Happy New Year 2019 from Sherayzen Law Office!

The legal tax team of Sherayzen Law Office, Ltd. wishes a very Happy New Year 2019 to our clients, blog readers and all US taxpayers around the world! May this new year bring you good health, prosperity and happiness! And, of course, full and proper compliance with all US international tax laws.

2019 Will Be a Highly Challenging Year from US Tax Compliance Perspective Due to the 2017 Tax Reform

The coming year is going to be a challenging one for all US taxpayers due to the enormous changes made to the Internal Revenue Code as a result of the 2017 tax reform. Already in 2018, some US taxpayers (especially owners of foreign corporations) had to work through the tax year 2017 transition rules.

The 2017 tax reform will be felt on an even grander scale in 2019 as millions of US taxpayers will struggle with the new rules in order to correctly file their 2018 tax returns. While many of these rules are meant to benefit these taxpayers, the tax compliance associated with them is likely to be complex.

Happy New Year 2019 to Individual US Taxpayers!

After the pain of learning how to comply with the new rules subsides, tens of millions of Americans are likely to call this a Happy New Year 2019 due to lower 2018 individual tax rates, the doubling of the child tax credit and higher standard deduction.

Millions of other, especially the upper middle-class Americans, however, are likely to be greatly hurt by the itemized deductions limitations with respect to state taxes and property taxes. The elimination of personal exemptions will further aggravate this problem. It will not be a Happy New Year 2019 for these taxpayers.

Happy New Year 2019 to Small-Business Owners!

It should still be a Happy New Year 2019 for the majority of the small business owners, including owners of S-corporations, due to the 20% reduction of pass-through income mandated by the tax reform. New depreciation rules are likely to have an overall beneficial impact, even if, in some cases, they may not be very helpful.

Happy New Year 2019 to C-Corporations and Their US & Foreign Owners!

It will be a very Happy New Year 2019 for one class of taxpayers in particular – regular C-corporations. These taxpayers arguably benefitted from the 2017 tax reform more than any type of taxpayers. The reduction in the tax rate from 35% to 21%, introduction of Foreign-Derived Intangible Income (“FDII”) and a whole series of small changes to corporate tax code have already led to the surge to corporate profits; this corporate tax boom is likely to continue to play out this year.

On the other hand, the introduction of the GILTI (Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income) tax, new attribution rules concerning the inclusion of non-US corporations and a myriad of other rules will greatly complicate the tax year 2018 corporate tax compliance. In fact, some corporations that never paid any taxes on their foreign income may now be forced to pay the GILTI tax in the United States.

Happy New Year 2019 to US Taxpayers Who Are Trying to Remedy Past Tax Noncompliance Through an Offshore Voluntary Disclosure!

The taxpayers with undisclosed foreign bank accounts and other assets will face increasing challenges in the year 2019 due to two unwelcome trends that came into existence after FATCA was fully implemented but became apparent to most professionals only in 2018. First, the IRS is narrowing the voluntary disclosure options, especially for willful taxpayers. As I just mentioned, this trend began already in 2017, but it could be clearly observed in the closure of the flagship 2014 OVDP on September 28, 2018. While it does not appear that the Streamlined Compliance Procedures will be targeted by the IRS any time soon, there is always a danger that the IRS may modify the terms of this voluntary disclosure option.

The November 20, 2018 modification of the Traditional Voluntary Disclosure (which greatly narrowed the utility of this option) is another manifestation of this trend. In fact, this modification poses a direct danger of forcing taxpayers into either Streamlined Compliance Procedures or the Traditional Voluntary Disclosure Program at the expense of Reasonable Cause disclosures.

The second trend complements the first trend: the loss of interest in offshore voluntary disclosures directly coincided with an increasingly aggressive IRS tax enforcement. The IRS audits, especially international tax audits, are on the rise as the IRS is taking advantage of the huge pile of information it has accumulated as a result of the previous voluntary disclosure programs, Swiss bank program and FATCA compliance.

The taxpayers will need professional help from an international tax attorney to successfully navigate around the legal challenges posed by these two negative trends in US international tax enforcement.

Taxpayers Will Need the Professional Help of Sherayzen Law Office For Proper Tax Compliance and Offshore Voluntary Disclosures of Foreign Assets in 2019

Overall, the new year 2019 promises to be a very interesting but highly complex year from the perspective of US international tax compliance. US taxpayers without adequate legal help are likely to either fail to take full benefit of the 2017 tax reform, suffer excessively from the negative aspects of the reform and/or even face the dreaded IRS penalties for international tax noncompliance.

At the same time, the narrower post-OVDP offshore voluntary disclosure options and the rising intensity of IRS audits will also present additional challenges to the already difficult situation of many taxpayers who wish to voluntarily resolve their past US international tax noncompliance issues.

Sherayzen Law Office can help you meet all of your 2019 tax challenges, including annual 2018 tax compliance, 2019 offshore voluntary disclosures of foreign assets and foreign income and IRS audit defense. We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers like you, and We can help you!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

Indian Bank Accounts : Key US Tax Obligations | International Tax Lawyer

Due to ongoing implementation of FATCA as well as the tax reform in India, more and more Indian Americans and US tax residents of Indian nationality are learning that they are required to disclose to the IRS their Indian bank accounts. Yet, there are still many more US taxpayers left who are either completely unaware of this requirement or they are confused with respect to what is required to be disclosed and how. This essay intends to clarify who is required to report their Indian bank accounts to the IRS and explain the most common US international tax requirements applicable to Indian bank accounts.

Indian Bank Accounts: Who Needs to Report Them to the US Government?

All US tax residents with Indian bank accounts need to disclose them to IRS. Warning: “US tax resident” is not equivalent to the immigration concept of “US Permanent Resident”. The confusion over these two concepts is a frequent cause of US tax noncompliance, because many Indian immigrants who come to the United States on a work visa assume hat they are not US tax residents since they do not have the status of a US Permanent Resident. This assumption is completely false.

The definition of US tax residency includes US permanent residents, but it is much broader. In general, this term includes: US citizens, US Permanent Residents, any person who satisfied the Substantial Presence Test and any person who declared himself as a tax resident. There are exceptions to this rule, but you will need to consult with an international tax lawyer before making use of any of these exceptions.

Indian Bank Accounts: Indian Income Must Be Disclosed on US Tax Returns

All US tax residents must comply with the numerous US tax reporting requirements, including the worldwide income reporting requirement. All Indian-source income generated by the Indian bank accounts of US tax residents must be disclosed on their US tax returns.

The worldwide income reporting requirement applies to any kind of income: bank interest income, dividends, capital gains, et cetera. This income should be reported on US tax returns even if it was already disclosed on Indian tax returns or subject to Indian tax withholding. This income should be disclosed in the United States even if it never left India.

Indian Bank Accounts: FBAR

The Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, FinCEN Form 114 (popularly known as “FBAR”) is one of the most important and dangerous reporting requirements that applies to Indian bank accounts. Generally, a US person is required to file FBAR if he has a financial interest in or signatory authority or an authority over foreign bank and financial accounts which, in the aggregate, exceed $10,000 at any point during a calendar year.

FBAR has an extremely severe penalty system, and US taxpayers should strive to do everything in their power to make sure that they comply with this requirement.

Indian Bank Accounts: FATCA Form 8938

US tax residents are also required to disclose their Indian bank accounts on Form 8938. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”) led to the creation of Form 8938; US taxpayers should have filed their first Forms 8938 with their 2011 US tax returns.

Form 8938 requires US tax residents to report all of their Specified Foreign Financial Assets (“SFFA”) as long as the Form’s filing threshold is met. SFFA includes a very diverse set of financial instruments, including foreign bank and financials accounts, bonds, swaps, ownership interest in a foreign business, beneficiary interest in a foreign trust and many other types of financial assets. In other words, with the exception of signatory authority accounts, Form 8938 not only duplicates FBAR, but covers a much broader range of financial instruments that would not be required to be reported on FBAR.

It should be pointed out that, even when FBAR and Form 8938 cover the same assets, both forms must be filed despite the duplication of the disclosure.

While Form 8938 has a much higher filing threshold than FBAR, it may still be easily exceeded, especially by taxpayers who reside in the United States. For example, if a taxpayer resides in the United States and his tax return filing status is “single”, then he would only need to have $50,000 or higher at the end of the year or $75,000 or higher at any point during the year in order to trigger the Form 8938 filing requirement. A lot of US taxpayers with Indian bank accounts easily exceed this threshold, especially if they are helping their parents or buying properties in India.

Finally, it should be remembered that Form 8938 has its own penalty structure for failure to file the form. Furthermore, Form 8938 forms an integral part of a federal tax return; this means that a failure to file the form may extend the IRS Statute of Limitations for an IRS audit indefinitely for the entire return.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With Reporting of Your Indian Bank Accounts in the United States

In this essay, I just listed the most common US tax reporting requirements that may apply to US owners of Indian bank accounts. There is a plethora of other requirements that may apply to these taxpayers.

This is why you should contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help with your US tax compliance. We have worked extensively with our Indian clients with respect to reporting of their Indian bank accounts, including offshore voluntary disclosure for late filings.

The stakes in international tax compliance are high, and you need to be able to rely on the knowledge, experience and professionalism of Sherayzen Law Office in order to make sure that you protect yourself from draconian IRS tax penalties. We have successfully helped hundreds of US taxpayers to deal with their US international tax compliance, and We can help You!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

Personal Services Income Sourcing | International Tax Lawyer & Attorney

This article continues our series of articles on the source of income rules. Today, I will explain the general rule for individual personal services income sourcing. I want to emphasize that, in this essay, I will focus only on individuals and provide only the general rule with two exceptions. Future articles will cover more specific situations and exceptions.

Personal Services Income Sourcing: General Rule

The main governing law concerning individual personal services income sourcing rules is found in the Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) §861 and §862. §861 defines what income is considered to be US-source income while §862 explains when income is considered to be foreign-source income.

The general rule for the individual personal services income is that the location where the services are rendered determines whether this is US-source income or foreign-source income. If an individual performs his services in the United States, then this is US-source income. §861(a)(3). On the other hand, if this individual renders his services outside of the United States, then, this will be a foreign-source income. §862(a)(3).

In other words, the key consideration in income sourcing with respect to personal services is the location where the services are performed. Generally, the rest of the factors are irrelevant, including the residency of the employee, the place of incorporation of the employer and the place of payment.

As always in US tax law, there are exceptions to this general rule. In this article, I will cover only two statutory exceptions; in the future, I will also discuss other exceptions as well as the rule with respect to situations where the work is partially done in the United States and partially in a foreign country.

Personal Services Income Sourcing: De Minimis Exception

IRC §861(a)(3) provides a statutory exception to the general rule above specifically for nonresident aliens whose income meet the de minimis rule. The de minimis rule states that the US government will not consider the services of a nonresident alien rendered in the United States as US-source income as long as the following four requirements are met:

1. The nonresident alien is an individual;

2. He was only temporarily in the United States for a period or periods of time not exceeding a total of 90 days during the tax year;

3. He received $3,000 or less in compensation for his services in the United States; AND

4. The services were performed for either of two persons:

4a. “A nonresident alien, foreign partnership, or foreign corporation, not engaged in trade or business within the United States”. §861(a)(3)(C)(i); OR

4b. “an individual who is a citizen or resident of the United States, a domestic partnership, or a domestic corporation, if such labor or services are performed for an office or place of business maintained in a foreign country or in a possession of the United States by such individual, partnership, or corporation.” §861(a)(3)(C)(ii).

Personal Services Income Sourcing: Foreign Vessel Crew Exception

The personal services income performed by a nonresident alien individual in the United States will not be deemed as US-source income if the following requirements are satisfied:

1. The individual is temporarily present in the United States as a regular member of a crew of a foreign vessel; and

2. The foreign vessel is engaged in transported between the United States and a foreign country or a possession of the United States. See §861(a)(3).

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help Concerning US International Tax Law, Including Personal Services Income Sourcing Rules

Sherayzen Law Office is a leading international tax law firm in the United States that has successfully helped hundreds of US taxpayers with their US international tax compliance issues. Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

Bitcoin Payments Are Subject to UK Income Tax | International Tax News

On December 19, 2018, the UK officials confirmed that bitcoin payments received by UK tax residents will be subject to UK taxation. The HMRC is now clear: digital currency is not a currency or money.

The exact purpose of a bitcoin transaction seems to determine the exact tax treatment of it. For example, if you just own cryptocurrency like bitcoin that you later sell, then the bitcoin is treated as an investment asset; any subject such bitcoin payments will be subject to the UK capital gain taxes. Similarly, if you mine bitcoins on an occasional basis, then it is also taxed as a capital gain.

However, if the mining of bitcoins rises to the level of doing business, then it would be treated as income gains as part of a financial trade and subject to ordinary income taxation.

Moreover, if a UK employee receives Bitcoin payments from his employer, these payments will be subject to UK payroll taxes. The amount to be taxed will be based on the “best reasonable estimate” of the value received. It also appears that the employer may need to recognize a capital gain in certain situations.

The most interesting guidance appears to be with respect to bitcoins received and given away for free as well as stolen bitcoins. If a bitcoin received for free (rather than received a payment for a service), then it may actually be tax free. It is not clear what the cost-basis would be in such a bitcoin.

Stolen bitcoins do not appear to produce any tax consequences, because, paradoxically, HMRC appears to consider such bitcoins as still owned by the same taxpayers. If a taxpayer forgets his password needed to access his bitcoins, however, he may be able to claim a loss if he persuades HMRC that he will never remember the password. It is not clear at all how the taxpayer would be able to do so.

The recent HMRC guidance concerning bitcoin payments is highly important and seems to be mostly aligned with that of the IRS in the United States. Sherayzen Law Office advises its clients on the US tax consequences of bitcoin transactions. Contact Us Today to Schedule a Confidential Consultation!

Italian & French Digital Services Tax | Cryptocurrency Tax Lawyer

As the EU talks on the single digital services tax have stalled, some major individual-member countries have moved to impose one independently in their own jurisdictions. On December 17 and 20, 2018, France and Italy announced their plans to impose their national digital services taxes. Spain and the United Kingdom already stated that they will do the same, but they have yet to announce the final proposals.

France took the lead with the imposition of a 3% digital services tax on all revenue derived from digital activities starting January 1, 2019. The tax will target only large multinational companies with large global annual revenues, commonly known as “GAFA” in France (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon). France believes that, through sophisticated tax planning, these companies have been able to escape much of the local taxation; the new tax will assure that they will start paying more to French tax authorities. The tax is expected to generate €500 million of additional revenue in 2019.

Italy also desires to impose in 2019 a 3% digital services tax that will target specifically online advertising, big data and peer-to-peer marketplaces. The Italians believe that their digital services tax will generate €600 million per year. The proposed law will be payable by all Internet companies with over €750 million in revenue and €5.5 million of “eligible” Italian earnings. Nonresident companies who have no physical presence in Italy will need to register with the Italian tax authorities in order to pay the required tax.

The Italian legislative process is slower than that of France and it is unlikely that the tax will be imposed on January 1, 2019. Usually, once the new law passes, the Italian finance ministry will need to publish it with all details within four months after the passage of the law; then, it will be another two months before the new law will become effective. Still, there is little double that this law may be imposed sometime in the second half of 2019.

While the need for revenue that drives these new national laws is understandable, there is a danger for such piecemeal approach to taxation of digital services in the European Union. As Mr. Pierre Moscovici (the EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs) already noted, the differences between these national tax laws may produce serious impediments to the free movement of online goods and services in the European Union.

On the other hand, the prospects for a unified European digital services tax are quite dim due to the adamant opposition to such law from many member-countries, especially Ireland and Sweden. Given this impasse, the national governments that desire to benefit from taxation of online services do not have any other effective remedy but to do it independently within their own jurisdictions.