FATCA Tax Attorney

Jordanian Bank FATCA Letters

As FATCA continues its triumphant march across the globe, banks from more and more countries continue to send out FATCA letters to their US customers. Recently, the banks in the Kingdom of Jordan sent out additional FATCA letters (hereinafter, “Jordanian Bank FATCA Letters”). Jordanian Bank FATCA letters caught many U.S. taxpayers by surprise; some even refuse to believe that they are obligated to provide this type of information to their banks. Yet, noncompliance with the requests of Jordanian Bank FATCA Letters may have grave consequences for US taxpayers.

FATCA Background

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) was enacted in 2010 to target tax noncompliance of U.S. taxpayers with foreign accounts. Since its enaction, this law established a new global standard for tax information exchange. More than 110 jurisdictions today operate under the worldwide reach of FATCA.

In essence, FATCA is used by U.S. authorities to obtain information regarding foreign accounts held by U.S. persons directly from foreign financial institutions by forcing these institutions to collect and send to the IRS information required by FATCA. Hence, FATCA effectively turns all FATCA-compliant foreign banks into IRS informants.

Additionally, FATCA requires U.S. taxpayers to report “Specified Foreign Assets” (this is a term of art in international tax law) on Forms 8938. Forms 8938 should be attached to the taxpayers’ U.S. tax returns and filed with the IRS.

Jordanian Bank FATCA Letters

FATCA is implemented worldwide through a network of bilateral treaties, which are divided in to Model 1 and Model 2 treaties. However, individual banks can also comply with FATCA without Model 1 and Model 2 treaties. A minority of countries follow this path, and the Kingdom of Jordan is one of them.

This means that Jordanian Bank FATCA Letters are sent out by Jordan banks not due to any Model 1 or Model 2 treaties between the United States and Jordan, but, rather, through direct FATCA compliance (i.e. Jordanian banks register with the IRS and provide the required information directly to the IRS).

The purpose of the Jordanian Bank FATCA Letters are similar to all other FATCA Letters – obtain the information required to be reported under FATCA by foreign financial institutions to the IRS. In particular, this includes information relevant to the account owner’s U.S. tax residency.

Impact of Jordanian Bank FATCA Letters on U.S. taxpayers with Undisclosed Foreign Accounts

Jordanian Bank FATCA Letters may have very important impact on U.S. taxpayers with undisclosed foreign accounts. In this article I want to emphasize the timing aspects of such letters.

By requesting FATCA information, Jordanian Bank FATCA Letters create a timetable for timely voluntary disclosure of the concerned U.S. taxpayers. First of all, the taxpayers who receive Jordanian Bank FATCA Letters have a deadline (ranging usually between 30-45 days, and, occasionally, 90 days) to file the letter with the bank. Since the bank sends the information supplied by U.S. taxpayers to the IRS, these U.S. taxpayers have a limited window of opportunity to timely disclose their foreign accounts. If a taxpayer refuses to provide the required information, the bank may still report him to the IRS as a “recalcitrant taxpayer” and even close his accounts.

Additionally, there is a more subtle impact of Jordanian Bank FATCA Letters on U.S. taxpayers – a notice of existence of FATCA and other U.S. tax reporting requirements. A lot of U.S. taxpayers are able to utilize Streamlined Procedures due to the fact that they did not know about the U.S. tax reporting requirements with respect to foreign accounts and foreign income. However, once U.S. taxpayers receive Jordanian Bank FATCA Letters, they can only claim their lack of knowledge with respect to prior years. It will be very difficult to sustain this argument with respect to current and future tax years.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office if You Received a FATCA Letter (from Jordan or from Any Other Country)

If you received a FATCA Letter from a foreign bank, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help. Our experienced legal team will thoroughly analyze your situation, propose the best strategy with respect to responding to the FATCA Letter, review your voluntary disclosure options and prepare all legal and tax documents to complete your voluntary disclosure.

Call Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

Form 8938 Definition of Foreign Financial Institution

Financial accounts maintained by a Foreign Financial Institution constitute one of the main categories of Specified Foreign Financial Assets that need to be reported on IRS Form 8938. While it seems trivial, it is important to understand what is meant by “Foreign Financial Institution” within the context of Form 8938 – i.e. what is the Form 8938 Definition of Foreign Financial Institution.

There are two parts of Foreign Financial Institution that need to be separately defined: “foreign” and “financial institution”.

Form 8938 Definition of Foreign Financial Institution: What is “Foreign”?

For the purposes of Form 8938, a financial institution is foreign if the financial institution is organized under the laws a of a jurisdiction other than United States and its territories. Thus, a domestic financial institution is the one that is organized under the laws of any of the 50 states of the United States, the district of Columbia, and US territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico or US Virgin Islands – everything else is foreign.

It is important to note that a foreign financial institution is defined by the laws of a jurisdiction under which it was organized, not by where it operates. Thus, a domestic institution that operates overseas is not foreign.

Form 8938 Definition of Foreign Financial Institution: What is a “Financial Institution”?

Now that we were able to define the “foreign part of the Foreign Financial Institution, let’s turn our attention to the second part of this term – “financial institution”. This concept is defined broadly. In order for a Foreign Financial Institution to be considered a financial institution, it has to do one of the following:

1. Accept deposits in the ordinary course of a banking or similar business);

2. Hold financial assets for the account of others as a substantial part of its business; and

3. Engage (or holds itself out as being engaged) primarily in the business of investing, reinvesting, or trading in securities, partnership interests, commodities, or any interest (including a futures or forward contract or option) in such securities, partnership interests, or commodities.

This definition easily covers banks, credit unions, brokerages, various financial advisors, and everyone who is involved in any of the activities listed above. This even includes financial trusts.

Moreover, a foreign financial institution includes various investment vehicles such as foreign mutual funds, foreign hedge funds, and foreign private equity funds. It should be noted that these types of investment vehicles may also need to be reported on Form 8621 as PFICs.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Help With Form 8938 Filing

Filing a correct Form 8938 is an essential part of your US tax compliance. Moreover, failure to file Form 8938 may lead to various penalties and complicate your Offshore Voluntary Disclosure.

This why you need to help of the experienced tax team of Sherayzen Law Office. We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers to bring and maintain their US tax affairs into full compliance and we can help you.

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

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