2020 IRS Standard Mileage Rates | IRS Tax Lawyer & Attorney

Beginning January 1, 2020, the IRS changed the optional standard mileage for the calculation of deductible costs of operating an automobile (sedans, vans, pickups and panel trucks) for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes. Let’s discuss in more detail these new 2020 IRS Standard Mileage Rates.

2020 IRS Standard Mileage Rates for Business Usage

For the tax year 2020, the business-use cost of operating a vehicle will be 57.5 cents per mile. This is half a cent lower from 2019. The standard mileage rate for business use is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile.

As in previous years, a taxpayer may not use the business standard mileage rate for a vehicle after using any depreciation method under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) or after claiming a Section 179 deduction for that vehicle.

2020 IRS Standard Mileage Rates for Medical and Moving Purposes

For the tax year 2020, the medical and moving cost of operating a vehicle will be 17 cents per mile. This is lower by three cents from 2019. The rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs.

2020 IRS Standard Mileage Rates for Charitable Purposes

For the tax year 2020, the costs of operating a vehicle in the service of charitable organizations will be 14 cents per mile. The charitable rate is set by statute and remains unchanged.

2020 IRS Standard Mileage Rates vs. Actual Costs vs. Miscellaneous Itemized Deductions

It is important to note that under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, taxpayers can no longer claim a miscellaneous itemized deduction for unreimbursed employee travel expenses. With the exception of active duty members of Armed Forces, taxpayers also cannot claim a deduction for moving expenses. Notice-2019-02.

However, taxpayers are not forced to use the standard mileage rates; rather, this is optional. Sherayzen Law Office advises taxpayers that they have the option of calculating the actual costs of using a vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates. If the actual-cost method is chosen, then all of the actual expenses associated with the business use of a vehicle can be used: lease payments, maintenance and repairs, tires, gasoline (including all taxes), oil, insurance, et cetera.

IRS Notice 2020-05

IRS Notice 2020-05, posted on IRS.gov, contains the standard mileage rates, the amount a taxpayer must use in calculating reductions to basis for depreciation taken under the business standard mileage rate, and the maximum standard automobile cost that a taxpayer may use in computing the allowance under a fixed and variable rate plan. In addition, for employer-provided vehicles, the Notice provides the maximum fair market value of automobiles first made available to employees for personal use in calendar year 2020 for which employers may use the fleet-average valuation rule in § 1.61-21(d)(5)(v) or the vehicle cents-per-mile valuation rule in § 1.61-21(e).

Indian US Dollar Remittances | International Tax Lawyer & Attorney

For some years now, India has remained at the top of all countries that receive remittances in US dollars. A lot of these funds flow from Indian-Americans and Indians who reside in the United States. The problem is that a lot of them are not in compliance with respect to their US international tax obligations that arise as a result of these Indian US dollar remittances.

Indian US Dollar Remittances: India Has Been the Top Recipient

For many years now, India has been one of the top countries in turn of US dollar remittances; lately it has occupied the number one spot. For example, in 2018, India received about $78.6 billion from overseas; China was a distant with only $67.4 billion followed by Mexico ($35.7 billion), the Philippines ($33.8 billion) and Egypt ($28.9 billion).

One of the biggest (if not the biggest) sources of these Indian US dollar remittances has been the United States. In fact, according to the World Bank, one of the reasons why Indian US dollar remittances were so high in 2018 was a better economic performance of the US economy. Hence, we can safely conclude that a large number of Indian-Americans and Indians who reside in the United States send a large portion of their US earnings back to India.

Indian US Dollar Remittances: US International Tax Compliance Issues

The biggest problem with Indian US dollar remittances is their potential for triggering various US international tax compliance requirements, because these remittances are made by US tax residents. Oftentimes, the repatriated funds are sitting in Indian bank accounts or they are invested in Indian stocks, bonds, mutual funds and structured products. Moreover, some of these funds are used to purchase real estate which is rented out to third parties. Still other funds are used to finance business ventures in India.

Such usage of repatriated funds may result in the obligation not only to report Indian income in the United States , but also to file numerous US information returns such as: Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FinCEN Form 114 better known as FBAR), Forms 8938, 8621, 5471 and others. Failure to report foreign income and file these information returns may result in the imposition of draconian IRS penalties and even a criminal prosecution.

Indian US Dollar Remittances: Unawareness Among Indians of US Tax Compliance Requirements

The high potential of Indian US dollar remittances to give rise to US tax compliance issues is combined with a widespread unawareness of these issues among Indians and Indian-Americans. Many of these taxpayers are not even aware of the fact that they are considered US tax residents. Others simply have never heard of the requirement to disclose foreign accounts and other foreign assets in the United States. Still others cling to erroneous ideas and various incorrect myths concerning US tax system.

The rise of various US tax compliance requirements as a result of remittances of funds to India and the widespread ignorance of these requirements among Indians is a bad combination, because it creates the potential for the imposition of the aforementioned draconian IRS penalties on Indians who are not even conscious of the fact that they need to report their worldwide income.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With US International Tax Compliance and Offshore Voluntary Disclosures Concerning Remittances of US Earnings to India

If you are an Indian who resides in the United States and you sent part of your US earnings to India, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help. We have successfully helped hundreds of Indians and Indian-Americans to resolve their US international tax compliance issues, including conducting offshore voluntary disclosures (such as Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures and Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures) with respect to past US tax noncompliance. We can help you!

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§318 Downstream Trust Attribution | Foreign Trust Tax Lawyer & Attorney

The attribution of stock ownership to constructive owners is a highly important feature of US domestic and international tax law. The Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) §318 contains complex constructive ownership rules concerning corporate stock; these rules vary depending on a specific §318 relationship. This article focuses on an important category of §318 relationships – trusts. Since these rules are very broad, I will discuss today only the §318 downstream trust attribution rules; the upstream rules and important exceptions to both sets of rules will be covered in later articles.

§318 Trust Attribution: Downstream vs. Upstream Attribution

Similarly to other §318 attribution rules, there are two types of §318 trust attribution: downstream and upstream. The downstream attribution rules attribute the ownership of corporate stocks owned by a trust to its beneficiaries. The upstream attribution rules are exactly the opposite: they attribute the ownership of corporate stocks owned by beneficiaries to the trust. As I stated above, this article focuses on the downstream attribution.

§318 Downstream Trust Attribution: Attribution from Trust to Beneficiary

Under §318(a)(2)(B)(i), corporate stocks owned, directly or indirectly, by or for a trust are considered owned by the trust’s beneficiaries in proportion to their actuarial interests in the trust.

Notice that the size of the actuarial interest does not matter. Moreover, §318(a)(2)(B) will apply even if the beneficiary does not have any present interest in a trust, but only a remainder interest (also calculated on an actuarial basis). This rule is the exact opposite of the §318 estate attribution rules.

Furthermore, the decision to attribute shares based on the actuarial interest, rather than actual one, may result in a paradoxical result where stocks are attributed to a person who will never become the actual owner of the shares.

§318 Downstream Trust Attribution: Determination of Actuarial Interest

Treas. Reg. §1.318-3 stated that, in determining a beneficiary’s actuarial interest in a trust, the IRS will use the factors and methods prescribed (for estate tax purposes) in 26 CFR § 20.2031-7.

The attribution of shares from the trust to its beneficiary should be made on the basis of the beneficiary’s actuarial interest at the time of the transaction affected by the stock ownership.

§318 Downstream Trust Attribution: Unstable Proportionality

The adoption of the attribution of stock based on the actuarial interest in a trust creates a constant calculation problem for beneficiaries, because the actuarial interest of the beneficiary in a trust varies from year to year. The variation of actuarial interest means that the number of shares attributed from a trust to its beneficiary will change every year.

For example, the actuarial interest of a beneficiary with a life estate in a trust will decrease every year as he ages. On the other hand, the actuarial interest of the owner of the remainder interest in the trust will increase with each year. Hence, the number of stocks attributed to the life tenant will decrease each year, while the attribution of stocks to the holder of the remainder interest will increase each year.

§318 Downstream Trust Attribution: Special Presumption Concerning Power of Appointment

Based on 95 Rev. Proc. 77-37, §3.05 (operating rules for private letter rulings), the IRS has adopted a special presumption with respect to when children will be considered beneficiaries for the purpose of §318 trust attribution rules. In order to understand this rule, we need to describe the setting in which it will most likely apply.

Oftentimes, estate plans are set up where the surviving spouse will have a life interest in a trust’s income and a power of appointment over the trust corpus. In such situation, estate planners often insert a clause that, if a spouse fails to exercise the power of appointment, the trust corpus will automatically go to the children.

In this situation, the IRS stated that, absent evidence that the power of appointment was exercised differently, it is presumed that it was exercised in favor of the children. By adopting this presumption, the children are immediately considered beneficiaries for the purpose of the stock attribution rules under §318.

§318 Downstream Trust Attribution: Planning to Avoid Attribution

In order to prevent the application of the trust attribution rules under §318, a beneficiary must renounce his entire interest in the trust. See Rev. Rul. 71-211. Such renunciation is valid only if it is irrevocable and binding under local law.

§318 Downstream Trust Attribution: Special Case of Voting Trusts

Under Rev. Rul. 71-262 and CCA 200409001, §318(a)(2)(B) does not apply in the context of a voting trust (i.e. where trustee has the right to vote the stock held in trust, but the dividends are paid to the certificate holder). This is because the certificate holder is deemed to be the owner of the shares and there is no attribution of ownership from the trust.

§318 Downstream Trust Attribution: Grantor Trusts and Employee Trusts

While it is beyond the scope of this article to describe them in detail, there are special rules that apply to the attribution of stock from grantor trusts and employee trusts. I will discuss these rules in more detail in the future.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With US Tax Issues Concerning Foreign Trusts

If you are considered an owner or a beneficiary of a foreign trust, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help with your US tax compliance issues. Our firm is highly experienced in US international tax law, including foreign trust compliance. We have also helped taxpayers around the world with their offshore voluntary disclosures involving foreign trusts.

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§318 Upstream Estate Attribution | International Tax Lawyer & Attorney

This article continues a series of articles concerning the constructive ownership rules of the Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) §318. Today’s focus is on the §318 upstream estate attribution rules.

§318 Estate Attribution Rules: Downstream Attribution vs. Upstream Attribution

There are two types of the IRC §318 estate attribution rules: downstream and upstream. In a previous article, I discussed the downstream attribution rules concerning attribution of ownership of corporate stocks held by an estate to its beneficiaries. This brief article focuses on the upstream attribution rules, which means rules governing the attribution to the estate of corporate stocks held by its beneficiaries.

§318 Upstream Estate Attribution: Main Rule

The IRC §318(a)(3)(A) states the general rule for the upstream estate attribution of beneficiaries’ corporate stock: irrespective of the proportion of his beneficiary interest in the estate, all corporate stocks owned directly or indirectly by a beneficiary are deemed to be owned by the estate.

Notice the difference here between the downstream and the upstream estate attribution rules. §318 downstream estate attribution rules attribute the ownership of corporate stock proportionately from an estate to its beneficiaries. The upstream attribution rules under §318, however, completely disregard the proportionality rule; instead, all of the stocks of a beneficiary are attributed to the estate even if he has only 1% interest in the estate.

For example, let’s suppose that W owns 100 shares in corporation X; then, H dies and leaves one-tenth of his property to W. Due to the fact that W is a beneficiary of H’s estate, the estate constructively owns all of W’s 100 shares in X.

§318 Upstream Estate Attribution: No Re-Attribution

I already stated this rule in another article on estate attribution, but it is also important to re-state it here. §318 estate attribution rules contain a prohibition on re-attribution of stocks. Under §318(a)(5)(C), a beneficiary’s stock constructively owned by an estate through the operation of the §318 estate attribution rules cannot be attributed to another beneficiary.

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

If you have questions concerning US business tax in general and US international business tax law specifically, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help. We are a highly-experienced tax law firm that specializes in US international tax law, including offshore voluntary disclosures, US international tax compliance for businesses and individuals and US international tax planning.

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IRC §318 Family Attribution | International Tax Law Firm Minnesota

In a previous article, I outlined six main relationship categories of the Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) §318. In this article, I will focus on the first of these categories: the IRC §318 family attribution rules.

§318 Family Attribution: General Rule

§318(a)(1)(A) describes the §318 family attribution rule . It states that an individual is a constructive owner of shares owned (directly and indirectly) by his spouse, children, grandchildren and parents. While it appears to be simple, this general rule has a number of exceptions and complications.

§318 Family Attribution: Certain Exceptions for Spouses

Under §318(a)(1)(A)(i), ownership of stock held by a spouse who is legally separated under a decree of divorce or separate maintenance is not attributed to her spouse. However, based on the §318 legislative history and Commissioner v. Ostler, 237 F.2d 501 (9th Cir. 1956), it appears that an interlocutory decree of divorce would not prevent the attribution of stock ownership between spouses, because such decree is not final.

§318 Family Attribution: Special Cases Involving Children and Grandchildren

§318(a)(1)(B) expands the attribution of shares from children to shares held by legally adopted children. Without legal adoption, however, shares owned by a step-child cannot be attributed to step-parents and step-grandparents. Similarly, absent legal adoption of a step-child, there is no attribution from a step-parent to the step-child.

Treas. Reg. §1.318-2(b) also makes it clear that there is no attribution of shares owned by grandparents to their grandchildren. Only shares owned by grandchildren can be attributed to their grandparents. For example, if a grandfather and a grandson each own 100 shares of X, a C-corporation, the grandfather will be deemed to own 200 shares while the grandson’s stock ownership will be based only on his actual ownership of 100 shares.

Also, note that great-grandchildren are not listed under §318(a)(1). Hence, the shares owned by great-grandchildren are not attributed to great-grandparents; this is different from §267.

§318 Family Attribution: Other Relatives

The §318 definition of family excludes aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins; this treatment is identical to that of §267. Moreover, unlike §267(c)(4), there is no attribution of stock between siblings under §318(a)(1).

§318 Family Attribution: Prohibition of Double Attribution

Treas. Reg. §1.318-4(b) explains that §318 family attribution rules do not allow double attribution of stock among family members. Under §318(a)(5)(B), stock deemed owned through a family member under §318(a)(1)(A) may not be re-attributed to another family member under the family attribution rules of §318.

For example, let’s say that mother M, daughter D and son S each own one-third of the outstanding shares of X corporation; each of them owns 100 shares. Under §318(a)(1)(A), M owns 100 shares and is deemed to own her children’s 200 shares. On the other hand, D actually owns 100 shares and is deemed to own her mother’s 100 shares – i.e. 200 shares total; under §318(a)(5)(B), while M is deemed to own 100 of S, there is no re-attribution of S’ 100 shares to D. In other words, §318(a)(5)(B) prevents the attribution of brother’s stock to his sister through the deemed ownership of brother’s stock by their mother. Also, as explained above, there is no family attribution of stocks between siblings.

§318 Family Attribution: Special Rule Concerning §302(c)(2)

IRC §302(c)(2) relates to redemptions of corporate stock and contains a special rule concerning the waiver of §318 family attribution of stocks. This section permits the termination of attribution of stock from family members when a shareholder severs ties with the corporation. The purpose of this rule is to allow such a shareholder to report capital gains instead of dividends upon the redemption of corporate stock.

§318 Family Attribution: Multiple Control of Corporation Possible

The upshot of the §318 rules is the expansion of stock ownership to an extent where multiple related parties may be deemed to be in control of a corporation (and even be deemed as owners of all shares of the corporation) at the same time.

For example, let’s suppose that there are five family members: husband (H), wife (W), son (S), H’s mother (i.e. grandmother – M) and son of S (i.e. grandson – G). Each of them actually owns 100 shares of corporation Y; there are 500 shares outstanding in total. Let’s analyze each of these person’s actual and constructive ownership of shares under the §318 family attribution rules.

H owns all 500 shares under the §318 family attribution rules. He actually owns 100 shares; the rest of the shares are attributed to him from his mother, his wife, son and grandson.

W owns 400 shares under the §318 family attribution rules. She actually owns 100 shares and constructively owns 300 shares that belong to her husband, son and grandson. However, she does not own 100 shares owned by her mother-in-law and the re-attribution of ownership of these shares through her husband is prevented by §318(a)(5)(B).

M owns 300 shares under the §318 family attribution rules. She actually owns 100 shares and is deemed to own 100 shares owned by her son and 100 shares owned by her grandson. M, however, is not deemed to own stocks held by her daughter-in-law W and her great-grandson G.

S owns 400 shares under the §318 family attribution rules. He actually owns 100 shares and constructively owns 200 shares owned by his parents and 100 shares owned by his son. S, however, does not constructively own shares held by his grandmother.

Finally, G owns 200 shares under the §318 family attribution rules. He actually owns 100 shares and constructively owns 100 shares held by his father S. G, however, does not constructively own shares held by his grandparents H and M as well as his great-grandmother M.

Thus, even though each family member actually owns only 100 shares, four of them (out of the total five) are deemed to be in control of the corporation and H is deemed to own the entire corporation. If we transfer this scenario to US international tax law, we can immediately see that the application of §318 constructive ownership rules through family attribution may greatly increase the tax compliance burden for this family.

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

IRC §318 is but a tiny part of the incredible voluminous US domestic and international tax law. US international tax law is not only very complex, but it is also very severe with respect to noncompliant taxpayers. In other words, it is very easy to get yourself into trouble with respect to US international tax compliance and, once this happens, you may be subject to high IRS penalties.

In order to avoid such an undesirable result, you need the help of Sherayzen Law Office. We are a highly-experienced US international tax law firm that has helped clients from over 70 countries with their US international tax compliance. We can help you!

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