certain consequences that it did not seem to have anticipated prior to tax inversion. First of all, Broadcom’s business in the US has continued to expand as it stepped-up its acquisition strategy. Already in 2017, barely a year and a half after tax inversion, Broadcom has stated that the benefits of this business strategy outweigh the potential additional taxes it might have to pay when it returns to the United States (especially after the tax reform – see below).

Second and closely related to the first reason, as a foreign company based in Singapore, Broadcom is under constant scrutiny of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFI”). CFI focuses on the review of transactions that may result in control of a US business by a foreign person and the impact of such control on US national security. This is an irritating and expensive factor that continuously hinders Broadcom’s acquisition strategy in the United States.

Third, Broadcom apparently did not anticipate that the tax reform be so radical and so beneficial to corporations. There is one issue in particular that makes Broadcom re-domiciliation in the United States so important. At the time of its tax inversion, Broadcom established a deferred tax liability on its balance sheet with respect to integration of the company’s intellectual property (“IP”). Under the old law, this deferred tax liability would have become payable at 35% tax rate in the United States.

Now, under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (“TCJA”), this deferred liability will be recognized in fiscal year 2018 as deemed repatriated foreign earnings at a much lower tax rate. This means that Broadcom re-domiciliation in 2018 will save the company a huge amount in taxes; or, as the company itself put it: “a material reduction in the amount of other long-term liabilities on our balance sheet”.

Broadcom Re-domiciliation Approved Within One Month of TCJA

The tax motivation behind Broadcom re-domiciliation became especially evident in light of the fact that the Broadcom Board approved it within just one month of the passage of TCJA. Moreover, in its filings with SEC, Broadcom directly stated that, as a result of TCJA, the tax cost of being a US-based multinational company has decreased substantially.

Sherayzen Law Office will continue to observe the impact of the recent tax reform on the behavior of US companies that went through tax inversion.

2018 FBAR Criminal Penalties | FBAR Lawyer & Attorney

2018 FBAR criminal penalties should be on the mind of any US taxpayer who willfully failed to file his FBARs or knowingly filed a false FBAR. In this essay, I would like to do an overview of the 2018 FBAR criminal penalties that these noncompliant US taxpayers may have to face.

2018 FBAR Criminal Penalties: Background Information

A lot of US taxpayers do not understand why the 2018 FBAR criminal penalties are so shockingly high. These taxpayers question why failing to file a form that has nothing do with income tax calculation should potentially result in a jail sentence.

The answer to this questions lies in the legislative history of FBAR. First of all, it is important to understand that FBAR is not a tax form. The Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (“FBAR”) was born in 1970 out of the Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”), in particular 31 U.S.C. §5314. This means that the initial primary purpose of the form was to fight financial crimes, money laundering and terrorism. In other words, FBAR was not created as a tool against tax evasion.

Hence, the FBAR penalties were structured from the very beginning for the purpose of punishing criminals engaged in financial crimes and/or terrorism. This is why the FBAR penalties are so severe and easily surpass the penalties of any tax form.

It was only 30 years later, after the enaction of The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (the “USA Patriot Act”), that the enforcement of FBAR was turned over to the IRS. The IRS almost immediately commenced using FBAR to fight the tax evasion schemes that utilized offshore accounts.

The Congress liked the IRS initiative and responded with the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 (“2004 Jobs Act”). The 2004 Jobs Act further increased the FBAR penalties, including the creation of the non-willful penalty of up to $10,000 per violation.

2018 FBAR Criminal Penalties: Description

Now that we understand why the 2018 FBAR criminal penalties are so severe, let’s describe what they penalties actually look like. There are three different 2018 FBAR criminal penalties associated with different FBAR violations.

The first criminal penalty may be imposed under 26 U.S.C. 5322(a) and 31 C.F.R. § 103.59(b) for willful failure to file FBAR or retain records of a foreign account. The penalty is up to $250,000 or 5 years in prison or both.

When the willful failure to file FBAR is combined with a violation of other US laws or the failure to file FBAR is “part of a pattern of any illegal activity involving more than $100,000 in a 12-month period”, then the IRS has the option of imposing a criminal penalty under 26 U.S.C. 5322(b) and 31 C.F.R. § 103.59(c). In this case, the penalty jumps to incredible $500,000 or 10 years in prison or both.

Finally, if a person willingly and knowingly files a false, fictitious or fraudulent FBAR, he is subject to the penalty under 31 C.F.R. § 103.59(d). The penalty in this case may be $10,000 or 5 years or both.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Help With Past FBAR Violations

If you were required to file an FBAR but you have not done it, you need to contact Sherayzen Law Office as soon as possible to explore your voluntary disclosure options. Our international tax law firm specializes in FBAR compliance and we have helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the world to bring their US tax affairs into full compliance with US tax laws while reducing and, in some cases, eliminating their FBAR penalties.

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