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Colombian Bank Accounts | International Tax Lawyer & Attorney Miami

Even today many US owners of Colombian bank accounts remain completely unaware of the numerous US tax requirements that may apply to them. The purpose of this essay is to educate these owners about the requirement to report income generated by these accounts in the United States as well as the FBAR and FATCA obligations concerning the disclosure of ownership of Colombian bank accounts to the IRS.

Colombian Bank Accounts: Individuals Who Must Report Them

Before we discuss the aforementioned requirements in more detail, we need to determine who is required to comply with them. In other words, is every Colombian required to file FBAR in the United States? Or, does this obligation apply only to certain individuals?

The answer is very clear: only Colombians who fall within one of the categories of US tax residents must comply with these requirements. US tax residents include US citizens, US Permanent Residents, an individual who satisfies the Substantial Presence test and an individual who properly declares himself a US tax resident. There are important exceptions to this general rule, but, if you fall within any of these categories, you need to contact an international tax attorney as soon as possible to determine your US tax obligations concerning your ownership of Colombian bank accounts.

Colombian Bank Accounts: Income Reporting

All US tax residents are subject to the worldwide income reporting requirement. In other words, they must disclose on their US tax returns not only their US-source income, but also their foreign income. The latter includes all bank interest income, dividends, royalties, capital gains and any other income generated by Colombian bank accounts.

The worldwide income reporting requirement also requires the disclosure of PFIC distributions, PFIC sales, Subpart F income and GILTI income. These are complex requirements which are outside the scope of this article, but US owners of Colombian bank accounts need to be aware of the existence of these requirements.

Colombian Bank Accounts: FinCEN Form 114 (FBAR)

FinCEN Form 114, the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (commonly known as “FBAR”) mandates US tax residents to disclose their ownership interest in or signatory authority or any other authority over Colombian bank and financial accounts if the aggregate highest balance of these accounts exceeds $10,000. Every part of this sentence has a special significance and contains a trap for the unwary.

The most dangerous of these traps is the definition of an “account”. The FBAR definition of account is much broader than how this word is generally understood by taxpayers. For the purposes of FBAR compliance, this term includes checking accounts, savings accounts, fixed-deposit accounts, investments accounts, mutual funds, options/commodity futures accounts, life insurance policies with a cash surrender value, precious metals accounts, earth mineral accounts, et cetera. In fact, it is very likely that the IRS will find that an account exists whenever there is a custodial relationship between a foreign financial institution and a US person’s foreign asset.

FBAR has its own intricate penalty system which is widely known for its severity. The FBAR penalties range from incarceration to willful and even non-willful penalties which may easily exceed the value of the penalized accounts. In order to circumvent the potential 8th Amendment challenges and make the penalty imposition more flexible, the IRS has implemented a system of self-imposed limitations, but it is a completely voluntary system (i.e. the IRS can, and in fact already did several times, disregard these limitations).

Colombian Bank Accounts: FATCA Form 8938

While Form 8938 is a relative newcomer (since tax year 2011), it has occupied a special place among the US international tax requirements. In fact, one could argue that it is currently as important as FBAR for US taxpayers with Colombian bank accounts.

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”) gave birth to Form 8938, making it part of a taxpayer’s federal tax return. This means that a failure to file Form 8938 may render the entire federal tax return incomplete, and the IRS may be able to audit the return. Immediately, we can see the profound impact Form 8938 has on the Statute of Limitations for the entire tax return.

Given the fact that it is a direct descendant of FATCA, it is not surprising Form 8938’s primary focus is on foreign financial assets. Form 8938 requires a US taxpayer to disclose all Specified Foreign Financial Assets (“SFFA”) as long as he satisfies the relevant filing threshold. The filing thresholds differ depending on the filing status and the place of residence (i.e. inside or outside of the United States) of the taxpayer.

SFFA includes an enormous variety of foreign financial assets, including foreign bank and financial accounts. In fact, with respect to bank and financial accounts, Form 8938 is very similar to FBAR, which often results in double-reporting of the same assets. It is important to emphasize that Form 8938 does not replace FBAR, both forms must still be filed. In other words, US taxpayers should report their Colombian bank accounts on FBAR and disclose them again on Form 8938.

Form 8938 has its own penalty system which contains some unique elements. In addition to its own $10,000 failure-to-file penalty, Form 8938 directly affects the accuracy-related income tax penalties and the ability of a taxpayer to use foreign tax credit.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With the US Tax Reporting of Your Colombian Bank Accounts

US international tax compliance is extremely complex. It is very easy to get yourself into trouble, and much more difficult and expensive to get yourself out of this trouble. This is why, if you have Colombian bank accounts, you should contact the experienced international tax attorney and owner of Sherayzen Law Office, Mr. Eugene Sherayzen. Mr. Sherayzen has helped hundreds of US taxpayers with their US international tax issues, and He can help You!

Contact Mr. Sherayzen Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

Remember to File Your 2015 FBARs | FBAR Tax Attorney

On June 17, 2016, the IRS again reminded U.S. taxpayers with foreign accounts to file their 2015 FBARs by Thursday, June 30, 2016. U.S. taxpayers have to file 2015 FBARs if they had financial interest in or signatory authority (or other authority) over foreign accounts with values which, in the aggregate (i.e. all accounts added together), exceeded $10,000 at any time during the calendar year 2015. The taxpayers who satisfied the FBAR threshhold, should e-file their 2015 FBARs through the BSA E-Filing System website.

It is important to note that the number of FBAR filings has grown exponentially. According to FinCEN data, on average, there has been a seventeen percent increase per year during the last five years. In fact, in 2015, FinCEN received a record high 1,163,229 of 2014 FBARs. We can reasonably expect that the number of 2015 FBARs will beat last year’s record.

The growth in the number of FBARs is mainly caused by two factors. First, the greater awareness of the FBAR requirement is due to a series of IRS legal victories against foreign banks and offshore jurisdictions, starting with 2008 UBS case through a complete destruction of the Swiss bank secrecy in the Swiss Bank Program and even more recent criminal conviction of two Caymanian banks.

Second and probably the most important reason is the implementation of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) which requires foreign financial institutions to report foreign accounts owned by U.S. persons. Additionally, FATCA created a new filing requirement, IRS Form 8938. Unlike the FBAR, Form 8938 has to be filed with U.S. individual tax returns (the implementation of Form 8938 for business returns still has not occurred). This new requirement created a much greater awareness of the FBAR among the accountants who generally do not file FBARs for their clients due to the fact that FBARs carry criminal penalties.

Both of these factors will continue to play a great role in 2016 when the 2015 FBARs have to filed. Additionally, by June 30, a much greater of foreign banks will have delivered FATCA letters, further promoting FBAR awareness among U.S. persons who have to file 2015 FBARs.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for FBAR Help

If you have undisclosed foreign accounts for which delinquent FBARs have to be filed or you need help with determining what needs to be filed for 2015 FBAR, contact the experienced international tax law firm of Sherayzen Law Office. Our talented team of tax professionals, headed by a highly-experienced FBAR tax attorney, Mr. Eugene Sherayzen, has helped hundreds of U.S. taxpayers around the world and we can help you!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

Foreign Life Insurance Policies – FBAR Reporting

Foreign Life Insurance Policies are very popular around the world, especially in India, Germany and France (Assurance Vie accounts). Yet, very few U.S. taxpayers (especially H-1B holders and U.S. permanent residents) are aware of the fact that these policies may be subject to numerous and complex IRS tax reporting requirements in the United States. In this article, I would like to generally discuss the FBAR requirements applicable to foreign life insurance policies.

I will not be discussing here the requirements for a qualified foreign life insurance policy, because it is mostly irrelevant since the great majority of foreign life insurance policies would not be qualified policies.

Types of Foreign Life Insurance Policies

Before we start exploring which foreign life insurance policies (also known as Life Assurance Policies) are subject to the FBAR requirement, it is important to distinguish three general categories of foreign life insurance policies.

In the order of rising complexity, the first category of foreign life insurance policies consists of simple, straightforward life insurance policies with no cash surrender value, no income payments and no income accumulations. The taxpayer simply makes the required premium payments and he expects a fixed-amount payout at death.

The second category of foreign life insurance policies has a cash-surrender value, but no income. The taxpayer pays a premium and expects a certain payout when the policy is surrendered or matures. The cash surrender value grows over time mostly through premiums and bonuses which would be paid out when the policy is surrendered. There is also a potential death benefit.

Finally, the third category of foreign life insurance policies has a cash-surrender value with investments and/or income. There is a large variety of investment life insurance policies. The most common arrangement, though, is where the taxpayer pays a relatively large initial premium which is invested in foreign mutual funds; the growth in mutual funds will usually determine the cash-surrender value. Oftentimes, the cash-surrender value in these policies is tax-free if certain requirements are met (for example, Assurance Vie policies in France or certain life insurance policies in India).

In some cases (for example, in Malaysia), an investment foreign health insurance policy may be tied into a life insurance policy.

FBAR – FinCEN Form 114

FinCEN Form 114 – Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (commonly known as FBAR) is the most important US tax information return. FBAR must be filed by a US tax resident if the aggregate value of foreign financial accounts (in which this US person has financial interest and/or over which this US person has signatory authority) exceeds $10,000 at any time during the calendar year. The 2015 FBAR must be received by the IRS by June 30, 2016 without any extension possible; however, starting the reporting for the calendar year 2016 (i.e. 2016 FBAR) the FBARs are due on April 15 with an extension possible.

The importance of FBAR stems from the draconian FBAR penalties. Unlike many other information returns, FBAR imposes penalty not only on the willful non-filing, but also on the non-willful failure to file the FBAR. The willful FBAR penalties range from criminal penalties with up to 5 years in prison to up to $100,000 penalty per account per year. The FBAR statute of limitations is six years, which means that up to six years maybe subject to a penalty (though, usually it would be 2-4 years).

Foreign Life Insurance Policies and FBAR Reporting

Foreign life insurance policies must be reported on the FBAR if they have a cash-surrender value. Therefore, foreign life insurance policies that fall into categories two and three described above are always reportable. Investment foreign life insurance policies promoted by national governments (such as Assurance Vie accounts in France) are reportable even if they are considered to be held by a foreign trust (such as Superannuation Accounts in Australia).

The first category of foreign life insurance policies I listed above (i.e. life insurance policies without any cash-surrender value) are not likely to be reportable, but there are exceptions.

The determination of whether your foreign life insurance policies are reportable on the FBAR should be made by an international tax attorney; I strongly discourage any attempt by US taxpayers to make this determination without legal assistance.

Foreign Life Insurance Policies and Other Reporting Requirements

It is important to note that other US reporting requirements may apply to foreign life insurance policies. Examples include FATCA Form 8938, PFIC compliance, foreign trust reporting, et cetera.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Help With Foreign Life Insurance Policies

If you have foreign life insurance policies, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office for assistance as soon as possible. Foreign life insurance policies can be extremely complex and the US reporting requirements associated with them vary from country to country. Sherayzen Law Office has accumulated tremendous experience in dealing with foreign life insurance policies from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Europe and Asia. We can help You!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

2015 FBAR (FinCEN Form 114) Due on June 30, 2016

2015 FBAR is one of the most important tax information returns required by the IRS this year. While the 2015 FBAR is not the most complicated form, it is definitely the one that is associated with the most severe penalties.

2015 FBAR History

The FBAR is an abbreviation for the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (the “FBAR”). The current official name of the FBAR is FinCEN Form 114 (prior to mandatory e-filing, Form TD F 90-22.1 was the name of the FBAR).

Many of my clients are surprised to learn that FBAR is a tax information return with a long history, dating back to the late 1970s. Its origin lies in the Bank Secrecy Act (31 U.S.C. §5311 et seq.) and it was originally meant to combat money laundering. However, after September 11, 2001, the FBAR enforcement was turned over to the IRS and it became a tax-enforcement tool of heretofore unimaginable power due to its heavy penalties.

Who is Required to File 2015 FBAR

The Department of Treasury (the “Treasury”) requires that an FBAR is filed whenever a US person has a financial interest in or signatory authority over foreign financial accounts and the aggregate value of the foreign financial accounts exceeds $10,000 at any time during the calendar year. If you had such a situation in 2015, then you must seek an advice from an FBAR lawyer on whether you need to file the 2015 FBAR.

2015 FBAR Deadline

2015 FBAR must be e-filed with the IRS by June 30, 2016; there are no extensions available – the 2015 FBAR must be received by the IRS no later than June 30, 2016.

Consequences of Failure to File Your 2015 FBAR Timely

If your 2015 FBAR is not timely filed, then it will be considered delinquent and might be subject to severe FBAR civil and criminal penalties, depending on your circumstances. It is also important to point out that an incorrect or incomplete 2015 FBAR will also be considered delinquent with the higher possibility of imposition of the FBAR’s draconian penalties.

Multiple Years of FBAR Delinquency

If you did not file the FBARs in the prior years and you were required to do so, this situation is extremely dangerous (especially in our FATCA-dominated world) and may result in imposition of multiple FBAR penalties. This is why you should seek advice of an experienced FBAR lawyer as soon as possible

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Assistance with Your FBAR Compliance

If you have not filed your FBARs previously and you were required to do so, contact Sherayzen Law Office for help as soon as possible. Our team of experienced tax professionals, headed by attorney Eugene Sherayzen, has helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the world to lower and even eliminate their FBAR penalties. We can help You!

Contact Us NOW to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation

Minneapolis FBAR Attorney | FATCA OVDP Tax Lawyer

If you are looking for a Minneapolis FBAR Attorney, a recommended suggestion would be to retain the services of Mr. Eugene Sherayzen of Sherayzen Law Office, Ltd. (“Sherayzen Law Office”). Mr. Sherayzen is a Minneapolis FBAR Attorney and founder of Sherayzen Law Office.

Minneapolis FBAR Attorney: Sherayzen Law Office FBAR Specialization

Sherayzen Law Office specializes in international tax compliance, including voluntary disclosure of delinquent (i.e. late) FBARs. As a Minneapolis FBAR Attorney, Mr. Sherayzen has helped hundreds of US taxpayers worldwide to bring their tax affairs into full compliance with US tax laws.

The work of a Minneapolis FBAR Attorney is not limited only to FBARs. Rather, a Minneapolis FBAR Attorney needs to be able to deliver a variety of services and freely operate with experience and knowledge in all relevant areas of international tax law. For example, oftentimes, the calculation of FBAR penalties may depend upon certain legal and accounting interpretations which would allow one to determine whether one has an income-compliant account. These interpretations themselves may be highly technical in nature and may come from different determinations from other areas of the case.

Moreover, as part of an offshore voluntary disclosure, a Minneapolis FBAR Attorney often needs to amend US tax returns, properly prepare foreign financial statements according to US GAAP, correctly calculate PFICs, and innumerable number of other tasks.

Sherayzen Law Office Legal Team Provides Efficient and Cost-Effective Services

In order to make sure that his work as a Minneapolis FBAR Attorney is expeditious and cost-effective, Mr. Sherayzen built a team of tax professionals that he employs within his firm. Each member of the team is trained personally by Mr. Sherayzen and is assigned specific tasks. For example, an international tax accountant helps Mr. Sherayzen prepare the clients’ tax returns while his staff is trained in creating FBARs based on the information already verified by Mr. Sherayzen.

This team of motivated, intelligent and experienced tax professionals allows Sherayzen Law Office to provide an exceptional array of customized offshore voluntary disclosure and international tax compliance services which fully integrate the legal and accounting aspects of international tax compliance and offshore voluntary disclosures in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

Therefore, if you are looking for a Minneapolis FBAR Attorney, please contact Mr. Sherayzen as soon as possible to secure Your Confidential Consultation!