On July 9, 2015, India finally signed the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) to implement FATCA. The fact is that the Indian signed FATCA Agreement has significant implications for millions of Indian-Americans who reside in the United States as well as outside of the United States.
India Signed FATCA: Background Information on FATCA
The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) was enacted in 2010 to specifically target non-compliance by U.S. taxpayers using foreign accounts. Over the past few years, this law established a new global standard for promoting tax transparency and fighting tax evasion. More than 110 jurisdictions today operate under the worldwide reach of FATCA.
Generally, FATCA is a mechanism for US authorities to obtain information regarding foreign accounts held by US persons directly form the financial institutions. In essence, FATCA effectively turns all foreign financial entities that wish to comply with the law into IRS informants. In order to force other countries to accept FATCA, the US Congress armed FATCA with a global enforcement mechanism – the law requires U.S. financial institutions to withhold a portion of certain payments made to non-compliant foreign financial institutions (FFIs).
Governments have the option of permitting their FFIs to enter into agreements directly with the IRS to comply with FATCA under U.S. Treasury Regulations or to implement FATCA by entering into one of two alternative Model IGAs with the United States. India chose the latter route.
India Signed FATCA: Model 1 Agreement
On July 9, 2015, India signed FATCA Model 1 IGA. Unlike Model 2 IGA, Model 1 IGA will require Indian FFIs (banks, mutual funds, et cetera) to report information to India’s Central Board of Direct Taxes which will then turn over this information to the IRS. It is expected that various details and information regarding US-held Indian accounts will be provided to the IRS.
India Signed FATCA: US Will Provide Information to India Regarding Indian-held US accounts
India signed FATCA Agreement not only in order to provide information regarding US-held accounts in India, but also to obtain information regarding the assets held in the United States by Indian residents (so-called “black money”). – i.e. the FATCA Agreement signed by India is also a reciprocal Agreement. This means that the United States will also provide information to India regarding Indian-held accounts and assets in the United States.
India Signed FATCA: Implementation Schedule
India singed FATCA IGA with the agreement that the implementation of the IGA will begin on October 1, 2015. The automatic exchange of information between India and the United States is scheduled to begin on September 30, 2015. The reporting period due on October 1, 2015 will be July – December 2014.
India Signed FATCA: Consequences for Indian-Americans With Undisclosed Indian Accounts
For millions of Indian-Americans who have not yet disclosed their ownership of Indian accounts and other assets, the India FATCA IGA represents a potential disaster. They are facing the draconian civil and criminal FBAR penalties, income tax penalties (with interest), PFIC taxes, and other potentially devastating consequences.
The FATCA IGA started the clock for the Indian-Americans to immediately start exploring their voluntary disclosure options. If the IRS finds out about their non-compliance first, some or potentially all voluntary disclosure options may be closed for these taxpayers.
India Signed FATCA: What Should Indian-Americans With Undisclosed Indian Accounts Do?
If you are an Indian who is a US person with undisclosed foreign accounts, you should contact the experienced international tax team of Sherayzen Law office for professional help. Our legal team has helped hundreds of clients around the world, including Indians. We can hep you!