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Happy New Year 2019 from Sherayzen Law Office!

The legal tax team of Sherayzen Law Office, Ltd. wishes a very Happy New Year 2019 to our clients, blog readers and all US taxpayers around the world! May this new year bring you good health, prosperity and happiness! And, of course, full and proper compliance with all US international tax laws.

2019 Will Be a Highly Challenging Year from US Tax Compliance Perspective Due to the 2017 Tax Reform

The coming year is going to be a challenging one for all US taxpayers due to the enormous changes made to the Internal Revenue Code as a result of the 2017 tax reform. Already in 2018, some US taxpayers (especially owners of foreign corporations) had to work through the tax year 2017 transition rules.

The 2017 tax reform will be felt on an even grander scale in 2019 as millions of US taxpayers will struggle with the new rules in order to correctly file their 2018 tax returns. While many of these rules are meant to benefit these taxpayers, the tax compliance associated with them is likely to be complex.

Happy New Year 2019 to Individual US Taxpayers!

After the pain of learning how to comply with the new rules subsides, tens of millions of Americans are likely to call this a Happy New Year 2019 due to lower 2018 individual tax rates, the doubling of the child tax credit and higher standard deduction.

Millions of other, especially the upper middle-class Americans, however, are likely to be greatly hurt by the itemized deductions limitations with respect to state taxes and property taxes. The elimination of personal exemptions will further aggravate this problem. It will not be a Happy New Year 2019 for these taxpayers.

Happy New Year 2019 to Small-Business Owners!

It should still be a Happy New Year 2019 for the majority of the small business owners, including owners of S-corporations, due to the 20% reduction of pass-through income mandated by the tax reform. New depreciation rules are likely to have an overall beneficial impact, even if, in some cases, they may not be very helpful.

Happy New Year 2019 to C-Corporations and Their US & Foreign Owners!

It will be a very Happy New Year 2019 for one class of taxpayers in particular – regular C-corporations. These taxpayers arguably benefitted from the 2017 tax reform more than any type of taxpayers. The reduction in the tax rate from 35% to 21%, introduction of Foreign-Derived Intangible Income (“FDII”) and a whole series of small changes to corporate tax code have already led to the surge to corporate profits; this corporate tax boom is likely to continue to play out this year.

On the other hand, the introduction of the GILTI (Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income) tax, new attribution rules concerning the inclusion of non-US corporations and a myriad of other rules will greatly complicate the tax year 2018 corporate tax compliance. In fact, some corporations that never paid any taxes on their foreign income may now be forced to pay the GILTI tax in the United States.

Happy New Year 2019 to US Taxpayers Who Are Trying to Remedy Past Tax Noncompliance Through an Offshore Voluntary Disclosure!

The taxpayers with undisclosed foreign bank accounts and other assets will face increasing challenges in the year 2019 due to two unwelcome trends that came into existence after FATCA was fully implemented but became apparent to most professionals only in 2018. First, the IRS is narrowing the voluntary disclosure options, especially for willful taxpayers. As I just mentioned, this trend began already in 2017, but it could be clearly observed in the closure of the flagship 2014 OVDP on September 28, 2018. While it does not appear that the Streamlined Compliance Procedures will be targeted by the IRS any time soon, there is always a danger that the IRS may modify the terms of this voluntary disclosure option.

The November 20, 2018 modification of the Traditional Voluntary Disclosure (which greatly narrowed the utility of this option) is another manifestation of this trend. In fact, this modification poses a direct danger of forcing taxpayers into either Streamlined Compliance Procedures or the Traditional Voluntary Disclosure Program at the expense of Reasonable Cause disclosures.

The second trend complements the first trend: the loss of interest in offshore voluntary disclosures directly coincided with an increasingly aggressive IRS tax enforcement. The IRS audits, especially international tax audits, are on the rise as the IRS is taking advantage of the huge pile of information it has accumulated as a result of the previous voluntary disclosure programs, Swiss bank program and FATCA compliance.

The taxpayers will need professional help from an international tax attorney to successfully navigate around the legal challenges posed by these two negative trends in US international tax enforcement.

Taxpayers Will Need the Professional Help of Sherayzen Law Office For Proper Tax Compliance and Offshore Voluntary Disclosures of Foreign Assets in 2019

Overall, the new year 2019 promises to be a very interesting but highly complex year from the perspective of US international tax compliance. US taxpayers without adequate legal help are likely to either fail to take full benefit of the 2017 tax reform, suffer excessively from the negative aspects of the reform and/or even face the dreaded IRS penalties for international tax noncompliance.

At the same time, the narrower post-OVDP offshore voluntary disclosure options and the rising intensity of IRS audits will also present additional challenges to the already difficult situation of many taxpayers who wish to voluntarily resolve their past US international tax noncompliance issues.

Sherayzen Law Office can help you meet all of your 2019 tax challenges, including annual 2018 tax compliance, 2019 offshore voluntary disclosures of foreign assets and foreign income and IRS audit defense. We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers like you, and We can help you!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

2018 FBAR Civil Penalties | FBAR Tax Lawyer & Attorney

Following the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015, the FBAR civil penalties are adjusted every year by the IRS for inflation. In this brief article, I would like to describe the new 2018 FBAR Civil Penalties that may be assessed by the IRS with respect to FBAR noncompliance.

2018 FBAR Civil Penalties: Pre-2016 FBAR Penalty System

The FBAR penalty system was already complex prior to the FBAR penalty inflation adjustment. It consisted of three different levels of penalties with various levels of mitigation. The highest level of penalties consisted of criminal penalties. The most dreadful penalty was imposed for the willful failure to file FBAR or retain records of a foreign account while also violating certain other laws – up to $500,000 or 10 years in prison or both.

The next level consisted of civil penalties imposed for a willful failure to file an FBAR – up to $100,000 or 50% of the highest balance of an account, whichever is greater, per violation per year.

The third level of penalties were imposed for the non-willful failure to file an FBAR. The penalties were up to $10,000 per violation per year. It is also important to point out that the subsequent laws and IRS guidance imposed certain limitations on the application of the non-willful FBAR penalties.

Finally, there were also penalties imposed solely on businesses for negligent failure to file an FBAR. These penalties were up to $500 per violation; if, however, there was a pattern of negligence, the negligence penalties could increase ten times up to $50,000 per violation.

2018 FBAR Civil Penalties: Penalty Adjustment System

The Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 further complicated the already complex FBAR penalty system, including for 2018 FBAR civil penalties.

As a result of the Act, with respect to post-November 2, 2015 violations, the exact amount of penalties will depend on the timing of the IRS penalty assessment, not when the FBAR violation actually occurred.

For example, in 2017, the IRS announced that if the IRS penalty assessment was made after August 1, 2016 but prior to January 16, 2017, then the maximum non-willful FBAR penalty per violation would be $12,459 and the maximum willful FBAR penalty per violation would be the greater of $124,588 or 50% of the highest balance of the account.

Similarly, if the penalty was assessed after January 15, 2017, the maximum non-willful FBAR penalty would increase to $12,663 per violation and the maximum civil willful FBAR penalty would be the greater of $126,626 or 50% of the highest balance of the account.

Now, in 2018, post-January 15, 2017 FBAR penalties are adjusted higher.

2018 FBAR Civil Penalties: 2018 Inflation Adjustment

The new 2018 FBAR civil penalties for FBAR violations have increased as a result of inflation. If a penalty was assessed after January 15, 2017, the maximum 2018 FBAR civil penalties for a non-willful violation increased from $12,663 to $12,921. Similarly, the maximum 2018 FBAR civil penalties for a willful violation assessed after January 15, 2017 increased from $126,626 to $129,210.

It should be emphasized that the IRS currently interprets the term “violation” as a failure to report an account on an FBAR. In other words, these higher 2018 FBAR civil penalties can be assessed on a per-account basis.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help with 2018 FBAR Civil Penalties

If you have not filed your FBAR and you want to do a voluntary disclosure; if you are being audited by the IRS with the possibility of the imposition of FBAR penalties; or FBAR penalties have already been assessed and you believe that they are too high, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help.

Sherayzen Law Office has helped hundreds of US taxpayers to deal with their FBAR penalties on all levels: offshore voluntary disclosure, FBAR Audit pre-assessment, post-audit FBAR penalty assessment and FBAR litigation in a federal court. We can help You!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

IRS Prioritizes Combating Offshore Tax Cheating | Offshore Tax Lawyer

On March 20, 2018, the IRS announced that offshore tax cheating – i.e. hiding money and other assets in unreported foreign accounts – remains on the IRS “Dirty Dozen” tax scams for the year 2018.

Offshore Tax Cheating: What is the “Dirty Dozen” List?

The IRS uses the “Dirty Dozen” list to describe various scams that a taxpayer may encounter and which form the focus of the IRS enforcement efforts. Some of these schemes peak during the tax filing season.

Illegal scams can lead to significant penalties and even possible criminal prosecution. The IRS Criminal Investigation Division works closely with the Department of Justice to shut down scams and prosecute the criminals behind them.

What is Offshore Tax Cheating?

In its most basic form, offshore tax cheating is a long-running scheme that uses foreign accounts to hide money in order to avoid paying US taxes. The taxpayers then use debit cards, credit cards or wire transfers to access the hidden accounts. More complex schemes include the usage of foreign corporations, foreign trusts, employee-leasing schemes, private annuities, insurance plans and other third-parties to conceal the real US owner of foreign accounts.

The most modern offshore tax cheating scheme has involved cryptocurrencies traded overseas and exchanged into a foreign currency by using an offshore account. The IRS has already begun addressing tax evasion based on virtual currencies, but we have not yet seen a fully-developed IRS enforcement in this area.

Offshore Tax Cheating is the Long-Standing Focus of the IRS

The IRS warns that taxpayers should be wary of these schemes, especially given the continuing focus on this issue by the IRS and the Justice Department.

In fact, since mid-2000s, offshore tax cheating has been one of the primary targets of the IRS. The IRS already conducted thousands of offshore-related civil audits that resulted in the payment of tens of millions of dollars in unpaid taxes. The IRS has also pursued criminal charges leading to billions of dollars in criminal fines and restitutions.

Every investigation yields important information that is used to learn about noncompliance patterns and commence other investigations. Some of these investigations may focus on bankers and financial advisors who helped set up a scheme that led to offshore tax cheating.

Offshore Voluntary Disclosure as a Way to Settle Prior Tax Noncompliance

If a taxpayer participated in scheme that the IRS may characterize as offshore tax cheating, he should consider doing a voluntary disclosure as soon as possible. It is very likely that the IRS will consider tax noncompliance associated with such a scheme as willful. Hence, the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (“OVDP”) may be the primary choice for such taxpayers.

In fact, according to the IRS, more than 56,400 disclosures were made through various versions of OVDP since 2009. The IRS collected more than $11.1 billion from the OVDP during that time period.

Additionally, more than 65,000 taxpayers who claimed that they were non-willful in their prior tax noncompliance participated in the Streamlined Compliance Procedures. As I stated above, however, a taxpayer should be very careful about participating in the Streamlined Compliance Procedures if he participated in a scheme that the IRS may classify as offshore tax cheating.

OVDP Will Close on September 28, 2018

Taxpayers who wish to participate in the OVDP should consult Sherayzen Law Office as soon possible. The IRS recently announced that the OVDP will close on September 28, 2018.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office if You Wish to do an Offshore Voluntary Disclosure That Involves a Scheme Classified as Offshore Tax Cheating

If you participated in a scheme that the IRS may classify as offshore tax cheating, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office to explore your voluntary disclosure options as soon as possible.

Sherayzen Law Office is a leading international tax law firm that specializes in offshore voluntary disclosures, including OVDP and Streamlined Compliance Procedures. We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the world to bring their US tax affairs into full compliance with US tax laws, and We Can Help You!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!