Form 5472 Basics

Form 5472 (“Information Return of a 25% Foreign-Owned U.S. Corporation or a Foreign Corporation Engaged in a U.S. Trade or Business”) occupies a place of special importance for an international tax attorney. The chief reason is because, unlike most other international tax forms familiar to an international corporate tax attorney, Form 5472 deals with corporate activities directly in the United States. In particular, the Form is used to provide the IRS with required information (under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Sections 6038A and 6038C) when a reporting corporation had reportable transactions with a foreign or domestic related party.

Form 5472 is also a form that is often overlooked by the taxpayers; this is why an international corporate tax attorney must be especially vigilant when it comes to U.S. corporations which are partially or fully owned by foreign persons. This is especially important for an international corporate tax attorney, because failure to file Form 5472 can lead to substantial penalties and the IRS has not been shy about imposing these penalties.

In this article, we will explain the basics of Form 5472, and the various penalties that may be imposed on corporations that fail to file the form or do not comply with other requirements. This article is not intended to convey tax or legal advice. U.S. international tax compliance and planning frequently involve many complex areas, and you are advised to consult an experienced tax attorney in these matters. Sherayzen Law Office, Ltd. can assist you in all of your tax and legal needs.

Reporting Corporation

Defining the “reporting corporation” is the first step in the analysis of an international corporate tax attorney. In general, for the purposes of Form 5472, a corporation is defined as “reporting corporation” if it is either: (1) a 25% foreign-owned U.S. corporation, or (2) a foreign corporation engaged in a trade or business within the U.S.

As an international corporate tax attorney, I can tell you that this is not where the issue ends. In addition to direct ownership, the IRC constructive ownership provisions will apply for determining Form 5471 ownership percentages. According to the IRS, a related party is defined to be, “Any direct or indirect 25% foreign shareholder of the reporting corporation, any person who is related (within the meaning of section 267(b) or 707(b)(1)) to the reporting corporation, any person who is related (within the meaning of section 267(b) or 707(b)(1)) to a 25% foreign shareholder of the reporting corporation, or any other person who is related to the reporting corporation within the meaning of section 482 and the related regulations.” However, a related party does not include any corporation that is filing a consolidated tax return with the reporting corporation.

An international corporate tax attorney should be consulted in determining whether your corporation is a “reportable corporation” for Form 5472 purposes.

Reportable Transactions

As noted above, reporting corporations must file Form 5472 if they had a reportable transaction with a foreign or domestic related party. In general, a reportable transaction may cover a wide array of possible transactions.

First, reportable transactions include any type of transactions listed in Part IV of Form 5472 for which monetary consideration was the only consideration paid or received during the reporting corporation’s tax year for any of the following items: sales of stock in trade (inventory); rents or royalties received (for other than intangible property rights); sales, leases, licenses, etc., of intangible property rights; interest received; commissions received, and other categories.

Second, a reportable transaction also includes any type of transaction (or group of transactions) listed in Part V, if any part of the consideration paid or received was not monetary consideration, or in cases where less than full consideration was paid or received.

Whether you have a reportable transaction is a very complex topic; this is why you need to consult an international corporate tax attorney to deal with this issue. I strongly advise against a “do it yourself” attitude in this matter.

Form 5472 Penalties

Several penalties may be imposed for failure to meet various requirements for Form 5472. First, the IRS may assess a failure to file penalty of $10,000 on any reporting corporation that fails to file Form 5472 when due and under the proper compliance requirements (this is the most common penalty that an international corporate tax attorney is likely to see). Note, filing a substantially incomplete Form 5472 will also constitute a failure to file Form 5472 for the purposes of the penalty.

Furthermore, failure by a reporting corporation to maintain records (as required under IRS Regulations section 1.6038A-3), will be deemed to be a failure to file. As an international corporate tax attorney, I often see this penalty imposed in conjunction with other Form 5472 penalties.

There is a further complication: each member of a group of corporations filing a consolidated information return is treated as a separate reporting corporation subject to a separate $10,000 penalty, and each member is jointly and severally liable for such penalty.

Third, if a reporting corporation fails to file Form 5472 for more than 90 days after notification by the IRS, an additional penalty of $10,000 will apply. According to the IRS, “This penalty applies with respect to each related party for which a failure occurs for each 30-day period (or part of a 30-day period) during which the failure continues after the 90-day period ends.”

Finally, in addition to the civil penalties, criminal penalties under IRC sections 7203 (“Willful failure to file return, supply information, or pay tax”), 7206 (“Fraud and false statements”), and 7207 (“Fraudulent returns, statements, or other documents”), may also apply if the reporting corporation fails to submit required information or files false or fraudulent information.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With Forms 5472

As you can see, filing Form 5472 is not a trivial matter and requires the expertise of an international corporate tax attorney. If you are required to file Form 5472, contact the experienced international corporate tax law firm of Sherayzen Law Office.

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