international tax lawyer-minnesota-minneapolis

Indians working on H1 Visa Need to Pay US Taxes on Indian Income

US taxes on Indian income is one of the most important topics relevant to the everyday life of Indian-Americans and Indians who reside and work in the United States. In this article, I will focus on the issue of US taxes on Indian Income earned by H1 (mostly H1B) visa holders.

US Taxes on Indian Income and US Tax Residency

Whether an Indian working in the United States needs to pay US taxes on Indian income primarily depends on whether he is a US tax resident. There are three categories of US tax residents – US citizens, US Permanent Residents (i.e. green-card holders), and the individuals who satisfied the Substantial Presence Test.

Any person who is considered to be a US tax resident is required to report his worldwide income on his US tax return and pay US taxes on this income. Hence, if an Indian working in the United States on H1 visa has Indian-source income and he satisfied the Substantial Presence Test, he would be required to pay US taxes on his Indian income, not just income earned in the United States.

US Taxes on Indian Income: the Substantial Presence Test

The Substantial Presence Test is very important in US tax law because it affects millions of foreigners who reside in or visit the United States. The Substantial Presence Test basically states that any individual who is physically present in the United States for 183 days or more within the most recent three-year period is considered to be a US tax resident.

The 183 days are calculated as follows: all days spent in the current year + one-third of the days spent in the year immediately prior to the current year + one-sixth of the days spent in the year right before the prior year (in other words, the second year before the current year) “Current year” here means the year for which you are trying to figure out whether you were a tax resident.

Failure to Pay US Taxes on Indian Income May Result in IRS Penalties and Endangerment of Your Immigration Status

Any Indian who is a US tax resident and fails to pay US taxes on Indian income runs a great risk of the imposition of IRS penalties. If the failure to pay US taxes on Indian income is combined with the failure to file information returns, such as FBARs, then his legal situation in the United States becomes extremely precarious.

Not only are the IRS penalties extremely high (such a person may owe to the IRS more than the balance on your unreported accounts), including criminal penalties with potential jail time, but his immigration status may be endangered as a result of his US tax noncompliance.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With Your Undisclosed Indian Income and Indian Foreign Accounts

Given these extreme risks, an Indian working in the United States on H1 visa should contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional legal and tax help as soon as possible.

We have helped numerous clients from India to reduce and even, in some cases, completely eliminate their IRS penalties and bring their US tax affairs into full compliance with US tax laws, thereby preserving their immigration status.

We can help you! Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

IRS Uses Panama Papers to Identify Noncompliant Taxpayers

In April of 2016, the IRS acknowledged its participation in meetings with Joint International Tax Shelter Information and Collaboration network (“JITSIC”), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank to take advantage of the data about more than 200,000 offshore companies identified in the Panama Papers. At the same time, the IRS urged noncompliant U.S. taxpayers to come forward before the IRS finds them.

JITSIC and IMF/World Bank Meetings on Panama Papers

The JITSIC meeting regarding Panama Papers brought together senior tax officials from more than forty countries to discuss, per OECD, “opportunities for obtaining data, co-operation and information-sharing in light of the ‘Panama Papers’ revelations”. The IRS officials said they could not discuss who participated and what, specifically, was discussed. But in its statement to NBC News, the IRS described the meeting as “productive and timely” and said “governments around the world are working together cooperatively” to respond to the information released in the Panama Papers, with JITSIC setting itself up as a coordinator.

The following day, the IRS further discussed Panama Papers in gatherings that were part of the annual IMF and World Bank meetings.

After those meetings regarding Panama papers, bankers and finance ministers from the world’s twenty largest economies warned tax havens about their future efforts to punish governments that continue to hide billions of dollars in offshore accounts. The IRS also encouraged any U.S. citizens and companies that may have money in offshore accounts to do a voluntary disclosure with respect to these accounts.

Panama Papers Increase Pressure on IRS to Move Forward Against Cayman Islands, Singapore, Bermuda and Other Tax Shelters

According to media reports, the Panama papers may contain information on potentially thousands of U.S. citizens and firms that have at least an indirect connection to offshore accounts affiliated with Mossack Fonseca. The Panama papers, however, are not likely to contain any spectacular information with respect to U.S. taxpayers because these taxpayers mostly prefer to use Cayman Islands, Singapore and Bermuda.

Nevertheless, while the Panama papers might not be very informative about the U.S. citizens, these documents have increased the political pressure on the IRS to move forward against other tax shelters. Therefore, we should not be surprised if we see new bold IRS initiatives in Cayman Islands, Singapore and Bermuda.

This means that the U.S. taxpayers who have undisclosed foreign assets in Cayman Islands, Singapore and Bermuda should analyze their voluntary disclosure options before it is too late. After the IRS discovery, most (and, perhaps, all) of their voluntary disclosure options will be foreclosed due to IRS examinations.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With Your Offshore Voluntary Disclosure

If you own, directly or indirectly (through a domestic or foreign corporation, LLC, partnership or trust) undisclosed foreign accounts, you should contact the professional legal team of Sherayzen Law Office as soon as possible. Our highly-experienced legal team is headed by one of the leading experts in U.S. international tax law, attorney Eugene Sherayzen. We will thoroughly review the facts of your case, analyze your current U.S. tax exposure and available voluntary disclosure options, prepare all of the necessary legal documents and tax forms and defend your case against the IRS until its completion. We have helped U.S. taxpayers around the world and we can help You!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

SDOP Voluntary Disclosure Period and Tax Return Filing Deadline

A lot of tax professionals and taxpayers fail to recognize the vital connection between a tax return filing deadline (like April 18, 2016) and the determination of the SDOP Voluntary Disclosure Period. In this article, I will explain what the SDOP Voluntary Disclosure Period and how it is related to tax return filing deadlines.

SDOP Background

Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedure exists in its current format since June 18, 2014, when the IRS announced the most dramatic changes to its Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) since 2009 OVDP. In essence, SDOP is an alternative to OVDP and allows taxpayers to bring their tax affairs into full compliance with US tax laws in a simpler way with a lower penalty.

SDOP Voluntary Disclosure Period

One of the most important differences between SDOP and OVDP is the Voluntary Disclosure Period – i.e. how many tax years should the voluntary disclosure cover. While OVDP voluntary disclosure period covers the past eight years for FBARs and tax returns, SDOP voluntary disclosure period covers only six past years of FBARs and only three years of past tax returns.

Connection Between SDOP Voluntary Disclosure Period and the Tax Return Filing Deadline

There is an important connection between SDOP voluntary disclosure period and the Tax Return Filing Deadline. As it mentioned above, SDOP Voluntary Disclosure Period covers “past” three years of tax returns.

What does “past year” mean in this context? It means a year for which the U.S. tax return due date (or properly applied for extended due date) has passed. The connection between SDOP voluntary disclosure period and the tax return filing deadline now becomes clear.

Let’s illustrate it further with a hypothetical example. If SDOP is scheduled to be completed on April 1, 2016, the SDOP voluntary disclosure period will cover the most recent three years of U.S. tax returns for which the Tax Return filing Deadline has passed. As of April 1, 2016, the deadline for the 2015 tax return has not yet passed; this means that the SDOP voluntary disclosure period (for tax return purposes) will cover tax years 2012-2014.

If SDOP is scheduled to be completed on April 30, 2016 and the 2015 tax return was timely filed (if not and no extension was filed, the taxpayer will likely be disqualified from participating in SDOP), then the SDOP voluntary disclosure period will shift to the tax years 2013-2015.

What if SDOP is completed on April 30, 2016, and an extension was filed for the 2015 tax return? In this case, the SDOP voluntary disclosure period will remain limited to 2012-2014 tax years.

SDOP Voluntary Disclosure Period’s Relationship to Tax Filing Deadline Offers Planning Opportunities

This relationship between SDOP voluntary disclosure period and the tax filing deadline offers plenty of planning opportunities for SDOP disclosures which are completed around the tax filing deadline because it allows the taxpayer’s attorney (who is doing SDOP on behalf of his client) exercise a certain degree of control over which years will be included in the SDOP voluntary disclosure period.

For example, if a taxpayer has a large tax liability in the tax year 2012 if the return is amended and a small tax liability in the tax year 2015, then the taxpayer’s attorney will likely choose to prepare and file timely 2015 tax return. On the other hand, there are situations where the taxpayer would like to include tax year 2012 in the SDOP voluntary disclosure period (for example, if there is a large foreign capital loss), then the taxpayer’s attorney would opt for filing an extension for the 2015 tax return.

It is important to emphasize that a decision with respect to SDOP voluntary disclosure period should always rest with an international tax attorney who is handling the SDOP disclosure. There may be complex reasons for excluding and including years within SDOP voluntary disclosure period and only an experienced tax professional should make these decisions.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help with Your Voluntary Disclosure

Offshore Voluntary Disclosures with respect to unreported foreign income and foreign assets can be extraordinarily complex, especially in light of draconian IRS penalties that U.S. taxpayers often face. This is why these matters should always be handled by an experienced international tax attorney.

Sherayzen Law Office is one of the most experienced international tax laws firms, especially when it comes to offshore voluntary disclosures. We have helped clients around the world to participate in every major voluntary disclosure program, including 2009 OVDP, 2011 OVDI, 2012 OVDP, 2014 OVDP, Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures, Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures and other related voluntary disclosure options. Not only did we help our clients to go through these complex legal procedures and prepared all of their tax forms (including those related to foreign business ownership, trust ownership and PFICs), but we also saved our clients millions in potential penalties and tax liabilities!

We can help You! Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

2015 Form 8938 and FBAR Currency Conversion Rates

Currency conversion is a critical part of preparing 2015 FBAR and Form 8938. This is why 2015 Form 8938 and FBAR Currency Conversion Rates are so important.

The 2015 Form 8938 and FBAR Currency Conversion Rates are the December 31, 2015 rates officially published by the U.S. Department of Treasury (they are called “Treasury’s Financial Management Service rates” or the “FMS rates”). Recently, the Treasury Department published the FMS rates for December 31, 2015.

The 2015 Form 8938 and FBAR Currency Conversion Rates also serve for other purposes beyond the preparation of the 2015 FBAR and Form 8938.

The instructions to both forms, the FBAR and Form 8938, require (in case of Form 8938, this is the default choice) to use the 2015 Form 8938 and FBAR Currency Conversion Rates published by the Treasury Department.

For this reason, the 2015 Form 8938 and FBAR Currency Conversion Rates are very important to international tax lawyers and international tax accountants. For your convenience, Sherayzen Law Office provides the table below of the official 2015 Form 8938 and FBAR Currency Conversion Rates (keep in mind, you still need to refer to the official website for any updates).

Country Currency Foreign Currency to $1.00
Afghanistan Afghani 67.9000
Albania Lek 125.5400
Algeria Dinar 106.8780
Angola Kwanza 145.0000
Antigua-Barbuda East Caribbean Dollar 2.7000
Argentina Peso 12.9460
Armenia Dram 484.0000
Australia Dollar 1.3680
Austria Euro 0.9190
Azerbaijan Manat 1.6200
Bahamas Dollar 1.0000
Bahrain Dinar 0.3770
Bangladesh Taka 79.0000
Barbados Dollar 2.0200
Belarus Ruble 18555.0000
Belgium Euro 0.9190
Belize Dollar 2.0000
Benin CFA Franc 602.7900
Bermuda Dollar 1.0000
Bolivia Boliviano 6.8600
Bosnia-Hercegovina Marka 1.7970
Botswana Pula 11.2360
Brazil Real 3.9590
Brunei Dollar 1.4160
Bulgaria Lev 1.7970
Burkina Faso CFA Franc 602.7900
Burma-Myanmar Kyat 1311.0000
Burundi Franc 1600.0000
Cambodia (Khmer) Riel 4103.0000
Cameroon CFA Franc 602.6800
Canada Dollar 1.3860
Cape Verde Escudo 101.2220
Cayman Islands Dollar 1.0000
Central African Republic CFA Franc 602.6800
Chad CFA Franc 602.6800
Chile Peso 709.9800
China Renminbi 6.4920
Colombia Peso 3169.2800
Comoros Franc 435.3000
Congo CFA Franc 602.6800
Congo, Dem. Rep Congolese Franc 920.0000
Costa Rica Colon 531.9400
Cote D’Ivoire CFA Franc 602.7900
Croatia Kuna 6.8200
Cuba Peso 1.0000
Cyprus Euro 0.9190
Czech Republic Koruna 24.2030
Denmark Krone 6.8560
Djibouti Franc 177.0000
Dominican Republic Peso 45.4000
Ecuador Dolares 1.0000
Egypt Pound 7.8300
El Salvador Dolares 1.0000
Equatorial Guinea CFA Franc 602.6800
Eritrea Nakfa 15.0000
Estonia Euro 0.9190
Ethiopia Birr 21.0700
Euro Zone Euro 0.9190
Fiji Dollar 2.1250
Finland Euro 0.9190
France Euro 0.9190
Gabon CFA Franc 602.6800
Gambia Dalasi 40.0000
Georgia Lari 2.4000
Germany FRG Euro 0.9190
Ghana Cedi 3.8200
Greece Euro 0.9190
Grenada East Carribean Dollar 2.7000
Guatemala Quentzel 7.6320
Guinea Franc 8004.0000
Guinea Bissau CFA Franc 602.7900
Guyana Dollar 202.0000
Haiti Gourde 56.5840
Honduras Lempira 22.3000
Hong Kong Dollar 7.7500
Hungary Forint 289.9800
Iceland Krona 129.6700
India Rupee 66.1000
Indonesia Rupiah 13550.0000
Iran Rial 29830.0000
Iraq Dinar 1166.0000
Ireland Euro 0.9190
Israel Shekel 3.8990
Italy Euro 0.9190
Jamaica Dollar 118.7000
Japan Yen 120.4200
Jerusalem Shekel 3.8990
Jordan Dinar 0.7080
Kazakhstan Tenge 339.5000
Kenya Shilling 102.2000
Korea Won 1175.9000
Kuwait Dinar 0.3030
Kyrgyzstan Som 75.5000
Laos Kip 8128.0000
Latvia Euro 0.9190
Lebanon Pound 1500.0000
Lesotho South African Rand 15.5560
Liberia Dollar 88.0000
Libya Dinar 1.3890
Lithuania Euro 0.9190
Luxembourg Euro 0.9190
Macao Mop 8.0000
Macedonia FYROM Denar 56.2900
Madagascar Aria 3196.0000
Malawi Kwacha 662.0000
Malaysia Ringgit 4.2900
Mali CFA Franc 602.7900
Malta Euro 0.9190
Marshall Islands Dollar 1.0000
Martinique Euro 0.9190
Mauritania Ouguiya 330.0000
Mauritius Rupee 35.8000
Mexico New Peso 17.3620
Micronesia Dollar 1.0000
Moldova Leu 19.6000
Mongolia Tugrik 1967.0500
Montenegro Euro 0.9190
Morocco Dirham 9.8740
Mozambique Metical 45.50000
Namibia Dollar 15.5560
Nepal Rupee 105.7500
Netherlands Euro 0.9190
Netherlands Antilles Guilder 1.7800
New Zealand Dollar 1.4610
Nicaragua Cordoba 27.8600
Niger CFA Franc 602.7900
Nigeria Naira 198.9000
Norway Krone 8.8290
Oman Rial 0.3850
Pakistan Rupee 104.7000
Palau Dollar 1.0000
Panama Balboa 1.0000
Papua New Guinea Kina 2.9410
Paraguay Guarani 5750.0000
Peru Nuevo Sol 3.3940
Philippines Peso 46.8360
Poland Zloty 3.9170
Portugal Euro 0.9190
Qatar Riyal 3.6410
Romania Leu 4.1540
Russia Ruble 73.7950
Rwanda Franc 742.3300
Sao Tome & Principe Dobras 22350.3086
Saudi Arabia Riyal 3.7500
Senegal CFA Franc 602.7900
Serbia Dinar 111.2500
Seychelles Rupee 13.0440
Sierra Leone Leone 5750.0000
Singapore Dollar 1.4160
Slovak Republic Euro 0.9190
Slovenia Euro 0.9190
Solomon Islands Dollar 8.0710
South Africa Rand 15.5560
South Sudananese Pound 18.5500
Spain Euro 0.9190
Sri Lanka Rupee 144.1500
St Lucia East Carribean Dollar 2.7000
Sudan Pound 6.6000
Suriname Guilder 4.0000
Swaziland Lilangeni 15.5560
Sweden Krona 8.4430
Switzerland Franc 0.9940
Syria Pound 219.6500
Taiwan Dollar 32.8740
Tajikistan Somoni 7.0000
Tanzania Shilling 2155.0000
Thailand Baht 36.0500
Timor-Leste Dili 1.0000
Togo CFA Franc 602.7900
Tonga Pa’anga 2.1270
Trinidad & Tobago Dollar 6.4040
Tunisia Dinar 2.0330
Turkey Lira 2.9180
Turkmenistan Manat 3.4910
Uganda Shilling 3378.0000
Ukraine Hryvnia 23.9520
United Arab Emirates Dirham 3.6730
United Kingdom Pound Sterling 0.6750
Uruguay New Peso 29.8900
Uzbekistan Som 2857.0000
Vanuatu Vatu 108.5500
Venezuela New Bolivar 6.3000
Vietnam Dong 22480.0000
Western Samoa Tala 2.5020
Yemen Rial 214.5000
Zambia Kwacha (New) 10.9900
Zambia Kwacha 5455.0000
Zimbabwe Dollar 1.0000

1. Lesotho’s loti is pegged to South African Rand 1:1 basis
2. Macao is also spelled Macau: currency is Macanese pataka
3. Macedonia: due to the conflict over name with Greece, the official name if FYROM – Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
4. Please, refer to the Treasury’s website for amendments regarding any reportable transactions in January, February, and March of 2015.

US Income Tax Obligations of Green Card Holders: General Overview

There is a common misconception among Green Card Holders (a common name for US permanent residents) that their US income tax obligations are limited in nature in comparison to US citizens. In this article, I seek to dispel this erroneous myth and provide some general outlines of the US income tax obligations of Green Card Holders.

US Income Tax Obligations of Green Card Holders: Worldwide Income Reporting

I receive a lot of phone calls from Green Card holders who believe that their US income tax reporting obligations are limited only to US-source income (sourcing of income, by the way, is also a very complex subject and I often see egregious mistakes committed even by experienced accountants).

This is not correct. In fact, US permanent residents and US citizens are both considered to be “tax residents of the United States.” US tax residents are required to report their worldwide income on US tax returns and pay US income taxes on foreign-source income (and, obviously, US-source income).

Thus, if you have a Green Card and you have foreign assets (such as foreign bank and financial accounts, foreign businesses, foreign trusts, et cetera), you must report the income from such foreign assets on your US tax returns.

Be careful! You must remember that all foreign income must be reported in US dollars and according to US tax laws. Leaving aside the issue of currency conversion (which is a topic for another article), the reporting of foreign income under US tax laws may be extremely challenging because foreign tax laws may treat this income in a different manner. Let me emphasize this point – the treatment of income under foreign local tax rules may not actually be the same as the treatment of the same income under US tax rules.

For example, Assurance Vie accounts in France may be completely tax-exempt if certain conditions are met. However, the annual income from these accounts must be reported on US tax returns.

Moreover, to make matters worse, these accounts may contain PFIC (Passive Foreign Investment Company) investments which are treated in a very complex and generally unfavorable manner under US tax laws. The calculation of US tax liability in this case may be extremely complex (especially since the French banks are not required to keep the kind of information that is necessary to properly calculation PFIC tax and interest).

US Income Tax Obligations of Green Card Holders: Reporting of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts

As US tax residents, the Green Card holders are also required to disclose their ownership of certain foreign bank and financial accounts to the IRS. Many US permanent residents are shocked to learn about these requirements and the draconian penalties associated with failure to file the required information reports.

The top two bank and financial account reporting requirements are FinCEN Form 114 (known as “FBAR” – the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts) and Form 8938 (which was born out of FATCA). Other forms, such as Form 8621, may apply.

It is beyond the scope of this article to discuss these requirements in detail. However, it is impossible to overstate their importance, especially the FBAR, due to potentially astronomical non-compliance penalties (including criminal penalties). You can find more information about these requirements at sherayzenlaw.com.

US Income Tax Obligations of Green Card Holders: Reporting of Foreign Business Ownership

Many US permanent residents are surprised to find out that they may be required to provide detailed reports about their foreign businesses – corporations, partnerships and disregarded entities. Indeed, Green Card holders may be subject to burdensome and expensive US reporting requirements on Forms 5471, 8865, 926, 8938, et cetera. These forms may require Green Card holders to provide foreign financial statements translated under US accounting standards, including US GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Practices).

Again, you can find more information about these requirement at sherayzenlaw.com.

US Income Tax Obligations of Green Card Holders: Reporting of Foreign Trusts

Another complex trap for Green Card Holders is reporting of an ownership or a beneficiary interest in a foreign trust (generally, on Form 3520). This complicated topic is beyond the scope of this article, but you can find more information about these requirements at sherayzenlaw.com.

US Income Tax Obligations of Green Card Holders: Other Reporting Requirements

There are numerous other US income tax obligations of Green Card Holders that may apply. Moreover, US has multiple income tax treaties with various countries which may modify your particular tax situation. In order to fully determine your US tax obligations as a Green Card holder, it is best to consult with an experienced international tax attorney.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Help With Your US Income Tax Obligations

Sherayzen Law Office is a specialized international tax law firm which is highly experienced in helping US Permanent Residents with their US income tax obligations and reporting requirements. One of the unique features of our firm is that our tax team provides both legal and accounting services to our clients throughout the world.

Contact Us Now To Secure Professional Help and Avoid (or Rectify) Costly Mistakes!