The question of a Business Entity actually involves a complex analysis and I lay out some of it here; it is a very simplified analysis but basically the very first question that we have to ask is: Is there a Business Entity?
I’m going to jump to the point 1b right away. Suppose that ‘Pierre’ a French National and let’s say ‘John’ a US National come together in Paris over a glass of wine and they decide: ‘You know what? Why don’t we sell product X on the streets of Paris? We’re going to sell it together; then divide it up – profits and that’s it. Each of us will report it on the French Tax Return: our share of profit and that’s it.’
Did they create an entity? Or let’s put it this way: Do you think they created an entity under French Law? Audience member answer: ‘No.’ Most likely, No. French Law is a civil law system; they wouldn’t apply the Common Law Partnership concept.
But US Law would and when it comes to determining whether there is or there isn’t a business entity in existence, it’s the US Federal Law that will dominate. We always go to US Federal Law to determine whether there is identity or not and probably in this case they created a Common Law Partnership which means they have created a Partnership for tax purposes which I will explain the difference in a second.
The second question that we have to ask is: Is this a Business Entity or Trust? I’m not going to spend much time on it because it’s a huge topic, but one thing I will mention here just so that I know that some of you may have clients or deal with investment trusts outside of the United States if an Investment Trust happens to have one class of beneficiaries, most likely it is a Trust. If it has more than one class of beneficiaries, most likely it is a Corporation.