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Specified Individual | FATCA International Tax Lawyers and Attorneys

Specified Individual is a key tax term that must be correctly understood in order to properly identify the persons who are required to file FATCA Form 8938. In this brief article, I will describe the general definition of a Specified Individual for Form 8938 purposes.

Specified Individual: FATCA Form 8938 Background

In 2010, one of the most important events in modern history of US taxation happened – the passage and signing of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act or FATCA. FATCA completely revolutionized the entire landscape of international tax law, elevating the international exchange of tax-related and account-related information to an unprecedented level. FATCA also created a brand-new requirement called Form 8938.

Form 8938 requires US taxpayers to report to the IRS their Specified Foreign Financial Assets (“SFFA”) together with the taxpayers’ US tax returns. Prior to tax year 2016, only a Specified Individual was required to report his SFFA to the IRS. Starting tax year 2016, a Specified Domestic Entity is also required to disclose its SFFA on Form 8938.

Specified Individual Definition

Treas. Reg. §1.6038D-1(a)(2) defines a “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 (i.e. nonresident alien who makes an election to be treated as a resident alien in order to file a joint US tax return); or (iv) nonresident alien who is a bona fide resident of Puerto Rico or a section 931 possession (as defined in Treas. Reg. §1.931-1(c)(1) – i.e. Guam, American Samoa and Northern Mariana Islands).

Resident alien includes anyone who is a US permanent resident or meets the substantial presence test.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Help With Form 8938 If You Are a Specified Individual

If you are a specified individual who has undisclosed foreign accounts or any other SFFA, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office as soon as possible to explore your offshore voluntary disclosure options. Sherayzen Law Office is a highly experienced international tax law firm that specializes in offshore voluntary disclosures, including OVDP, Streamlined Compliance Procedures (both Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures and Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures), Delinquent FBAR Submission Procedures, Delinquent International Information Return Submission Procedures and Reasonable Cause (so-called Noisy) Disclosures.

We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers all around the globe to bring their US tax affairs into full compliance with US tax laws, and We can Help You! Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

H1B Holder FATCA Requirements

There is a confusion in general public about the H1B holder FATCA requirements. The key concept that lies at the heart of the U.S. tax obligations of an H1B holder is tax residency (which is very different from the definition of a U.S. permanent resident in immigration law). In this article, I will discuss the concept of tax residency and the H1B Holder FATCA requirements.

H1B Holder FATCA Requirements: H1B Visa

H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. companies to hire foreign workers to work in the United States. These workers have to be working in occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields such as in architecture, engineering, mathematics, science and medicine.

H1B Holder FATCA Requirements: FATCA

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) was signed into law in the year 2010. This law was passed by U.S. Congress with the specific purpose of combating tax noncompliance of U.S. taxpayers with undeclared offshore accounts. Today, FATCA is one of the most influential tax information exchange regimes in the world; through a huge network of bilateral treaties, the IRS managed to implement FATCA in the great majority of the countries.

FATCA consists of basically two parts. First, it obligates foreign financial institutions to turn over to the IRS certain information regarding foreign accounts owned by U.S. persons as well as certain information regarding the U.S. owners themselves. The H1B Holder FATCA information is also required to be turned over to the IRS.

The second part of FATCA imposes a new reporting requirement, IRS Form 8938, which must be filed with a U.S. tax return. Form 8938 requires U.S. taxpayers to disclose specified foreign assets to the IRS. “Specified Foreign Assets” includes various class assets, including foreign financial accounts.

H1B Holder FATCA Requirements: Tax Residency and FATCA Requirements

The key to understanding H1B holder FATCA requirements is the determination of whether an H1B holder is a tax resident of the United States. In order for an H1B holder to be classified as a U.S. tax resident, he must pass the “substantial presence test”. The substantial presence test determines the tax residency of a person based on the number of days this individual was physically in the United States.

If the substantial presence test is satisfied, the H1B holder is considered to be a tax resident of the United States. As a U.S. tax resident, the H1B holder FATCA requirements will be the same as those of any other U.S. tax resident, including U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents.

This means that, under FATCA, foreign banks should disclose to the IRS all of the foreign financial accounts owned directly, indirectly or constructively by the H1B holder. At the same time, the H1B holder FATCA obligations extend to filing Form 8938 for all of the required specified foreign assets, including foreign financial accounts, foreign stocks and other securities, foreign bonds, foreign derivatives and ownership of foreign businesses (unless such ownership is reported on another IRS form; in this case, Form 8938 should indicate the form on which such foreign business ownership is disclosed), and other assets.

H1B Holder FATCA Requirements: Late Disclosure

What if H1B holder FATCA obligations were not timely satisfied (i.e. Forms 8938 should have been filed, but they never were) and the H1B holder just found out about it? If an H1B holder did not file Forms 8938 timely, he may be subject to Form 8938 penalties. Moreover, in most such cases, such an H1B holder is likely to have failed to comply with other important U.S. international tax requirements such as FBAR and worldwide income reporting. The combination of FATCA, FBAR, income reporting and other penalties may create a huge tax liability that may even exceed the total value of the H1B holder’s foreign assets.

In such cases, the H1B holder should contact an international tax attorney experienced in offshore voluntary disclosures as soon as possible. Various offshore voluntary disclosure options offer varying rates of reduced penalties, sometimes even with the possibility of eliminating all penalties. However, time is of the essence – if foreign banks report the H1B holder’s foreign assets as part of their FATCA compliance and the IRS commences its investigation of the H1B holder FATCA noncompliance, then all of the voluntary disclosure options may automatically close.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Legal Help with H1B Holder FATCA Compliance

If you work in the United States on H1B visa, have foreign assets which are required to be disclosed under FATCA and have not done so, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office as soon as possible. Sherayzen Law Office is an experienced international tax law firm that specializes in FATCA compliance for U.S. taxpayers, including voluntary disclosures for H1B holders.

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

Form 8938 New Foreign Asset Reporting Requirements: Introduction

In its continuous efforts to combat tax evasion, the IRS imposed a brand-new foreign asset reporting requirements on U.S. persons.  For the very first time, starting tax year 2011 (with certain exceptions), certain individuals must file the new Form 8938 to report the ownership of specified foreign financial assets if the total value of those assets exceeds an applicable threshold amount.

This threshold amount differs depending on the particular situation of a U.S. person – whether an individual lives in the United States, is married and filing a joint income tax return, et cetera.

The “specified foreign financial assets” include any financial account maintained by foreign financial institution and certain investment assets such as stock, securities or any other interest in a foreign entity and any financial instrument or contract with an issuer or counterparty who is not a U.S. person.

Based on this description alone, it becomes obvious that the new Form is likely to impose a higher reporting burden than the famous FBARs.   Note that Form 8938 does not replace the FBAR reporting requirements – i.e. the FBARs must still be filed by June 30 of a relevant year in addition to Form 8938.

Unlike the FBAR, Form 8938 is attached to the filer’s annual tax return and must be filed by the due date (including extensions) for that return.  An annual return includes the following forms: Form 1040, Form 1120, Form 1065, Form 1120-F, Form 1120-S, and Form 1040NR (of a nonresident alien who is a bona fide resident of Puerto Rico or American Samoa).

Note that Form 8938 imposes new failure-to-file and accuracy-related penalties, which are very severe and may be combined with other penalties.  Moreover, failure to file an accurate Form 8938 may extend the statute of limitations for all or a part of your income tax return until three years after the date on which you file Form 8938.

Note that, pursuant to Notice 2011-55, the IRS provides for a transitional rule for the year 2011 which may defer your obligation to file Form 8938 until the tax year 2012 as long as you satisfy all of the three requirements of the transitional rule.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office For Legal Help With Form 8938

This article highlights a few features of the new Form 8938 and it should not be relied upon in determining whether you are obligated to file Form 8938.  Form 8938 is fairly complex and you need professional help to determine how to comply with the Form’s requirements.

If you have any questions with respect to Form 8938, please contact Sherayzen Law Office.  Our experienced international tax firm will help you determine whether you must file Form 8938 and help you draft and file the form with your tax return in order to avoid the heavy IRS penalties for non-compliance.