2019 Minsk Seminar: US International Corporate Tax Reform | GILTI & FDII

On August 28, 2019, Mr. Eugene Sherayzen, the owner and founder of Sherayzen Law Office, Ltd, gave a seminar at Minsk City Bar Association (“MCBA”) in Minsk, Belarus. The focus of the seminar was on the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“2017 TCJA” or “2017 tax reform”) changes in the US international corporate tax law. Let’s discuss this 2019 Minsk seminar in more detail.

2019 Minsk Seminar: Organizational Aspects

The 2019 Minsk seminar was held at a location owned by MCBA in Minsk, Belarus. The seminar was well-attended by Minsk lawyers of various specializations, not just tax attorneys. Mr. Sherayzen conducted the seminar in the Russian language.

2019 Minsk Seminar: Structure of the Seminar

The seminar consisted of four parts: introduction to Sherayzen Law Office’s international tax practice, discussion of five important concepts of US international tax law, explanation of certain aspects of US international business tax law prior to the 2017 tax reform and the 2017 TCJA changes to US international corporate tax law. Throughout the seminar, Mr. Sherayzen made certain digressions into individual international tax law as well as general business tax law in order to better explain certain aspects of the 2017 tax reform to the audience.

2019 Minsk Seminar: Sherayzen Law Office International Tax Practice

During the seminar, Mr. Sherayzen introduced his law firm, Sherayzen Law Office, Ltd., to the audience. He explained that the focus of his practice is on US international tax law. After explaining what “US international tax law” meant, the attorney described the four main sub-areas of his practice: offshore voluntary disclosures, IRS international tax audits, annual compliance and international tax planning.

2019 Minsk Seminar: Five Concepts

After describing his practice, Mr. Sherayzen discussed in detail five relevant concepts of US international tax law. He first introduced the concept of “US tax residency” and generally described the categories of US tax residents. In response to a question from an attendee, the attorney distinguished US tax residency from immigration residency.

Then, Mr. Sherayzen discussed the principle of worldwide income taxation of US tax residents. The fact that US tax residents must report their worldwide income even if they reside overseas caused consternation among some attendees.

The discussion of the concept of income recognition resulted in a lively exchange between the speaker and the audience. At that point, Mr. Sherayzen alluded that this topic would be relevant to the his explanation of the anti-deferral regimes during the second part of his lecture.

The rest of this part of the seminar focused on the taxation powers of the US congress and the source of income rules. The attorney introduced certain general source-of-income rules, but warned about the enormous amount of exceptions in this area of law.

2019 Minsk Seminar: Pre-Tax Reform US International Corporate Tax Law

Mr. Sherayzen adopted a general historical approach to the explanation of US international corporate tax law prior to the 2017 TCJA. He commenced with a description of the progression of law since the 1920s, explaining the incentives that existed for the accumulation of cash overseas. Then, the attorney discussed the modifications to the law enacted by Congress throughout the years in order to combat tax avoidance by US corporations.

At that point, Mr. Sherayzen introduced the two main anti-deferral regimes: Subpart F rules and PFIC rules. He explained these regimes in a general manner, warning the audience that there were many specific rules and exceptions to these general rules. The attorney also discussed why these two anti-deferral regimes failed to stop tax avoidance and the continued accumulation of corporate cash in foreign subsidiaries.

2019 Minsk Seminar: 2017 Tax Reform

The discussion of the 2017 TCJA consisted of three parts: (1) reasons for the reform; (2) new rules to combat tax avoidance; and (3) tax incentives with respect to returning production to the United States and exporting from the United States.

After introducing the audience to the historical and political context in which 2017 TCJA was enacted, Mr. Sherayzen discussed the new tax avoidance prevention rules, focusing on the Section 965 tax and Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income (“GILTI”) tax. Then, the attorney explained the new tax incentives introduced by the 2017 tax reform, including lower corporate tax rates, full participation exemption and Foreign-Derived Intangible Income (“FDII”).

2019 Minsk Seminar: Conclusion

At the end of the seminar, there was an extensive Q&A session. Questions ranged from re-classification of shareholder loans during an offshore voluntary disclosure to certain aspect of the 2017 tax reform and its impact on corporate restructuring.

Partnership International Tax Issues | International Tax Lawyer & Attorney

This article introduces readers to potential US international tax issues that a business entity may face when it elects to operate as a partnership for US tax purposes (all together “partnership international tax issues”). The focus of this article is on partnership international tax issues, particularly where US partnerships have a foreign partner and foreign partnerships have a US partner. The purpose of this article is to just identify the strategic groups of partnership international tax issues; future articles will analyze these issues in more depth.

Partnership International Tax Issues: Two Main Fact Patterns

As stated above, the partnership international tax issues outlined below concern primarily one of the following situations. First, a partnership is a US partnership and a foreign person invests in this partnership. Second, a partnership is a foreign partnership and a US person invests in this partnership.

The Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) deals with both situations in a different manner. They are taxed differently, and a partnership and/or its partner may have to file different information returns.

Partnership International Tax Issues: Classification Issues

Three important US international tax issues exist with respect to classification of partnerships. First, classification of an entity or arrangement as a partnership. The tax classification of a partnership that is officially formed by filing appropriate organizational documents with the proper government entity is usually fairly clear. This is not the case, however, with respect to a situation where parties enter into a contractual arrangement which exhibit features similar to a partnership. In these situations the IRS may determine such a contractual arrangement to be a partnership for US tax purposes; these are so-called “contractual partnerships”.

Second, classification of a partnership as “domestic” or “foreign”. Again, the easiest cases are those that involve a formally-organized partnership, but contractual partnerships raise a lot of difficult issues.

Third, classification of a partnership as either “resident” or “non-resident”.

Partnership International Tax Issues: Issues Concerning Inbound Investments

An important set of US international tax issues arises when a foreign person invests in a US partnership. Most of these issues would arise in situations where the partnership trades or otherwise does business in the United States. The most salient issues concern: partnership formation, taxation of partnership operations, taxation of partnership distributions and sale of a partnership interest by a foreign partner. We will discuss these issues in more detail in the future.

Partnership International Tax Issues: Issues Concerning Taxation of Outbound Investments

Another highly important set of issues arises when a US person does business through a foreign partnership. The most important of these issues concern: acquisition of an interest in a foreign partnership, taxation of foreign partnership income allocated to US partners and disposition of an ownership interest in a foreign partnership.

These issues interconnect in an interesting and very complex way with such issues as income source rules, foreign tax credit, Subpart F rules and so on. The interaction of these issues may directly affect taxation of foreign income of a US partner. In future articles, we will cover this very diverse set of partnership international tax issues concerning taxation of outbound investments.

Partnership International Tax Issues: Tax Withholding Issues

US international tax law subjects domestic partnerships to a great variety of tax withholding rules whenever they have foreign partners with effectively connected income. Most common of these rules are the ones that concern partnership distributions to a foreign partner. Another very common example is Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act of 1980, commonly known as “FIRPTA”, tax withholding requirements. Again, we will cover these tax withholding issues as well as the problem of “effectively connected income” in future articles.

Partnership International Tax Issues: Tax Treaties

Bilateral tax treaties form an important part of US international tax law concerning taxation of partnerships. Partnership taxation is affected by a host of tax treaty issues. For example, the treatment of “hybrid” and “reverse hybrid” entities, tax treaty benefits and the issue of “imputed” permanent establishment are all highly important tax treaty issues that directly affect partnership taxation under US tax law. In future article, we will discuss selected tax treaties as well as certain features common to most US tax treaties.

Partnership International Tax Issues: Information Returns and Income Tax Returns

Numerous tax filing requirements are imposed on partnerships, especially US partners of foreign partnerships. The most salient information returns are those required by the Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) Sections 6031, 6038 and 6046A. There is also an important interaction of these sections with information returns under the IRC Sections 6038A and 6038C. We will cover the partnership information and income tax returns in future articles.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help Concerning Partnership International Tax Issues

If you are a US person who owns an interest in a foreign partnership or a foreign person who owns an interest in a US partnership, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help. Our highly-experienced international tax team, headed by attorney Eugene Sherayzen, will help you identify your US international tax compliance issues and help you resolve them.

If you are facing an IRS audit concerning partnership international tax issues, you should call us as soon as possible to obtain the maximum benefit from our advice.

Contact Us Today to Schedule a Confidential Consultation!

IRS Acquires Phone-Hacking Software | IRS Lawyer News

It seems that the IRS audit powers are increasing more and more at the expense of taxpayers’ privacy rights. In June of 2019, the IRS posted a procurement notice on its website to award a contract to a company Cellebrite, an Israeli company that specializes in smartphone decryption software and equipment. In other words, the IRS is about to acquire phone-hacking software from this company.

IRS Phone-Hacking Software: Primary Targets

What exactly does the IRS want to be able to hack? It appears pretty much everything that is used by taxpayers on a daily basis. Cellebrite software is capable to hacking both Android and Apple phones. Moreover, it can extract data from programs such as WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook. This data-extraction ability covers encrypted messages.

According to Cellebrite’s website, its software would allow the IRS to “go beyond texts, call logs and photos with a comprehensive toolset that effectively accesses data from the widest variety of digital sources.” Furthermore, “advanced capabilities help you bypass passwords, overcome locks and encryption challenges to extract and decode complete data from the most devices, operating systems and applications. You can also extract and preserve public and private data from social media and other cloud-based sources, providing an unparalleled amount of forensically sound digital evidence.”

IRS Phone-Hacking Software: IRS Is Not the Only Federal Agency to Use It

The IRS is not alone in its usage of phone-hacking software. US Secret Service, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Federal Bureau of Investigation and other government agencies have acquired phone-hacking abilities, including from Cellebrite. One of the most famous examples of a government agency using phone-hacking software occurred with respect to a mass shooter’s iPhone. After Apple refused to cooperate with the FBI, the Bureau reportedly used an “outside party” to unlock the iPhone used by the San Bernardino shooter (the FBI has denied it, but it appears that the rumors are true).

Also, this is not the first time that the IRS used Cellebrite software. It appears the IRS has had contracts with the firm all the way back to 2009. In those instances, the IRS simply paid Cellebrite for its services to unlock a specific phone. This time, however, the IRS wants the software license, equipment and maintenance support.

IRS Phone-Hacking Software: Privacy Invasion Concerns

The fact that the IRS will acquire the capability to directly hack into taxpayers’ phones raises all kinds of privacy concerns. When will the IRS use it – only in criminal investigations or also in civil ones? Will there be a judicial review of the IRS usage of this software? Who will authorize the hacking and under what circumstances? How will the privacy rights of innocent taxpayers be protected? Will the information obtained by the IRS be shared with other federal agencies? What about state agencies? What kind of safeguards are in place to prevent the usage of the discovered data (especially when it is not relevant to tax compliance) for political vendetta purposes?

All of these questions are highly-important concerns in our world of rapidly-disappearing privacy rights. This is a concern that should be shared by all members of our society.

Sherayzen Law Office will continue to follow these recent developments with respect to expanding IRS capabilities to investigate US taxpayers.

Minnesota Sales Tax Responsible Person Legal Standard | Audit Tax Lawyer

In this article, I would like to discuss the legal definition of Responsible Person under Minn. Stat. § 270C.56 – I will refer to this term as Minnesota sales tax responsible person legal standard.

Minnesota Sales Tax Responsible Person: Background Information

Minnesota imposes a sales tax “on the gross receipts from retail sales.” Minn. Stat. § 297A.62, subd. 1 (2014). “The sales … tax required to be collected by the retailer under chapter 297A constitutes a debt owed by the retailer to Minnesota, and the sums collected must be held as a special fund in trust for the state of Minnesota.” Minn. Stat. § 289A.31, subd. 7(a) (2014).

If the sales tax is not collected or remitted to the Minnesota Department of Revenue (“DOR”) by the company, then Minnesota law imposes personal liability upon a person who “has the control of, supervision of, or responsibility for filing returns or reports, paying taxes, or collecting or withholding and remitting taxes and who fails to do so.” Minn. Stat. § 270C.56, subd. 1 (2014). In other words, the State of Minnesota will collect the sales tax liability incurred by a company from whoever is defined as a “responsible person” – this is what I mean by Minnesota Sales Tax Responsible Person.

Minnesota Sales Tax Responsible Person: Legal Test

In order for a person to be assessed with the personal liability for non-payment of a sales tax, Minnesota courts follow a two-prong analysis under the Legal Test that establishes whether a person is a Minnesota Sales Tax Responsible Person. The first prong is definitional and the second one is substantive. Yik C. Lo v. Comm’r of Revenue, 2016 Minn. Tax LEXIS 17, *24 (Minn. T.C. April 7, 2016).

Let’s deal with the definitional prong first. “The threshold definitional question is whether the assessed person qualifies as a ‘person’ for purposes of the personal liability statute.” Id.; also see Igel v. Comm’r of Revenue, 566 N.W.2d 706, 709 (Minn. 1997). For the purposes of this statute, the word “person” is defined broadly to include an officer of a company, a member of a partnership and even an employee. Minn. Stat. § 270C.56, subd. 2 (2014). Pretty much any stakeholder, officer or employee would be considered a “person”.

If the first question is answered positively, then, the second issue is whether the “person” was also a “responsible person” – i.e. whether the “person” had the requisite control over financial matters to be found personally liable for the company’s tax liabilities. Stevens v. Comm’r of Revenue, 822 N.W.2d 646, 652 (Minn. 2012).

The Minnesota Supreme Court adopted a five-factor test to determine who is a responsible person. Benoit v. Commissioner of Revenue, 453 N.W.2d 336, 344 (Minn. 1990). This test is “informative” while the statutory language of 270C.56 controls. Larson v. Comm’r of Revenue, 581 N.W.2d 25, 28-29 (Minn. 1998). In other words, the courts may and actually at other factors besides those listed in the test.

The five factors are:

“(1) The identity of the officers, directors and stockholders of the corporation and their duties;
(2) The ability to sign checks on behalf of the corporation;
(3) The identity of the individuals who hired and fired employees;
(4) The identity of the individuals who were in control of the financial affairs of the corporation; and
(5) The identity of those who had an entrepreneurial stake in the corporation.” Benoit, 453 N.W.2d at 344.  

The idea behind the test is to focus on “those persons who have the power and responsibility to see that the taxes are paid.” Id. Writing for a unanimous court, Judge Wahl also stated: “Control and influence over the ‘disbursement of funds and priority of payments to creditors’ are the most important elements.” Id. at 342.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With Minnesota Statute § 270C.56

If the DOR found you personally responsible for a company’s sales tax liability under Minn. Stat. § 270C.56, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional tax help.

2019 Zurich Trip Completed | Zurich US International Tax Lawyer & Attorney

In July of 2019, Mr. Eugene Sherayzen, an international tax attorney and owner of Sherayzen Law Office, Ltd., completed his business trip to Zurich, Switzerland. Let’s discuss in more detail this 2019 Zurich Trip, its goals and accomplishments.

2019 Zurich Trip: Goals

Mr. Sherayzen outlined the firm’s goals for the Zurich trip during the Sherayzen Law Office Board of Director’s meeting on March 19, 2019. At the beginning of the meeting, he outlined two long-term goals for Sherayzen Law Office: (1) deepen the firm’s ties to the global banking and investment community, and (2) promote Sherayzen Law Office’s international tax services in Europe.

Mr. Sherayzen stated that the particular goals for the 2019 Zurich trip were as follows: (1) gather the necessary intelligence to achieve the long-term goals; (2) resolve certain issues for the firm’s current clients with Swiss bank accounts; and (3) make promotional videos of the firm’s services.

2019 Zurich Trip: Achievements

The 2019 Zurich trip achieved all of the goals that were outlined above. During the trip, Mr. Sherayzen gathered a large amount of data that will need to be analyzed in the future for the purpose of improving the firm’s marketing strategies.

Second, while in Zurich, Mr. Sherayzen successfully resolved all of the pending issues for the firm’s clients.

Finally, a number of videos were made for the purpose of promoting the vast experience and deep expertise that Sherayzen Law Office has accumulated in US international tax law. Sherayzen Law Office is a leader in US international tax compliance, including offshore voluntary disclosures.

2019 Zurich Trip and Future Plans

Sherayzen Law Office intends to capitalize in the near future on the achievements made by Mr. Sherayzen during this trip. We encourage our clients and followers on social media to stay tuned for future updates, including video updates.

The Board of Directors of Sherayzen Law Office, Ltd., will analyze the successes of the 2019 Zurich trip in order to modify the plans for the firm’s marketing strategies in Europe. The Board already commenced planning for new targeted trips which will lead to the expansion of the firm’s clientele in Europe.

Sherayzen Law Office already has a very large exposure in the European continent. We have helped clients with undisclosed European assets in most countries on the European continent: Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Poland, Portugal, Romania, the Russian Federation, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Ukraine.

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

Sherayzen Law Office is a US international tax law firm with deep expertise in all relevant areas of US international tax law, including offshore voluntary disclosures. With clients from over 70 countries around the world, our firm is a leader in US international tax compliance.

We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the world with their US international tax compliance issues, and We can help You! Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!