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May 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns | International Tax Lawyer & Attorney

On May 21, 2018, the IRS announced the creation of another six compliance campaigns. Let’s explore these May 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns in more detail.

May 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Background Information

After a long period of planning, the IRS Large Business and International division (“LB&I”) finalized its new restructuring plan in 2017. Under the new plan, LB&I decided to switch to issue-based examinations and IRS campaigns.

The idea behind the IRS compliance campaigns is to concentrate the LB&I limited resources where they are most needed – i.e. where there is the highest risk of noncompliance. The first campaigns were announced by the IRS on January 31, 2017. Then, the IRS introduced additional campaigns in November of 2017 and March of 2018. As of March 13, 2018, there were a total of twenty-nine campaigns outstanding.

Six New May 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns

On May 21, 2018, the LB&I introduced the following new campaigns: Interest Capitalization for Self-Constructed Assets; Forms 3520/3520-A Non-Compliance and Campus Assessed Penalties; Forms 1042/1042-S Compliance; Nonresident Alien Tax Treaty Exemptions; Nonresident Alien Schedule A and Other Deductions; and NRA Tax Credits. Each of these campaigns was selected by the IRS through the analysis of the LB&I data as well as from suggestions made by IRS employees.

It is also important to point out that each of these campaigns as well as the twenty-nine previous campaigns were reviewed by the IRS in light of the 2017 Tax Reform (which was enacted on December 22, 2017).

May 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Interest Capitalization for Self-Constructed Assets

The first campaign focused on the Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) Section 263A. Under this provision if a taxpayer engaged in certain production activities with respect to “designated property”, he is required to capitalize the interest that he incurs or pays during the production period with respect to this property.

IRC Section 263A(f) defined “designated property” as: (a) any real property, or (b) tangible personal property that has: (i) a long useful life (depreciable class life of 20 years or more), or (ii) an estimated production period exceeding two years, or (iii) an estimated production period exceeding one year and an estimated cost exceeding $1,000,000.

The IRS created this campaign with the goal of ensuring taxpayer compliance by verifying that interest is properly capitalized for designated property and the computation to capitalize that interest is accurate. Construction companies are likely to be the most immediate target of this campaign. Given the fact that Section 263A is not well-known, the IRS adopted varous treatment streams for this campaign, including issue-based examinations, education soft letters, and educating taxpayers and practitioners to encourage voluntary compliance.

May 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Form 3520/3520-A Non-Compliance and Campus Assessed Penalties

This campaign reflects the increasing attention of the IRS to foreign trusts. This is a highly complex area of law. In order to deal with this complexity, the IRS stated that it will adopt a multifaceted approach to improving Form 3520 and Form 3520-A compliance. The treatment streams will include (but not limited to) examinations and penalties assessed by the campus when the forms are received late or are incomplete. The IRS will also use Letter 6076 to inform the trusts about their potential Form 3520-A obligations.

May 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Form 1042/1042-S Compliance

Taxpayers who make payments of certain US-source income to foreign persons must comply with the related withholding, deposit and reporting requirements. This campaign targets Withholding Agents who make such payments but do not meet all of their compliance duties. The IRS will address noncompliance and errors through a variety of treatment streams, including examination.

May 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Nonresident Alien Tax Treaty Exemptions

This campaign is intended to increase compliance in nonresident alien (NRA) individual tax treaty exemption claims related to both effectively connected income and Fixed, Determinable, Annual Periodical (“FDAP”) income. Some NRA taxpayers may either misunderstand or misinterpret applicable treaty articles, provide incorrect or incomplete forms to the withholding agents or rely on incorrect information returns provided by US payors to improperly claim treaty benefits and exempt US-source income from taxation. This campaign will address noncompliance through a variety of treatment streams including outreach/education and traditional examinations.

May 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Nonresident Alien Schedule A and Other Deductions

This is another campaign that targets NRAs. In this case, the IRS focuses on the Form 1040NR Schedule A itemized deductions. NRA taxpayers may either misunderstand or misinterpret the rules for allowable deductions under the previous and new IRC provisions, do not meet all the qualifications for claiming the deduction and/or do not maintain proper records to substantiate the expenses claimed. The campaign will address noncompliance through a variety of treatment streams including outreach/education and traditional examinations.

May 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: NRA Tax Credits

This is yet another (third) campaign that targets NRAs; this time it concerns tax credits claimed by the NRAs. The IRS here targets NRAs who erroneously claim a dependent tax credit and who either have no qualifying earned income, do not provide substantiation/proper documentation, or do not have qualifying dependents. Furthermore, the IRS also wants to target NRAs who claim education credits (which are only available to U.S. persons) by improperly filing Form 1040 tax returns. This campaign will address noncompliance through a variety of treatment streams including outreach/education and traditional examinations.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Tax Help

If you have been contacted by the IRS as part of any of its campaigns, please 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!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

Sherayzen Law Office Successfully Completes 2019 April 15 Tax Season

Hundreds of filed complex tax forms and FBARs is the supreme evidence of the successful completion of the 2019 April 15 tax season by Sherayzen Law Office. Sherayzen Law Office is an international tax law firm that specializes in offshore voluntary disclosures and US international tax compliance.

Annual compliance occupies a special place in the firm’s practice. This part of our practice consists of almost entirely clients who were so satisfied with our services that they wanted us to handle their annual tax compliance. It is a proud testimony of the high quality, efficiency and professionalism of Sherayzen Law Office’s work.

Since there are more and more clients every year who wish to retain our services for annual compliance, this has been a very dynamic area of growth. It also means that, with each year, the deadline pressure is rising.

The 2019 April 15 tax season was no exception. A record number of clients placed their utmost confidence in our work and asked us to prepare their 2018 income tax returns, information returns and FBARs. Moreover, the tremendous complexity of the 2017 tax reform has further added to the difficulty of the 2019 April 15 tax season.

Mr. Eugene Sherayzen, the founder and owner of Sherayzen Law Office, recognized very early that this tax season is going to be the most difficult one yet in the firm’s existence. This why he expanded and trained additional workforce at the beginning of 2019, engaged in proper tax season planning, addressed ahead of time the needs of the ongoing audit and offshore voluntary disclosure clients and established aggressive deadlines for the firm.

Thanks to all of this work by Mr. Sherayzen and the firm’s employees, all of the annual compliance deadlines were successfully completed. Moreover, Sherayzen Law Office was also able to finalize the filings for all of the offshore voluntary disclosure clients according to the already-created (by Mr. Sherayzen) customized plans of offshore voluntary disclosure.

We are not planning, however, to simply enjoy the laurels of another success. We look forward to helping hundreds of new clients with their offshore voluntary disclosures, IRS audits and international tax planning. We also already started our preparation for June 15, September 15 and October 15 tax seasons.

If you are looking for an international tax firm to which you entrust your case, you should retain the services of Sherayzen Law Office! We are a team of highly-experienced US international tax specialists who have helped hundreds of US taxpayers with their US international tax compliance and offshore voluntary disclosures. We Can Help You!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

Dividend Income Sourcing | International Tax Lawyer & Attorney

One of the most important issues in US international tax law is the sourcing of income – i.e. the determination of whether the income is foreign or domestic for US tax purposes. In this article, I will introduce readers to US tax rules concerning dividend income sourcing (note, I will not be discussing substitute dividends and so-called “fast-pay” stocks as part of this article).

Dividend Income Sourcing: General Rule

Aside from limited exceptions, the source of dividend income is determined by whether the corporation that pays the dividends is foreign or domestic.

Dividend Income Sourcing: Domestic Corporations

Generally, if a US domestic corporation pays a dividend to its shareholders, the income is sourced in the United States. IRC §861(a)(2)(A).

There are three limited exceptions to this general rule, but only the first exception is really relevant at this point. The first exception is found in the complex rules concerning a Domestic International Sales Corporation (“DISC”). Basically, under IRC §861(a)(2)(D), dividends from a DISC are US-source income unless the dividends are attributable to “qualified export receipts”. In other words, if all of the gross income of a DISC satisfies the definition of qualified export receipts, then the entire gross income will be considered as derived from a foreign source. This is the basic rule and there are important exceptions and considerations that must be considered if one engages in a detailed analysis.

The second exception was a dividend paid by a Section 936 corporation. A Section 936 corporation was a special type of a domestic corporation that did business in US possessions. At this point, the repeal of IRC §936 makes this section largely irrelevant.

Finally, the third exception existed mostly prior to 1987. At that time, if a taxpayer was able to show that 80% of the gross income of the payor corporation for the relevant period of time consisted of foreign-source income, then the dividend was also foreign-source even if it was paid by a domestic corporation. The relevant period of time for making this determination included the three fiscal years of the corporation preceding the year in which the dividend was declared (obviously, if the corporation existed for less than three years, then the period of time was reduced to the number of years the corporation had been in existence). Interestingly, with the exception of mergers and consolidations, the dividends were foreign-source even if the payor corporation filed a consolidated return with an affiliated group which did not meet what was known as the 80/20 rule.

This third exception became largely irrelevant as of January 1, 1987. However, the 80/20 corporations were exempted from tax withholding even as late as prior to 2010. At that time, the Congress finally repealed the 80/20 company rule, though it still left a grandfather clause for it.

Dividend Income Sourcing: Foreign Corporations

Dividend income sourcing with respect to foreign corporations is more complex. Generally, dividends from foreign corporations are considered to be foreign-source income unless 25% or more of the corporation’s gross income for the three years preceding the taxable year (in which the distribution occurred) was from income that was effectively connected with a trade or business in the United States. This is the so-called “25% exception”.

If the 25% threshold is satisfied, then the dividend is apportioned according to the percentage of the corporation’s income effectively connected to the United States versus foreign-source income. This rule obviously affects the ability of a US person to take full foreign tax credit.

Now, let’s look at the 25% exception from the perspective of a foreign person receiving a dividend from a foreign corporation. Again, if a foreign dividend was paid to a foreign person from a company that did not satisfy the 25% exception, then no part of the dividend was sourced to the United States. If, however, the 25% exception was satisfied, then a foreign person had US-source income according to the apportionment rule described above. In other words, a foreign dividend paid from a foreign company to a foreign individual may result in US-source income even though none of these persons are US tax residents!

Moreover, prior to 2005, such a foreign individual would have to declare this US-source income in the United States and, theoretically, pay tax on it. Obviously, this was unlikely to happen because either the foreign corporation was subject to the branch profits tax which offset the tax on dividends paid by the corporation or a tax treaty prevented the taxation of such dividend. Nevertheless, if neither exception applied, a foreign person could find himself in noncompliance with US tax laws (and there was even some litigation on this subject).

When it passed the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004, the US Congress finally relented and exempted from US taxation all dividends that fell within the 25% exception and were paid to foreign persons on or after January 1, 2005. IRC §871(i)(2)(D).

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help with Dividend Income Sourcing

Sherayzen Law Office is a highly experienced international tax law firm that specializes in US international tax compliance, offshore voluntary disclosures and international tax planning. Our clients have greatly benefitted from our reliability, profound knowledge of international tax law (including dividend income sourcing), detailed and comprehensive approach to tax compliance and creative ethical tax planning (even during offshore voluntary disclosures). We can help You!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

IRS International No Rule List Updated | International Tax Lawyer News

On January 2, 2018, the IRS issued Rev. Proc. 2018-7 (2018-1 IRB 271) to update its existing international No Rule list. I will quickly overview what the No Rule List is and provide a copy of Sections 3 and 4 of the No Rule List.

What is an International No Rule List?

It may be surprising to many taxpayers to learn, but the IRS does not rule on all matters within its jurisdiction. The IRS may provide a Private Letter Ruling, Determination Letters and Opinion Letters with respect to most, but not all areas of the Internal Revenue Code.

The areas for which the IRS will not issue a letter ruling or a determination letter are grouped under a single term “No Rule List”.

Rev. Proc. 2018-7 and the International No Rule List

Rev. Proc. 2018-7 supersedes Rev. Proc. 2017-7 and updates all international tax matters under the IRS jurisdiction for which the IRS will not answer a taxpayer’s inquiry. Rev. Proc. 2018-7 is directly relevant to 26 CFR 601.201 (which deals with rulings and determination letters).

The chief change introduced by Rev. Proc. 2018-7 to the No Rule List is a new section 4.01(26), which deals with IRC Section 1059A. Additionally, Rev. Proc. 2018-7 renumbered the rest of the relevant sections and cross references due to the addition of a new section.

No Rule List: Section 3 List Versus Section 4 List

The No Rule List differentiates between two types of situations which are organized under Section 3 and Section 4 of Rev. Proc. 2018-7. Section 3 lists the areas of the IRC in which letter rulings and determination letters will not be issued under any circumstances.

Section 4, however, lists the areas of the IRC in which a ruling will not ordinarily be issued unless there are unique and compelling reasons that justify issuing a letter ruling or a determination letter.

Despite the existence of the No Rule List, the IRS may still provide a general information letter in response to inquiries in areas on either list. On the other hand, just because an IRC section or an item is not listed on the No Rule List does not automatically mean that the IRS will answer a taxpayer’s inquiry. Rev. Proc. 2018-7 specifically states that the IRS may “decline to rule on an individual case for reasons peculiar to that case, and such decision will not be announced in the Internal Revenue Bulletin”.

International No Rule List and Section 4 International Tax Interpretation Requests

As it was mentioned above, a taxpayer may still request a letter ruling or a determination letter for any of the Section 4 items of the No Rule List. If he decides to do so, he should contact (by telephone or in writing) the Office of Associate Chief Counsel (International) (“the Office”) prior to making such a request and discuss with the Office the unique and compelling reasons that the taxpayer believes justify issuing such letter ruling or determination letter. While not required, a written submission is encouraged since it will enable the Office personnel to arrive more quickly at an understanding of the unique facts of each case. A taxpayer who contacts the Office by telephone may be requested to provide a written submission.

International No Rule List Section 3

I am copying here Section 3 of the Rev. Proc. 2018-7 which describes the areas in which ruling or determination Letters will no be issued under any circumstances:

“.01 Specific Questions and Problems

(1) Section 861. – Income from Sources Within the United States. – A method for determining the source of a pension payment to a nonresident alien individual from a trust under a defined benefit plan that is qualified under § 401(a) if the proposed method is inconsistent with §§ 4.01, 4.02, and 4.03 of Rev. Proc. 2004–37, 2004–1 C.B. 1099.

(2) Section 862. – Income from Sources Without the United States. – A method for determining the source of a pension payment to a nonresident alien individual from a trust under a defined benefit plan that is qualified under § 401(a) if the proposed method is inconsistent with §§ 4.01, 4.02, and 4.03 of Rev. Proc. 2004–37, 2004–1 C.B. 1099.

(3) Section 871(g). – Special Rules for Original Issue Discount. – Whether a debt instrument having original issue discount within the meaning of § 1273 is not an original issue discount obligation within the meaning of § 871(g)(1)(B)(i) when the instrument is payable 183 days or less from the date of original issue (without regard to the period held by the taxpayer).

(4) Section 894. – Income Affected by Treaty. – Whether a person that is a resident of a foreign country and derives income from the United States is entitled to benefits under the United States income tax treaty with that foreign country pursuant to the limitation on benefits article. However, the Service may rule regarding the legal interpretation of a particular provision within the relevant limitation on benefits article.

(5) Section 954. – Foreign Base Company Income. – The effective rate of tax that a foreign country will impose on income.

(6) Section 954. – Foreign Base Company Income. – Whether the facts and circumstances evince that a controlled foreign corporation makes a substantial contribution through the activities of its employees to the manufacture, production, or construction of the personal property sold within the meaning of § 1.954–3(a)(4)(iv).

(7) Section 7701(b). – Definition of Resident Alien and Nonresident Alien. – Whether an alien individual is a nonresident of the United States, including whether the individual has met the requirements of the substantial presence test or exceptions to the substantial presence test. However, the Service may rule regarding the legal interpretation of a particular provision of § 7701(b) or the regulations thereunder.

.02 General Areas.

(1) The prospective application of the estate tax to the property or the estate of a living person, except that rulings may be issued on any international issues in a ruling request accepted pursuant to § 5.06 of Rev. Proc. 2018–1, in this Bulletin.

(2) Whether reasonable cause exists under Subtitle F (Procedure and Administration) of the Code.

(3) Whether a proposed transaction would subject a taxpayer to criminal penalties.

(4) Any area where the ruling request does not comply with the requirements of Rev. Proc. 2018–1.

(5) Any area where the same issue is the subject of the taxpayer’s pending request for competent authority assistance under a United States tax treaty.

(6) A ‘comfort’ ruling will not be issued with respect to an issue that is clearly and adequately addressed by statute, regulations, decisions of a court, tax treaties, revenue rulings, or revenue procedures absent extraordinary circumstances (e.g., a request for a ruling required by a governmental regulatory authority in order to effectuate the transaction).

(7) Any frivolous issue, as that term is defined in § 6.10 of Rev. Proc. 2018–1.”

International No Rule List Section 4

I am copying here Section 4 of the International No Rule List which describes the areas in which ruling or determination Letters will not ordinarily be issued:

“.01 Specific Questions and Problems

(1) Section 367(a). – Transfers of Property from the United States. – Whether an oil or gas working interest is transferred from the United States for use in the active conduct of a trade or business for purposes of § 367(a)(3); and whether any other property is so transferred, where the determination requires extensive factual inquiry.

(2) Section 367(a). – Transfers of Property from the United States. – Whether a transferred corporation subject to a gain recognition agreement under § 1.367(a)–8 has disposed of substantially all of its assets.

(3) Section 367(b). – Other Transfers. – Whether and the extent to which regulations under § 367(b) apply to an exchange involving foreign corporations, unless the ruling request presents a significant legal issue or subchapter C rulings are requested in the context of the exchange.

(4) Section 864. – Definitions and Special Rules. – Whether a taxpayer is engaged in a trade or business within the United States, and whether income is effectively connected with the conduct of a trade or business within the United States; whether an instrument is a security as defined in § 1.864–2(c)(2); whether a taxpayer effects transactions in the United States in stocks or securities under § 1.864 –2(c)(2); whether an instrument or item is a commodity as defined in § 1.864 –2(d)(3); and for purposes of § 1.864–2(d)(1) and (2), whether a commodity is of a kind customarily dealt in on an organized commodity exchange, and whether a transaction is of a kind customarily consummated at such place.

(5) Section 871. – Tax on Nonresident Alien Individuals. – Whether a payment constitutes portfolio interest under § 871(h); whether an obligation qualifies for any of the components of portfolio interest such as being in registered form; and whether the income earned on contracts that do not qualify as annuities or life insurance contracts because of the limitations imposed by § 72(s) and § 7702(a) is portfolio interest as defined in § 871(h).

(6) Section 881. – Tax on Income of Foreign Corporations Not Connected with United States Business. – Whether the income earned on contracts that do not qualify as annuities or life insurance contracts because of the limitations imposed by § 72(s) and § 7702(a) is portfolio interest as defined in § 881(c).

(7) Section 892. – Income of Foreign Governments and of International Organizations. – Whether income derived by foreign governments and international organizations from sources within the United States is excluded from gross income and exempt from taxation and any underlying issue related to that determination.

(8) Section 893. – Compensation of Employees of Foreign Governments and International Organizations. – Whether wages, fees, or salary of an employee of a foreign government or of an international organization received as compensation for official services to such government or international organization is excluded from gross income and exempt from taxation and any underlying issue related to that determination.

(9) Section 894. – Income Affected by Treaty. – Whether the income received by an individual in respect of services rendered to a foreign government or a political subdivision or a local authority thereof is exempt from federal income tax or withholding under any of the United States income tax treaties which contain provisions applicable to such individuals.

(10) Section 894. – Income Affected by Treaty. – Whether a taxpayer has a permanent establishment in the United States for purposes of any United States income tax treaty and whether income is attributable to a permanent establishment in the United States.

(11) Section 894. – Income Affected by Treaty. – Whether certain persons will be considered liable to tax under the laws of a foreign country for purposes of determining if such persons are residents within the meaning of any United States income tax treaty. But see Rev. Rul. 2000–59, 2000–2 C.B. 593.

(12) Section 894. – Income Affected by Treaty. – Whether the income received by a nonresident alien student or trainee for services performed for a university or other educational institution is exempt from federal income tax or withholding under any of the United States income tax treaties which contain provisions applicable to such nonresident alien students or trainees.

(13) Section 894. – Income Affected by Treaty. – Whether the income received by a nonresident alien performing research or teaching as personal services for a university, hospital or other research institution is exempt from federal income tax or withholding under any of the United States income tax treaties which contain provisions applicable to such nonresident alien teachers or researchers.

(14) Section 894. – Income Affected by Treaty. – Whether a foreign recipient of payments made by a United States person is ineligible to receive the benefits of a United States tax treaty under the principles of Rev. Rul. 89–110, 1989–2 C.B. 275.

(15) Section 894. – Income Affected by Treaty. – Whether a recipient of payments is or has been a resident of a country for purposes of any United States tax treaty. Pursuant to § 1.884 –5(f), however, the Service may rule whether a corporation representing that it is a resident of a country is a qualified resident thereof for purposes of § 884.

(16) Section 894. – Income Affected by Treaty. – Whether an entity is treated as fiscally transparent by a foreign jurisdiction for purposes of § 894(c) and the regulations thereunder.

(17) Section 901. – Taxes of Foreign Countries and of Possessions of United States. – Whether a foreign levy meets the requirements of a creditable tax under § 901.

(18) Section 901. – Taxes of Foreign Countries and of Possessions of United States. – Whether a person claiming a credit has established, based on all of the relevant facts and circumstances, the amount (if any) paid by a dual capacity taxpayer under a qualifying levy that is not paid in exchange for a specific economic benefit. See § 1.901–2A(c)(2).

(19) Section 903. – Credit for Taxes in Lieu of Income, Etc., Taxes. – Whether a foreign levy meets the requirements of a creditable tax under § 903.

(20) Sections 954(d), 993(c). – Manufactured Product. – Whether a product is manufactured or produced for purposes of § 954(d) and § 993(c).

(21) Section 937. – Definition of Bona Fide Resident. – Whether an individual is a bona fide resident of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands. However, the Service may rule regarding the legal interpretation of a particular provision of § 937(a) or the regulations thereunder.

(22) Section 956. – Investment of Earnings in United States Property. – Whether a pledge of the stock of a controlled foreign corporation is an indirect pledge of the assets of that corporation. See § 1.956–2(c)(2).

(23) Section 985. – Functional Currency. – Whether a currency is the functional currency of a qualified business unit.

(24) Section 989(a). – Qualified Business Unit. – Whether a unit of the taxpayer’s trade or business is a qualified business unit.

(25) Section 1058. – Transfers of Securities Under Certain Agreements. – Whether the amount of any payment described in § 1058(b)(2) or the amount of any other payment made in connection with a transfer of securities described in § 1058 is from sources within or without the United States; the character of such amounts; and whether the amounts constitute a particular kind of income for purposes of any United States income tax treaty.

(26) Section 1059A. – Limitation on taxpayer’s basis or inventory cost in property imported from related persons. – Whether a taxpayer’s cost or inventory basis in property imported from a foreign affiliate will not be limited by § 1059A due to differences between customs valuation and tax valuation.

(27) Sections 1471, 1472, 1473, and 1474. – Taxes to Enforce Reporting on Certain Foreign Accounts. – Whether a taxpayer, withholding agent, or intermediary has properly applied the requirements of chapter 4 of the Internal Revenue Code (sections 1471 through 1474, also known as “FATCA”) or of an applicable intergovernmental agreement to implement FATCA.

(28) Section 1503(d). – Dual Consolidated Loss. – Whether the income tax laws of a foreign country would deny any opportunity for the foreign use of a dual consolidated loss in the year in which the dual consolidated loss is incurred under § 1.1503(d)–3(e)(1); whether no possibility of foreign use exists under § 1.1503(d)–6(c)(1); whether an event presumptively constitutes a triggering event under § 1.1503(d)–6(e)(1)(i)–(ix); whether the presumption of a triggering event is rebutted under § 1.1503(d)–6(e)(2); and whether a domestic use agreement terminates under § 1.1503(d)–6(j)(1). The Service will also not ordinarily rule on the corresponding provisions of prior regulations under § 1503(d).

(29) Section 2501. – Imposition of Tax. – Whether a partnership interest is intangible property for purposes of § 2501(a)(2) (dealing with transfers of intangible property by a nonresident not a citizen of the United States).

(30) Section 7701. – Definitions. – Whether an estate or trust is a foreign estate or trust for federal income tax purposes.

(31) Section 7701. – Definitions. – Whether an intermediate entity is a conduit entity under § 1.881–3(a)(4); whether a transaction is a financing transaction under § 1.881–3(a)(4)(ii); whether the participation of an intermediate entity in a financing arrangement is pursuant to a tax avoidance plan under § 1.881–3(b); whether an intermediate entity performs significant financing activities under § 1.881–3(b)(3)(ii); whether an unrelated intermediate entity would not have participated in a financing arrangement on substantially the same terms under § 1.881–3(c).

(32) Section 7874. – Expatriated Entities and Their Foreign Parents. – Whether, after the acquisition, the expanded affiliated group has substantial business activities in the foreign country in which, or under the law of which, the foreign entity is created or organized, when compared to the total business activities of the expanded affiliated group.

(33) Section 7874. – Expatriated Entities and Their Foreign Parents. – Whether a foreign corporation completes the direct or indirect acquisition of substantially all of the properties held directly or indirectly by a domestic corporation or substantially all of the properties constituting a trade or business of a domestic partnership.

.02 General Areas

(1) Whether a taxpayer has a business purpose for a transaction or arrangement.

(2) Whether a taxpayer uses a correct North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code or Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code.

(3) Any transaction or series of transactions that is designed to achieve a different tax consequence or classification under U.S. tax law (including tax treaties) and the tax law of a foreign country, where the results of that different tax consequence or classification are inconsistent with the purposes of U.S. tax law (including tax treaties).

(4)(a) Situations where a taxpayer or a related party is domiciled or organized in a foreign jurisdiction with which the United States does not have an effective mechanism for obtaining tax information with respect to civil tax examinations and criminal tax investigations, which would preclude the Service from obtaining information located in such jurisdiction that is relevant to the analysis or examination of the tax issues involved in the ruling request.

(b) The provisions of subsection 4.02(4)(a) above shall not apply if the taxpayer or affected related party (i) consents to the disclosure of all relevant information requested by the Service in processing the ruling request or in the course of an examination to verify the accuracy of the representations made and to otherwise analyze or examine the tax issues involved in the ruling request, and (ii) waives all claims to protection of bank or commercial secrecy laws in the foreign jurisdiction with respect to the information requested by the Service. In the event the taxpayer’s or related party’s consent to disclose relevant information or to waive protection of bank or commercial secrecy is determined by the Service to be ineffective or of no force and effect, then the Service may retroactively rescind any ruling rendered in reliance on such consent.

(5) The federal tax consequences of proposed federal, state, local, municipal, or foreign legislation.

(6)(a) Situations involving the interpretation of foreign law or foreign documents. The interpretation of a foreign law or foreign document means making a judgment about the import or effect of the foreign law or document that goes beyond its plain meaning.

(b) The Service, at its discretion, may consider rulings that involve the interpretation of foreign laws or foreign documents. In these cases, the Service may request information in addition to that listed in § 7.01(2) and (6) of Rev. Proc. 2018–1, including a discussion of the implications of any authority believed to interpret the foreign law or foreign document, such as pending legislation, treaties, court decisions, notices or administrative decisions.”

Sale of Russian Real Estate by US Residents | International Tax Lawyer

Sale of Russian Real Estate by US permanent residents was the subject of a recent guidance letter from the Russian Ministry of Finance (“MOF”). Guidance Letter 03-04-05/66382 (dated October 11, 2011, but released only earlier this week) provides a thorough analysis of questions concerning the sale of real estate in Russia by a US resident and, eventually, comes to conclusion such a sale should be subject to a 30% tax rate. Let’s explore this recent MOF analysis in more detail.

Sale of Russian Real Estate: What is MOF Guidance Letter?

The closest US equivalent to the Russian MOF Guidance Letter is the IRS Private Letter Ruling (“PLR”). Similarly to PLR, the MOF Guidance Letters usually address a fairly specific situation and, generally, have a suggestive rather than normative value. A Guidance Letter does not have a precedential value (again similar to PLR). Nevertheless, the MOF Guidance Letters are good indicators of how the MOF would view similar situations and have a very strong persuasive value.

Sale of Russian Real Estate: Fact Pattern Addressed by Guidance Letter 03-04-05/66382

Guidance Letter 03-04-05/66382 specifically addresses a situation where an individual is a Russian citizen who has resided in the United States since 1996. It is not clear whether the individual actually received his green card in 1996 or he simply commenced to reside in the United States on a permanent basis in 1996. This individual wishes to dispose of (or already sold) a real property in Russia.

Sale of Russian Real Estate: Is the Sale Done by a Russian Taxpayer Who Is Subject to Russian Taxation?

The MOF begins its analysis by establishing that, in accordance with Section 1 of Article 207 of the Russian Tax Code (“Tax Code”), individuals who receive Russian-source income are Russian taxpayers for the purposes of the Russian income tax irrespective of whether they are Russian tax residents or not. Since Article 208, Section 1(5) states that income earned from the sale of Russian real estate is considered to be Russian-source income, an individual selling Russian real estate is considered to be a Russian taxpayer who is subject to Russian taxation.

Sale of Russian Real Estate: Is the Sale Done by a Russian tax resident?

The MOF then continued its analysis to determine whether, in the situation described in the Guidance Letter 03-04-05/66382, the individual is a Russian tax resident. I believe that this was the key reason why the individual in question requested the MOF Guidance letter: he was hoping that he would be found a Russian tax resident under the Russia-US tax treaty due to the fact that he had real estate in Russia (and, hence, subject to lower tax on the proceeds from sale).

The MOF analysis involved two steps: the determination of tax residency under the tax treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation (because the individual in question has resided permanently in the United States since 1996) and, then, the determination of tax residency under the domestic Russian tax laws.

First, the MOF stated that, pursuant to paragraph 1 of Article 4 of the Russia-US Tax Treaty, a person should be recognized as a permanent resident of a contracting state in accordance with the provisions of the national law of that state. In other words, the determination of who is a tax resident of the Russian Federation should be done under the Russian domestic tax law.

Here, the MOF also addressed the critical part of this Guidance Letter – does the ownership of Russian real estate matter for the purposes of establishing the Russian tax residency under the Treaty. The MOF determined that the factor of ownership of real estate matters only in cases where the owner of real estate is recognized as a resident of both contracting states in accordance with the national legislation of both, the United States and Russia. This is the most important part of the MOR Guidance Letter 03-04-05/66382.

Having made this determination, the MOF went into the second half of its analysis – who is considered to be a Russian tax resident under the Russian laws. According to Section 2 of Article 207 of the Tax Code, individuals are considered Russian tax residents if they are physically present in Russia for at least 183 calendar days within a period of 12 consecutive months. Since the individual in question did not satisfy the residency requirement of Article 207, the MOF determined that he was not a tax resident of the Russian Federation.

Sale of Russian Real Estate: Can Russia Tax the Proceeds from the Sale under the Russia-US Tax Treaty?

Having determined that the owner of the Russian Real Estate was not a Russian tax resident, the next issue was whether Russia can still tax the proceeds from the sale. The MOF stated that, under paragraph 3 of Article 19 of the Treaty, the gains from the sales of real estate located in one contracting state received by a permanent resident of the other contracting state can be taxed in accordance with the domestic tax legislation of the state where the property is located. Hence, Russia can tax the sale of Russian Real Estate made by a US permanent resident.

As a side note, Russia can also tax a disposition of shares or other rights of participation in the profits of a company in which Russian real estate makes up at least 50 percent of the assets.

Sale of Russian Real Estate: What is the Applicable Tax Rate?

The final point addressed by the MOF was the applicable tax rate for the sale of Russian real estate by a US permanent resident and a nonresident of Russia. Pursuant to Section 3 of Article 224 fo the Tax Code, the MOF decided that tax rate in this situation should be 30 percent.

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