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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!

IRS International No Rule List Updated | International Tax Lawyer News

On January 2, 2018, the IRS issued Rev. Proc. 2018-7 (2018-1 IRB 271) to update its existing international No Rule list. I will quickly overview what the No Rule List is and provide a copy of Sections 3 and 4 of the No Rule List.

What is an International No Rule List?

It may be surprising to many taxpayers to learn, but the IRS does not rule on all matters within its jurisdiction. The IRS may provide a Private Letter Ruling, Determination Letters and Opinion Letters with respect to most, but not all areas of the Internal Revenue Code.

The areas for which the IRS will not issue a letter ruling or a determination letter are grouped under a single term “No Rule List”.

Rev. Proc. 2018-7 and the International No Rule List

Rev. Proc. 2018-7 supersedes Rev. Proc. 2017-7 and updates all international tax matters under the IRS jurisdiction for which the IRS will not answer a taxpayer’s inquiry. Rev. Proc. 2018-7 is directly relevant to 26 CFR 601.201 (which deals with rulings and determination letters).

The chief change introduced by Rev. Proc. 2018-7 to the No Rule List is a new section 4.01(26), which deals with IRC Section 1059A. Additionally, Rev. Proc. 2018-7 renumbered the rest of the relevant sections and cross references due to the addition of a new section.

No Rule List: Section 3 List Versus Section 4 List

The No Rule List differentiates between two types of situations which are organized under Section 3 and Section 4 of Rev. Proc. 2018-7. Section 3 lists the areas of the IRC in which letter rulings and determination letters will not be issued under any circumstances.

Section 4, however, lists the areas of the IRC in which a ruling will not ordinarily be issued unless there are unique and compelling reasons that justify issuing a letter ruling or a determination letter.

Despite the existence of the No Rule List, the IRS may still provide a general information letter in response to inquiries in areas on either list. On the other hand, just because an IRC section or an item is not listed on the No Rule List does not automatically mean that the IRS will answer a taxpayer’s inquiry. Rev. Proc. 2018-7 specifically states that the IRS may “decline to rule on an individual case for reasons peculiar to that case, and such decision will not be announced in the Internal Revenue Bulletin”.

International No Rule List and Section 4 International Tax Interpretation Requests

As it was mentioned above, a taxpayer may still request a letter ruling or a determination letter for any of the Section 4 items of the No Rule List. If he decides to do so, he should contact (by telephone or in writing) the Office of Associate Chief Counsel (International) (“the Office”) prior to making such a request and discuss with the Office the unique and compelling reasons that the taxpayer believes justify issuing such letter ruling or determination letter. While not required, a written submission is encouraged since it will enable the Office personnel to arrive more quickly at an understanding of the unique facts of each case. A taxpayer who contacts the Office by telephone may be requested to provide a written submission.

International No Rule List Section 3

I am copying here Section 3 of the Rev. Proc. 2018-7 which describes the areas in which ruling or determination Letters will no be issued under any circumstances:

“.01 Specific Questions and Problems

(1) Section 861. – Income from Sources Within the United States. – A method for determining the source of a pension payment to a nonresident alien individual from a trust under a defined benefit plan that is qualified under § 401(a) if the proposed method is inconsistent with §§ 4.01, 4.02, and 4.03 of Rev. Proc. 2004–37, 2004–1 C.B. 1099.

(2) Section 862. – Income from Sources Without the United States. – A method for determining the source of a pension payment to a nonresident alien individual from a trust under a defined benefit plan that is qualified under § 401(a) if the proposed method is inconsistent with §§ 4.01, 4.02, and 4.03 of Rev. Proc. 2004–37, 2004–1 C.B. 1099.

(3) Section 871(g). – Special Rules for Original Issue Discount. – Whether a debt instrument having original issue discount within the meaning of § 1273 is not an original issue discount obligation within the meaning of § 871(g)(1)(B)(i) when the instrument is payable 183 days or less from the date of original issue (without regard to the period held by the taxpayer).

(4) Section 894. – Income Affected by Treaty. – Whether a person that is a resident of a foreign country and derives income from the United States is entitled to benefits under the United States income tax treaty with that foreign country pursuant to the limitation on benefits article. However, the Service may rule regarding the legal interpretation of a particular provision within the relevant limitation on benefits article.

(5) Section 954. – Foreign Base Company Income. – The effective rate of tax that a foreign country will impose on income.

(6) Section 954. – Foreign Base Company Income. – Whether the facts and circumstances evince that a controlled foreign corporation makes a substantial contribution through the activities of its employees to the manufacture, production, or construction of the personal property sold within the meaning of § 1.954–3(a)(4)(iv).

(7) Section 7701(b). – Definition of Resident Alien and Nonresident Alien. – Whether an alien individual is a nonresident of the United States, including whether the individual has met the requirements of the substantial presence test or exceptions to the substantial presence test. However, the Service may rule regarding the legal interpretation of a particular provision of § 7701(b) or the regulations thereunder.

.02 General Areas.

(1) The prospective application of the estate tax to the property or the estate of a living person, except that rulings may be issued on any international issues in a ruling request accepted pursuant to § 5.06 of Rev. Proc. 2018–1, in this Bulletin.

(2) Whether reasonable cause exists under Subtitle F (Procedure and Administration) of the Code.

(3) Whether a proposed transaction would subject a taxpayer to criminal penalties.

(4) Any area where the ruling request does not comply with the requirements of Rev. Proc. 2018–1.

(5) Any area where the same issue is the subject of the taxpayer’s pending request for competent authority assistance under a United States tax treaty.

(6) A ‘comfort’ ruling will not be issued with respect to an issue that is clearly and adequately addressed by statute, regulations, decisions of a court, tax treaties, revenue rulings, or revenue procedures absent extraordinary circumstances (e.g., a request for a ruling required by a governmental regulatory authority in order to effectuate the transaction).

(7) Any frivolous issue, as that term is defined in § 6.10 of Rev. Proc. 2018–1.”

International No Rule List Section 4

I am copying here Section 4 of the International No Rule List which describes the areas in which ruling or determination Letters will no ordinarily be issued:

“.01 Specific Questions and Problems

(1) Section 367(a). – Transfers of Property from the United States. – Whether an oil or gas working interest is transferred from the United States for use in the active conduct of a trade or business for purposes of § 367(a)(3); and whether any other property is so transferred, where the determination requires extensive factual inquiry.

(2) Section 367(a). – Transfers of Property from the United States. – Whether a transferred corporation subject to a gain recognition agreement under § 1.367(a)–8 has disposed of substantially all of its assets.

(3) Section 367(b). – Other Transfers. – Whether and the extent to which regulations under § 367(b) apply to an exchange involving foreign corporations, unless the ruling request presents a significant legal issue or subchapter C rulings are requested in the context of the exchange.

(4) Section 864. – Definitions and Special Rules. – Whether a taxpayer is engaged in a trade or business within the United States, and whether income is effectively connected with the conduct of a trade or business within the United States; whether an instrument is a security as defined in § 1.864–2(c)(2); whether a taxpayer effects transactions in the United States in stocks or securities under § 1.864 –2(c)(2); whether an instrument or item is a commodity as defined in § 1.864 –2(d)(3); and for purposes of § 1.864–2(d)(1) and (2), whether a commodity is of a kind customarily dealt in on an organized commodity exchange, and whether a transaction is of a kind customarily consummated at such place.

(5) Section 871. – Tax on Nonresident Alien Individuals. – Whether a payment constitutes portfolio interest under § 871(h); whether an obligation qualifies for any of the components of portfolio interest such as being in registered form; and whether the income earned on contracts that do not qualify as annuities or life insurance contracts because of the limitations imposed by § 72(s) and § 7702(a) is portfolio interest as defined in § 871(h).

(6) Section 881. – Tax on Income of Foreign Corporations Not Connected with United States Business. – Whether the income earned on contracts that do not qualify as annuities or life insurance contracts because of the limitations imposed by § 72(s) and § 7702(a) is portfolio interest as defined in § 881(c).

(7) Section 892. – Income of Foreign Governments and of International Organizations. – Whether income derived by foreign governments and international organizations from sources within the United States is excluded from gross income and exempt from taxation and any underlying issue related to that determination.

(8) Section 893. – Compensation of Employees of Foreign Governments and International Organizations. – Whether wages, fees, or salary of an employee of a foreign government or of an international organization received as compensation for official services to such government or international organization is excluded from gross income and exempt from taxation and any underlying issue related to that determination.

(9) Section 894. – Income Affected by Treaty. – Whether the income received by an individual in respect of services rendered to a foreign government or a political subdivision or a local authority thereof is exempt from federal income tax or withholding under any of the United States income tax treaties which contain provisions applicable to such individuals.

(10) Section 894. – Income Affected by Treaty. – Whether a taxpayer has a permanent establishment in the United States for purposes of any United States income tax treaty and whether income is attributable to a permanent establishment in the United States.

(11) Section 894. – Income Affected by Treaty. – Whether certain persons will be considered liable to tax under the laws of a foreign country for purposes of determining if such persons are residents within the meaning of any United States income tax treaty. But see Rev. Rul. 2000–59, 2000–2 C.B. 593.

(12) Section 894. – Income Affected by Treaty. – Whether the income received by a nonresident alien student or trainee for services performed for a university or other educational institution is exempt from federal income tax or withholding under any of the United States income tax treaties which contain provisions applicable to such nonresident alien students or trainees.

(13) Section 894. – Income Affected by Treaty. – Whether the income received by a nonresident alien performing research or teaching as personal services for a university, hospital or other research institution is exempt from federal income tax or withholding under any of the United States income tax treaties which contain provisions applicable to such nonresident alien teachers or researchers.

(14) Section 894. – Income Affected by Treaty. – Whether a foreign recipient of payments made by a United States person is ineligible to receive the benefits of a United States tax treaty under the principles of Rev. Rul. 89–110, 1989–2 C.B. 275.

(15) Section 894. – Income Affected by Treaty. – Whether a recipient of payments is or has been a resident of a country for purposes of any United States tax treaty. Pursuant to § 1.884 –5(f), however, the Service may rule whether a corporation representing that it is a resident of a country is a qualified resident thereof for purposes of § 884.

(16) Section 894. – Income Affected by Treaty. – Whether an entity is treated as fiscally transparent by a foreign jurisdiction for purposes of § 894(c) and the regulations thereunder.

(17) Section 901. – Taxes of Foreign Countries and of Possessions of United States. – Whether a foreign levy meets the requirements of a creditable tax under § 901.

(18) Section 901. – Taxes of Foreign Countries and of Possessions of United States. – Whether a person claiming a credit has established, based on all of the relevant facts and circumstances, the amount (if any) paid by a dual capacity taxpayer under a qualifying levy that is not paid in exchange for a specific economic benefit. See § 1.901–2A(c)(2).

(19) Section 903. – Credit for Taxes in Lieu of Income, Etc., Taxes. – Whether a foreign levy meets the requirements of a creditable tax under § 903.

(20) Sections 954(d), 993(c). – Manufactured Product. – Whether a product is manufactured or produced for purposes of § 954(d) and § 993(c).

(21) Section 937. – Definition of Bona Fide Resident. – Whether an individual is a bona fide resident of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands. However, the Service may rule regarding the legal interpretation of a particular provision of § 937(a) or the regulations thereunder.

(22) Section 956. – Investment of Earnings in United States Property. – Whether a pledge of the stock of a controlled foreign corporation is an indirect pledge of the assets of that corporation. See § 1.956–2(c)(2).

(23) Section 985. – Functional Currency. – Whether a currency is the functional currency of a qualified business unit.

(24) Section 989(a). – Qualified Business Unit. – Whether a unit of the taxpayer’s trade or business is a qualified business unit.

(25) Section 1058. – Transfers of Securities Under Certain Agreements. – Whether the amount of any payment described in § 1058(b)(2) or the amount of any other payment made in connection with a transfer of securities described in § 1058 is from sources within or without the United States; the character of such amounts; and whether the amounts constitute a particular kind of income for purposes of any United States income tax treaty.

(26) Section 1059A. – Limitation on taxpayer’s basis or inventory cost in property imported from related persons. – Whether a taxpayer’s cost or inventory basis in property imported from a foreign affiliate will not be limited by § 1059A due to differences between customs valuation and tax valuation.

(27) Sections 1471, 1472, 1473, and 1474. – Taxes to Enforce Reporting on Certain Foreign Accounts. – Whether a taxpayer, withholding agent, or intermediary has properly applied the requirements of chapter 4 of the Internal Revenue Code (sections 1471 through 1474, also known as “FATCA”) or of an applicable intergovernmental agreement to implement FATCA.

(28) Section 1503(d). – Dual Consolidated Loss. – Whether the income tax laws of a foreign country would deny any opportunity for the foreign use of a dual consolidated loss in the year in which the dual consolidated loss is incurred under § 1.1503(d)–3(e)(1); whether no possibility of foreign use exists under § 1.1503(d)–6(c)(1); whether an event presumptively constitutes a triggering event under § 1.1503(d)–6(e)(1)(i)–(ix); whether the presumption of a triggering event is rebutted under § 1.1503(d)–6(e)(2); and whether a domestic use agreement terminates under § 1.1503(d)–6(j)(1). The Service will also not ordinarily rule on the corresponding provisions of prior regulations under § 1503(d).

(29) Section 2501. – Imposition of Tax. – Whether a partnership interest is intangible property for purposes of § 2501(a)(2) (dealing with transfers of intangible property by a nonresident not a citizen of the United States).

(30) Section 7701. – Definitions. – Whether an estate or trust is a foreign estate or trust for federal income tax purposes.

(31) Section 7701. – Definitions. – Whether an intermediate entity is a conduit entity under § 1.881–3(a)(4); whether a transaction is a financing transaction under § 1.881–3(a)(4)(ii); whether the participation of an intermediate entity in a financing arrangement is pursuant to a tax avoidance plan under § 1.881–3(b); whether an intermediate entity performs significant financing activities under § 1.881–3(b)(3)(ii); whether an unrelated intermediate entity would not have participated in a financing arrangement on substantially the same terms under § 1.881–3(c).

(32) Section 7874. – Expatriated Entities and Their Foreign Parents. – Whether, after the acquisition, the expanded affiliated group has substantial business activities in the foreign country in which, or under the law of which, the foreign entity is created or organized, when compared to the total business activities of the expanded affiliated group.

(33) Section 7874. – Expatriated Entities and Their Foreign Parents. – Whether a foreign corporation completes the direct or indirect acquisition of substantially all of the properties held directly or indirectly by a domestic corporation or substantially all of the properties constituting a trade or business of a domestic partnership.

.02 General Areas

(1) Whether a taxpayer has a business purpose for a transaction or arrangement.

(2) Whether a taxpayer uses a correct North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code or Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code.

(3) Any transaction or series of transactions that is designed to achieve a different tax consequence or classification under U.S. tax law (including tax treaties) and the tax law of a foreign country, where the results of that different tax consequence or classification are inconsistent with the purposes of U.S. tax law (including tax treaties).

(4)(a) Situations where a taxpayer or a related party is domiciled or organized in a foreign jurisdiction with which the United States does not have an effective mechanism for obtaining tax information with respect to civil tax examinations and criminal tax investigations, which would preclude the Service from obtaining information located in such jurisdiction that is relevant to the analysis or examination of the tax issues involved in the ruling request.

(b) The provisions of subsection 4.02(4)(a) above shall not apply if the taxpayer or affected related party (i) consents to the disclosure of all relevant information requested by the Service in processing the ruling request or in the course of an examination to verify the accuracy of the representations made and to otherwise analyze or examine the tax issues involved in the ruling request, and (ii) waives all claims to protection of bank or commercial secrecy laws in the foreign jurisdiction with respect to the information requested by the Service. In the event the taxpayer’s or related party’s consent to disclose relevant information or to waive protection of bank or commercial secrecy is determined by the Service to be ineffective or of no force and effect, then the Service may retroactively rescind any ruling rendered in reliance on such consent.

(5) The federal tax consequences of proposed federal, state, local, municipal, or foreign legislation.

(6)(a) Situations involving the interpretation of foreign law or foreign documents. The interpretation of a foreign law or foreign document means making a judgment about the import or effect of the foreign law or document that goes beyond its plain meaning.

(b) The Service, at its discretion, may consider rulings that involve the interpretation of foreign laws or foreign documents. In these cases, the Service may request information in addition to that listed in § 7.01(2) and (6) of Rev. Proc. 2018–1, including a discussion of the implications of any authority believed to interpret the foreign law or foreign document, such as pending legislation, treaties, court decisions, notices or administrative decisions.”

How IRS Can Get $718 Billion in Tax Revenue | International Tax Lawyer

On October 4, 2016, the US Public Interest Research Group, Citizens for Tax Justice, and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy issued a report called “Offshore Shell Games 2016: the Use of Offshore Tax Havens by Fortune 500 Companies”. The report calculates that eliminating all tax deferral on Fortune 500 US companies’ foreign earnings would allow the IRS to collect almost $718 Billion in additional US tax revenue.

Where does the Amount of $718 Billion Come From?

This amazing report targets the estimated $2.5 trillion in offshore earnings which are assumed to be mostly help by the US companies’ foreign subsidiaries in tax havens. The report calculates that the top 30 (meaning top 30 companies by the amount of offshore holdings) of the Fortune 500 companies account for two-thirds of the total, with Apple ($215 billion), Pfizer ($194 billion), and Microsoft ($124 billion) topping the list. It should be noted that some of the other estimates calculate the amount of total offshore earnings of US companies to be in excess of $5 trillion, i.e. double the amount used by the report.

The number of foreign subsidiaries owned by US multinationals is also impressive – the estimate runs as high as 55,000 subsidiaries owned just by Fortune 500 companies. The report states that, although many offshore subsidiaries do not show up in companies’ SEC filings, at least 367 of the Fortune 500 companies maintain subsidiaries in tax havens and the top 20 account for 2,509 of those entities. Subsidiaries of US multinationals reported profits of more than 100 percent of national GDP for five tax havens, including 1,313 percent for the Cayman Islands and 1,884 percent for Bermuda.

The most popular country for organizing the subsidiaries remains the Netherlands. However, Ireland, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Bermuda and Cayman Islands closely follow Netherlands in terms of their popularity among US multinationals.

How is $718 Billion Calculated?

The report sets forth its methodology for the calculation of $718 Billion. In essence, the report focuses on the data from 58 Fortune 500 companies to estimate the additional tax all of the companies would owe upon repatriation of funds to the United States. The final tax rate amount to about 28.8% of the repatriated income; the rest (i.e. the difference between the 35% US statutory rate and the 28.8%) is assumed to be the foreign tax rate that the companies will be able to use as a foreign tax credit to offset their US tax liability. Once 28.8% rates is applied to $2.5 trillion, the total amount of additional tax due to the IRS by the Fortune 500 companies is estimated to be close to $718 Billion.

This methodology, however, is not without its flaws. First, as I already referenced above that the amount of funds in foreign subsidiaries may be substantially higher than the estimated $2.5 trillion. Second, the report’s assumption of 6.2% of foreign tax rate may be too generous, especially for foreign companies owned by US persons for generations; in reality, a lot of companies are able to escape all taxation on a substantial amount of their income. Hence, the $718 Billion amount may actually be an understatement.

How Does the Report Propose to Collect the $718 Billion?

The report offers three approaches to the problem of collecting the $718 billion. The first approach is deceptively simple – end all tax deferral. The problem that I see with this approach is that it essentially expands US tax jurisdiction to foreign entities (which are non-resident alien business structures) to the extent that these entities automatically become US persons as soon as any US person becomes an owner of all or any part of them. In addition to the obvious legal problems with such an approach, there is also a potential to create a real chilling effect to the US activities overseas. At the very least, the proposed course of action should be modified to include only controlled foreign entities and large US corporations.

The second approach is less radical; the report suggests tighter anti-inversion rules, elimination of the check-the-box election and the elimination of aggressive tax planning through intellectual property transfers. While many of these rules may be effective to combat future aggressive tax planning, they are unlikely to influence the current IRS inability to collect the $718 billion in additional tax revenue.

Finally, the report also lends support to the Obama administration’s (which is actually not a resurrection of older proposals) tax proposal to treat as subpart F income excess profits earned by a controlled foreign corporation from US-developed intangibles. The administration’s proposal is to expand the definition of Subpart F income to all excess income taxed at 10% or less (later expanded to 15%) would be included in subpart F. While a sensible proposal, it also seems to fall short of the expected $718 billion in additional tax revenue.

Also, it seems strange that all of the proposals seems to put foreign companies owned by small US firms and those owned by large US firms on the same footing. This kind of seemingly non-discriminatory approach has had a disproportionally heavy impact on small US firms’ ability to conduct business overseas due to lower resources that small firms can devote to the same type of tax compliance as that required of the Fortune 500 companies.

France Asks Switzerland for Names of UBS Accountholders

This is an international tax lawyer news update: on September 26, 2016, Swiss tax officials confirmed that France asked Switzerland to provide the names of the holders of more than 45,000 UBS bank accounts. The request covers years 2006-2008.

Le Parisien newspaper, which first published extracts from the French request that the combined balance in the affected accounts exceeded CHF 11 billion (around $ 11.4 billion.). Le Parisien, which did not disclose how it gained access to the letter, also said the French authorities were able to identify the holders of 4,782 accounts.

The French request came to light after, on September 12th 2016, the Swiss Supreme Court over-ruled the lower court’s rejection of a similar request from the Netherlands for financial details of Dutch residents with accounts at UBS. Despite the Netherlands’ success, doubts still remain about the viability of the French request due to the fact that article 28 of the France-Switzerland tax treaty of 1967, as modified in 2010, provides that accounts that were closed before 2010 are not covered by the agreement and, therefore, should not be subject to information exchange.