Posts

International Personal Services Sourcing Rules | International Tax Lawyer

In a previous article, I explained that US tax law sources personal services to the place where these services are performed. What about a situation where such services are performed partially in the United States and partially outside of the United States (hereinafter, I will call such services “international personal services”)? In this article, I will address this situation and discuss the US international personal services sourcing rules.

I will specifically limit my discussion in this essay to international personal services sourcing rules concerning non-corporate independent contractors. In the future, I will discuss the income source rules for corporations and employees, including the source of income rules concerning fringe benefits and stock options.

International Personal Services Sourcing: Two Main Situations

The rules concerning the sourcing of international person services income depend on how a contracting agreement structures the payment for such services. In this context, there are two most common categories of contracts.

The first category of contracts specifically designates part of the payment to cover the services performed in the United States and part of the payment to compensate for services performed in a foreign country. In this situation, we can easily apply the general rule and source each part of the payment to the place where services are performed. In other words, the payment for US services will be US-source income and the payment for foreign services will be foreign-source income.

Unfortunately, contractors rarely structure their agreements in this way, because they often fail to retain an international tax lawyer to review their contracts for US international tax issues. Business lawyers also often make the same mistake, because they fail to see the need to involve a tax attorney.

Hence, most contracts fall within the second category of contracts, where a contract does not allocate the payment between services performed in the United States and those performed in a foreign country. The general rule is of little help for these contracts; hence, the IRS developed a supplementary legal process for income sourcing in this type of a situation.

International Personal Services Sourcing: the Two-Step Allocation Process

If the contract does not divide the payment between the countries where the services are performed, then the taxpayer will need to engage in a two-step process.

First, the taxpayer should determine if the terms of the contract allow to make an accurate allocation of payment between the United States and a foreign country. Sometimes, a contractor may perform services so specific to a country that the allocation of payment is obvious, even though the contract does not expressly allocate the payment to this country.

Second, if no such accurate allocation is possible, then the taxpayer should allocate the payment “on the basis that most correctly reflects the proper source of income on the facts and circumstances of the particular case.” Treas. Reg. §1.861-4(b)(1). This appears to be a very general rule that opens up possibilities for creative tax planning, but, once we look at the history of this rule, we will quickly realize that one method – the Time Rule (described below) – limits its flexibility.

The current flexible rule is in force only since 1976. Prior to that year, the IRS required the allocation of payment strictly based on the Time Rule. The impetus to changing to a more flexible rule was a 1973 case from the Tenth Circuit, Tipton & Kalmbach, Inc v US, 480 F2d 1118, 32 AFTR2d 73-5334 (10th Cir 1973). In that case, the IRS determined that a re-enlistment bonus was a compensation for services which the taxpayer performed on the day he re-enlisted. The paradoxical result was the fact that the location of the soldier on the day of his re-enlistment determined the sourcing of the entire re-enlistment bonus.

Hence, the IRS infused more flexibility into the Time Rule by adopting the language currently found in Treas. Reg. §1.861-4(b)(1). Nevertheless, given this history, there is no question that the Time Rule remains the most persuasive method of income allocation for non-corporate individual contractors.

It should be emphasized, however, that dominance of the Time Rule should not deter a taxpayer utilizing alternative methodology (for example, the value produced by specific services) if it is more accurate. In other words, the Time Rule is the default methodology which the IRS will use to allocate the payment between the countries, but a taxpayer may use other alternatives as long as he can persuade the IRS that his methodology represents a more accurate allocation of income.

International Personal Services Sourcing: the Time Rule

The time has come to define the Time Rule. According to Treas. Reg. §1.861-4(b)(2)(ii)(E), under the Time Rule, the amount of payment allocated to the United States “is the amount that bears the same relation to the individual’s total compensation as the number of days of performance of the labor or personal services by the individual within the United States bears to his or her total number of days of performance of labor or personal services.” Taxpayers should use fractions in determining the allocations.

Let’s use an example to demonstrate the application of the Time Rule. A US Corporation signs a contract with Mr. Hause, a tax resident of Germany, to provide professional advice concerning incorporation of German heavy machinery into a Chinese factory owned by the corporation. The total price paid is $900,000; the work is performed within 180 days. Out of these 180 days, Mr. Hause spends 60 days in the United States working on the implementation plans and 120 days in China overseeing the implementation process. Based on the Time Rule, Mr. Hause spent 1/3 of his time in the United States and 2/3 in China; hence, $300,000 will be considered US-source income and $600,000 will be sourced to China. Of course, if Mr. Hause can show that the value of his work in China was far more important to the contract than his work in the United states, he can use an alternative methodology (which may still have to survive the IRS scrutiny during an audit).

Based on this example, you can see why the IRS likes the Time Rule – it is a relatively straightforward, objective calculation that can be easily implemented in almost any case.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With International Personal Services Sourcing Rules and Other US International Tax Issues

Sherayzen Law Office can help you with all of your US international tax needs, including the international personal services sourcing rules. Our highly experienced international tax team has successfully helped US taxpayers around the globe to deal with their US international tax issues. We can help You!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

Sherayzen Law Office Ltd | US International Tax Law Firm

Sherayzen Law Office PLLC hereby gives notice that, as of January 1, 2018, its official owner is Sherayzen Law Office, Ltd (“Sherayzen Law Office Ltd”). Sherayzen Law Office Ltd will continue to utilize “Sherayzen Law Office” as its trade name. Furthermore, Sherayzen Law Office Ltd will continue to maintain the disregarded entity (for tax purposes) Sherayzen Law Office PLLC for an indefinite period of time.

This means that Sherayzen Law Office Ltd is the official name of our international tax law firm as of January 1, 2018. Sherayzen Law Office Ltd has assumed all assets, liabilities, rights and duties of Sherayzen Law Office PLLC as of January 1, 2018.

The change in the corporate structure of Sherayzen Law Office occurred for marketing purposes. “PLLC” is a highly specified form of doing business which is not recognized outside of the United States, whereas “Ltd” is a very common form of doing business worldwide.

Sherayzen Law Office Ltd is an international tax law firm owned by attorney Eugene Sherayzen, Esq., who specializes in US international tax law. In particular, Mr. Sherayzen is a leading expert in the area of offshore voluntary disclosures (IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (“OVDP”), Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures, Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures, Delinquent International Information Return Submission Procedures, Delinquent FBAR Submission Procedures, Reasonable Cause Disclosures, et cetera), FATCA compliance (including Form 8938, W8-BEN-E, et cetera), FBAR compliance, international tax compliance (including information returns for the ownership of a foreign business – Forms 5471, 8865, 8858, 926, et cetera), foreign trust US tax compliance (Forms 3520 and 3520-A), foreign inheritance reporting, foreign gift reporting, PFIC compliance (Form 8621), international tax planning and others.

Additionally, Sherayzen Law Office Ltd is helping its clients with domestic tax compliance, IRS audits, appeals to the IRS Office of Appeals and tax litigation.

Sherayzen Law Office Ltd operates worldwide. In fact, since 2005, Sherayzen Law Office has helped hundreds clients from close to 70 countries from every continent: Australia, North America (Canada, Mexico and the United States), South America (Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Colombia), including Central American countries like Barbados, Belize, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama, Africa (Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Nigeria), the Middle East region of Asia (Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Kuwait, Lebanon, United Emirates and so on), Southeast Asian countries (China, India, Thailand, et cetera), Far Eastern region of Asia (Japan) and the great majority of European countries (Western, Eastern, Northern and Southern Europe) including Great Britain and Ireland as well as Russia.

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

Happy New Year 2018 From Sherayzen Law Office

Our team at Sherayzen Law Office wishes a very Happy New Year 2018 to our clients; colleagues at other law firms; judges of state and federal courts; our website blog readers; and our followers on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media.

Year 2017 was another highly successful year at Sherayzen Law Office. Our tremendous expertise and experience in US international tax law draws an ever-increasing number of clients from all over the world. We have expanded our client base at existing countries and added clients from new countries, bringing the total number of countries with our client assets to close to seventy. Additionally, we were asked to defend a case in federal court concerning FBAR penalties, successfully advised on expatriation cases and finalized a number of existing and new tax planning cases.

Our biggest success area, however, remains Offshore Voluntary Disclosures with the new highs for Form 3520, 5471 and 926 voluntary disclosures as well as FBAR/FATCA voluntary disclosures. FATCA-based cases were especially prolific with a significant variation in fact patterns and countries.

Furthermore, we have made an unprecedented effort to educate our clients as well as the general public about US international tax law. A combined record number of video posts and website blog posts were made available online. Additionally, Mr. Eugene Sherayzen, the owner and the principal attorney of Sherayzen Law Office, spoke at a large number of seminars in 2017, including outside of the United States.

In many ways, year 2017 was also a preparatory year for the new year 2018. We are closely following the rapid changes in US international tax law. The main changes are coming, of course, from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The changes are enormous and will affect virtually every US taxpayer – both, individuals and businesses. We already started a series of articles on this topic. Please, continue to follow our blog in the new year 2018 to learn more about how the Act’s provisions may affect your tax situation.

It is also important to emphasize that, while the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 will introduce the main changes in the new year 2018, some of its provisions are very relevant for the tax year 2017. In particular, the new income recognition rules for US Shareholders of foreign corporations (PFIC corporations are exempted from this provision) may impose a significant and unexpected tax burden on US taxpayers. Please, continue to follow our blog in the new year 2018 to learn more about these changes.

Equally important are the new IRS regulations that will be coming in the new year 2018. The IRS has announced that it intends to issue regulations that will target certain obscure areas of tax law which remain unregulated by the IRS or where the regulations are contradictory. In this context, it is particularly important to mention the interaction of PFIC rules with the Throwback Rule concerning distributions of a foreign trust’s UNI.

Finally, the IRS has also stated that it would announce sometime in the new year 2018 dramatic changes to Offshore Voluntary Disclosure options that exist right now. We have written a number articles on this topic and we have warned our readers that the current favorable environment may change dramatically with a potentially complete closure of the IRS OVDP program.

Sherayzen Law Office is a highly experienced law firm with a unique expertise in US international tax law. We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the world to bring and maintain their US tax affairs in full compliance with US tax laws while ethically and effectively reducing their penalties and tax burden. We can help You!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!