International Tax Attorney Minnesota Minneapolis

Mexican Bank Accounts & US Tax Obligations | International Tax Lawyers

In this essay, I would like to discuss three main US tax obligations concerning Mexican bank accounts: the worldwide income reporting requirement, FBAR and Form 8938. I will only concentrate on the obligations concerning individuals, not business entities.

Mexican Bank Accounts and US Tax Residents

Before we delve into the discussion concerning US tax obligations, we should establish who is required to comply with these obligations. In other words, who needs to report their Mexican bank accounts to the IRS?

The answer to this question is clear: US tax residents. Only US tax residents must disclose their worldwide income and report their Mexican bank accounts on FBAR and Form 8938. Non-resident aliens who have never declared themselves as US tax residents do not need to comply with these requirements.

US tax residents include US citizens, US Permanent Residents, an individual who satisfied the Substantial Presence test and an individual who properly declares himself a US tax resident. This is, of course, the general rule; important exceptions exist to this rule.

Mexican Bank Accounts: Worldwide Income Reporting Requirement

US tax residents must disclose their worldwide income on their US tax returns, including any income generated by Mexican bank accounts. In other words, all interest, dividend and royalty income produced by these accounts must be reported on Form 1040. Similarly, any capital gains from sales of investments held in Mexican bank accounts should also be disclosed on Form 1040. US taxpayers should pay special attention to the reporting of PFIC distributions and PFIC sales.

It is also possible that you may have to disclose passive income generated by your Mexican business entities through the operation of Subpart F rules and the GILTI regime, but this is a topic for a separate discussion.

Mexican Bank Accounts: FBAR

US tax residents must disclose on FBAR their ownership interest in or signatory authority or any other authority over Mexican bank and financial accounts if the aggregate highest balance of these accounts exceeds $10,000. FBAR is a common acronym for the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, FinCEN Form 114. Even though this is a FinCEN Form, the IRS is charged with the enforcement of this form since 2001.

While seemingly simple, FBAR contains a number of traps for the unwary. One of the most common trap is the definition of “account”. For the FBAR purposes, “account” has a much broader definition than what people generally think of as an account. ‘Account” includes not just regular checking and savings accounts, but also investment accounts, life insurance policies with a cash surrender value, precious metals accounts, earth mineral accounts, et cetera. In fact, it is very likely that the IRS will find that an account exists whenever there is a custodial relationship between a financial institution and a US person’s foreign asset.

FBAR is a very dangerous form. Not only is the filing threshold very low, but there are huge penalties for FBAR noncompliance. For a willful violation, the penalties can go up to $100,000 (adjusted for inflation) per account per year or 50% of the highest value of the account per year, whichever is higher. In special circumstances, the IRS may refer FBAR noncompliance to the US Department of Justice for criminal prosecution. Even non-willful FBAR penalties may go up to $10,000 (again, adjusted for inflation) per account per year.

Mexican Bank Accounts: FATCA Form 8938

The final requirement that I wish to discuss today is the FATCA Form 8938. Born out of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, Form 8938 occupies a unique role in US international tax compliance. On the one hand, it may result in the duplication of a taxpayer’s US tax disclosures (especially with respect to the accounts already disclosed on FBAR). On the other hand, however, Form 8938 is a “catch-all” form that fills the compliance gaps with respect to other US international tax forms.

For example, if a taxpayer holds a paper bond certificate, this asset would not be reported on FBAR, because it is not an account. For the Form 8938 purposes, however, the IRS would consider this certificate as part of assets that fall within the definition of the Specified Foreign Financial Assets (“SFFA”).

Hence, the scope of Form 8938 is very broad. It requires a specified person (this term is almost equivalent to a US tax resident) to disclose all SFFA as long as these SFFA, in the aggregate, exceed the applicable filing threshold.

SFFA includes a huge variety of foreign financial assets which are divided into two sub-categories: (a) foreign bank and financial accounts; and (b) “other” foreign financial assets. The definition of the “other” assets is impressive in its breadth: bonds, stocks, ownership interest in a closely-held business, beneficiary interest in a foreign trust, an interest rate swap, currency swap; basis swap; interest rate cap, interest rate floor, commodity swap; equity swap, equity index swap, credit default swap, or similar agreement with a foreign counterparty; an option or other derivative instrument with respect to any currency or commodity that is entered into with a foreign counterparty or issuer; and so on.

Form 8938 requires not only the reporting of SFFA, but also the income generated by the SFFA. In essence, the worldwide income reporting requirement is incorporated directly into the form.

The filing threshold for Form 8938 is more reasonable than that of FBAR for specified persons who reside in the United States, but it is still fairly low (especially for individuals). For example, if a taxpayer lives in the United States, he will need to file Form 8938 if he has SFFA of $50,000 ($100,000 for a married couple) or higher at the end of the year or $75,000 ($150,000 for a married couple) or higher during any time during the year. Specified persons who reside outside of the United States enjoy much higher thresholds.

Form 8938 has its own penalty system which contains some unique elements. First of all, a failure to comply with the Form 8938 requirements may allow the IRS to impose a $10,000 failure-to-file penalty which may go up to as high as $50,000 in certain circumstances. Second, Form 8938 noncompliance will lead to an imposition of much higher accuracy-related penalties on the income tax side – 40% of the additional tax liability. Third, Form 8938 noncompliance will limit the taxpayer’s ability to utilize the Foreign Tax Credit.

Finally, a failure to file Form 8938 will directly affect the Statute of Limitations of the entire tax return by extending the Statute to the period that ends only three years after the form is filed. In other words, Form 8938 penalties may allow the IRS to audit tax years which otherwise would normally be outside of the general three-year statute of limitations.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With the US Tax Reporting of Your Mexican Bank Accounts

Sherayzen Law Office’s core area of practice is international tax compliance, including offshore voluntary disclosures – i.e. helping US taxpayers with foreign assets and foreign income to stay in US tax compliance and, if a taxpayer fails failed to comply with US tax laws in the past, bring him into compliance through an offshore voluntary disclosure. We can help You!

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Overseas Green Card Holder & US Tax Residency | Tax Lawyer & Attorney

While most US taxpayers understand that a US permanent resident who resides in the United States is a US tax resident, there seems to be a great deal of confusion over whether the same is true with respect to a US permanent resident who resides overseas (hereinafter, “Overseas Green Card Holder”). In other words, the question is whether an Overseas Green Card Holder should be considered a US tax resident?

It is important to clear up this confusion, because an individual non-resident only needs to report to the IRS his US-source income and income effectively connected to the United States. On the other hand, a US tax resident must disclose to the IRS his worldwide income and his foreign assets. A failure to report foreign income and foreign assets will expose the noncompliant taxpayer to IRS penalties. In the context of US international information returns, these IRS penalties can be particularly cruel; FBAR penalties and FATCA penalties are the most important examples of the severity with which the IRS may punish noncompliant green card holders.

Now that we understand the importance of determining whether an individual is a US tax resident, we can proceed with answering the question of whether an Overseas Green Card Holder is a US tax resident. The answer is an emphatic “yes”.

A US Permanent Resident is always a US tax resident (unless his permanent residency is stripped away for noncompliance with US immigration laws). The location of his physical residency does not matter. This means that an Overseas Green Card Holder should properly report his worldwide income and his foreign assets to the IRS, including the filing of any required FBARs and/or Forms 8938.

For example, if a US Permanent Resident resides in the United Kingdom, earns a salary and owns UK bank accounts, he should disclose his UK income in the United States and report his UK bank accounts on his Schedule B to Form 1040. He should also verify if he needs to disclose his UK bank accounts on FBAR and Form 8938, among other potential US tax requirements.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Hep With Your US Tax Compliance if You Are an Overseas Green Card Holder

If you are a US permanent resident who resides in foreign country, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional tax help as soon as possible. Our highly-experienced international tax attorney, Mr. Sherayzen, will personally analyze your legal situation, determine the US tax requirements that may apply in your situation and create your tax compliance plan, including one that includes an offshore voluntary disclosure to remedy any past US international tax noncompliance. Then, our professional tax team, under the supervision of Mr. Sherayzen, will prepare all of the required tax documents while Mr. Sherayzen implements the overall legal plan.

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EU Tax Harmonization Initiative Stalled by Ireland and Hungary | Tax News

The EU Tax Harmonization initiative faced a joint opposition of Ireland and Hungary in early January of 2018. Both countries are vehemently opposed to any effort that would “tie their hands” in terms of their corporate tax policies.

The EU Tax Harmonization Initiative

Tax Harmonization is basically a policy that aims to adjust the tax systems of various jurisdictions in order to achieve one tax goal. The adjustment usually implies equalization of tax treatment.

In the past, the EU tax harmonization efforts were mostly limited to Value-Added Tax (“VAT”) and certain parent-subsidiary taxation issues. Since at least 2016, however, the EU Tax Harmonization policy seeks to regulate corporate income taxes among its members in order to limit intra-EU tax competition.

In 2016, the European Commission released two proposed directives addressing the issues of a common corporate tax base and a common consolidated corporate tax base. Neither directive establishes a minimum corporate tax rate. Neither directive passed the internal EU opposition.

Irish and Hungarian Opposition to the EU Tax Harmonization of Corporate Taxation

Today, the EU internal opposition to the EU tax harmonization initiatives consists of Ireland and Hungary. Both Hungary and Ireland have very low (by EU standards) corporate tax rates. The Irish corporate tax rate is 12.5% and the Hungarian corporate tax rate is only 9% (the EU average corporate tax rate is about 22%).

In early January of 2018, the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar both stated that their countries have the right to set their corporate tax policies and that this area should not be subject to the EU tax harmonization efforts. “Taxation is an important component of competition. We would not like to see any regulation in the EU, which would bind Hungary’s hands in terms of tax policy, be it corporate tax, or any other tax,” Mr. Orbán said. He further added that “we do not consider tax harmonization a desired direction.”

Both countries view the aforementioned proposed 2016 European Commission directives as a threat, because harmonizing of the tax base could lead to corporate income tax rate harmonization.

Impact of Brexit on the EU Tax Harmonization Initiatives

The United Kingdom used to be in the same opposition camp as Ireland and Hungary. Given the size of its economy and its political influence, the United Kingdom was an almost insurmountable barrier to the proponents of greater EU unity (mainly France and Germany). In essence, the UK was enough of a counterweight to keep the balance of power within the European Union from tilting in favor of the EU unity proponents.

Everything has changed with Brexit. The exit of the United Kingdom from the EU automatically led to the shift of the balance of power in favor of Germany. Brexit also means that Ireland and Hungary are now alone in their resistance against the Franco-German efforts to achieve greater EU unity. The political pressure of these outliers is now enormous.

In fact, it appears that, rather than suspending the unanimity requirement by invoking the so-called “passerelle clauses” (which would be a highly controversial step), the proponents of the EU Tax Harmonization initiative will simply wait until this political pressure forces Ireland and Hungary to modify their positions on this issue.

International Tax Lawyer Lectures on US Tax Reporting of Italian Assets and Income

On February 2, 2017, Mr. Eugene Sherayzen, the founder and owner of Sherayzen Law Office (an international tax law firm headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota) gave a lecture at the Italian Cultural Center in downtown Minneapolis. The topic of the lecture was an introduction to US tax reporting of Italian assets and income for individual taxpayers. The lecture was well-attended by mostly native Italians (the room was filled to capacity) and caused a great amount of interest in the audience.

US Tax Reporting of Italian Assets

US Tax Reporting of Italian Assets Introduction

US Tax Reporting of Italian Assets and Income: Worldwide Income Reporting Requirement

The lecture commenced with the discussion of the worldwide income reporting requirement. After explaining the US tax residency requirement, Mr. Sherayzen focused on the importance of reporting Italian-source income in the United States for those Italians who are considered to be US tax residents (i.e. US citizens, US permanent residents, persons who satisfied the Substantial Presence Test and the US tax residents by choice). The lawyer explained that the Italian-source income must be disclosed by these Italians even if the income is already taxed in Italy and even if it is never brought into the United States.

US Tax Reporting of Italian Assets and Income: Foreign Rental Income Must Be Reported but Real Estate itself Is Reportable Only In Certain Cases

Then, Mr. Sherayzen discussed the subject of reporting by Italians of their foreign real estate and income derived from foreign real estate. The international tax lawyer emphasized that foreign rental income and foreign capital gains must be disclosed on the taxpayers’ US tax returns.

Then, Mr. Sherayzen clarified that, in situations where real estate is owned outright by individuals (i.e. not through any entity or any other complex arrangement), the ownership of the real estate itself is not generally reportable. However, if the Italian real estate is owned through an entity, then it will need to be disclosed as part of the entity’s financial statements prepared as part of Form 5471, 8865 or 8858. The lawyer again emphasized that, even in these circumstances, the income derived from Italian real estate is still reportable on the taxpayers’ US tax returns.

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US Tax Reporting of Italian Assets and Income: FBAR and FATCA Form 8938

After discussing real estate as an exception from the general rule that foreign assets are likely to be reportable on the information returns in the United States, Mr. Sherayzen turned to the subject of reporting of foreign accounts with particular focus on FBAR and FATCA Form 8938. The discussion focused on the types of accounts that needed to disclosed, the reporting thresholds, and the penalties associated with the failure to file these forms. The international tax lawyer also discussed in more depth the history of FBAR.

This discussion caused a great number of questions related to FBAR, its thresholds and its relationship to income reporting. Fewer questions were asked with respect to Form 8938.

US Tax Reporting of Italian Assets and Income: PFICs

Despite the time limitations, Mr. Sherayzen briefly discussed Form 8621 as a hybrid form. The lawyer explained that a “hybrid form” meant that Form 8621 was used for both, income tax reporting and asset reporting, with respect to PFICs. Mr. Sherayzen explicated, in a very general manner, what assets qualified for PFIC status and what were the income tax consequences of PFICs. The Minneapolis international tax lawyer warned the audience that their Italian private pension plans and life insurance policies could contain PFICs.

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US Tax Reporting of Italian Assets and Income: Foreign Inheritance and Foreign Gifts

The lecture ended with a brief discussion of US tax reporting requirements concerning inheritance and gifts from Italian nationals and non-resident aliens (for US tax purposes). At that point, Mr. Sherayzen introduced Form 3520 and its threshold reporting requirements for foreign gifts and foreign inheritance. The lawyer also explained how Form 8938 could be applicable to a foreign inheritance.

After the lecture ended, Mr. Sherayzen continued to take questions in private for the next thirty minutes.

Happy New Year 2017! | International Tax Attorney Minneapolis

Sherayzen Law Office, PLLC wishes a very Happy New Year 2017 to all of our clients and readers of our blog! We wish you great health, happiness and prosperity in this New Year 2017! And, to stay in full compliance with US tax laws!

Twin Cities international tax lawyer

The New Year 2017 is going to be a complicated one when it comes to international tax compliance. Let us focus today on two primary updates.

The first notable novelty of the New Year 2017 is the shift in the FBAR deadline; from now on, the FBAR is going to be due on April 15. At this point, the IRS guidance is that this deadline is set for April 15 irrespective of whether it falls on a Saturday, Sunday or a holiday. Hence, it is important to remember that the 2016 FBAR will be due on April 15, 2017, even though US tax returns will be due on April 18, 2017. Please, look for additional articles on this issue in January of 2017.

Second, for the first time ever, FATCA Form 8938 will apply to domestic corporations, partnerships and trusts that hold specified foreign financial assets if the total value of those assets exceeds $50,000 on the last day of the tax year or $75,000 at any time during the tax year. The IRS has been threatening this expansion of the application of Form 8938 since 2011. Now, in the New Year 2017, US domestic entities will need to comply with these new requirements on their 2016 US tax returns. Sherayzen Law Office will be providing additional updates on this issue throughout this year’s tax season.

There are many New Year 2017 updates made to various forms by the IRS. Some of these updates are fairly specific to certain classes of taxpayers, whereas other updates are more general in nature. Our professional legal and tax team at Sherayzen Law Office closely follows these IRS updates and developments to make sure that we provide our clients with the highest quality of service.

As in prior years, if you are a client of Sherayzen Law Office in this New Year 2017, you can rest assured that your US tax compliance is in good hands and you have an intelligent advocate of your interests on your side.

Hence, enjoy the New Year 2017 celebrations and contact Sherayzen Law Office during this year’s tax season for the high-quality professional legal and tax help!