Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act

Specified Domestic Entity: Domestic Entity | FATCA Lawyer & Attorney

This is the second article from the series of articles concerning the definition of a Specified Domestic Entity. Today, I will explore what business entities are considered to be “Domestic”.

Specified Domestic Entity Background Information

Specified Domestic Entity is a new category of FATCA Form 8938 filers. Under FATCA, Form 8938 has to be filed with a US taxpayer’s tax return in order to report his Specified Foreign Financial Assets (“SFFA”). Prior to tax year 2016, Form 8938 was applicable only to individual US taxpayers. Starting tax year 2016, however, Specified Domestic Entities are required to file From 8938 as long as the total value of their SFFA meets the filing threshold.

Definition of a Domestic Entity for the Purposes of FATCA Form 8938

For the purposes of FATCA Form 8938, whether a corporation or a partnership is considered “domestic” is determined under the general definition found in 26 U.S.C. §7701(a)(4): “the term ‘domestic’ when applied to a corporation or partnership means created or organized in the United States or under the law of the United States or of any State unless, in the case of a partnership, the Secretary provides otherwise by regulations.” Thus, while the definition of a domestic corporation is fairly straightforward, it is not always the case with respect to domestic partnerships.

It should also be remembered that an LLC is never taxed as an LLC under the US tax law. Rather, LLC can be taxed either as a partnership or a corporation; it can also be treated as a disregarded entity if there is only one owner of the LLC and the LLC never elected to be taxed as a corporation.

A trust is considered to be a “domestic trust” if it meets the 26 U.S.C. §7701(a)(30)(E). The tests under this section of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) can be fairly complex and may require additional analysis (see this article for further analysis).

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With FATCA Form 8938

If you need help with the FATCA Form 8938 compliance (including the definition of a Specified Domestic Entity), contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help. Our experienced international tax team, headed by international tax attorney Eugene Sherayzen, Esq., will thoroughly analyze your case, determine whether you need to file Form 8938 and any other US international information returns, and prepare these forms for you. We can also help you with the voluntary disclosure of any of your offshore assets if you did not timely comply with your US tax obligations with respect to these assets.

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

Disclosure of Swiss Bank Staff Details to the IRS Blocked by Swiss Court

On January 3, 2018, a decision of the Swiss Federal Court (the nation’s highest court) dated December 18, 2017, was published, prohibiting automatic disclosure of the Swiss bank staff details to the IRS and the US DOJ. Let’s analyze this decision in more detail.

Disclosure of Swiss Bank Staff Details: History of the Case

The lawsuit decided in 2017 is not the first time that the Swiss Federal Court is placing limits on the IRS ability to obtain information from Switzerland with respect to Swiss citizens. Already in 2016, the Court ruled that a Swiss bank could not disclose to the US authorities the names of financial advisers who helped US taxpayers set up secret Swiss bank accounts (“facilitators”). The reasoning was based on the inadequate level of data protection in the United States which is far below the Swiss Data Protection Act.

It should be emphasized, however, that in the same opinion, the Court also said that the names of facilitators could be disclosed to the US government despite the data protection concerns if the failure to do so would deepen the legal dispute between Switzerland and a the United States and harm the Swiss reputation as a financial center.

The lawsuit with respect to disclosure of Swiss bank staff details was initiated by an unnamed US taxpayer who lived in Switzerland. He filed a lawsuit to prevent the Swiss equivalent of the IRS, the Federal Tax Administration (“FTA”) from disclosing to the US government the name of third parties who were involved or might have been involved with his financial affairs. The lower Swiss court agreed with the taxpayer.

Automatic Disclosure of Swiss Bank Staff Details to the IRS Prohibited

The Swiss Federal Court also partially agreed with the unnamed US taxpayer, stating that FTA could not automatically turn over to the US government the names of Swiss bankers and others who might have helped US tax residents in evading their US tax reporting obligations. The reasoning behind the decision was based on relevance.

Basically, the Could stated that the Swiss bank staff details in this particular case were not necessary to the US government to prove its tax evasion case against the unnamed US account holder. “What is needed . . . is information about the existence and intervention of these third parties, not their identities,” the Court said.

The Court basically stated that administrative assistance requests should not be used for indirect purposes. In other words, the IRS cannot use such requests “in order to obtain information about the identities of alleged accomplices of the taxpayer . . . that could be subject to criminal prosecution if this information is not relevant to elucidate the tax situation of the same taxpayer.”

Obviously, this reasoning does not offer any decisive protection for Swiss bank staff details. It appears that, if the information would have been necessary for the US tax authorities to prove its tax evasion case, the transfer of Swiss Bank Staff details would have been permitted. Additionally, the decision might have come in a bit late as hundreds of documents with the Swiss bankers’ names have already been turned over to the IRS.

Swiss Bank Staff Case Offers No Protection to US Taxpayer’s Data Transfer

Moreover, the Court’s decision offered no hope for blocking the transfer of US taxpayers’ information. While the Court blocked the transfer of the Swiss bank staff details, it still allowed the FTA to provide to the US government the US account holder’s information. This means that the transfer of data concerning US tax residents from Switzerland to the United States will continue unimpeded.

Swiss Bank Staff Case Offers Insight Into IRS’ Next Target in Switzerland

This case also offers a good insight into the current IRS strategy concerning Switzerland. It appears that the IRS is compiling statistics concerning Swiss bank staff who might have helped US taxpayers evade their US tax reporting obligations. Most likely, the focus is on the bankers who provided this help regularly to a large amount of US taxpayers.

Sherayzen Law Office will continue to observe the IRS latest moves in Switzerland.

Ireland-Kazakhstan Tax Treaty Ratified | International Tax Lawyer News

On December 29, 2017, the President of Kazakhstan Nazarbayev signed the law for the ratification of the Ireland-Kazakhstan Tax Treaty for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income.

History of the Ireland-Kazakhstan Tax Treaty

The Ireland-Kazakhstan Tax Treaty was originally signed in Astana on April 26, 2017. Ireland already ratified the treaty through Statutory Instrument 479 on November 10, 2017. By ratifying the treaty on December 29, 2017, Kazakhstan completed the process for the treaty ratification on the part of Kazakhstan.

The Ireland-Kazakhstan Tax Treaty will enter into force once the ratification instruments are exchanged. The provisions of the Treaty will apply from January 1 of the year following its entry into force. The Treaty is the first tax treaty between Ireland and Kazakhstan.

Taxes Covered by the Ireland-Kazakhstan Tax Treaty

The Ireland-Kazakhstan Tax Treaty will apply to the following taxes. With respect to Ireland, the Treaty will apply to the income tax, the universal social charge, the corporation tax and the capital gains tax. For Kazakhstan, it will apply to the corporate income tax and the individual income tax. Identical or substantially similar taxes imposed by either state after the Treaty was signed are also covered by the Treaty.

Main Provisions of the Ireland-Kazakhstan Tax Treaty

Here is an overview of the most important provisions. Obviously, this is a very general description for educational purposes only, and it cannot be relied upon as a legal advice; you should contact a licensed attorney in Ireland or Kazakhstan for legal advice.

Article 4 of the Ireland-Kazakhstan Tax Treaty defines the meaning of the term “resident”. It should be noted that the Treaty applies only to Irish and Kazakh residents (see Article 2 of the Treaty).

Article 5 defines the term Permanent Establishment.

Article 6 states that income from the “immovable” property (i.e. real estate) is subject to taxation in a country where it is located. This includes business real estate. This provision, of course, does not exempt the owner of the real estate from the obligation to also pay taxes in his home country.

Article 7 deals with business profits. It states that “the profits of an enterprise of a Contracting State shall be taxable only in that Contracting State unless that enterprise carries on business in the other Contracting State through a permanent establishment situated therein.” In the latter case, “the profits of the enterprise may be taxed in the other Contracting State but only so much of them as is attributable to that permanent establishment.”

Article 8 states that “profits of an enterprise of a Contracting State from the operation of ships or aircraft in international traffic shall be taxable only in that Contracting State.”

Article 9 deals with Associated Enterprises.

Article 10 establishes the maximum tax rates for dividends. In general, dividends should be taxed at a maximum rate of 5% if the beneficial owner is a company (other than a partnership) that directly holds at least 25 percent of the capital of the payer company; in all other cases, the tax rate should be no more than 15%.

Articles 11 and 12 establish the maximum tax withholding rate of 10% for interest and royalties respectively.

Articles 13 – 22, 24 and 25 deal with capital gains, employment income, director fees and certain special cases.

Article 23 establishes the usage of foreign tax credit to eliminate double-taxation under the Treaty.

Information Exchange and Tax Enforcement under the Ireland-Kazakhstan Tax Treaty

The Ireland-Kazakhstan Tax Treaty contains fairly strong provisions on the information exchange and tax enforcement. Article 26 provides for exchange of relevant tax information described in the Treaty. Article 27 obligates the signatory states to lend assistance for the purposes of collection of taxes.

Information Exchange under the Ireland-Kazakhstan Tax Treaty and FATCA Compliance

Article 26 of the Ireland-Kazakhstan Tax Treaty could be dangerous to US citizens who are also either Kazakh residents or citizens. The reason for it is FATCA which would obligate Ireland to turn over the information it receives under the Treaty directly to the IRS in cases where this information concerns noncompliant US tax residents. This may lead to an IRS investigation and the imposition of FBAR and other penalties on these US taxpayers.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office if You Have Unreported Foreign Accounts in Ireland or Kazakhstan

If you have undisclosed foreign accounts and/or foreign income in Ireland and Kazakhstan, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office as soon as possible. Our firm specializes in offshore voluntary disclosures and has helped hundreds of US taxpayers to deal with this issue. We can help You!

Contact Us Today for Your Confidential Consultation!

Guam & American Samoa Are Non-Cooperative Tax Jurisdictions | News

On December 5, 2017, the European Union (the EU) Council published its list of the non-EU non-cooperative tax jurisdictions. The list included American Samoa and Guam unleashing strenuous objections from the United States.

Full List of Non-Cooperative Tax Jurisdictions

A total of seventeen countries made it to the list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions: American Samoa, Bahrain, Barbados, Grenada, Guam, Korea (Republic of), Macao SAR, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Namibia, Palau, Panama, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and United Arab Emirates.

Criteria for Inclusion in the List of Non-Cooperative Tax Jurisdictions

The list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions was formed out of tax jurisdictions that failed to meet three criteria at the same time: transparency, fair taxation and the implementation of anti-base-erosion and profit-shifting measures.

The EU Reasoning for Including American Samoa and Guam on the List of Non-Cooperative Tax Jurisdictions

The EU reasoning for including American Samoa and Guam on the list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions is a peculiar one because it does not seem to care about the fact that both jurisdictions are only US territories with no authority to separately sign international tax commitments (i.e. everything is done through the United States).

In particular, the EU Council specifically criticized American Samoa and Guam for three failures. First, American Samoa and Guam did not implement the automatic information exchange of financial information. Second, both jurisdictions did not sign the OECD Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters. Finally, neither American Samoa nor Guam followed the EU’s BEPS minimum standards.

US Objections to the Inclusion of Its Territories on the List of Non-Cooperative Tax Jurisdictions

In his letter to the Council of the European Union, the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin strenuously objected to the inclusion of American Samoa and Guam on the list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions. The Treasury Secretary set forth the following reasons.

First, he objected to the publication of the list per se as being “duplicative” of the efforts at the G-20 and OECD level.

Second and most important, Mr. Mnuchin stated that the EU reasoning does not make sense, because American Samoa and Guam “participate in the international community through the United States”. The fact that the United States agreed to implement BEPS minimum standards and the tax transparency standards should be considered as the agreement of American Samoa and Guam to do the same. In other words, he argued that American Samoa, Guam and the Untied States should be considered as one whole legal framework.

Based on this reasoning, Mr. Mnuchin urged the EU to immediately remove American Samoa and Guam from its list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions. It should be noted that several other jurisdictions also rejected their inclusion on the list.

Sherayzen Law Office will continue to watch for any new developments with respect to this issue.

Cyprus-Saudi Arabia Tax Treaty Signed | International Tax Lawyers

On January 3, 2018, the “Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation with respect to Taxes on Income and for the Prevention of Tax Evasion between the Republic of Cyprus and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” or the Cyprus-Saudi Arabia Tax Treaty was signed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The Cyprus-Saudi Arabia Tax Treaty was signed during the official visit of the President of Cyprus to Saudi Arabia. On behalf of Cyprus, the treaty was signed by Mr. Ioannis Kasoulides, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus. On behalf of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the treaty was signed by Mr. Mohammad Abdullah Al-Jadaan, Minister of Finance of Saudi Arabia.

Cyprus authorities have stated that the Cyprus-Saudi Arabia Tax Treaty is based on the OECD Model Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation on Income and on Capital, and it includes the exchange of financial and other information in accordance with the relevant Article of the Model Convention.

The signing of the Cyprus-Saudi Arabia Tax Treaty comes at a very special time for Saudi Arabia as another eleven princes were arrested. It should be remembered that there were numerous arrests for corruption in November of 2017.

The signing of the Cyprus-Saudi Arabia Tax Treaty will strengthen the treaty networks of both countries. The exchange of information will also help Saudi Arabia to exercise better control the flow of funds from Saudi Arabia to Cyprus.

Moreover, the exchange of information between Saudi Arabia and Cyprus may also inadvertently lead to this information being turned over to the IRS through FATCA (i.e. this information may be disclosed to the IRS by Cyprus or any other FATCA-compliant country that obtains it from Cyprus through another exchange of information arrangement). Hence, there is an increased potential of the IRS discovery of noncompliance with US international tax provisions by Saudi Arabian citizens who are also US tax residents.

It should be noted that the Cyprus-Saudi Arabia Tax Treaty was only signed and it has not yet been ratified by either country.

Sherayzen Law Office will continue to monitor new developments with respect to the Treaty.