Automatic 5471 Penalties Submitted With Form 1120

In an earlier article, I discussed various penalties generally associated with late or inaccurate filing of Form 5471 (this form is required under IRC Section 6038(a) to provide information with respect to certain US shareholders of foreign corporations). These penalties are generally subject to “reasonable cause” exception and are not imposed in every case.

Since 2009, however, this is not the case. Starting January 1, 2009, the IRS automatically assesses a $10,000 penalty (under IRC Section 6038(b)(1)) for each late filed Form 5471 if the related Form 1120 is not filed timely. Note, the automatic assessment of penalty results in this case even if there is no tax due.

Furthermore, IRC Section 6038(c) provides for a 10% reduction of the foreign taxes available for credit under IRC Sections 901, 902 and 960. Per IRC Section 6038(c)(3), this reduction to the foreign taxes can be applied in addition to the monetary penalty. It is important to realize that the automatic assessment of the $10,000 penalty does not preclude a later assessment under IRC Section 6038(c).

In addition, the IRS will also assess the penalty for the failure to file income tax returns (i.e. Form 1120) under IRC Section 6651(a)(1). The penalty is 5% of the tax required to be shown on the income tax return for each month (or fraction thereof) during which such failure continues. The amount of the penalty shall not exceed 25%. No penalty is applicable under IRC Section 6651(a)(1) if no underpayment of tax is shown on the return.

There is an interesting procedural twist with respect to automatic assessment of penalties – the IRS does not want you to include the reasonable cause statement together with Form 5471 filed late together with Form 1120. Rather, the IRS Service Centers will first send the taxpayer a Notice to Respond and the taxpayer can respond with a reasonable cause statement.

Whether or not to follow this procedural suggestion will depend on the individual case and such decision should be made by your tax attorney.

Of course, the situation is radically different if Form 1120 has already been timely filed. In this case, the taxpayer must file Form 1120X with the late Form 5471 and he should include his reasonable cause statement.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office For Help with Form 5471 Penalties

If you have not filed your Form 5471 yet or if you are facing a penalty for the already filed Form 5471, contact Sherayzen Law Office for legal help. Our experienced international tax firm will thoroughly analyze your case, present options for proceeding forward, prepare all of the required documentation and tax forms, and rigorously represent your interests during your negotiations with the IRS.

Dormant Foreign Corporation

Certain categories of US shareholders of a foreign corporation are required to file Form 5471 with the IRS. Form 5471, however, is one of the most complex forms in the Internal Revenue Code and the compliance costs for such a corporation can be very high. Such costs can be especially disproportionate for an inactive corporation that does not do any business but merely exists.

In order to alleviate the compliance costs in these cases, the IRS allows certain foreign corporations, that satisfy the required criteria for being considered as “dormant foreign corporations”, to make a limited filing that does not include a detailed financial statements and supporting schedules. IRS Revenue Procedure (Rev. Proc.) 92-70 (1992-2 C.B. 435) details the requirements for the classification of dormant foreign corporation.

Under the Rev. Proc. 92-70, eight conditions must be met in order for a foreign corporation to be considered dormant:

(1) the foreign corporation conducted no business and owned no stock in any other corporation other than another dormant foreign corporation;

(2) no shares of the foreign corporation (other than directors’ qualifying shares) were sold, exchanged, redeemed, or otherwise transferred, nor was the foreign corporation a party to a reorganization;

(3) no assets of the foreign corporation were sold, exchanged, or otherwise transferred, except for de minimis transfers described in (4) and (5) below;

( 4) the foreign corporation received or accrued no more than $5,000 of gross income or gross receipts;

(5) the foreign corporation paid or accrued no more than $5,000 of expenses;

(6) the value of the foreign corporation’s assets as determined pursuant to U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (but not reduced by any mortgages or other liabilities) did not exceed $100,000;
(7) no distributions were made by the foreign corporation; and

(8) the foreign corporation either had no current or accumulated earnings and profits or had only de minimis changes in its beginning and ending accumulated earnings and profits balances by reason of income or expenses specified in (4) or (5) above.

If all eight conditions are met, the filer only needs to fill-out and complete the first page of Form 5471 (which includes: filer information, such as name and address, Items A through C, and tax year; corporate information, such as the dormant corporation’s annual accounting period (below the title of the form) and Items 1a, 1b, 1c, and 1d), and label the top margin of the first page of Form 5471 with this exact phrase “Filed Pursuant to Rev. Proc. 92-70 for Dormant Foreign Corporations.”

The form should be filed in the manner described in “When and Where To File on page 1 of the Instructions for Form 5471“. For the tax year 2011, this means that it should be attached to and filed together with your income tax return by the relevant due date.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Help With U.S. Tax Compliance Regarding U.S. Ownership of a Foreign Corporation

If you own shares in a foreign corporation, contact Sherayzen Law Office for help with U.S. tax compliance. Our experienced international tax firm will thoroughly review the facts of your case, identify your U.S. tax compliance requirements, and complete the required forms and filings (including Form 5471).

If you only now became aware of your potential Form 5471 filing requirements and you have not filed the form with the IRS previously, our tax firm will assist you with finding the right type of voluntary disclosure and vigorously represent your interests during IRS negotiations.