international-tax-lawyer

IRC §318 Importance | International Tax Lawyer & Attorney

It is difficult to overstate the significant role the Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) §318 plays in US corporate tax law and US international tax law. In this article, I will explain the §318 importance and list out major IRC provisions which reference §318.

IRC §318 Importance: Fundamental Purpose

§318 sets forth the circumstances when the ownership of stock is attributed from one person or entity to another. This is one of the most important sections of the Internal Revenue Code, because it contains a set of constructive stock ownership rules which affect a bewildering variety of IRC tax provisions.

It is important to point out that §318 constructive ownership rules do not apply throughout the IRC. Rather, §318 applies only when it is expressly adopted by a specific tax section.

IRC §318 Importance: Non-Exclusive List of IRC Sections

The IRC §318 importance is extensive in both domestic and international tax provisions of the Internal Revenue Code. The CFC (controlled foreign corporation) rules, FIRPTA, FTC (foreign tax credit rules), BEAT, FATCA and so on – all of these US international tax laws adopted §318 for at least one purpose. The §318 importance can even be seen in the 2017 tax reform (for example, the FDII rules).

The following is a non-exclusive list of major IRC sections which adopted the §318 constructive stock ownership rules:

• §59A(g)(3) (related party under BEAT rules)
• §105(h)(5)(B)
• §168(h)(6)(F)(iii)(III)
• §250(b)(5)(D) (sales or services to related party under FDII rules by reference to §954(d)(3) and §958)
• §263A(e)(2)(B)(ii)
• §267A(b)(2) (related party amounts in hybrid transaction by reference to §954(d)(3) and §958)
• §269A(b)(2)
• §269B(e)(2)(B)
• §301(e)(2)
• §302(c) (stock redemptions)
• §304 (redemptions by related corporations)
• §306(b)(1)(A) (disposition or redemption of §306 stock)
• §338(h)(3)
• §355(d)(8)(A)
• §356(a)(2)
• §367(c)(2)
• §382(l)(3)(A) (net operating loss carryovers)
• §409(n)(1)
• §409(p)(3)(B)
• §414(m)(6)(B)
• §416(i)(1)(B) (key employee for top heavy plans)
• §441(i)(2)(B)
• §453(f)(1)(A)
• §465(c)(7)(D)(iii), §465(c)(7)(E)(i) (at-risk loss limitations)
• §469(j)(2)(B) (passive activity loss limitations)
• §512(b)(13)(D)(ii) (unrelated business taxable income from controlled entity)
• §856(d)(5) (REIT rental income)
• §871(h)(3)(C) (portfolio interest withholding tax exemption)
• §881(b)(3)(B) (portfolio interest withholding tax exemption)
• §897(c)(6)(C) (FIRPTA rules)
• §898(b)(2)(B) (adopting §958‘s modified §318 rules for determination of foreign corporation’s tax year)
• §904(h)(6) (foreign tax credit re-sourcing rules)
• §951(b) (U.S. shareholder of controlled foreign corporation (CFC) by reference to §958(b))
• §954(d)(3) (CFC related party rules by reference to §958)
§958(b) (CFC rules)
• §1042(b)(2)
• §1060(e)(2)(B)
• §1061(d)(2)(A) (transfer of partnership interest received for performance of services)
• §1239(b)(2)
• §1372(b)
• §1471(e) (imposing FATCA reporting requirements on foreign financial institution members of an expanded affiliated group determined under §954(d)(3)’s control test, which adopts §958‘s modified §318 rules)
• §2036(b)(2)
• §6038(e)(2) (information reporting for controlled foreign corporations)
• §6038A(c)(5)
• §7704(d)(3)(B)

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

Trying to comply with the extremely complex provisions of US international tax law on your own is even worse than playing Russian roulette. In all likelihood, you will soon find yourself in the ever-deepening pit of legal problems and IRS penalties from which it will be very difficult to extricate yourself.

This is why, if you are US taxpayer with US international tax law issues, you need to contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help. We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the globe to bring themselves into full compliance with US tax laws, and we can help you!

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§267 Family Attribution | International Tax Lawyer & Attorney

In a previous article, I introduced the constructive ownership rules of the Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) §267. Today, I would like to discuss one of them in more detail – §267 family attribution.

§267 Family Attribution: General Rule

The §267 family attribution rule is described in §267(c)(2). It states that, for the purposes of determining whether an individual is a related party under §267, this individual is considered as a constructive owner of stocks owned, directly or indirectly, by or for his family.

§267 Family Attribution: Who is a Family Member

The critical question for §267(c)(2) is the definition of family. §267(c)(4) provides the answer to this question: “the family of an individual shall include only his brothers and sisters (whether by the whole or half blood), spouse, ancestors, and lineal descendants.”

Under Treas. Reg. §1.267(c)-1(a)(4), if any such family relationship was formed through legal adoption, such adoption is given full legal force for the purposes of §267(c)(2). “Ancestors” here include parents and grandparents; it appears that great-grandparents should also be family members for the purposes of §267 family member attribution. Id. The term “lineal descendants” includes children and grandchildren. Id.

Neither §267 and relevant Treasury regulations contain any reference to aunts and uncles. There is, however, a reason to believe that aunts and uncles are not family members for the purpose of §267(c)(2). This argument is based on the fact that, prior to its repeal in 2004, the definition of family in §544(a)(2) (which was part of the foreign personal holding company provisions) was identical to that of §267(c)(4). The IRS held in Rev. Rul. 59-43 that aunts and uncles are not family members for the purposes of §544(a)(2); hence, the same logic should apply to §267(c)(2).

Furthermore, neither step-parents nor step-children are family members for the purposes of §267(c)(2) (see Rev. Rul. 71-50 and DeBoer v. Commissioner, 16 T.C. 662 (1951), aff’d per curiam, 194 F.2d 289 (2d Cir. 1952)). Based on Tilles v. Commissioner, 38 B.T.A. 545 (1938), aff’d, 113 F.2d 907 (8th Cir. 1940), nieces or nephews are also not family members. Nor are the in-laws.

§267 Family Attribution: Attribution and Limitations

Under the §267 family attribution rule, any family member will be the constructive owner of any other family member’s stocks. This will be the case even if the person to whom the stock ownership is attributed has no direct or even indirect ownership of stock in the corporation (see Reg. §1.267(c)-1(a)(2)).

On the other hand, §267(c)(5) prevents the double-attribution of stock. In other words, a stock constructively owned under the family attribution rules may not be owned by another person under §267(c)(2). For example, if stock ownership is attributed to an individual’s wife under §267(c)(2), §267(c)(5) prevents further attribution of stock ownership to the wife’s mother.

§267 Family Attribution: Other Doctrines Should Be Considered

It is important to emphasize that a lawyer should always be on the lookout for other doctrines which may intervene with the attribution under §267(c)(2). For example, where a wife transfers property to her husband in anticipation of the sale of that property by the husband to her brother, §267(c)(5) double-attribution limitation may be ignored by the application of the “substance over form” principle by a court. The “step transaction” doctrine should always be a concern in such transactions.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With US Tax Law

US tax law is extremely complex. An ordinary person will simply get lost in this labyrinth of tax rules, exceptions and requirements. Once you get into trouble with US tax law, it is much more difficult and expensive to extricate yourself from it due to high IRS penalties.

This is why it is important to contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help with US tax law as soon as possible. We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the world to successfully resolve their US tax compliance and US tax planning issues. We can help you!

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IRC §267 Purpose | International Tax Lawyer & Attorney Austin TX

This brief essay explores the IRC §267 purpose of existence – i.e. Why did Congress decide to enact IRC §267 and in what situations does it generally apply?

IRC §267 Purpose: Problematic Scenarios

When Congress enacted IRC §267, it meant to address a very specific problem in the context of two scenarios. The problem was the rise of a large number of tax minimization strategies based on transactions between persons with shared economic interests (for example, a transaction between a father and his son). The IRS calls such persons with shared economic interests “related persons”.

In particular, these related person transaction strategies focused on two different scenarios. The first scenario was the creation of an artificial loss on the sale or exchange of property between related persons. The second scenario involved transactions between related persons where one of them recognized a deduction while the other one did not recognize any income from the same transaction.

IRC §267 Purpose: Limitations on Related Person Tax Planning

Given the high potential of related person transactions to artificially lower tax liability of all parties involved, Congress enacted IRC §267. The main purpose of IRC §267 is to impose severe limitations on the ability of related persons to realize losses from sales of property to related persons and take deductions with respect to transactions involving related persons.

It should be emphasized that IRC §267 does not impose an absolute limitation on one’s ability to take losses. For example, once a property is sold to an unrelated person, IRC §267(d) allows the seller to offset recognized gain by the previously disallowed loss. In other words, the IRC §267 purpose is to handicap the ability of related persons to artificially lower their federal tax liability, not to deprive related persons from recognizing legitimate losses in transactions with unrelated persons.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With IRC §267

If you have a transaction involving related persons, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help with US business tax planning. We have helped taxpayers around the globe with the US tax planning, and We Can Help You!

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Foreign Income Reporting Without Forms W-2 or 1099 | Tax Lawyer

There is a surprisingly large number of US taxpayers who believe that reporting foreign income that was not disclosed on a Form W-2 or 1099 is unnecessary. Even if they honestly believe it to be true, this erroneous belief exposes these taxpayers to an elevated risk of imposition of high IRS penalties. In this article, I will discuss the US tax rules concerning foreign income reporting which was never disclosed on a Form W-2 or 1099 and how the IRS targets tax noncompliance in this area.

Foreign Income Reporting: Worldwide Income Reporting Requirement

If you are a US tax resident, you are subject to the worldwide income reporting requirement. In other words, you are required to disclose your US-source income and your foreign-source income on your US tax return.

This requirement applies to you irrespective of whether this income was ever disclosed to the IRS on a Form W-2 or Form 1099. It is important to understand that Forms W-2 and 1099 are only third-party reporting requirements. They do not impact your foreign income reporting on your US tax return in any way, because such a disclosure is your personal obligation as a US tax resident.

This means that, if your foreign employer pays you a salary for the work performed in a foreign country, you must disclose it on your US tax return. Similarly, if you are a contractor who receives payments for services performed overseas, you are obligated to disclose these payments on your US tax return. The fact that neither your foreign employer nor your clients ever filed any information returns, such as Forms W-2 or 1099, with the IRS is irrelevant to your foreign income reporting obligations in the United States.

Foreign Income Reporting: Many US Taxpayers Are Noncompliant

Unfortunately, many US taxpayers are not complying with their foreign income reporting obligations. Some of them are doing it willfully, taking advantage of the absence of third-party IRS reporting (such as Forms W-2 and 1099). Others have fallen victims to numerous online false claims of exceptions to the worldwide income reporting.

Foreign Income Reporting: Noncompliant Taxpayers at Elevated Risk of IRS Penalties

The noncompliance in this area is so great that it drew the attention of the IRS. In July of 2019, the IRS announced a specific compliance campaign that targets high-income US citizens and resident aliens who receive compensation from overseas that is not reported on a Form W-2 or Form 1099.

The IRS has adopted a tough approach to noncompliance with the worldwide income reporting requirement – IRS audits only. The IRS did not mention any other, more lenient treatment streams for this campaign.

This means that we will see an increase in the number of IRS audits devoted mainly to discovering unreported foreign income and punishing noncompliant US taxpayers. Of course, these audits may further expand depending on other facts that the IRS discovers during these audits. For example, if foreign income comes from a foreign corporation owned by the taxpayer, the IRS may also impose Form 5471 penalties. If this corporation owns undisclosed foreign accounts, then the taxpayer may also face draconian FBAR civil as well as criminal penalties.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With Your Foreign Income Reporting Obligations and Your Voluntary Disclosure of Unreported Foreign Income

If you are a US taxpayer who earns income overseas, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help with your US tax compliance. Furthermore, if you have not reported your overseas income for prior years, you should explore your voluntary disclosure options as soon as possible in order to reduce your IRS civil penalties and avoid potential IRS criminal prosecution. We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers like you to resolve their US tax noncompliance issues, including those concerning foreign income reporting, and We Can Help You!

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Hungarian Bank Accounts | US International Tax Lawyer & Attorney

US taxpayers who own Hungarian bank accounts may have to comply with a large number of US tax reporting requirements. In particular, they need to be concerned about reporting income generated by their Hungarian bank accounts as well as disclosing the ownership of these accounts on FBAR and Form 8938. Other requirements may apply, but these are the three main ones. Let’s explore them in more detail in this essay.

Hungarian Bank Accounts: Definition of “Filer”

It is important to understand that each of the aforementioned three requirements has its own definition of “filer” – a person who is subject to these obligations to report his foreign assets and foreign income. These differences in the definition of filer, however, are fairly small. Rather, every definition is essentially based on the concept of “US tax residency”. In fact, the worldwide income reporting requirement applies only to US tax residents.

Who are “US tax residents”? This definition encompasses the following persons: US citizens, US permanent residents, persons who satisfy the Substantial Presence Test and persons who declare themselves as US tax residents. Keep in mind that this is a general definition of US tax residents which is subject to a number of important exceptions.

So, if US tax residency definition forms the basis for all three requirements, what are the differences? Generally, the differences arise with respect to situations which are less common and mostly limited to the persons who try to declare themselves as US tax residents or non-resident aliens. The most common issues arise with respect to the application of the Substantial Presence Test, first-year definition of US tax resident and last-year definition of a US tax resident. A common example can be found with respect to treaty “tie-breaker” provisions, which foreign persons use to escape the effects of the Substantial Presence Test for US tax residency purposes.

The determination of your US tax reporting requirements is the primary task of your international tax attorney. It is simply too dangerous for a common taxpayer or even an accountant to attempt to dabble in this area of US international tax law.

Hungarian Bank Accounts: Worldwide Income Reporting Requirement

Now that we understand the concept of US tax residency, we are ready to explore the aforementioned three US reporting requirements with respect to Hungarian bank accounts. Let’s begin with the obligation to report income generated by Hungarian bank accounts.

All US tax residents, as defined above, must disclose their worldwide income on their US tax returns. This means that they must report to the IRS their US-source and foreign-source income. The worldwide income reporting requirement applies to all types of foreign-source income: bank interest income, dividends, royalties, capital gains and any other income.

The worldwide income reporting requirement applies even if the foreign income is subject to Hungarian tax withholding or reported on a Hungarian tax return. It also does not matter whether the income was ever transferred to the United States or stayed in Hungary – the worldwide income reporting requirement will still apply in either case.

Hungarian Bank Accounts: FBAR (FinCEN Form 114)

In addition to reporting the income generated by Hungarian bank accounts, a taxpayer may also need to disclose the ownership of these accounts on his Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (abbreviated as “FBAR”). The official name of FBAR is FinCEN Form 114.

FBAR is arguably the most important reporting requirement with respect to foreign accounts. The irony is that it is not a tax form – i.e. it is not part of the Internal Revenue Code which is Title 26 of the United States Code. Rather, FBAR was created by the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970 under Title 31 of the United States Code.

Basically, the US Department of the Treasury requires all “US Persons” to disclose their ownership interest in or signatory authority or any other authority over Hungarian (and any other foreign country) bank and financial accounts if the aggregate highest balance of these accounts exceeds $10,000. If these requirements are met, the disclosure requirement is satisfied by filing an FBAR.

It is important to understand that all parts of this FBAR requirement are terms and conditions that require further exploration and understanding. I encourage you to search our firm’s website, sherayzenlaw.com, for the definition of “US Persons” and the explanation of other parts of the FBAR requirement.

There is one part of the FBAR requirement, however, that I wish to explore here in more detail – the definition of “account”. The reason for this special treatment is the fact that this definition is a very important source of confusion among US taxpayers with respect to what needs to be disclosed on FBAR.

The FBAR definition of an account is substantially broader than what this word generally means in our society. “Account” for FBAR purposes includes: checking accounts, savings accounts, fixed-deposit accounts, investments accounts, mutual funds, options/commodity futures accounts, life insurance policies with a cash surrender value, precious metals accounts, earth mineral accounts, et cetera. In fact, whenever there is a custodial relationship between a foreign financial institution and a US person’s foreign asset, there is a very high probability that the IRS will find that an account exists for FBAR purposes.

Despite the fact that FBAR compliance is neither easy nor straightforward, FBAR has a very severe penalty system. On the criminal side, FBAR noncompliance may lead to as many as ten years in jail (of course, these penalties come into effect in extreme situations). On the civil side, the most dreaded penalties are FBAR willful civil penalties which can easily exceed a person’s net worth. Even FBAR non-willful penalties can wreak a havoc in a person’s financial life.

Civil FBAR penalties have their own complex web of penalty mitigation layers, which depend on the facts and circumstances of one’s case. In 2015, the IRS added another layer of limitations on the FBAR penalty imposition. One must remember, however, that these are voluntary IRS actions which the IRS may disregard whenever circumstances warrant such an action.

Hungarian Bank Accounts: FATCA Form 8938

Finally, the third requirement that I wish to discuss today is a relative newcomer, FATCA Form 8938. This form requires “Specified Persons” to disclose all of their Specified Foreign Financial Assets (“SFFA”) as long as these Specified Persons meet the applicable filing threshold. The filing threshold depends on the Specified Person’s tax return filing status and his physical residency.

The IRS defines SFFA very broadly to include an enormous variety of financial instruments, including foreign bank accounts, foreign business ownership, foreign trust beneficiary interests, bond certificates, various types of swaps, et cetera. In some ways, FBAR and Form 8938 require the reporting of the same assets, but these two forms are completely independent from each other. This means that a taxpayer may have to report same foreign assets on FBAR and Form 8938.

Specified Persons consist of two categories of filers: Specified Individuals and Specified Domestic Entities. You can find a detailed explanation of both categories by searching our website sherayzenlaw.com.

Finally, Form 8938 has its own penalty system which has far-reaching income tax consequences (including disallowance of foreign tax credit and imposition of 40% accuracy-related income tax penalties). There is also a $10,000 failure-to-file penalty.

One must also remember that, unlike FBAR, Form 8938 is filed with the filer’s federal tax return and forms part of the tax return. This means that a failure to file Form 8938 may render the entire tax return incomplete and potentially subject to an IRS audit.

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

If you have Hungarian bank accounts, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help with your US international tax compliance. We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers with their US international tax issues (including disclosure of Hungarian bank accounts), and We can help You!

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