There is a confusion in general public about the H1B holder FATCA requirements. The key concept that lies at the heart of the U.S. tax obligations of an H1B holder is tax residency (which is very different from the definition of a U.S. permanent resident in immigration law). In this article, I will discuss the concept of tax residency and the H1B Holder FATCA requirements.
H1B Holder FATCA Requirements: H1B Visa
H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. companies to hire foreign workers to work in the United States. These workers have to be working in occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields such as in architecture, engineering, mathematics, science and medicine.
H1B Holder FATCA Requirements: FATCA
The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) was signed into law in the year 2010. This law was passed by U.S. Congress with the specific purpose of combating tax noncompliance of U.S. taxpayers with undeclared offshore accounts. Today, FATCA is one of the most influential tax information exchange regimes in the world; through a huge network of bilateral treaties, the IRS managed to implement FATCA in the great majority of the countries.
FATCA consists of basically two parts. First, it obligates foreign financial institutions to turn over to the IRS certain information regarding foreign accounts owned by U.S. persons as well as certain information regarding the U.S. owners themselves. The H1B Holder FATCA information is also required to be turned over to the IRS.
The second part of FATCA imposes a new reporting requirement, IRS Form 8938, which must be filed with a U.S. tax return. Form 8938 requires U.S. taxpayers to disclose specified foreign assets to the IRS. “Specified Foreign Assets” includes various class assets, including foreign financial accounts.
H1B Holder FATCA Requirements: Tax Residency and FATCA Requirements
The key to understanding H1B holder FATCA requirements is the determination of whether an H1B holder is a tax resident of the United States. In order for an H1B holder to be classified as a U.S. tax resident, he must pass the “substantial presence test”. The substantial presence test determines the tax residency of a person based on the number of days this individual was physically in the United States.
If the substantial presence test is satisfied, the H1B holder is considered to be a tax resident of the United States. As a U.S. tax resident, the H1B holder FATCA requirements will be the same as those of any other U.S. tax resident, including U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents.
This means that, under FATCA, foreign banks should disclose to the IRS all of the foreign financial accounts owned directly, indirectly or constructively by the H1B holder. At the same time, the H1B holder FATCA obligations extend to filing Form 8938 for all of the required specified foreign assets, including foreign financial accounts, foreign stocks and other securities, foreign bonds, foreign derivatives and ownership of foreign businesses (unless such ownership is reported on another IRS form; in this case, Form 8938 should indicate the form on which such foreign business ownership is disclosed), and other assets.
H1B Holder FATCA Requirements: Late Disclosure
What if H1B holder FATCA obligations were not timely satisfied (i.e. Forms 8938 should have been filed, but they never were) and the H1B holder just found out about it? If an H1B holder did not file Forms 8938 timely, he may be subject to Form 8938 penalties. Moreover, in most such cases, such an H1B holder is likely to have failed to comply with other important U.S. international tax requirements such as FBAR and worldwide income reporting. The combination of FATCA, FBAR, income reporting and other penalties may create a huge tax liability that may even exceed the total value of the H1B holder’s foreign assets.
In such cases, the H1B holder should contact an international tax attorney experienced in offshore voluntary disclosures as soon as possible. Various offshore voluntary disclosure options offer varying rates of reduced penalties, sometimes even with the possibility of eliminating all penalties. However, time is of the essence – if foreign banks report the H1B holder’s foreign assets as part of their FATCA compliance and the IRS commences its investigation of the H1B holder FATCA noncompliance, then all of the voluntary disclosure options may automatically close.
Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Legal Help with H1B Holder FATCA Compliance
If you work in the United States on H1B visa, have foreign assets which are required to be disclosed under FATCA and have not done so, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office as soon as possible. Sherayzen Law Office is an experienced international tax law firm that specializes in FATCA compliance for U.S. taxpayers, including voluntary disclosures for H1B holders.