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CRS Success: 47 Million Financial Accounts Reported | FATCA Lawyer News

On June 7, 2019, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (“OECD”) announced that countries shared information concerning 47 million financial accounts under the OECD’s Common Reporting Standard (“CRS”). Let’s explore this CRS success in more detail.

Measuring CRS Success: What is CRS?

CRS can be called the response of the rest of the world to the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”), a groundbreaking piece of US legislation that became a law in 2010. The idea behind the CRS is the same as that of FATCA – to combat tax evasion that utilizes secret foreign accounts through automatic information exchange between the member-countries concerning these accounts.

CRS was developed in 2014 as the information exchange standard for the Automatic Exchange of Information (“AEOI”) Agreements. Legally, CRS is based on the multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters, but it is the standard in the bilateral AEOI agreements as well. The first reporting under the CRS occurred in 2017.

The United States has refused to information exchange under the CRS. This is an egoistical position – CRS does not substantially help the IRS in its combat against tax evasion; the US government believes that FATCA already provides the IRS with all of the information that it needs. Moreover, the CRS would require the United States to disclose information concerning domestic accounts owned by foreigners, thereby endangering the US “tax haven” appeal. Finally, there is a practical aspect of paying for the implementation of the CRS.

Measuring CRS Success: Account Information Shared

On June 7, 2019, OECD shared some actual data concerning the impact of CRS on information exchange. This announcement was made in Fukuoka, Japan, right before the G20 meeting of finance ministers. The results are extraordinary: the participating countries shared information concerning 47 million foreign accounts, which comprise $5.5 trillion or €4.9 trillion. The OECD already called CRS as the “largest exchange of tax information in history.”

Measuring CRS Success: Voluntary Disclosure Programs

Prior to the implementation of the CRS, many participating countries offered their taxpayers a chance to remedy their past noncompliance through a voluntary disclosure program. These programs turned out to be a great success.

Fearing disclosure under the CRS, about 500,000 account holders revealed more than €95 billion in offshore funds. OECD believes that the responsibility for such a huge success of voluntary disclosure programs should be attributed to the CRS; i.e. these disclosures were “early evidence of taxpayer behavioral responses” to the potential future information exchanges.

Measuring CRS Success: Drop in Tax Haven Investments

Another measure of the CRS success is its impact on the deposits in jurisdictions identified by the OECD as tax havens. The International Monetary Fund reported a 34% decline since 2008 in the tax haven deposits by individuals and corporations. The OECD believes that as much as two-thirds of this decline should be attributed to the CRS.

October 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns | International Tax Lawyer & Attorney News

On October 30, 2018, the IRS Large Business and International division (LB&I) has announced five additional compliance campaigns. Let’s discuss in more detail these October 2018 IRS compliance campaigns.

October 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Background Information

By the middle of the 2010s, the IRS realized that the then-existing structure of the LB&I was not the best format to address modern noncompliance issues; it could not even accurately identify potential noncompliant taxpayers. Also, the IRS believed that LB&I was not applying the IRS funds in an efficient manner.

Hence, after extensive planning, the IRS decided to move LB&I toward issue-based examinations and a compliance campaign process. Under the new format, LB&I itself decided which compliance issues presented the most risk and required a response in the form of one or multiple treatment streams to achieve compliance objectives. The IRS came to the conclusion that this approach made the best use of IRS knowledge and appropriately deployed the right resources to address specific noncompliance issues.

Each campaign was preceded by strategic planning, re-deployment of resources, creation of new training and tools as well as careful taxpayer population selection through metrics and feedback. The IRS has also built a supporting infrastructure inside LB&I for each specific campaign.

The first thirteen campaigns were announced by LB&I on January 13, 2017. Then, the IRS added eleven campaigns on November 3, 2017, five campaigns on March 13, 2018, six campaigns on May 21, 2018, five campaigns on July 2, 2018 and five campaigns on September 10, 2018. In other words, as of September 11, 2018, there were a total of forty-five campaigns. The additional five October 2018 IRS compliance campaigns bring the total number of campaigns to fifty.

Five New October 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns

Here are the new October 2018 IRS Compliance campaigns that should be added to the already-existing forty-five campaigns: Individual Foreign Tax Credit Phase II, Offshore Service Providers, FATCA Filing Accuracy, 1120-F Delinquent Returns and Work Opportunity Tax Credit. Each of these five campaigns was identified through LB&I data analysis and suggestions from IRS employees.

October 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Individual Foreign Tax Credit Phase II

IRC Section 901 alleviates double-taxation through foreign tax credit for income taxes paid by US taxpayers on their foreign-source income. In order to claim the credit, one must meet certain eligibility requirements. This campaign addresses taxpayers who have claimed the credit, but did not meet the requirements. The IRS will address noncompliance through a variety of treatment streams, including examination.

October 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Offshore Service Providers

The goal of this campaign is purely punitive – to target US taxpayers who engaged Offshore Service Providers that facilitated the creation of foreign entities and tiered structures to conceal the beneficial ownership of foreign financial accounts and assets for the purpose of tax avoidance or evasion. The treatment stream for this campaign will be issue-based examinations.

October 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: FATCA Filing Accuracy

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) was enacted in 2010 as part of the HIRE Act. The overall purpose is to detect, deter and discourage offshore tax abuses through increased transparency, enhanced reporting and strong sanctions. Under FATCA, Foreign Financial Institutions and certain Non-Financial Foreign Entities are generally required to report the foreign assets held by US account holders; the same applies to substantial (beneficial) US owners of these assets. This campaign addresses those entities that have FATCA reporting obligations but do not meet all their compliance responsibilities. The Service will address noncompliance through a variety of treatment streams, including termination of the FATCA status.

October 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: 1120-F Delinquent Returns

The campaign addresses delinquent (i.e. filed late) Forms 1120-F. Form 1120-F is a US income tax return of a foreign corporation. It must be accurate, true and filed timely in order for a foreign corporation to claim deductions and credits against effectively connected income. For these purposes, Form 1120-F is generally considered to be timely filed if it is filed no later than eighteen months after the due date of the current year’s return.

The IRS may waive the filing deadline where, based on its facts and circumstances, the
foreign corporation establishes to the satisfaction of the IRS that the foreign corporation acted reasonably and in good faith in failing to file Form 1120-F. The reasonable cause standard is described in Treas. Reg. Section 1.882-4(a)(3)(ii). LB&I Industry Guidance 04-0118-007 (dated February 1, 2018) established procedures to ensure waiver requests are applied in a fair, consistent and timely manner under the regulations.

The objective of the 1120-F Delinquent Returns campaign is to encourage foreign entities to timely file Form 1120-F returns and address the compliance risks for delinquent 1120-F returns. The IRS hopes to accomplish it by field examinations of compliance-risk delinquent returns and external education outreach programs.

October 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Work Opportunity Tax Credit

This campaign addresses the consequences of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) certification delays and the burden of amended return filings. Due to delays associated with the WOTC certification process, taxpayers are often faced with the burdensome requirement of amending multiple years of federal and state returns to claim the WOTC in the year qualified WOTC wages were paid. This requirement, coupled with any resulting examinations of this issue, is an inefficient use of both taxpayer and IRS resources.

Pursuant to Rev. Proc. 2016-19, the IRS has agreed to accept the “WOTC year of credit eligibility” issue into the Industry Issue Resolution (IIR) program. The IIR is intended to provide remedies to reduce taxpayer burden, promote consistency, and decrease examination time to most effectively use IRS resources. The campaign’s objective is to collaborate with industry stakeholders, Chief Counsel, and Treasury to develop an LB&I directive for taxpayers experiencing late certifications and to promote consistency in the examinations of WOTC claims.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Tax Help

If you have been contacted by the IRS as part of any of its campaigns, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help. We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the world with their US tax compliance issues, and we can help you!

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