Posts

2018 Egyptian Tax Amnesty | International Tax Lawyer & Attorney

Egyptian Law 174 of 2018 announced the 2018 Egyptian Tax Amnesty program that commenced on August 15, 2018. Egypt is no stranger to tax amnesties; in fact, the very first documented tax amnesty program in the world is believed to be the one announced by Ptolemy V Epiphanes in 197 B.C.

The 2018 Egyptian Tax Amnesty program is a continuation of the worldwide trend to fight tax noncompliance with amnesty programs. If they are structured well (such as the US OVDP) and combined with effective tax administration, these amnesty programs can be highly effective, generating large revenue streams for national governments. There are, however, numerous examples of failed amnesty programs (like the ones in Pakistan) due to either poor structuring or other factors. Let’s acquaint ourselves with the 2018 Egyptian Tax Amnesty program.

2018 Egyptian Tax Amnesty: Term

The 2018 Egyptian Tax Amnesty program will last a total 180 days starting August 15, 2018.

2018 Egyptian Tax Amnesty: Taxes and Penalties Covered

The 2018 Egyptian Tax Amnesty program will cover stamp duty, personal income tax, corporate income tax, general sales tax, and VAT liabilities that matured before August 15, 2018.

The interest and penalties on the outstanding tax liabilities related to the listed taxes will be reduced according to a fairly rigid schedule which benefits most taxpayers who go through the program within 90 days after the Program opens on August 15, 2018. These taxpayers can expect a whopping 90% reduction in penalties and interest!

If a taxpayer misses the 90-day deadline, but settles his outstanding tax debts within 45 days after the deadline, he will be entitled to a waiver of 70% of the tax debt and interest.

If a taxpayer misses both, the 90-day deadline and the 45-day deadline, but settles his outstanding tax debts within 45 days after the 70%-waiver deadline (i.e. 135 days after August 15, 2018), he can still benefit from a 50% reduction in tax penalties and interest.

US Tax Amnesty & 2018 Egyptian Tax Amnesty

US taxpayers who participate in the Egyptian Tax Amnesty should also consider pursuing a voluntary disclosure option in the United States with respect to their unreported Egyptian income and Egyptian assets. There is a risk that the information disclosed in the Egyptian Tax Amnesty may be turned over to the IRS, which may lead to an IRS investigation of undisclosed Egyptian assets and income for US tax purposes.

While the IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program closes on September 28, 2018, there is still a little time left to utilize this option. Additionally, US taxpayers should consider other relevant voluntary disclosure options, such as Streamlined Offshore Compliance Procedures.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With Offshore Voluntary Disclosure of Egyptian Assets in the United States

If you have undisclosed Egyptian assets and/or Egyptian income, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help. We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the world to successfully settle their US tax noncompliance, and we can help you!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

Last Swiss Bank Program Category 2 Resolution

On January 27, 2016, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) declared the last Swiss Bank Program Category 2 Resolution. The Swiss Bank Program was proclaimed on August 29, 2013, and constituted an unprecedented triumph of US economic might over the most formidable bank secrecy bulwark (though, already a greatly weakened one since the 2008 UBS case) which Switzerland had been for hundreds of years.

Under the Swiss Bank Program, the Swiss banks were forced to turn over a large amount of information regarding foreign accounts held by US persons, cooperate with US information requests, and, in case of category 2 banks, pay a fine. In return, the Swiss banks were provided a guarantee against US criminal prosecution in the form of non-prosecution agreements.

The Swiss Bank Program was successful, though not every eligible Swiss bank actually chose to participate in the Program. The most profitable part of the Program consisted of the Category 2 banks, which had to pay fines as a condition of their participation in the Swiss Bank Program.

The first resolution with a Category 2 bank occurred on March 30, 2015. On January 27, 2016, the last Swiss Bank Program Category 2 resolution took place after reaching a Non-Prosecution Agreement with HSZH Verwaltungs AG (HSZH).

In total, the DOJ signed Non-Prosecution Agreements with about 80 banks and collected more than $1.36 billion in Swiss Bank Penalties, including $49 million from the last Swiss Bank Program Category 2 resolution. While this amount pales in comparison with the originally-projected amounts (due to penalty mitigation), the enormous impact the Program has had on the worldwide US tax compliance and convincing foreign governments to accept FATCA render this Program an important success for the US government.

The final Swiss Bank Program Category 2 resolution marked the end of the Category 2 part of the Swiss Bank Program, but an important question remains – will we see the re-appearance of the Swiss Bank Program with Category 2 banks in another country? While the implementation of FATCA reduces the probability of a chance of another program similar to Swiss Bank Program, one cannot fully discount this possibility. It is possible that the IRS will identify another important center (such as the Cayman Islands, Hong Kong, Isle of Mann, Singapore, et cetera) of US tax non-compliance based on the information collected in the Swiss Bank Program and attack this center.

On the other hand, one can also see the appearance of a global “Swiss Bank Program” which banks of any country can enter in order to prevent US criminal prosecution.

Whatever form the future voluntary disclosure program for foreign banks will take, one can be certain that the last Swiss Bank Program Category 2 Resolution with HSZH was not the last IRS enforcement effort with respect to foreign banks.

FBAR Reporting of Foreign Gold and Silver Storage Accounts

There is a great deal of confusion about the reporting of foreign gold and silver storage accounts on the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR). In this article, I would like to set forth the general legal framework for the analysis of the reporting requirements for the foreign gold and silver storage accounts. However, it should be remembered that this article is for educational purposes only and it does not provide any legal advice; whether your particular foreign gold and silver accounts should be reported on the FBAR is a legal question that should be analyzed by an international tax attorney within your particular fact setting.

FBAR Background

FBAR’s official name is FinCEN Form 114 (formerly form TD F 90-22.1). Generally, the FBAR is used by US persons to report foreign bank and financial accounts whenever the aggregate balance on these accounts exceeds the threshold of $10,000. The FBAR applies to accounts which are directly, indirectly and constructively owned; it further applies to situations where a US person has signatory or other authority over a foreign account.

The above description contains numerous terms of art that have very specific meaning (even with respect to such common terms as “US person” and “accounts”). I only provide a very general definition of the FBAR here, but there is plenty of FBAR articles on sherayzenlaw.com that you can read to learn more about this requirement.

General Rule for Reporting of Foreign Gold and Silver Storage Accounts

In general, if you have a foreign gold and silver storage accounts, they are reportable on the FBAR as long as the threshold requirement is satisfied. However, as almost everything in international tax law, you have to look closely at the definition of terms. In this case, the critical issue is what situations fall within the definition of foreign gold and silver storage accounts.

What are Foreign Gold and Silver Storage Accounts?

It is important to understand that certain facts and details may play a great role in determining whether one has foreign gold and silver storage accounts – this is why it is so important to have an international tax attorney review the particular facts of your case.

Nevertheless, there are certain general legal concepts that provide helpful guidance to international tax attorneys in their FBAR analysis. The most important FBAR factors for determining whether a particular arrangement is defined as foreign gold and silver storage accounts are two interrelated concepts of “custodial relationship” and “control”.

Generally, where another person or entity has access and/or control of assets or funds on your behalf, the IRS is very likely to find that a custodial relationship exists and all such arrangements would be reportable on the FBAR as foreign gold and silver storage accounts. For example, if one buys gold and silver through BullionVault or Goldmoney (whether allocated or non-allocated), one creates foreign gold and silver storage accounts because BullionVault or Goldmoney would handle the transaction on your behalf and store the precious metals on your behalf (and, as mentioned above, even allocate your holdings to a particular gold or silver bar).

A word of caution: the IRS tends to interpret the definitions of “account” and “custodial relationship” very broadly and one must not indulge oneself with false thoughts of security because one thinks that he was able to circumvent a particular fact setting. Again, the existence of foreign gold and silver storage accounts is a legal question that should be reviewed by an experienced international tax lawyer.

Foreign Gold and Silver Storage Accounts: What about a Safe Deposit Box?

There is a situation that comes up often in my practice (particularly for clients with Australian, Hong Kong and Swiss accounts) with respect to FBAR reporting of precious metals – putting gold, silver and other precious metals in a foreign safe deposit box. There is a dangerous myth that safe deposit boxes are never reportable – this is incorrect.

In general, it is true that precious metals held in a safe deposit box are not reportable, but if and only if no account relationship exists. If there is an account relationship with respect to a safe deposit box, then it would be considered a reportable foreign gold and silver storage account for the FBAR purposes.

What does this mean? Let’s go back to the definition of a custodial relationship cited above – an account relationship exists whenever another person or entity has control of funds or assets on your behalf. If one applies this definition to a safe deposit box, then it is likely that the IRS will interpret any situation where an institution or person has access to a safe deposit box as an existence of an account. Moreover, the IRS is likely to find that foreign gold and silver storage accounts exist where an owner (direct or indirect) of the safe deposit box can instruct the institution to sell the gold from the safe deposit box.

Other Reporting Requirements May Apply to Foreign Gold and Silver Storage Accounts

It is important to mention that FBAR is just one of potential reporting requirements under US tax laws. Other reporting requirements (such as Form 8938, 8621, 5471, 8865 and so on) may apply depending on the nature of the foreign gold and silver storage accounts, form of ownership, whether a foreign entity is involved, and numerous other facts. You will need to contact an experienced international tax lawyer to determine your international tax reporting requirements under US tax laws.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help with Reporting of Foreign Gold and Silver Accounts

If you have unreported foreign gold and silver storage accounts, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help. Owner Eugene Sherayzen an experienced international tax attorney who will thoroughly analyze your case, determine the extent of your current reporting requirements and potential non-compliance liability, analyze your voluntary disclosure options, and implement the preferred legal option (including preparation of all legal documents and tax forms).

Contact Us to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation Now!