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US Taxpayers with Lombard Odier Bank Accounts At Risk | OVDP News

On July 31, 2018, the US Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced that it signed an Addendum to a non-prosecution agreement with Bank Lombard Odier & Co., Ltd. (“Lombard Odier). The Addendum requires Lombard Odier to disclose additional 88 accounts; in other words, US taxpayers who own these additional Lombard Odier bank accounts are now at a high risk of a criminal prosecution by the IRS.

Lombard Odier Bank Accounts: Background Information on the Swiss Bank Program and Original Non-Prosecution Agreement

The new Addendum to the non-prosecution agreement was signed by Lombard Odier as part of the Swiss Bank Program that was created by the DOJ on August 29, 2013. The Swiss Bank Program is basically a voluntary disclosure program for Swiss banks, which allows the banks to avoid potential criminal prosecution for helping US taxpayers evade US tax laws (the so-called Category 2 banks). As part of their voluntary disclosure, the participating banks were required, among other things, to provide all of the required information concerning bank accounts owned (directly or indirectly) by US taxpayers. The information was provided on an account-by-account basis, rather than per taxpayer.

Overall, the DOJ executed non-prosecution agreements with 80 banks between March of 2015 and January of 2016, collecting $1.36 billion in penalties. Lombard Odier signed the original non-prosecution agreement on December 31, 2015, and paid $99 million in penalties.

Addendum to the Original Agreement Concerning Additional 88 Lombard Odier Bank Accounts

It appears that, when the original non-prosecution agreement was signed, Lombard Odier failed to account for certain additional accounts owned by US persons. The bank later realized its mistake and disclosed it to the DOJ.

As a result of this disclosure, the July 31, 2018 Addendum to the original non-prosecution agreement was signed. Under the Addendum, Lombard Odier will pay the additional sum of $5,300,000 and disclose 88 additional Lombard Odier bank accounts owned by US persons.

Impact of the Addendum on US Taxpayers With Undisclosed Lombard Odier Bank Accounts

The Addendum means that the IRS now has knowledge of additional 88 Lombard Odier bank accounts that were not previously disclosed. US owners of these accounts are now at a risk of willful FBAR penalties and potential criminal prosecution if they have not yet entered into an IRS voluntary disclosure program. A quiet disclosure of these accounts will not suffice to protect these taxpayers against the IRS criminal prosecution.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Help With the Disclosure of Your Lombard Odier Bank Accounts and Any Other Foreign Bank Accounts

If you are the owner of any of the 88 Lombard Odier bank account or if you have other undisclosed foreign bank accounts, contact the experienced legal team of Sherayzen Law Office. We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the world to bring their undisclosed foreign assets, including foreign bank and financial accounts, into full compliance with the US tax laws. We can help You!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

Cyprus Tax Amnesty Extended | FATCA Lawyer & Attorney

For the second time now, the Cyprus Tax Amnesty has been extended. Let’s discuss in more detail the new deadline and the terms of the Cyprus Tax Amnesty.

Cyprus Tax Amnesty: Deadline Extensions

The original deadline for the Scheme for the Settlement of Overdue Taxes (the official name of the Cyprus Tax Amnesty) was October 3, 2017. The deadline, however, was extended for the first time to January 3, 2018. In early January of 2018, the deadline was further extended to the current deadline of July 3, 2018. Thus, the more recent extension gives Cyprus taxpayers another six months to bring their tax affairs in full compliance with Cyprus tax law.

Main Terms of the Cyprus Tax Amnesty

The Cyprus Tax Amnesty allows “qualifying applicants” to pay off their tax liabilities for prior years with up to 95% reduction in the interest and penalties that otherwise would have been or have already been imposed by the Cyprus tax authorities. The precise percentage of the reduction of interest and penalties depends on the number of monthly installment payments chosen by the taxpayer (i.e. if you pay off everything in full immediately, you get the full benefit of the 95% reduction in interest and penalties).

The Cyprus Tax Amnesty encompasses all outstanding tax liabilities that were incurred in the tax years up to and including 2015. The Amnesty also covers a great variety of taxes: income tax, capital gains tax, VAT, property tax, stamp duties, inheritance tax and certain special fees.

Cyprus Tax Amnesty: Qualifying Taxpayers

Since the main purpose of the Amnesty is to bring Cyprus taxpayers into full and ongoing compliance with Cyprus tax law, the emphasis is placed on assuring current compliance. This is done through the definition of “qualifying taxpayers” who are the only taxpayers eligible to participate in the Cyprus Tax Amnesty.

Qualifying taxpayers are defined as taxpayers who have been in full tax compliance from the tax year 2016 onwards – i.e. these taxpayers must have filed all of their Cyprus tax returns and paid all of their Cyprus tax liabilities for the tax year 2016 and all of the following tax years.

Cyprus Tax Amnesty is Part of a Trend Amplified by the IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program

The Cyprus Tax Amnesty is just one more example of the tax amnesty programs which have proliferated around the world in the recent years. This trend was greatly strengthened and really amplified to its current status by the establishment of the 2009 IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (“2009 OVDP”). The 2009 OVDP, 2011 OVDI and 2012/2014 OVDPs together with enactment of FATCA have drawn the attention around the world and many countries began to imitate the successes of these US initiatives.

Sherayzen Law Office has helped clients deal with each of these major IRS voluntary disclosure programs as well as other voluntary disclosure options (like the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures and the Reasonable Cause Disclosures). A voluntary disclosure program presents wonderful opportunities to taxpayers to settle their past tax noncompliance. This is why we sympathize with the Cyprus Tax Amnesty and see it as a positive development in the international tax law.

Specified Domestic Entity: Closely-Held Test | 8938 Lawyer & Attorney

In a previous article, I introduced the key term of the Specified Domestic Entity (“SDE”) Definition for corporations and partnerships that may be required to file FATCA Form 8938: “formed or availed of”. At that point, I stated that this term required that a business entity satisfies two legal tests. One of these tests is a Closely-Held Test.

Closely-Held Test: Background Information

Starting tax year 2016, certain business entities and trusts that are classified as SDEs may be required to file Form 8938 with their US tax returns. Treas. Reg. §1.6038D-6(a) states that “a specified domestic entity is a domestic corporation, a domestic partnership, or a trust described in IRC Section 7701(a)(30)(E), if such corporation, partnership, or trust is formed or availed of for purposes of holding, directly or indirectly, specified foreign financial assets.”

In a previous article, I discussed the fact that “formed or availed of” is a term of art which has no relationship to the actual finding of intent. Rather, in the context of corporations and partnerships, the “formed or availed of” requirement is satisfied if two legal tests are met. One of these tests is a Closely-Held Test, which is the subject of this article.

Closely-Held Test: General Requirements

In order to meet the closely-held test, a corporation or partnership must be closely held by a specified individual. There are two separate parts of this test that need to be analyzed: (a) who is considered to be a specified individual, and (b) what percentage of ownership meets the “closely held” requirement.

Closely-Held Test: Specified Individual

In another article, I already defined the concept of a Specified Individual. It is, however, worth re-stating the definition here again for convenience purposes. Treas. Reg. §1.6038D-1(a)(2) defines Specified individual as anyone who is: (I) US citizen; (ii) resident alien of the United States for any portion of the taxable year; (iii) nonresident alien for whom an election under 26 U.S.C. §6013(g) or (h) is in effect; or (iv) nonresident alien who is a bona fide resident of Puerto Rico or a section 931 possession.

Closely-Held Test: Ownership Percentage for Corporations and Partnerships

The ownership requirement of the Closely-Held Test is explained in Treas. Reg. §1.6038D-6(b)(2) with respect to both, corporations and partnerships. A domestic corporation is considered to be “closely held” if “at least 80 percent of the total combined voting power of all classes of stock of the corporation entitled to vote, or at least 80 percent of the total value of the stock of the corporation, is owned, directly, indirectly, or constructively, by a specified individual on the last day of the corporation’s taxable year.” Treas. Reg. §1.6038D-6(b)(2)(I).

A domestic partnership is “closely held” if “at least 80 percent of the capital or profits interest in the partnership is held, directly, indirectly, or constructively, by a specified individual on the last day of the partnership’s taxable year.” Treas. Reg. §1.6038D-6(b)(2)(ii).

It is important to emphasize that the 80% threshold is met not only through direct ownership, but also through indirect and constructive ownership. So, one must closely look at the attribution rules of 26 U.S.C. §267 to determine whether the Closely-Held Test is met. Moreover, the constructive ownership rules for the purposes of the Closely-Held Test also contain an additional provision for the addition of spouses of individual family members.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Experienced Help with US International Tax Compliance Requirements for Corporations and Partnerships

If you are a minority or a majority owner of a corporation or partnership that either operates outside of the United States or has foreign assets, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help with US international tax compliance requirements. Our firm specializes in the are of US international tax law. We can Help You!

Contact Us Today to Schedule 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.

Argentinian Tax Information Exchange Agreement Signed | FATCA Lawyer

On December 23, 2016, Argentina and the United States signed a Tax Informational Exchange Agreement (“Argentinian Tax Information Exchange Agreement” or “Argentinian TIEA”) in Buenos Aires. Let’s explore the main points of the Argentinian Tax Information Exchange Agreement.

Argentinian Tax Information Exchange Agreement: Information to Be Exchanged

The information to be exchanged under the Argentinian Tax Information Exchange Agreement is described in its very first article. Article 1 states that the parties will provide information to each other that is “foreseeably relevant to the administration and enforcement of the domestic laws of the Contracting Parties concerning taxes covered by this Agreement”.

Article 1 then specifies that such information includes everything “foreseeably relevant to the determination, assessment and collection of such taxes, the recovery and enforcement of tax claims, or the investigation or prosecution of tax matters”.

Argentinian Tax Information Exchange Agreement: Taxes

What are these “taxes” mentioned in Article 1? Article 3 of the Argentinian TIEA explains that the focus is on information related to US federal taxes and all national taxes administered by the Federal Administration of Public Revenue. Obviously, the Argentinian TIEA will apply to any identical or substantially similar taxes that are imposed after the Agreement is signed in addition to, or in place of, the existing taxes. Both parties, Argentina and the United States, agreed to notify each other of any significant changes that have been made in their taxation laws or other laws that relate to the application of the Argentinian TIEA.

Argentinian Tax Information Exchange Agreement: Automatic Exchange, Spontaneous Exchange and Exchange Upon Request

The Argentinian Tax Information Exchange Agreement prescribes three modes of exchange of information. First, Article 6 of the Argentinian TIEA provides for automatic exchange of certain information.

Second, Article 7 allows Argentina and the United States to spontaneously transmit to each other’s respective tax authorities any relevant information that has come to the attention of the either Party’s tax authorities. For example, if Argentinian tax authorities obtain information that points to US tax noncompliance of a dual citizen of Argentina and the United States, Argentina can provide this information to the IRS.

Finally, Article 5 allows Argentina and the United States to request relevant information from each other. There is an interesting clause in Article 5 that removes potential limitations on the exchange of information upon request: “such information shall be exchanged without regard to whether the requested Party needs such information for its own tax purposes or whether the conduct being investigated would constitute a crime under the laws of the requested Party if such conduct occurred in the requested Party.”

Article 5 of the Argentinian Tax Information Exchange Agreement is remarkable in another aspect. It states that, if the information possessed by the “requested Party (i.e. the country that received the request from another country) is insufficient to enable it to comply with the request for information, the requested Party needs to engage in information gathering measures in order to provide the other Party will the requested information. The requested Party needs to do these investigations even if it does not regularly collect this information or need it.

Under Article 5(3), the requested Party, if specially requested so by the applicant Party, has to provide the information in the form of depositions of witnesses and authenticated copies of original records.

Argentinian Tax Information Exchange Agreement: Foreign Bank and Beneficial Ownership Information in Focus

Article 5(4) also clarifies what is at the heart of the exchange of information upon request. First, information “held by banks, other financial institutions, and any person acting in an agency or fiduciary capacity including nominees and trustees.”

Second, the beneficial ownership information of “companies, partnerships, trusts, foundations, “Anstalten” and other persons”. This information should also include all persons in the ownership chain. In the case of trust, “information on settlors, trustees and beneficiaries”. In the case of foundations, “information on founders, members of the foundation council and beneficiaries”. Publicly-traded companies and public collective investment funds are excluded (unless the information can be obtained without giving rise to “disproportionate difficulties” to the requested Party).

Argentinian Tax Information Exchange Agreement: Tax Examinations Abroad

Article 8 of the Argentinian Tax Information Exchange Agreement grants each Party the right to conduct tax examinations abroad. Obviously, the written consent of the persons to be interviewed has to be secured first. However, once both Parties agree to the examination, “all decisions with respect to the conduct of the tax examination shall be made by the Party conducting the examination.”

Argentinian Tax Information Exchange Agreement: Entry Into Force

According to Article 14, the Argentinian Tax Information Exchange Agreement shall enter into force “one month from the date of receipt of Argentina’s written notification to the United States that Argentina has completed its necessary internal procedures for entry into force of this Agreement.”

Once the Argentinian TIEA is in force, its provisions will apply for requests “made on or after the date of entry into force, concerning information for taxes relating to taxable periods beginning on or after January 1 of the calendar year next following the year in which this Agreement enters into force or, where there is no taxable period, for all charges to tax arising on or after January 1 of the calendar year next following the year in which this Agreement enters into force.”

Argentinian Tax Information Exchange Agreement: Impact on US Taxpayers

The Argentinian Tax Information Exchange Agreement will have a profound impact on US taxpayers with undisclosed Argentinian income and Argentinian assets. First, the combination of three different disclosure modes – automatic, spontaneous and upon request – greatly increases the risk of the IRS detection of undisclosed Argentinian assets and unreported Argentinian income. The spontaneous exchange of information may be especially dangerous because it increases the probability of indirect (and unpredictable) detection. For example, if information about US tax noncompliance is obtain through an audit of an Argentinian tax return, such information may be turned over to the IRS.

Second, the Argentinian Tax Information Exchange Agreement allows the IRS to obtain witness depositions and other evidence against noncompliant US taxpayers at a relatively low cost. Furthermore, the Argentinian TIEA grants the IRS the ability to conduct examinations in Argentina, greatly enhancing the IRS reach in that country. In other words, the chances of successful imposition of civil penalties and even criminal prosecution by the IRS of noncompliant US taxpayers is substantially increased by the Argentinian TIEA.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office if You Have Undisclosed Foreign Assets and Foreign Income in Argentina

If you have undisclosed Argentinian assets and income, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office as soon as possible. Once the IRS detects your noncompliance or even just commences an investigation to verify whether you were not tax compliant, then you may lose all of your voluntary disclosure options.

Sherayzen Law Office is an international tax law firm that specializes in offshore voluntary disclosures of undisclosed foreign assets and foreign income. We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers to bring their US tax affairs into full compliance with US tax laws while reducing their penalties and, in many cases, even their tax liabilities. We Can Help You!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!