FBAR Lawyers

Form 114 Trust Filers | FBAR Tax Lawyer & Attorney Nevada Las Vegas

FinCEN Form 114 trust filers constitute a highly problematic category of FBAR filers. Form 114 trust filers are problematic not so much because the FBAR requirement itself is unclear, but, rather, because the trustees do not realize that this requirement applies to them. In this article, I would like to educate potential Form 114 trust filers about the FBAR requirement and when it applies to them.

Form 114 Trust Filers: FBAR Background Information

The Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, FinCEN Form 114, commonly known as FBAR, was created in the 1970s as a result of the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970. Originally designed to fight financial crimes and terrorism, FBAR turned into a formidable weapon for the IRS after 2001 to fight US international tax noncompliance.

The biggest reason why FBAR became such a useful tool to fight US international tax compliance are the draconian penalties associated with FBAR noncompliance. FBAR has a full range of penalties from criminal (i.e. a person actually going to jail for FBAR noncompliance) to non-willful (which may apply in situations when a person did not even know that FBAR existed).

A US person must file FBAR if he has a financial interest in or signatory authority over foreign financial accounts and the aggregate value of these foreign financial accounts exceeds $10,000 at any time during the calendar year. Prior to 2016 FBAR, the FBAR deadline was June 30 of each year. Starting 2016 FBAR, the FBAR deadline is aligned with the tax return deadline, including automatic extension to October 15 (this is still true as of the tax year 2019). This may change in the future years.

FinCEN Form 114 Trust Filers: Trusts Must File FBARs

All US persons who meet the FBAR filing requirements must file the form by the required deadline. The term “US persons” includes not just individuals and business, but also estates and trusts. A trustee’s failure to timely file an accurate FBAR may result in the imposition of FBAR penalties on the trust.

All types of trusts (as long as they are US persons) must file FBARs, including non-grantor trusts and grantor trusts. It is important to emphasize that the fact that all trust income passes to the grantor or another owner of the trust does not absolve the trust from its obligation to file FBARs.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With FinCEN Form 114 Trust Filings and Trust Offshore Voluntary Disclosures

Unfortunately, many trustees still miss the fact that they must file FBARs on behalf of the trust. As I stated above, this may expose the trust to significant FBAR penalties.

Hence, if you are a trustee of a trust which has not complied with its FinCEN Form 114 obligations, then you should contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help as soon as possible. We have successfully helped hundreds of US taxpayers, including trusts, to resolve their prior FinCEN Form 114 noncompliance. We can help you!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

§318 Downstream Corporate Attribution | Corporate Tax Lawyer & Attorney

This article continues a series of articles on the constructive ownership rules of the IRC (Internal Revenue Code) §318. Today, we will discuss corporate attribution rules, even more specifically the §318 downstream corporate attribution rules.

§318 Downstream Corporate Attribution: Two Types of Attribution

There are two types of §318 corporate attribution rules: downstream and upstream. Under the downstream corporate attribution rules, stocks owned by a corporation are attributed to this corporation’s shareholders. The upstream corporate attribution rules are exactly the opposite: stocks (in another corporation) owned by shareholders are attributed to the corporation. As stated above, this article will focus on the downstream attribution rules; the upstream attribution rules will be covered in a future article.

§318 Downstream Corporate Attribution: Main Rule

Under §318(a)(2)(C), if a person owns, directly and indirectly, 50% or more in value of the stock “such person shall be considered as owning the stock owned, directly or indirectly, by or for such corporation, in that proportion which the value of the stock which such person so owns bears to the value of all the stock in such corporation.”

There are two critical parts of this downstream attribution rule: 50% threshold and proportionality. Let’s discuss each part in more detail.

§318 Downstream Corporate Attribution: 50% Threshold

A person must own directly or indirectly 50% or more of the stock value of a corporation in order for the §318 corporate attribution rules to apply. Under Treas. Reg. §1.318-1(b)(3), in determining whether the 50% threshold is satisfied, one must aggregate all stocks that the person actually and constructively owns.

The valuation of stocks should be determined in reference to the relative rights of the outstanding stock of a corporation. All restrictions, such as limitations on transferability, should be considered. On the other hand, the presence or absence of control of the corporation is irrelevant. This means that the value of stocks may differ from the voting power associated with these stocks.

Let’s use the following fact scenario to demonstrate the potential complexity of stock valuation: C, a C-corporation, has two classes of stocks – 100 shares of common stock with a value of $1 each and 50 shares of preferred stock with a value of $1 each (i.e. the total value of common stock is $100 and the total value of preferred stock is $50) – with only common stocks having voting rights; A owns 60 shares of common stock and 10 shares of preferred stock (i.e. his common stock is worth $60 and his preferred stock $10); C owns all of the outstanding shares of another corporation, X. The issue is how many shares of X should be attributed to A?

The answer is none. A does not constructively own any of X’s shares because his total value of C’s stocks is below 50% (the value of his stocks is $60 + $10 = $70, but the total value of C’s stocks is $100 + $50 = $150). The fact that A controls C through his 60% voting power is irrelevant.

§318 Downstream Corporate Attribution: Proportionality

As it was stated above, if the 50% corporate ownership threshold is met, then the shareholder will be considered a constructive owner of shares owned by the corporation in another corporation in proportion to the value of his stock.

While this looks like a straightforward rule, there is one problem. Whether the 50% threshold is satisfied should be determined by the combination of actual and constructive stock ownership. Does it mean that the attribution of corporate stocks under §318 should be in proportion to the value of both actual and constructive ownership combined? Or, does the proportionality of attribution based solely on the actual stock ownership in the holding corporation?

As of the time of this writing, the IRS still has not issued any guidance on this problem. Hence, taking either position is fine by an attorney as long as it is reasonable under the facts.

§318 Downstream Corporate Attribution: S-Corporations

It should be emphasized that the §318 downstream corporate attribution rules do not apply S-corporations with respect to attribution of corporate stock between an S-corporation and its shareholders. Rather, in such cases, the S-corporation is treated as a partnership and its shareholders as partners. See §318(a)(5)(E). Hence, generally, corporate stocks owned by an S-corporation are attributed on a proportionate basis even to shareholders who own less than 50% of the value of the S-corporation stock.

Keep in mind, however, that the usual constructive ownership rules for corporations and shareholders apply for the purpose of determination of whether any person owns stock in an S-corporation.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With US International Tax Law

US tax law is incredibly complex, and this complexity increases even more at the international level. US taxpayers who deal with US international tax law without assistance of an experienced international tax lawyer run an enormous risk of violating US tax laws and incurring high IRS penalties.

Sherayzen Law Office is a highly experienced international tax law firm which specializes in US international tax compliance and offshore voluntary disclosures. We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers to successfully resolve their US international tax compliance issues, and We Can Help You!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

FinCEN Form 114 Estate Filers | FBAR Tax Lawyer & Attorney

Many taxpayers and even tax professionals are completely unaware of the fact that FBAR needs to be filed not just by individuals, businesses and trusts, but also by estates. In this article, I will discuss FinCEN Form 114 Estate filers (i.e. estates that need to file FinCEN Form 114).

FinCEN Form 114 Estate filers: FBAR Background Information

FinCEN Form 114, commonly known as FBAR, was created in the 1970s as a result of the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970. The original purpose of the form was to fight financial crimes and terrorism; FinCEN was in charge of FBAR rulemaking and FBAR enforcement. After September 11, 2001, the US Congress turned over the function of FBAR enforcement to the IRS.

While the initial justification for the IRS involvement was fighting terrorism, it soon became clear that the IRS would use its new FBAR powers for international tax enforcement. This is exactly what happened; FinCEN Form 114 turned into the most formidable and scary weapon of the IRS to force US taxpayers to turn over their foreign bank account information.

FinCEN Form 114 Estate filers: FBAR Filing Requirements

If a US person has a financial interest in or signatory authority over foreign financial accounts and the aggregate value of these foreign financial accounts exceeds $10,000 at any time during the calendar year, then he has to file FBAR for that year. FBAR requires its filers determine the highest value of each of his accounts in “native” currency (i.e. the currency in which the account is denominated) first and then report this highest balance in US dollars. The Department of the Treasury publishes every year special FBAR currency conversion rates.

Prior to 2016 FBAR, the FBAR deadline was June 30 of each year. Starting 2016 FBAR, the FBAR deadline is aligned with the tax return deadline; as of the tax year 2019, the FBAR deadline is automatically extended to October 15. This may change in the future years.

FinCEN Form 114 Estate filers: Estates Must File FBARs

It is not just individuals, businesses and trusts who are required to file FinCEN Form 114. Estates must also file FBARs for any foreign accounts in the estate. It should be remembered that indirect ownership of foreign accounts (for example, through corporate shares in the estate) may also result in the requirement to file FBARs. Failure to file FinCEN Form 114 timely may result in the imposition of FBAR penalties on the estate.

FinCEN Form 114 Estate filers: Executor Liability for Decedent’s FBAR Noncompliance

If you are an executor of an estate and you discovered that the decedent should have filed FinCEN Forms 114 for prior years but never did so, then you need to explore your offshore voluntary disclosure options as soon as possible. There is a powerful incentive for the executors to resolve the decedent’s FBAR noncompliance – failure do so may result in the imposition of FBAR penalties on the executor of the estate.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With FinCEN Form 114 Estate Filings and Offshore Voluntary Disclosure

If you are an executor or a personal representative of an estate and there is a reason to believe that the decedent failed to file FBARs in the past, then contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help as soon as possible.

We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers, including estates, to successfully resolve their FinCEN Form 114 noncompliance. We can help you!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

New FBAR Filing Verification Submission Process | FBAR Lawyer & Attorney

On November 19, 2019, the IRS announced changes to the current FBAR filing verification submission process. The change is technical, but not without importance.

New FBAR Filing Verification Submission Process: FBAR Background Information

FBAR is a common name for FinCEN Form 114 (formerly known as TD F 90-22.1), Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts. US Persons must use this form to report their ownership of or signatory authority or any other authority over foreign bank and financial accounts as long as these accounts’ aggregate balance exceeds the FBAR filing threshold. Despite its official name, the IRS has administered the form since 2001, not FinCEN.

FBAR is one of the most important US international information returns. FBAR noncompliance may lead to the imposition of severe civil and criminal penalties. Hence, it is of absolute importance for US persons to timely and properly file this form.

New FBAR Filing Verification Submission Process: Rules Prior to November 19 2019

Prior to November 19, 2019, US persons who wanted to verify whether their FBARs were filed could obtain the relevant information for up to five FBARs by simply calling 1-866-270-0733 (the IRS FBAR Hotline) and selecting option 1. IRM 4.26.16.4.13(4). In this case, the IRS representatives would provide the verbal verification for free. The filers could make this request sixty days after the date of filing. Id.

If, however, a filer wished to request information concerning more than five forms or he wanted to obtain paper copies of filed FBARs, then he would need to do so in writing. For written verifications, there was a $5.00 fee for verifying five or fewer forms and a $1.00 fee for each additional form. Id. The IRS charged $0.15 per copy of the entire FBAR. Id. Written requests should have been accompanied by payment in accordance with IRM 4.26.16.4.13(4)(b).

New FBAR Filing Verification Submission Process: New November 19 2019 Rules

On November 19, 2019, the IRS issued a memorandum which contained interim guidance concerning the process by which the IRS would accept the requests for FBAR filing verifications. The memorandum introduced the following revisions to the FBAR filing verification process.

Effective as of the date of this memorandum, the IRS no longer accepts verbal verification requests; all requests must be submitted in writing. Hence, the existing fee structure in IRM 4.26.16.4.13(4)(b) now applies to all verification requests.

The IRS has stated that this procedural change is necessary to provide documentary evidence of all verification inquiries and IRS response to them. This new interim guidance will be incorporated into IRM 4.26.16 within the next two years from the date of issuance of the memorandum.

New FBAR Filing Verification Submission Process: Making a Proper Written Request

The written request for FBAR filing verification should include the filer’s name, Taxpayer Identification Number, and filing period(s). Tax practitioners requesting verifications for their clients must also make these requests in writing, and provide a copy of the Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, authorizing them to receive the FBAR information. The same fee structure as described above (i.e. a $5.00 fee for verifying five or fewer forms, a $1.00 fee for each additional form, and copies for an additional fee of $0.15) will continue to apply. Checks or money orders should be made payable to the “United States Treasury”.

Written requests and payments for FBAR filing verifications and copies of filed FBARs should be mailed to:

IRS Detroit Federal Building
Compliance Review Team
Attn.: Verification
P.O. Box 32063
Detroit, MI 48232-0063

In response to written requests, the IRS will send a letter stating whether the record shows that an FBAR was filed and if so, the date filed. If a copy of a paper-filed FBAR was requested, a copy will be included with IRS letter.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help with FBAR Compliance

The new FBAR filing verification process will be especially relevant in the context of offshore voluntary disclosures. Oftentimes, taxpayers do not have copies of their prior FBARs; and it is necessary to obtain these copies in order to properly calculate the penalty exposure as well as use them as evidence of non-willfulness (or find out if the IRS may use them as evidence of willfulness).

If you are required to file FBARs and you have not done so, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help. We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers with their FBAR compliance issues, and We Can Help You!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

Child’s FBAR Requirements | FBAR Tax Lawyer & Attorney

I often receive questions concerning a child’s FBAR requirements. Many taxpayers automatically assume that, if their children are below the age of majority, these children do not have to file FBARs. Unfortunately, this is not the case – a child’s FBAR requirements are every bit as extensive of those of his parents.

Child’s FBAR Requirements: FBAR Background Information

A US Person must file FinCEN Form 114, the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Account, commonly known as “FBAR”, if he has a financial interest in or a signatory authority or any other authority over a foreign financial account and the highest value of this account (in the aggregate with any other foreign accounts of this US person) is in excess of $10,000. FBAR is filed separately from the tax return.

Failure to file FBAR can lead to very high penalties. In fact, FBAR has the most severe penalty system in comparison to any other forms related to foreign accounts; it includes even criminal penalties. Even when a person was not willful in his non-filing of FBAR, he may still be subject to FBAR non-willful civil penalties of up to $10,000 (as adjusted for inflation) per account per year.

Child’s FBAR Requirements: Age Does Not Matter

The gruesome consequences of a failure to file FBAR make the determination of who is required to file FBARs one of the most important tasks of an international tax lawyer. This is why understanding a child’s FBAR requirements is so important. Let’s clarify this issue right now.

The rule is that a US Person is subject to the FBAR filing requirement regardless of his age. In other words, even an infant must file an FBAR.

Hence, it is important for an international tax lawyer (and his clients) to always check whether minor children have any foreign accounts. A typical fact pattern in this context involves situations where grandparents set up foreign savings accounts for their US grandchildren.

It is especially important to keep this in mind during an offshore voluntary disclosure. Oftentimes, a voluntary disclosure is focused on parents; children’s accounts are often neglected.

Child’s FBAR Requirements: FBAR Filing

Generally, a child is responsible for filing his own FBAR. Again, this responsibility arises irrespective of the age of the child.

The IRS understands, however, that a child would normally be unable to file his own FBARs. In such cases, the responsibility for filing FBARs is placed on the legally responsible person (such as parents, guardians, et cetera). The legally responsible person will be allowed to sign and file FBARs on behalf of the child.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office With Respect to Your Child’s FBAR Requirements

If your child has foreign accounts, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional FBAR help. We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the world with their FBAR obligations, and We Can Help You!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!