Choosing Your Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Lawyer

Choosing the right Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Lawyer is a very important decision that may determine the fate of your entire offshore voluntary disclosure case. While making this choice, I recommend that you consider the following five main factors while choosing your Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Lawyer.

1. Areas of Practice of Your Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Lawyer

The first factor is to determine whether your Offshore Voluntary Disclosure lawyer really practices in this area of law. There are attorneys (especially in large and general practice law firms) out there who like to “dabble” in various areas of law but who really do not know international tax law in depth. You are well advised to stay away from such firms.

You should be looking for an attorney who has devoted the great majority of his practice to international tax law, particularly Offshore Voluntary Disclosure. Remember, Offshore Voluntary Disclosure involves not only the sophisticated analysis of the voluntary disclosure options of the foreign bank and financial accounts (i.e. issues associated with the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts – “FBAR”), but also the complex interaction of various other parts of international tax compliance requirements (such as PFICs, ownership of foreign business entities, ownership of Foreign trusts and so on).

Sherayzen Law Office is a law firm that specializes in international tax law and specifically in Offshore Voluntary Disclosures. Virtually our entire practice is devoted to helping clients throughout the world to comply with the complex requirements of U.S. international tax law, particularly voluntary disclosure of foreign income, offshore bank and financial accounts, foreign gifts and inheritance, and ownership of foreign business entities and trusts.

2. Experience of Your Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Lawyer

After making sure that he really practices in the area of Offshore Voluntary Disclosure, you should find out about the experience of your Offshore Voluntary Disclosure lawyer. What you should be looking for is the concentration of the experience as well as number of years that the attorney practices law (at least five years).

Do not be fooled by someone who says that he has thirty years of Offshore Voluntary Disclosure experience – this is a relatively new and quickly developing area of practice. the IRS implemented its first voluntary disclosure program (which was quite unknown at that time) in 2003. The first voluntary disclosure program of real importance was the 2009 OVDP and it served as a prototype for the highly successful 2011 OVDI and the later 2012 OVDP and 2014 OVDP (which closed in 2018).

Since 2005, Sherayzen Law Office has developed a unique expertise in the area of Offshore Voluntary Disclosure helping clients throughout the world, and it has practiced international tax law with the emphasis on offshore voluntary disclosures during the existence of all major IRS Voluntary Disclosure Programs.

3. Personal Attention of Your Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Lawyer to Your Voluntary Disclosure Case

The key point here is that, since offshore voluntary disclosures are highly fact-dependent, it is very important the experienced offshore voluntary disclosure lawyer that you wish to retain for your case is the one who will actually handle the entire case, not just the voluntary disclosure. Similarly, you want to make sure that your offshore voluntary disclosure lawyer is able to communicate with you personally with respect to the case.

Unfortunately, it is common practice for large law firms to divide up the work between the partner and the associates to the extent that the partner (usually an experienced attorney) contributes very little beyond getting you to sign the retainer agreement while less-experienced and even complete inexperienced associates do most of the work, potentially jeopardizing your entire voluntary disclosure.

Eugene Sherayzen, the founder and owner of Sherayzen Law Office, will personally handle your initial consultation and your entire case. Of course, parts of the case will be given to associates, accountants and staff members; however, Mr. Sherayzen invests a substantial amount of his time in training and supervision of all members of Sherayzen Law Office, making sure that the high quality of our firm’s work is maintained while certain cost benefits are passed through to the client. Moreover, Mr. Sherayzen is personally available for personal communication throughout the progress of your case.

4. Ethical Creativity of Your Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Lawyer

Offshore voluntary disclosures require consideration of interaction of various strategies and possibilities before the your disclosure options are finalized. This requires a healthy degree of ethical creativity that must be displayed by your offshore voluntary disclosure lawyer as early as the initial consultation.

If the offshore voluntary disclosure lawyer only proposes one option without considering any facts or without at least mentioning the other options and why they are rejected, then you may wish to get a second opinion. Similarly, if the attorney only concentrates on the OVDP penalty (program now closed) without discussion of the FBAR penalty structure, something may not be right.

Also, stay away from attorneys (and accountants) who propose unethical solutions which involve concealment of truth from the IRS or who propose easy solutions. Your voluntary disclosure is required to be truthful and complete; anything short of this standard may get you in deep troubles with the IRS and result in high civil and even criminal penalties.

Sherayzen Law Office follows a very high standard for ethical creativity, making sure that the required disclosures are honestly made the IRS while implementing ethical creative solutions based on legitimate interpretations of the Internal Revenue Code and Treasury regulations. In the end, we strive to achieve the combination of the required transparency with the tax and penalty reductions permitted by the Code.

5. Trust in Your Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Lawyer

This fifth factor of “trust” is highly important. If, after your initial consultation, you have a feeling of distrust and suspicion of the voluntary disclosure lawyer or his tactics, my suggestion is to try another attorney.

The stakes in the offshore voluntary disclosure can be very high and the information involved can be very sensitive. In such situations, at least some feeling of trust in the abilities and honesty of your Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Lawyer is crucial to the success of your case.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office to Retain The Right Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Lawyer for Your Case

If you are thinking about doing an Offshore Voluntary Disclosure with respect to your foreign assets and foreign income, contact Sherayzen Law Office for experienced professional help.

Over the years, Mr. Eugene Sherayzen, an experienced Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Lawyer has developed a unique expertise in the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure which allows Sherayzen Law Office to successfully help clients throughout the United States and the world. We offer a comprehensive approach which produces realistic voluntary disclosure options assessment on which you can rely. Then, once the voluntary disclosure option is chosen, we will implement the necessary ethical strategies (including drafting of legal documents and completing the necessary tax forms) and rigorously defend your position against the IRS.

Contact Us to schedule a Confidential Consultation now.

IRS Classification of Foreign Entities: “Per Se” Foreign Corporations

For the U.S. tax compliance purposes, it is very important to properly classify foreign business entities, because there are special IRS requirements associated with ownership of foreign business entities. For instance, a list of various tax forms is tied to particular classification (for example, certain U.S. taxpayers are required to file Form 5471 with respect to foreign corporations; a similar requirement (form 8865) would apply to certain filers with respect to a foreign partnership) and esoteric tax reporting requirements may need to be disclosed on your personal tax returns (such as subpart F income in case of Controlled Foreign Corporation).

The process of a foreign entity classification can be very complex.  In this article, however, I would like to discuss a shortcut available in certain situations  –“per se foreign corporations”. This term means the IRS decided to treat certain business entities as a foreign corporation irrespective of the taxpayer’s position.  For practical purposes, this means that, if your entity is on the list of the “per se corporations”, then it is a foreign corporation, there is no need to explore the issue further and “check-the-box” rules will not apply

Where to Look For the IRS List of Per Se Corporations

Once you are able to determine that you are dealing with a foreign entity and this entity is a business entity, you should check with the Treasury Regulation to see if this business entity is part of the long list of entities that the IRS considers as foreign corporations.  The list is detailed in Treas. Reg. §301.7701-2(b)(8).

List of Per Se Corporations

Treas. Reg. §301.7701-2(b)(8) classifies the following foreign entities as corporations (keep in mind that this may not be the most up-to-date list and you will need to check with the relevant updates of this regulation):

American Samoa, Corporation

Argentina, Sociedad Anonima

Australia, Public Limited Company

Austria, Aktiengesellschaft

Barbados, Limited Company

Belgium, Societe Anonyme

Belize, Public Limited Company

Bolivia, Sociedad Anonima

Brazil, Sociedade Anonima

Bulgaria, Aktsionerno Druzhestvo.

Canada, Corporation and Company

Chile, Sociedad Anonima

People’s Republic of China, Gufen Youxian Gongsi

Republic of China (Taiwan), Ku-fen Yu-hsien Kung-szu

Colombia, Sociedad Anonima

Costa Rica, Sociedad Anonima

Cyprus, Public Limited Company

Czech Republic, Akciova Spolecnost

Denmark, Aktieselskab

Ecuador, Sociedad Anonima or Compania Anonima

Egypt, Sharikat Al-Mossahamah

El Salvador, Sociedad Anonima

Estonia, Aktsiaselts

European Economic Area/European Union, Societas Europaea

Finland, Julkinen Osakeyhtio/Publikt Aktiebolag

France, Societe Anonyme

Germany, Aktiengesellschaft

Greece, Anonymos Etairia

Guam, Corporation

Guatemala, Sociedad Anonima

Guyana, Public Limited Company

Honduras, Sociedad Anonima

Hong Kong, Public Limited Company

Hungary, Reszvenytarsasag

Iceland, Hlutafelag

India, Public Limited Company

Indonesia, Perseroan Terbuka

Ireland, Public Limited Company

Israel, Public Limited Company

Italy, Societa per Azioni

Jamaica, Public Limited Company

Japan, Kabushiki Kaisha

Kazakstan, Ashyk Aktsionerlik Kogham

Republic of Korea, Chusik Hoesa

Latvia, Akciju Sabiedriba

Liberia, Corporation

Liechtenstein, Aktiengesellschaft

Lithuania, Akcine Bendroves

Luxembourg, Societe Anonyme

Malaysia, Berhad

Malta, Public Limited Company

Mexico, Sociedad Anonima

Morocco, Societe Anonyme

Netherlands, Naamloze Vennootschap

New Zealand, Limited Company

Nicaragua, Compania Anonima

Nigeria, Public Limited Company

Northern Mariana Islands, Corporation

Norway, Allment Aksjeselskap

Pakistan, Public Limited Company

Panama, Sociedad Anonima

Paraguay, Sociedad Anonima

Peru, Sociedad Anonima

Philippines, Stock Corporation

Poland, Spolka Akcyjna

Portugal, Sociedade Anonima

Puerto Rico, Corporation

Romania, Societate pe Actiuni

Russia, Otkrytoye Aktsionernoy Obshchestvo

Saudi Arabia, Sharikat Al-Mossahamah

Singapore, Public Limited Company

Slovak Republic, Akciova Spolocnost

Slovenia, Delniska Druzba

South Africa, Public Limited Company

Spain, Sociedad Anonima

Surinam, Naamloze Vennootschap

Sweden, Publika Aktiebolag

Switzerland, Aktiengesellschaft

Thailand, Borisat Chamkad (Mahachon)

Trinidad and Tobago, Limited Company

Tunisia, Societe Anonyme

Turkey, Anonim Sirket

Ukraine, Aktsionerne Tovaristvo Vidkritogo Tipu

United Kingdom, Public Limited Company

United States Virgin Islands, Corporation

Uruguay, Sociedad Anonima

Venezuela, Sociedad Anonima or Compania Anonima


Exceptions, Inclusions and Complications With Respect To the List of Per Se Foreign Corporations

In addition to the list of entities above, the regulations also provide various inclusions, exceptions, and complications.  For example, a Nova Scotia Unlimited Liability Company (or any other company or corporation all of whose owners have unlimited liability pursuant to federal or provincial law) will not be treated as a corporation. The same applies to Sendirian Berhad of Malaysia and some companies in India.

On the other hand, the IRS regards the whole family of “Sociedad Anonima” entities are considered corporations, disregarding their variable capital provisions (such as, “Sociedad Anonima de Capital Variable”).

The regulations further clarify the scope of terms such as “public companies” and “limited companies”.  With regard to Cyprus, Hong Kong, and Jamaica, the term “Public Limited Company” includes any Limited Company that is not defined as a private company under the corporate laws of those jurisdictions.  In all other cases, where the term Public Limited Company is not defined, that term shall include any Limited Company defined as a public company under the corporate laws of the relevant jurisdiction.

Furthermore, with respect to limited companies, a Limited Company includes companies limited by shares and companies limited by guarantee.

What if the company is named in a different but means the same thing as in the usual name? The regulations specifically state that “different linguistic renderings of the name of an entity listed in paragraph (b)(8)(i) of this section shall be disregarded”.  Treas. Reg. §301.7701-2(b)(8)(v).  For example, an entity formed under the laws of Switzerland as a Societe Anonyme will be a corporation and treated in the same manner as an Aktiengesellschaft.

Finally, very important complications may arise where a business entity is formed under the laws of more than one jurisdiction.  Detailed complex rules will determine whether such an entity should be treated as a corporation for U.S. tax purposes, in some cases over-ruling the classification patterns described in this essay.  This is a topic for a future article, though.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Legal Help With Foreign Business Entity Classifications

Classification of a foreign business entity for U.S. tax purposes is a very complex process.  This article only describes one of many variations and it does NOT constitute legal advice; only an international tax attorney looking at the specific circumstances of your case may determine how your foreign business entity should be classified.

If you have a foreign business entity and you are not sure how you should classify it and what will be the U.S. tax compliance consequences of such classification, contact Sherayzen Law Office. Our experienced international tax firm will analyze your business entity in detail,  help you find the correct classification (or adopt a classification that is likely to withstand an IRS challenge), and identify the necessary IRS tax reporting requirements.