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Happy New Year 2019 from Sherayzen Law Office!

The legal tax team of Sherayzen Law Office, Ltd. wishes a very Happy New Year 2019 to our clients, blog readers and all US taxpayers around the world! May this new year bring you good health, prosperity and happiness! And, of course, full and proper compliance with all US international tax laws.

2019 Will Be a Highly Challenging Year from US Tax Compliance Perspective Due to the 2017 Tax Reform

The coming year is going to be a challenging one for all US taxpayers due to the enormous changes made to the Internal Revenue Code as a result of the 2017 tax reform. Already in 2018, some US taxpayers (especially owners of foreign corporations) had to work through the tax year 2017 transition rules.

The 2017 tax reform will be felt on an even grander scale in 2019 as millions of US taxpayers will struggle with the new rules in order to correctly file their 2018 tax returns. While many of these rules are meant to benefit these taxpayers, the tax compliance associated with them is likely to be complex.

Happy New Year 2019 to Individual US Taxpayers!

After the pain of learning how to comply with the new rules subsides, tens of millions of Americans are likely to call this a Happy New Year 2019 due to lower 2018 individual tax rates, the doubling of the child tax credit and higher standard deduction.

Millions of other, especially the upper middle-class Americans, however, are likely to be greatly hurt by the itemized deductions limitations with respect to state taxes and property taxes. The elimination of personal exemptions will further aggravate this problem. It will not be a Happy New Year 2019 for these taxpayers.

Happy New Year 2019 to Small-Business Owners!

It should still be a Happy New Year 2019 for the majority of the small business owners, including owners of S-corporations, due to the 20% reduction of pass-through income mandated by the tax reform. New depreciation rules are likely to have an overall beneficial impact, even if, in some cases, they may not be very helpful.

Happy New Year 2019 to C-Corporations and Their US & Foreign Owners!

It will be a very Happy New Year 2019 for one class of taxpayers in particular – regular C-corporations. These taxpayers arguably benefitted from the 2017 tax reform more than any type of taxpayers. The reduction in the tax rate from 35% to 21%, introduction of Foreign-Derived Intangible Income (“FDII”) and a whole series of small changes to corporate tax code have already led to the surge to corporate profits; this corporate tax boom is likely to continue to play out this year.

On the other hand, the introduction of the GILTI (Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income) tax, new attribution rules concerning the inclusion of non-US corporations and a myriad of other rules will greatly complicate the tax year 2018 corporate tax compliance. In fact, some corporations that never paid any taxes on their foreign income may now be forced to pay the GILTI tax in the United States.

Happy New Year 2019 to US Taxpayers Who Are Trying to Remedy Past Tax Noncompliance Through an Offshore Voluntary Disclosure!

The taxpayers with undisclosed foreign bank accounts and other assets will face increasing challenges in the year 2019 due to two unwelcome trends that came into existence after FATCA was fully implemented but became apparent to most professionals only in 2018. First, the IRS is narrowing the voluntary disclosure options, especially for willful taxpayers. As I just mentioned, this trend began already in 2017, but it could be clearly observed in the closure of the flagship 2014 OVDP on September 28, 2018. While it does not appear that the Streamlined Compliance Procedures will be targeted by the IRS any time soon, there is always a danger that the IRS may modify the terms of this voluntary disclosure option.

The November 20, 2018 modification of the Traditional Voluntary Disclosure (which greatly narrowed the utility of this option) is another manifestation of this trend. In fact, this modification poses a direct danger of forcing taxpayers into either Streamlined Compliance Procedures or the Traditional Voluntary Disclosure Program at the expense of Reasonable Cause disclosures.

The second trend complements the first trend: the loss of interest in offshore voluntary disclosures directly coincided with an increasingly aggressive IRS tax enforcement. The IRS audits, especially international tax audits, are on the rise as the IRS is taking advantage of the huge pile of information it has accumulated as a result of the previous voluntary disclosure programs, Swiss bank program and FATCA compliance.

The taxpayers will need professional help from an international tax attorney to successfully navigate around the legal challenges posed by these two negative trends in US international tax enforcement.

Taxpayers Will Need the Professional Help of Sherayzen Law Office For Proper Tax Compliance and Offshore Voluntary Disclosures of Foreign Assets in 2019

Overall, the new year 2019 promises to be a very interesting but highly complex year from the perspective of US international tax compliance. US taxpayers without adequate legal help are likely to either fail to take full benefit of the 2017 tax reform, suffer excessively from the negative aspects of the reform and/or even face the dreaded IRS penalties for international tax noncompliance.

At the same time, the narrower post-OVDP offshore voluntary disclosure options and the rising intensity of IRS audits will also present additional challenges to the already difficult situation of many taxpayers who wish to voluntarily resolve their past US international tax noncompliance issues.

Sherayzen Law Office can help you meet all of your 2019 tax challenges, including annual 2018 tax compliance, 2019 offshore voluntary disclosures of foreign assets and foreign income and IRS audit defense. We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers like you, and We can help you!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

Indian Bank Accounts : Key US Tax Obligations | International Tax Lawyer

Due to ongoing implementation of FATCA as well as the tax reform in India, more and more Indian Americans and US tax residents of Indian nationality are learning that they are required to disclose to the IRS their Indian bank accounts. Yet, there are still many more US taxpayers left who are either completely unaware of this requirement or they are confused with respect to what is required to be disclosed and how. This essay intends to clarify who is required to report their Indian bank accounts to the IRS and explain the most common US international tax requirements applicable to Indian bank accounts.

Indian Bank Accounts: Who Needs to Report Them to the US Government?

All US tax residents with Indian bank accounts need to disclose them to IRS. Warning: “US tax resident” is not equivalent to the immigration concept of “US Permanent Resident”. The confusion over these two concepts is a frequent cause of US tax noncompliance, because many Indian immigrants who come to the United States on a work visa assume hat they are not US tax residents since they do not have the status of a US Permanent Resident. This assumption is completely false.

The definition of US tax residency includes US permanent residents, but it is much broader. In general, this term includes: US citizens, US Permanent Residents, any person who satisfied the Substantial Presence Test and any person who declared himself as a tax resident. There are exceptions to this rule, but you will need to consult with an international tax lawyer before making use of any of these exceptions.

Indian Bank Accounts: Indian Income Must Be Disclosed on US Tax Returns

All US tax residents must comply with the numerous US tax reporting requirements, including the worldwide income reporting requirement. All Indian-source income generated by the Indian bank accounts of US tax residents must be disclosed on their US tax returns.

The worldwide income reporting requirement applies to any kind of income: bank interest income, dividends, capital gains, et cetera. This income should be reported on US tax returns even if it was already disclosed on Indian tax returns or subject to Indian tax withholding. This income should be disclosed in the United States even if it never left India.

Indian Bank Accounts: FBAR

The Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, FinCEN Form 114 (popularly known as “FBAR”) is one of the most important and dangerous reporting requirements that applies to Indian bank accounts. Generally, a US person is required to file FBAR if he has a financial interest in or signatory authority or an authority over foreign bank and financial accounts which, in the aggregate, exceed $10,000 at any point during a calendar year.

FBAR has an extremely severe penalty system, and US taxpayers should strive to do everything in their power to make sure that they comply with this requirement.

Indian Bank Accounts: FATCA Form 8938

US tax residents are also required to disclose their Indian bank accounts on Form 8938. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”) led to the creation of Form 8938; US taxpayers should have filed their first Forms 8938 with their 2011 US tax returns.

Form 8938 requires US tax residents to report all of their Specified Foreign Financial Assets (“SFFA”) as long as the Form’s filing threshold is met. SFFA includes a very diverse set of financial instruments, including foreign bank and financials accounts, bonds, swaps, ownership interest in a foreign business, beneficiary interest in a foreign trust and many other types of financial assets. In other words, with the exception of signatory authority accounts, Form 8938 not only duplicates FBAR, but covers a much broader range of financial instruments that would not be required to be reported on FBAR.

It should be pointed out that, even when FBAR and Form 8938 cover the same assets, both forms must be filed despite the duplication of the disclosure.

While Form 8938 has a much higher filing threshold than FBAR, it may still be easily exceeded, especially by taxpayers who reside in the United States. For example, if a taxpayer resides in the United States and his tax return filing status is “single”, then he would only need to have $50,000 or higher at the end of the year or $75,000 or higher at any point during the year in order to trigger the Form 8938 filing requirement. A lot of US taxpayers with Indian bank accounts easily exceed this threshold, especially if they are helping their parents or buying properties in India.

Finally, it should be remembered that Form 8938 has its own penalty structure for failure to file the form. Furthermore, Form 8938 forms an integral part of a federal tax return; this means that a failure to file the form may extend the IRS Statute of Limitations for an IRS audit indefinitely for the entire return.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With Reporting of Your Indian Bank Accounts in the United States

In this essay, I just listed the most common US tax reporting requirements that may apply to US owners of Indian bank accounts. There is a plethora of other requirements that may apply to these taxpayers.

This is why you should contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help with your US tax compliance. We have worked extensively with our Indian clients with respect to reporting of their Indian bank accounts, including offshore voluntary disclosure for late filings.

The stakes in international tax compliance are high, and you need to be able to rely on the knowledge, experience and professionalism of Sherayzen Law Office in order to make sure that you protect yourself from draconian IRS tax penalties. We have successfully helped hundreds of US taxpayers to deal with their US international tax compliance, and We can help You!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

New 11 IRS Compliance Campaigns | International Tax Lawyer & Attorney

On November 3, 2017, the IRS Large Business and International Division (“LB&I”) announced the rollout of additional 11 IRS Compliance Campaigns in addition to the 13 already existing campaigns. Most of these campaigns directly address the IRS concerns with respect to US international tax law compliance. Let’s explore these new 11 IRS Compliance Campaigns.

New 11 IRS Compliance Campaigns: What Does This Mean for Taxpayers?

The issue-based IRS Campaigns is the brand-new strategy of the IRS to maximize the utility of its strained resources. Unlike previous efforts, a Campaign basically focuses on a specific issue that may carry a significant non-compliance risk and, then, applies a variety of solutions (called “treatment streams”) to increase the compliance with respect to this issue. The treatment streams range from development of an externally published practice unit, potential published guidance to issue-based examinations.

From a taxpayer point of view, the new strategy means that, if the IRS announces a new campaign, US taxpayers associated with the risk issue at the heart of a new campaign are at increased audit risk.

New 11 IRS Compliance Campaigns: General Emphasis on International Tax Compliance

Seven out of total eleven campaigns are focused on international tax compliance. This means that the IRS continues to give priority to international tax enforcement. Hence, US taxpayers who own foreign assets or are involved in international business transactions are likely to be affected by the IRS campaigns and should make sure they are in full US tax compliance.

Let’s briefly describe each of the new 11 IRS Compliance Campaigns.

New 11 IRS Compliance Campaigns: 1120-F Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 Withholding

This campaign focuses upon verification of the withholding credits before the claim for refund or credit is allowed. To make a claim for refund or credit to estimated tax with respect to any U.S. source income withheld under chapters 3 or 4, a foreign entity must file a Form 1120-F. Before a claim for credit (refund or credit elect) is paid, the IRS must verify that withholding agents have filed the required returns (Forms 1042, 1042-S, 8804, 8805, 8288 and 8288-A).

In other words, this campaign is designed to verify withholding at source for 1120-Fs claiming refunds.

New 11 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Swiss Bank Program

A non-surprising new addition to campaigns that will focus on tax and FBAR noncompliance of US beneficial owners of Swiss bank and financial accounts. The IRS will draw on the materials supplied to the DOJ by Swiss Banks as part of the Swiss Bank Program.

New 11 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Foreign Earned Income Exclusion

This campaign is likely to affect US taxpayers who reside overseas. The campaign will focus on taxpayers who claimed Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, but did not meet the requirements for claiming them. The IRS will address noncompliance through a variety of treatment streams, including examination.

New 11 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Verification of Form 1042-S Credit Claimed on Form 1040NR

The campaign’s goal is to ensure the amount of withholding credits or refund/credit elect claimed on Forms 1040NR is verified and whether the taxpayer has properly reported the income reflected on Form 1042-S.

New 11 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Agricultural Chemicals Security Credit

The first of the new four domestic campaigns. The Agricultural chemicals security credit is claimed under Internal Revenue Code Section 45O and allows a 30 percent credit to any eligible agricultural business that paid or incurred security costs to safeguard agricultural chemicals. The credit is nonrefundable and is limited to $2 million annually on a controlled group basis with a 20-year carryforward provision. In addition, there is a facility limitation as outlined in Section 45O(b). The goal of this campaign is to ensure taxpayer compliance by verifying that only qualified expenses by eligible taxpayers are considered and that taxpayers are properly defining facilities when computing the credit. The treatment stream for this campaign is issue-based examinations.

New 11 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Deferral of Cancellation of Indebtedness Income

This is an interesting addition and a correct one to the campaigns; I also believe that this area suffers from high rate of noncompliance. This issue stems from the Great Recession of 2008; in 2009 and 2010, a lot of US taxpayers elected to defer their cancellation of indebtedness (“COD”) income incurred as a result of reacquisition of debt instruments at an issue price less than the adjusted issue price of the original instrument. Such taxpayers should have reported their COD income ratably over a period of five years beginning in 2014 through 2018.

Furthermore, whenever a taxpayer defers his COD income, any related original issue discount (OID) deductions on the new debt instrument, resulting from debt-for-debt exchanges that triggered the original COD must also be deferred ratably and in the same manner as the deferred COD income.

The goal of this campaign is to ensure taxpayer compliance by verifying that taxpayers (who properly deferred COD income in 2009 and 2010) actually properly reported it in subsequent years beginning in 2014. The campaign will also look at situations where an accelerating event occurred and required earlier recognition of income under IRC § 108(i). The treatment stream for this campaign is issue-based examinations. The use of soft letters is under consideration.

New 11 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Energy Efficient Commercial Building Property

The goal of this campaign is to ensure taxpayer compliance with the section 179D (Energy Efficient Commercial Building Deduction). Section 179D allows taxpayers who own or lease a commercial building to deduct the cost or portion of the cost of installing energy efficient commercial building property (EECBP). If the equipment is installed in a government-owned building, the deduction is allocated to the person(s) primarily responsible for designing the EECBP. The treatment stream for this campaign is issue-based examinations.

New 11 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Economic Development Incentives Campaign

The goal of this campaign is to ensure taxpayer compliance with respect to a variety of government economic incentives. These incentives include refundable credits (refunds in excess of tax liability), tax credits against other business taxes (for example, payroll tax), nonrefundable credits (refunds limited to tax liability), transfer of property and grants. The common problems targeted by this campaign are situation where taxpayers improperly treat government incentives as non-shareholder capital contributions, exclude them from gross income and claim a tax deduction without offsetting it by the tax credit received. The treatment stream for this campaign is issue-based examinations.

New 11 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Section 956 Avoidance

This campaign focuses on situations where a CFC loans funds to a US Parent (USP), but nevertheless does not include a Section 956 amount in income. The goal of this campaign is to determine to what extent taxpayers are utilizing cash pooling arrangements and other strategies to improperly avoid the tax consequences of Section 956. The treatment stream for this campaign is issue-based examinations.

New 11 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Corporate Direct (Section 901) Foreign Tax Credit

Domestic corporate taxpayers may elect to take a credit for foreign taxes paid or accrued in lieu of a deduction. The goal of the Corporate Direct Foreign Tax Credit (“FTC”) campaign is to improve return/issue selection (through filters) and resource utilization for corporate returns that claim a direct FTC under IRC section 901. This campaign will focus on taxpayers who are in an excess limitation position. The treatment stream for the campaign will be issue-based examinations. The IRS emphasized that this is just the first of several FTC campaigns. The IRS further specified that future FTC campaigns may address indirect credits and IRC 904(a) FTC limitation issues.

New 11 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Individual Foreign Tax Credit (Form 1116)

This campaign addresses taxpayer compliance with the computation of the foreign tax credit (“FTC”) limitation on Form 1116. Due to the complexity of computing the FTC and challenges associated with third-party reporting information, some taxpayers face the risk of claiming an incorrect FTC amount. The IRS will address noncompliance through a variety of treatment streams including examinations.

Tax Definition of the United States | US Tax Lawyers

The tax definition of the United States is highly important for US tax purposes; in fact, it plays a key role in identifying many aspects of US-source income, US tax residency, foreign assets, foreign income, application of certain provisions of tax treaties, et cetera. While it is usually not difficult to figure out whether a person is operating in the United States, there are some complications associated with the tax definition of the United States that I wish to discuss in this article.

Tax Definition of the United States is Not Uniform Throughout the Internal Revenue Code; Three-Step Analysis is Necessary

From the outset, it is important to understand that the tax definition of the United States is not uniform. Different sections of the Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) may have different definitions of what “United States” means.

Therefore, one needs to engage in a three-step process to make sure that the right definition of the United States is used. First, the geographical location of the taxpayer must be identified. Second, one needs to determine the activity in which the taxpayer is engaged. Finally, it is necessary to find the right IRC provision governing the taxation of that taxpayer engaged in the identified specific activity in that specific location; then, look up the tax definition of the United States with respect to this specific IRC provision.

General Tax Definition of the United States

Generally, for tax purposes, the United States is comprised of the 50 states and the District of Columbia plus the territorial waters (along the US coastline). See IRC § 7701(a)(9). The territorial waters up to 12 nautical miles from the US shoreline are also included in the term United States.

General Tax Definition of the United States Can Be Replaced by Alternative Definitions

As it was pointed out above, this general definition is often modified by the specific IRC provisions. The statutory reason why this is the case is the opening clause of IRC § 7701(a) which specifically allows for the general definition to be replaced by alternative definitions of the United States: “when used in this title, where not otherwise distinctly expressed or manifestly incompatible with the intent thereof … .”

Hence, instead of relying on the general tax definition of the United States in IRC § 7701(a), one needs to look for alternative definitions specific to the IRC provision that is being analyzed. Moreover, the fact that there is no express alternative definition is not always sufficient, because one may have to determine the intent (most likely from the legislative history of an IRS provision) behind the analyzed IRC provision to see if an alternative tax definition of the United States should be used.

General Tax Definition and Possessions of the United States

While the object of this small article does not include a detailed discussion of the alternative tax definitions of the United States, it is important to note that the Possessions of the United States (“Possessions”) are not included within the general tax definition of the United States. They are not mentioned in IRC § 7701(a)(9); IRC 1441(e) even states that any noncitizen resident of Puerto Rico is a nonresident alien for tax withholding purposes. Similarly, IRC § 865(i)(3) defines Possessions as foreign countries for the purposes of sourcing income from sale of personal property.

On the other hand, Possessions may be included within some of the alternative tax definitions of the United States. For example, for the purposes of the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, Possessions are treated as part of the United States.

Thus, it is very important for tax practitioners and their clients who reside in Possessions to look at the specific IRS provisions and determine whether an alternative definition applies to Possessions in their specific situations.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Tax Help

If you need professional tax help, contact the international tax law firm of Sherayzen Law Office Ltd. Our legal team is highly experienced in US domestic and international tax law. We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers to resolve their tax issues and We can help You!

Contact Sherayzen Law Office Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

Streamlined Disclosure Attorney Austin | FATCA OVDP Lawyer

If you are a resident of Austin, Texas, and you have undisclosed foreign accounts, it is highly likely that you have searched for Streamlined Disclosure Attorney Austin. Let’s analyze this search term – Streamlined Disclosure Attorney Austin – to understand exactly what kind of an attorney fits this search.

Streamlined Disclosure Attorney Austin Search Applies to SDOP and SFOP

Let’s first look into the search for “Streamlined Disclosure”. In reality, this is a search for an attorney who offers legal help with respect to two types of Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures: SDOP (Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures) and SFOP (Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures).

Streamlined Disclosure Attorney Austin Search Applies to Attorneys Who Offer Legal Services in Austin

Now, we need to analyze the geographical aspect of this search – i.e. Austin. What does it mean when one says that he is looking for an Austin attorney? Obviously, it applies to attorneys who reside in Austin and who offer streamlined disclosure services in Austin.

Furthermore, this search for a Streamlined Disclosure Attorney Austin also applies to attorneys who reside outside of Austin but offer their legal services to the residents of Austin. The reason for this conclusion lies in the federal nature of the Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures – this is purely an IRS program and it has no local input from Austin (except the IRS office in the city). Since this is federal law, the actual residence of your Austin attorney does not matter.

What really matters is whether he offers legal services in Austin and whether he is competent in the matters concerning Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures. This leads to the final part of the search for Streamlined Disclosure Attorney Austin – what kind of a specialized “attorney” are you searching for?

Streamlined Disclosure Attorney Austin Search Applies Only to International Tax Attorneys

By searching for Streamlined Disclosure Attorney Austin, you are really trying to find a very specific kind of an attorney – an international tax attorney. SFOP, SDOP, OVDP and any other voluntary disclosure options are just IRS programs (though, important programs) within the framework of the much larger legal area of US international tax law practice.

Hence, a Streamlined Disclosure Attorney Austin search is an attempt to find an international tax attorney who not only understands Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures, but who also possesses deep understanding of the US international tax system, its laws and regulations, and the place SDOP and SFOP occupies within this system. This understanding is crucial to an attorney’s ability to properly analyze the case and choose the best legal strategy for his client.

Sherayzen Law Office can be Your International Tax Attorney

Sherayzen Law Office, Ltd. is an international tax law firm that specializes in all types of offshore voluntary disclosures, including OVDP, SDOP and SFOP. Our professional tax team, led by attorney Eugene Sherayzen, is highly experienced in helping US clients around the globe with their US international tax issues, including offshore voluntary disclosure. This is why Sherayzen Law Office should be your top candidate when you search for Streamlined Disclosure Attorney Austin.

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!