Posts

2018 Tax Filing Season | International Tax Lawyer News

On January 4, 2018, the IRS announced that the 2018 tax filing season for the tax year 2017 will commence on January 29, 2018. This date was chosen by the IRS to make sure its software incorporates the full impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 on the 2017 tax returns.

2018 Tax Filing Season: EITC and ACTC Refunds

Despite the fact that the 2018 tax filing season will begin on January 29, the IRS warned that taxpayers who will claim Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) will not receive their refunds until at least February 27, 2018.

2018 Tax Filing Season: Processing of Paper Tax Returns

Also, it is important to note that the processing of paper returns will begin only in mid-February, because the system updates will continue until that time. The IRS, however, will begin accepting both, electronic and paper tax returns, on January 29, 2018.

This is very important for taxpayers who file US international information returns, such as Forms 926, 5471, 8621, 8865, 8938, et cetera. A lot of these returns are voluminous and cannot be e-filed due to tax software limitations; hence, they must be filed on paper.

2018 Tax Filing Season: Deadline on April 17, 2018

The filing deadline to submit 2017 tax returns will be on Tuesday, April 17, 2018. Usually, the deadline would be on April 15, but, in 2018, April 15 falls on a Sunday and April 16 is a legal holiday in the District of Columbia (Emancipation Day). Under the tax law, legal holidays in the District of Columbia affect the filing deadline for federal tax returns; hence, the filing deadline moved by one more day to April 17, 2018.

US taxpayers who have to file international information returns should keep in mind that there are two categories of such returns: information reports which are filed with their 2017 tax returns and the information reports which are filed (or e-filed) separately from the 2017 tax returns. Forms 926, 5471, 8621, 8865, 8938 and other similar information returns must be filed with the original US tax returns.

On he other hand, FBARs (FinCEN Form 114) and Form 3520 should be filed separately from the taxpayers’ tax returns. The deadline for this category of returns, however, is the same as the deadline for the 2017 tax returns – April 17, 2018 (unless an extension is filed).

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Help with Your US International Tax Compliance During this 2018 Tax Filing Season

If you have foreign income and/or foreign assets, or if you received a foreign gift or inheritance, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help in determining your US tax compliance obligations and the preparation of the required US international information returns.

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

Tax Cuts & Jobs Act: 2018 Standard Deduction and Exemptions

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 made dramatic changes that affected pretty much every US taxpayer. This is the first article of the series of articles on the Act. I will start this series with the discussion of simple US domestic issues (such as 2018 standard deduction and personal exemptions), then gradually turn to more and more complex US domestic and international tax issues, and finish with the examination of the highly complex issues concerning E&P income recognition for US owners of foreign corporations and the new type of Subpart F income.

Today, I will focus on the 2018 standard deduction and exemptions.

Standard Deduction for the Tax Year 2017

Standard deduction is the amount of dollars by which you can reduce your adjusted gross income (“AGI”) in order to lower your taxable income and, hence, your federal income tax. The standard deduction is prescribed by Congress. If you use standard deduction, you cannot itemize your deductions (i.e. try to reduce your AGI by the amount of actual allowed itemized deductions) – you have to choose between these two options.

Standard deduction varies based on your filing status (there is an additional standard deductions of individuals over the age of 65 or who are blind).

For the tax year 2017, the standard deduction are as follows: $6,350 for single taxpayers and married couples filing separately, $12,700 for married couples filing a joint tax return and $9,350 for heads of household.

2018 Standard Deduction and Exemptions

Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the 2018 standard deduction will virtually double in size: $12,000 for single taxpayers and married couples filing separately, $24,000 for married couples filing a joint tax return and $18,000 for heads of household. All of these amounts will be indexed for inflation.

It is important to point out, however, that these increased standard deduction amounts will only last until 2025. Then, the standard deduction should revert to the old pre-2018 law.

Personal Exemptions & Impact of 2018 Standard Deduction

Personal exemption is an additional amount of dollars by which the Congress will allow you to reduce your AGI (already reduced by either standard deduction or itemized deductions). When IRC Section 151 was enacted in 1954, the idea behind a personal exemption was to exempt from taxation a certain minimal amount a person needs to survive at a subsistence level.

Personal exemption can be claimed for you and your qualified dependents; in case of joint tax returns, each spouse is granted a personal exemption. However, a personal exemption for a spouse can be claimed even if the spouses are filing separate tax returns, but certain requirements have to be met.

For the tax year 2017, the personal exemption amount is $4,050. The exemption is subject to a phase-out at a certain level of income.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 repeals personal exemptions for the tax years 2018-2025. After 2025, the law reverts to the one that existed as of the tax year 2017. In other words, the increase in 2018 standard deduction will be at least partially offset by the elimination of 2018 personal exemption.

In some cases, where taxpayers claim many personal exemptions for their dependants, the elimination of personal exemptions may actually result in the increase in taxation (compared to the 2017 law) despite the increase of 2018 standard deduction. Of course, such an increase in taxation needs to take into account potential increase in child tax credit under the new law. Hence, in order to assess the full tax impact of the tax reform for large families, one needs to consider other factors in addition to just 2018 standard deduction.

New 11 IRS Compliance Campaigns | International Tax Lawyer & Attorney

On November 3, 2017, the IRS Large Business and International Division (“LB&I”) announced the rollout of additional 11 IRS Compliance Campaigns in addition to the 13 already existing campaigns. Most of these campaigns directly address the IRS concerns with respect to US international tax law compliance. Let’s explore these new 11 IRS Compliance Campaigns.

New 11 IRS Compliance Campaigns: What Does This Mean for Taxpayers?

The issue-based IRS Campaigns is the brand-new strategy of the IRS to maximize the utility of its strained resources. Unlike previous efforts, a Campaign basically focuses on a specific issue that may carry a significant non-compliance risk and, then, applies a variety of solutions (called “treatment streams”) to increase the compliance with respect to this issue. The treatment streams range from development of an externally published practice unit, potential published guidance to issue-based examinations.

From a taxpayer point of view, the new strategy means that, if the IRS announces a new campaign, US taxpayers associated with the risk issue at the heart of a new campaign are at increased audit risk.

New 11 IRS Compliance Campaigns: General Emphasis on International Tax Compliance

Seven out of total eleven campaigns are focused on international tax compliance. This means that the IRS continues to give priority to international tax enforcement. Hence, US taxpayers who own foreign assets or are involved in international business transactions are likely to be affected by the IRS campaigns and should make sure they are in full US tax compliance.

Let’s briefly describe each of the new 11 IRS Compliance Campaigns.

New 11 IRS Compliance Campaigns: 1120-F Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 Withholding

This campaign focuses upon verification of the withholding credits before the claim for refund or credit is allowed. To make a claim for refund or credit to estimated tax with respect to any U.S. source income withheld under chapters 3 or 4, a foreign entity must file a Form 1120-F. Before a claim for credit (refund or credit elect) is paid, the IRS must verify that withholding agents have filed the required returns (Forms 1042, 1042-S, 8804, 8805, 8288 and 8288-A).

In other words, this campaign is designed to verify withholding at source for 1120-Fs claiming refunds.

New 11 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Swiss Bank Program

A non-surprising new addition to campaigns that will focus on tax and FBAR noncompliance of US beneficial owners of Swiss bank and financial accounts. The IRS will draw on the materials supplied to the DOJ by Swiss Banks as part of the Swiss Bank Program.

New 11 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Foreign Earned Income Exclusion

This campaign is likely to affect US taxpayers who reside overseas. The campaign will focus on taxpayers who claimed Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, but did not meet the requirements for claiming them. The IRS will address noncompliance through a variety of treatment streams, including examination.

New 11 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Verification of Form 1042-S Credit Claimed on Form 1040NR

The campaign’s goal is to ensure the amount of withholding credits or refund/credit elect claimed on Forms 1040NR is verified and whether the taxpayer has properly reported the income reflected on Form 1042-S.

New 11 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Agricultural Chemicals Security Credit

The first of the new four domestic campaigns. The Agricultural chemicals security credit is claimed under Internal Revenue Code Section 45O and allows a 30 percent credit to any eligible agricultural business that paid or incurred security costs to safeguard agricultural chemicals. The credit is nonrefundable and is limited to $2 million annually on a controlled group basis with a 20-year carryforward provision. In addition, there is a facility limitation as outlined in Section 45O(b). The goal of this campaign is to ensure taxpayer compliance by verifying that only qualified expenses by eligible taxpayers are considered and that taxpayers are properly defining facilities when computing the credit. The treatment stream for this campaign is issue-based examinations.

New 11 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Deferral of Cancellation of Indebtedness Income

This is an interesting addition and a correct one to the campaigns; I also believe that this area suffers from high rate of noncompliance. This issue stems from the Great Recession of 2008; in 2009 and 2010, a lot of US taxpayers elected to defer their cancellation of indebtedness (“COD”) income incurred as a result of reacquisition of debt instruments at an issue price less than the adjusted issue price of the original instrument. Such taxpayers should have reported their COD income ratably over a period of five years beginning in 2014 through 2018.

Furthermore, whenever a taxpayer defers his COD income, any related original issue discount (OID) deductions on the new debt instrument, resulting from debt-for-debt exchanges that triggered the original COD must also be deferred ratably and in the same manner as the deferred COD income.

The goal of this campaign is to ensure taxpayer compliance by verifying that taxpayers (who properly deferred COD income in 2009 and 2010) actually properly reported it in subsequent years beginning in 2014. The campaign will also look at situations where an accelerating event occurred and required earlier recognition of income under IRC § 108(i). The treatment stream for this campaign is issue-based examinations. The use of soft letters is under consideration.

New 11 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Energy Efficient Commercial Building Property

The goal of this campaign is to ensure taxpayer compliance with the section 179D (Energy Efficient Commercial Building Deduction). Section 179D allows taxpayers who own or lease a commercial building to deduct the cost or portion of the cost of installing energy efficient commercial building property (EECBP). If the equipment is installed in a government-owned building, the deduction is allocated to the person(s) primarily responsible for designing the EECBP. The treatment stream for this campaign is issue-based examinations.

New 11 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Economic Development Incentives Campaign

The goal of this campaign is to ensure taxpayer compliance with respect to a variety of government economic incentives. These incentives include refundable credits (refunds in excess of tax liability), tax credits against other business taxes (for example, payroll tax), nonrefundable credits (refunds limited to tax liability), transfer of property and grants. The common problems targeted by this campaign are situation where taxpayers improperly treat government incentives as non-shareholder capital contributions, exclude them from gross income and claim a tax deduction without offsetting it by the tax credit received. The treatment stream for this campaign is issue-based examinations.

New 11 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Section 956 Avoidance

This campaign focuses on situations where a CFC loans funds to a US Parent (USP), but nevertheless does not include a Section 956 amount in income. The goal of this campaign is to determine to what extent taxpayers are utilizing cash pooling arrangements and other strategies to improperly avoid the tax consequences of Section 956. The treatment stream for this campaign is issue-based examinations.

New 11 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Corporate Direct (Section 901) Foreign Tax Credit

Domestic corporate taxpayers may elect to take a credit for foreign taxes paid or accrued in lieu of a deduction. The goal of the Corporate Direct Foreign Tax Credit (“FTC”) campaign is to improve return/issue selection (through filters) and resource utilization for corporate returns that claim a direct FTC under IRC section 901. This campaign will focus on taxpayers who are in an excess limitation position. The treatment stream for the campaign will be issue-based examinations. The IRS emphasized that this is just the first of several FTC campaigns. The IRS further specified that future FTC campaigns may address indirect credits and IRC 904(a) FTC limitation issues.

New 11 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Individual Foreign Tax Credit (Form 1116)

This campaign addresses taxpayer compliance with the computation of the foreign tax credit (“FTC”) limitation on Form 1116. Due to the complexity of computing the FTC and challenges associated with third-party reporting information, some taxpayers face the risk of claiming an incorrect FTC amount. The IRS will address noncompliance through a variety of treatment streams including examinations.

Precious Metals Broker Indicted for Using Shell Corporations to Conceal Income

On April 12, 2017, a federal grand jury sitting in the Eastern District of New York returned an indictment, which was unsealed on May 24, 2017, charging Mr. Christopher Wolf, who operated Rothchild & Associates LLC (in New York), with tax evasion and aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns achieved by using shell corporations to conceal income.

Using Shell Corporations to Conceal Income: Facts According to the Indictment

Mr. Wolf operated Rothchild & Associates LLC and was in the business of selling precious metals to investors over the telephone. While the company was technically owned by a third-party, the indictment alleges that Mr. Wolf controlled all aspects of Rothchild’s operations

According to the indictment, Mr. Wolf allegedly concealed the income he earned from Rothchild by using shell corporations. The scheme operated in a very simple way: Mr. Wolf’s commissions from Rothchild were paid by the company to shell corporations and, then, Mr. Wolf used the funds for his own personal purposes.

The indictment further alleges that Mr. Wolf filed a false 2010 individual income tax return which did not disclose the income he earned from selling precious metals. Then, Mr. Wolf simply failed to file his 2011 income tax return. On the “corporate side”, the indictment states that Mr. Wolf caused the shell corporations to file false 2010 and 2011 corporate tax returns that claimed deductions for phony expenses.

Using Shell Corporations to Conceal Income: Potential Consequences

If the IRS is successful in proving its case, Mr. Wolf may face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison for tax evasion and three years in prison for aiding and assisting the preparation or presentation of a false tax return.

Important Reminder: Indictment is NOT a Finding of Guilt

Sherayzen Law Office reminds its readers that an indictment is not a finding of guilt. Guilt can only be established in a court of law. Individuals charged in indictments are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for a Voluntary Disclosure to Avoid Criminal Penalties if You are Using Shell Corporations to Conceal Income

If you are using shell corporations to conceal your income, then you should contact Sherayzen Law Office as soon as possible to explore your voluntary disclosure options to avoid criminal penalties. It is important to act fast – if the IRS initiates an investigation first, you may not be able to participate in any formal IRS voluntary disclosure programs.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

IRS International Tax Campaigns | International Tax Attorney Houston

Five of the thirteen new IRS Campaigns directly target US international tax noncompliance. In this essay, I would like to provide a brief overview of these five IRS International Tax Campaigns. In the future articles, I will explain each of these campaigns in more detail.

IRS International Tax Campaigns: Background Information

After multiple years of preparation and reorganization, the IRS Large Business and International Division announced a new way to enforce US corporate and international tax laws – issue-focused IRS campaigns. An IRS campaign is basically an approach to tax enforcement which allows the IRS to allocate its scarce resources to a specific issue that the IRS believes to be a major noncompliance concern. This is very different from the previous IRS approaches which focused more on specific types of taxpayers.

On January 31, 2017, the IRS outlined the first thirteen campaigns and claimed that many more campaigns are in the process of being developed and finalized. Five of the first thirteen campaigns focus on international tax compliance issues.

IRS International Tax Campaigns: General Description

These five IRS International Tax Campaigns are: Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (“OVDP”) Declines-Withdrawals Campaign, Repatriation Campaign, Form 1120-F Non-Filer Campaign, Inbound Distributor Campaign and Related Party Transactions Campaign.

The international focus of the OVDP, Repatriation, Form 1120-F and Inbound Distribution Campaigns is fairly obvious. The Related-Party Transactions is listed among the IRS International Tax Campaigns because of the IRS focus on the transfer of funds from a controlled foreign corporation to its related pass-through entities (US or foreign) or shareholders.

IRS International Tax Campaigns: What Taxpayers are at Risk

Among the IRS International Tax Campaigns, the OVDP Declines-Withdrawal Campaign and Form 1120-F Non-Filer Campaign can apply to small, mid-market and high net-worth taxpayers. It appears that the Inbound Distributor Campaign is likely to apply to any mid-market to large taxpayers. The rest of the IRS International Tax Campaigns, the Repatriation Campaign and the Related Party Transactions Campaign, specifically identify “mid-market taxpayers” as a targeted group. It should be stated, however, that the Repatriation Campaign will also indiscriminately target failures to state taxable transactions on US tax returns.

From the description above, it is obvious that the IRS is increasing its focus on mid-market taxpayers. Who is considered to be a “mid-market” taxpayer? The IRS defined this category during its first webinar on March 7, 2017 as taxpayers with assets between $10 million and $250 million. If you or your company fall within this category, you are at a high risk of IRS examination.

What Should Taxpayers Exposed to the IRS International Tax Campaigns Do?

If you are taxpayer with tax issues identified in the IRS International Tax Campaigns, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office as soon as possible. Our team of tax professionals, headed by an international tax attorney, Mr. Eugene Sherayzen, will: throughly analyze your case to determine if you are currently in compliance with US tax laws, determine the options for proceeding forward with bringing your tax affairs into full compliance and preparing for an issue-based examination, and implement the preferred option (including the preparation of all legal documents and tax forms).

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!