FBARs and Polish Lokata Accounts

In recent years, I have received a number of questions from my Polish clients about whether “Lokata” accounts are reportable on the FBARs. The short answer is “Yes”.

Lokata Accounts

Lokata is a fixed-term deposit account which is very common in Polish banks; a Lokata is very similar to U.S. CD-type of accounts. There are many types of lokatas – overnight, three-month, six-month and even twelve-month lokatas. Usually, the bank would automatically take the funds from a current account (so-called “rachunek biezacy”) and deposit it on the lokata at a certain fixed percent. At the end of the lokata period, the lokata is closed by the bank and the balance with interest (minus automatic 19% tax withholding for non-business accounts) is returned to the current account.

All major Polish banks (e.g. DZ Bank and Bank Zchodni WBK S.A.) offer lokatas to their clients.

Lokata and FBAR Complications

Every time lokata is opened, it is assigned a separate account number. For the purposes of the FBAR, it is a bank account which should be reported on the FBAR separately from the current accounts (contrary to some of the widely-held beliefs among U.S. taxpayers living and working in Poland).

So far, this sounds fairly simple. However, there are serious complications with respect to reporting lokata accounts on the FBAR. First, most current bank account statements are not likely to fully identify lokata accounts.

Second, even where a lokata is identified by a separate number, you still need to make sure that the amount shown on the statements actually reflects the gross amount (i.e. before tax withholding). Usually, it would not and you will need to request the bank to supply a separate bank statement for each lokata and keep track of all gross interest and withholding tax amounts.

Third, the sheer number of lokata accounts can be overwhelming. While there are may be renewable long-term lokatas, oftentimes, it is the opposite. The problem with short-term lokatas is that they terminate once the funds with interest are returned to the current account. This means that a new lokata account is likely to be open every time a new deposit is made. Imagine if a new lokata is opened every week, every three days or every day?! This can be an extremely burdensome requirement for U.S. taxpayers who maintain bank accounts in Poland.

Other problems may arise where the taxpayer needs records for prior years, a lokata is opened in one year and is closed in the following year, et cetera.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Help with Reporting Undisclosed Lokata Accounts

If you have undisclosed bank and financial accounts in Poland, contact Sherayzen Law Office for help with your voluntary disclosure. Our team of experienced international tax professionals will thoroughly analyze your case, estimate your current potential FBAR liabilities, propose a solution to your FBAR problems, and implement your voluntary disclosure plan, including preparation of all required legal documents and tax forms.

IRS 2013 Budget Proposal Emphasizes International Tax Enforcement

Every year, the President has to submit a budget request to U.S. Congress for federal agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service. In February of 2012, the IRS posted the following information regarding its budget.

Administration’s fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget request for the Internal Revenue Service is approximately $12.8 billion, a $944.5 million increase (8%) over the FY 2012 enacted level.

A significant portion of the increase from FY 2012 represents the Administration’s request to restore lost revenue resulting from reductions in IRS funding made over the past two years. This request is designed to provide the resources necessary to administer and enforce the current tax code, implement recent changes to the law to update the Code and serve the American taxpayer in a timely manner.

In FY 2011, the IRS collected $2.415 trillion in taxes, representing 92 percent of federal government receipts. The IRS processed more than 144.7 million individual returns during the 2011 filing season and issued almost 110 million refunds totaling $345 billion.

The IRS consistently achieves a high return on investment for its activities while running a fiscally disciplined operation. In FY 2013, the IRS expects to identify nearly $71 million in cost savings from increased use of electronic return filing, reductions in non-case related travel and streamlining operations.

Enforcement Program

IRS Enforcement Program is projected to receive the lion’s share of the increase. The FY 2013 budget includes $403 million in new IRS enforcement activities, which are expected to raise $1.48 billion in revenue annually at full performance, once new hires are fully trained and develop broader experience by FY 2015. This is a 4.3-to-1 return on investment. The return on investment is even greater when factoring in the deterrence value of these investments and other IRS enforcement programs, which is conservatively estimated to be at least three times the direct revenue impact.

The enforcement budget also includes $200 million in additional examination and collection programs that will generate more than $1.1 billion in additional annual enforcement revenue by FY 2015. Investments such as these in IRS enforcement programs are especially important to further the IRS’ mission of improving tax compliance.

International Tax Compliance Emphasized by the IRS

International tax compliance is specifically emphasized by the IRS. The IRS will continue to address offshore tax evasion by individuals through a combined “carrot and stick” approach – special offshore voluntary disclosure program and increased examinations and prosecutions.

International tax compliance will also concern domestic businesses operating abroad and foreign businesses owned by U.S. taxpayers. In order to ensure business entity compliance, the IRS will provide additional international technical specialists to increase coverage of complex international transactions.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Tax Help with International Tax Compliance Issues

If you have any issues regarding international tax compliance with U.S. laws and regulations, contact Sherayzen Law Office. Our experienced international tax firm will review the facts of your case, analyze the available options, propose a concrete plan of action with respect to your U.S. tax compliance issues, and implement this plan (including drafting and completing the necessary tax documents and forms).

Form 5472 Penalties

In a previous article, we covered the basics of the IRS Form 5472. In this article we will explain the penalties that may apply for failure to comply with the form’s requirements.

Main Failure to File and Failure to Maintain Records Penalties

If a corporation fails to timely file the required Form 5472, a $10,000 penalty may be assessed. Furthermore, a reporting corporation that files a substantially incomplete Form 5472 will be deemed as having failed to file Form 5472, and penalties may apply.

An interesting twist in Form 5472 penalties is that, in addition to failure to file penalties, the IRS imposes substantial record-keeping penalties. A $10,000 penalty may be assessed for failure to maintain records, as required under IRS regulation Section 1.6038A-3. Under this regulation, “a reporting corporation must keep the permanent books of account or records… that are sufficient to establish the correctness of the federal income tax return of the corporation, including information, documents, or records (“records”) to the extent they may be relevant to determine the correct U.S. tax treatment of transactions with related parties.”

It is also important to note that, for the purposes of Form 5472 penalties, each member of a group of corporations filing a consolidated information return is treated as a separate reporting corporation, and each member is potentially subject to a separate $10,000 penalty, as well as being jointly and severally liable.

Additional Failure to File Penalties

If the IRS issues a failure to file notification, and the failure continues for more than 90 days after such notification, an additional penalty of $10,000 may apply. This penalty applies with respect to each related party for which a failure occurs for each 30-day period (or part of a 30-day period) during which the failure continues after the 90-day period end.

Criminal Penalties

Under IRC Sections 7203 (Willful failure to file return, supply information, or pay tax), 7206 (Fraud and False Statements), and 7207 (Fraudulent returns, statements, or other documents), criminal penalties may potentially apply for failure to submit necessary information, or for filing false or fraudulent information.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Legal Help With Form 5472 Reporting Requirements

Complying with Form 5472 requirements and dealing with Form 5472 penalties usually requires professional review. Contact Sherayzen Law Office for tax assistance with Form 5472; our experienced international tax firm will determine whether you need to file Form 5472, explain how to comply with the form’s requirement, complete the form for you, and handle any necessary IRS negotiations.

Non-Resident Alien Spouse and Joint U.S. Tax Return

This article will cover the options that are available for married couples where one spouse is a non-resident alien and the other is a U.S. citizen. A nonresident alien is an alien who has not passed the green card test or the “substantial presence test” under IRS rules. For the purposes of this article, a “married couple” will refer solely to this specific situation.

Election to File Joint Return

Although a non-resident alien who does not have U.S. source income is generally not required to file a U.S. tax return, in some instances it may be beneficial for a non-resident alien married to a U.S. citizen to do so. If the married couple meets certain criteria, they may elect to file a joint return.

The criteria is as follows: A married couple may elect to treat the non-resident alien as a U.S. resident, if the couple is married at the end of the taxable year. This also includes instances in which one of the spouses is a non-resident alien at the beginning of the year, but becomes a resident alien at the end of the year, and the other spouse is a non-resident alien at the end of the year.

Reason for Electing to File a Joint Return

There are numerous reasons why a non-resident alien in a married couple may elect to file a joint return. For instance, the non-resident alien may have U.S. source income, in which case U.S. taxes will likely be owed in any event. Thus, filing a joint return may result in less taxes paid, depending on tax brackets, type of income and applicable deductions.

It may also make sense in certain circumstances for a non-resident alien who does not have U.S. source income to file a joint return. Additionally, a non-resident alien filing a joint return may be allowed to claim possible credits on foreign income taxes paid, such as the Foreign Tax Credit.

Note however, in certain circumstances, the non-resident alien spouse of the married couple filing the joint return may still be treated as a non-resident alien (such as for the tax purposes of IRC Chapter 3 Withholding, Social Security, or Medicare).

Applicable Rules

Married couples must file a joint return in the year they first elect to treat the non-resident alien as a resident alien for tax purposes. Both spouses will be considered to be residents for tax purposes for all years that the election is in effect. While a joint income return must be filed for the year the election is made, a joint or separate return may be filed in later years.

By electing to file the joint return, both spouses must report all worldwide income on the return. In general, neither spouse will be able to claim tax treaty benefits as a resident of a foreign country in the years in which the election is made, although this will depend upon the specifics of each treaty.

Making The Election

Married couples may make the election by attaching a statement, signed by both spouses, to the joint return for the first tax year that the election is made. (See specific IRS requirements for more details). Married couples may also make the election by filing a amended Form 1040X joint tax return (however, any tax returns filed after the tax year of the amended return must also be amended).

Ending or Suspending the Election

Once the election is made, it will apply to all subsequent tax years, unless it is ended or suspended. An election may be ended by various means, such as the death of either spouse, legal separation, revocation by either spouse, or inadequate records (See Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens, for more details). Once the election is ended, neither spouse may make the election in subsequent tax years.

An election is suspended if neither spouse is a US citizen or resident alien at any time during a later tax year. Married couples may resume the election however if the required criteria are eventually met again in subsequent tax years.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office

This article is intended to give you a brief summary of these issues. If you have further questions regarding these matters as it pertains to your own tax circumstances, Sherayzen Law Office offers professional advice in all of your tax and international tax needs. Call now at (952) 500-8159 to discuss your tax situation with an experienced international tax attorney.

Sourcing of Income

The sourcing of income has very important tax consequences for U.S. and foreign taxpayers.  The IRS taxes U.S. taxpayers on all income, from any source derived; however, U.S. taxpayers will be relieved of double taxation and may utilize the foreign tax credit in many circumstances involving non-purely domestic taxation. Foreign taxpayers, on the other hand, will usually only pay U.S. taxes on income sourced in the U.S. Thus, the source of income rules are critical to determining where a taxpayer will pay applicable taxes. This article will examine both income sourced inside the U.S. and foreign-source income.

Income Source Determination

In order to determine the sourcing of income, income realized is first placed into certain categories (such as interest, dividends, rent, sale of property, etc.). At times, an item of income may overlap into more than one possible category, in which case, specific IRS rules will likely clarify the proper classification. Once income is categorized, income source rules will then be applied in order to ascertain whether the income is U.S. or foreign-source. As a rule of thumb, income will be either U.S. or foreign-source depending upon where property is located, or where the income was realized, however there are many exceptions to this principle.

Income Source Examples

In this section, common income categories such as dividends, interest, personal services income, rents and royalties, and sales or exchanges of property, and their income sourcing rules will be briefly explained (other common income source rules not detailed here apply to software income, and transportation and communications income).


Generally speaking, dividends received from U.S. (domestic) corporations are considered to be U.S.-source income. The fact that a domestic corporation may be distributing dividends derived from overseas operations usually will not matter for these purposes.

Conversely, dividends paid by a foreign corporation will generally be deemed foreign-source income. An important exception to this rule occurs in situations where a foreign corporation earns 25% or more of its gross income from income effectively connected with a U.S. trade or business for the three years immediately preceding the year of the dividend payment. In this case, that percentage of the dividend will be treated as U.S.-source income.


Interest income received from domestic corporations, the U.S. government and state governments, and non-corporate U.S. residents (among others) are deemed U.S.-source income.
There are some exceptions to this rule. For example, income will is deemed to be foreign-source if interest is received from a U.S. corporation which, over the prior three-year period, earned 80% or more of its active business income from foreign sources.

Personal services income

Personal services income includes such items as salaries, wages, fees, commissions. The location of where the services are performed will usually determine whether the personal services income is U.S. or foreign-source.

There are some exceptions to this general rule, including a limited commercial traveler exception for short business trips and de minimus amounts.

Rents and Royalties

For income received from the use of tangible property, the location of the property will determine its income sourcing. Other factors, such as where the property was manufactured, are not considered.

For income received for the use of intangible property (e.g. patents, copyrights, goodwill, etc.), in general, the location of where the property was used will determine its income sourcing.

Sale or Exchange of property

In general, the source of income relating to disposition of real property will depend upon the location of the property.

Broadly speaking, the sale of personal property (i.e, stocks, securities, equipment, inventory, intangible assets) will depend upon the residence of the seller. However, there are various exceptions to this rule. For example, if a item of purchased inventory is sold, the location of the sale will determine its income source.

Tax Treaty versus Regular Sourcing of Income Rules

Under certain circumstances, the sourcing source of an item of income or deduction could be changed by the provisions of a treaty. However, taxpayers claiming this benefit will need to file their tax return along with Form 8833.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office

This is a general overview of the taxation rules relating to sourcing of income. There are many other complex issues that may apply, depending upon the circumstances. Do you have questions concerning taxes relating to your international transactions or income? Sherayzen Law Office can assist you with these matters. Call (952) 500-8159 to set up a consultation today.