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Subsidiary vs. Branch | International Business Tax Lawyer Minneapolis

For the purposes of US international tax laws, it is very important to distinguish a subsidiary from a branch. Let’s define both terms in this short essay.

Subsidiary vs. Branch: Definition of a Branch

A branch is a direct form of doing business by a corporation in another country where the corporation retains the direct title of the assets used in the branch’s business. In other words, a branch is a direct extension of the corporation to another country.

Most importantly, there is no separate legal identity between a corporation’s branch in one country and its head office in another. It is all the same company doing business in two countries.

One of the practical advantages of a branch is that it usually requires a lot less effort to establish a branch than a subsidiary. However, it is not always the case – for example, in Kazakhstan, creation of a branch is a very formal process. Moreover, while the legal formalities may not be that complicated, the tax consequences of having a branch in another country may be far more complex.

Subsidiary vs. Branch: Definition of a Subsidiary

A subsidiary is a complete opposite of a branch. It is a separately-chartered foreign corporation owned by a US parent corporation. In other words, a subsidiary has its own legal identity separate from that of its parent US corporation. In the eyes of a local jurisdiction, the US corporation is merely a shareholder of its foreign subsidiary; the US corporation is not directly doing any business in the foreign jurisdiction.

Of course, a situation can be reversed: it can be a foreign parent corporation that organizes a US subsidiary. In this case, the foreign parent company will have its separate identity from its US subsidiary. It will be merely a shareholder of the US company in the eyes of the IRS.

As a separate legal entity, subsidiaries will usually have a host of legal and tax duties in the jurisdiction where they are organized.

Subsidiary vs. Branch: Forced Tax Similarities

Despite these legal differences, the US tax treatment of a subsidiary and a branch created some artificial similarities between these two forms of business. The reason for these similarities is the huge potential for tax deferral through subsidiaries.

The basic trend here is to minimize the advantages of a separate legal identity of a subsidiary, making it a lot more similar to a branch when it comes to tax treatment. The IRS has achieved this through the usage of a number of anti-deferral regimes, such as Subpart F rules and GILTI tax, as well as transfer pricing rules.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office to Determine Whether a Branch or a Subsidiary is Best for Your Business

Whether you are a US business entity who wishes to do business overseas or a foreign entity that wishes to do business in the United States, you can contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help. We have helped domestic and foreign businesses with their US international tax planning concerning their inbound and outbound transactions, and we can help you!

International Tax Planning Priorities for US Corporations

Sometimes, I encounter in my practice one particularly damaging belief concerning international tax planning for US corporations that engage in cross-border transactions and maintain a foreign subsidiary or a network of foreign subsidiaries. This is a belief that international tax planning for such corporations should only focus on the reduction of its US taxes above all other considerations. I reject this one-sided view and argue for balancing of international tax planning priorities for such US corporations. In this article, I will discuss the top priorities that are subject to balancing during proper international tax planning for US corporations who operate overseas.

International Tax Planning Priorities: Tax Planning Should Correspond to Dynamic Facts

Before we outline international tax planning priorities, we need to state a rule that seems very obvious but, unfortunately, is often overlooked – tax planning must correspond to the factual situation around which the planning is done. Since a factual situation of a business is prone to rapid changes, tax planning either needs to pro-actively respond to these dynamic facts or, in cases where it is not possible, adjust to these facts as soon as possible in order to avoid a negative tax impact in the future.

This means that engaging in business transactions that spread over multiple taxing jurisdictions requires continuous tax planning, continuous monitoring of the factual background in which these transactions take place and continuous assessment of tax consequences of these activities.

This rule also means that tax planning must respond to the facts generated by the required business transaction rather than create business transactions purely to save taxes. I should point out that such purely tax-motivated schemes are also unlikely to pass judicial review.

International Tax Planning Priorities: Lower US Tax Liability

There is no question that ethically lowering US tax liability based on the opportunities and incentives present in the Internal Revenue Code is one of the most important priorities of international tax planning. As I stated above, however, this is not the only priority.

International Tax Planning Priorities: Lower Foreign Tax Liability

It is not just the US tax liability of the head office that we should be concerned about. International tax planning should also seek to lower foreign tax liability of its subsidiaries. Moreover, if lowering US tax liability comes at the cost of increasing foreign tax liability or missing an opportunity to minimize it, this outcome may not be optimal for the overall corporate structure.

International Tax Planning Priorities: Maximizing Corporate Earnings

This is a key issue that many practitioners and business owners often miss in US international tax planning. Tax planning is not only about lowering taxes at any cost. If a business is continuously losing a significant amount of money (not strategically recognizing losses, but its profits are actually reduced) because of tax planning, then such tax planning may not be worth the effort.

Effective tax planning means that a tax practitioner should coordinate tax saving efforts with business priorities. Business planning will always see to utilize corporate cash and personnel in a way that maximizes profits. Moreover, business planning will also seek to creatively allocate and move excess cash flow between corporate subsidiaries (and the head office) for the same purpose.

It is precisely the latter function of business planning that requires the most attention of international tax attorneys, because it may result in significant tax costs (which may more than offset the benefit of business planning). At the same time, tax planning must be done in such a way as to minimize the damage it can do to the business’ ability to move cash across the entire corporate structure.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for International Tax Planning Help

At Sherayzen Law Office, we understand these priorities and the need to balance them before finalizing international tax planning. We can help you!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

July 15 Deferral: More Deadlines Affected | US International Tax News

On April 9, 2020, the IRS announced additional relief to taxpayers by moving the due date for more deadlines to July 15, 2020. Let’s discuss this additional July 15 Deferral in more detail.

July 15 Deferral: Background Information

On March 13, 2020, in response to the 2019 coronavirus (also called “COVID-19″) pandemic, President Trump issued an emergency declaration under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. This declaration instructed the Treasury Department to provide relief from tax deadlines to Americans who have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 emergency pursuant to 26 U.S.C. §7508A(a).

Section 7508A of the Internal Revenue Code provides the Secretary of the Treasury with authority to postpone the time for performing certain acts under the internal revenue laws for a taxpayer determined by the Secretary to be affected by a federally-declared disaster as defined in section 165(i)(5)(A). Pursuant to section 7508A(a), a period of up to one year may be disregarded in determining whether the performance of certain acts is timely under the internal revenue laws.

On March 18, 2020, the IRS issued Notice 2020-17 to postpone April 15 tax payment deadlines from April 15 to July 15, 2020. A few days later, on March 21, 2020 (the actual relief occurred even earlier on March 20, 2020), among other measures, the IRS announced a new notice 2020-18 for the extension of all April 15 deadlines to July 15, 2020. This extension applied only to the April 15 deadlines.

Later, on March 27, 2020, the IRS issued Notice 2020-20, which amplified the earlier notice 2020-18 and postponed certain federal gift tax return filings and payments to July 15, 2020.

July 15 Deferral: More Deadlines Affected

On April 9, 2020, the IRS took another decisive step forward and issued Notice 2020-23. This notice extends to July 15 all tax deadlines that fall on or after April 1, 2020 and July 14, 2020. This deferral applies to all tax filing and tax payment deadlines.

The July 15 deferral of deadlines applies to all taxpayers – individuals, trusts, estates, corporations and other non-corporate tax filers.

July 15 Deferral: Taxpayers Residing Abroad

Americans who reside abroad usually get an automatic extension to file their tax returns until June 15, but they are required to pay taxes due by April 15. Notice 2020-23 defers the tax payment and the tax filing deadlines from April 15 and June 15 respectively to July 15, 2020.

July 15 Deferral: Individual Tax Returns

Notice 2020-23 applies to the following types of individual tax returns and tax payments:

  1. Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, 1040-SR, U.S. Tax Return for Seniors;
  2. 1040-NR, U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return;
  3. 1040-NR-EZ, U.S. Income Tax Return for Certain Nonresident Aliens With No Dependents;
  4. 1040-PR, Self-Employment Tax Return – Puerto Rico; and
  5. 1040-SS, U.S. Self-Employment Tax Return (Including the Additional Child Tax Credit for Bona Fide Residents of Puerto Rico);

July 15 Deferral: Corporate Tax Returns

Notice 2020-23 applies to the following types of corporate tax returns and tax payments (irrespective of whether they are calendar-year or fiscal-year taxpayers):

  1. Form 1120, U.S. Corporation Income Tax Return;
  2. 1120-C, U.S. Income Tax Return for Cooperative Associations;
  3. 1120-F, U.S. Income Tax Return of a Foreign Corporation;
  4. 1120-FSC, U.S. Income Tax Return of a Foreign Sales Corporation;
  5. 1120-H, U.S. Income Tax Return for Homeowners Associations;
  6. 1120-L, U.S. Life Insurance Company Income Tax Return;
  7. 1120-ND, Return for Nuclear Decommissioning Funds and Certain Related Persons;
  8. 1120-PC, U.S. Property and Casualty Insurance Company Income Tax Return;
  9. 1120-POL, U.S. Income Tax Return for Certain Political Organizations;
  10. 1120-REIT, U.S. Income Tax Return for Real Estate Investment Trusts;
  11. 1120-RIC, U.S. Income Tax Return for Regulated Investment Companies;
  12. 1120-S, U.S. Income Tax Return for an S Corporation; and
  13. 1120-SF, U.S. Income Tax Return for Settlement Funds (Under Section 468B).

July 15 Deferral: Partnership Tax Returns

Notice 2020-23 applies to the following types of partnership calendar-year and fiscal-year tax returns:

  1. Form 1065, U.S. Return of Partnership Income; and
  2. Form 1066, U.S. Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduit (REMIC) Income Tax Return.

July 15 Deferral: Estate, Gift and Trust Tax Returns

Notice 2020-23 applies to the following types of estate, gift and trust tax returns (including all tax payments required to be made under these returns):

  1. Form 1041, U.S. Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts;
  2. 1041-N, U.S. Income Tax Return for Electing Alaska Native Settlement Trusts;
  3. 1041-QFT, U.S. Income Tax Return for Qualified Funeral Trusts;
  4. Form 706, United States Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return (for estate of a citizen or resident of the United States), including for filings pursuant to Revenue Procedure 2017-34;
  5. 706-NA, United States Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return (for estate of a nonresident not a citizen of the United States);
  6. 706-A, United States Additional Estate Tax Return;
  7. 706-QDT, U.S. Estate Tax Return for Qualified Domestic Trusts;
  8. 706-GS(T), Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax Return for Terminations;
  9. 706-GS(D), Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax Return for Distributions;
  10. 706-GS(D-1), Notification of Distribution from a Generation-Skipping Trust (including the due date for providing such form to a beneficiary);
  11. Form 8971, Information Regarding Beneficiaries Acquiring Property from a Decedent and any supplemental Form 8971, including all requirements contained in section 6035(a) of the Code; and
  12. Estate tax payments of principal or interest due as a result of an election made under sections 6166, 6161, or 6163 and annual recertification requirements under section 6166 of the Code.

July 15 Deferral: Tax-Exempt Tax Returns

Notice 2020-23 applies to Form 990-T, Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Return (and proxy tax under section 6033(e) of the Code).

July 15 Deferral: Excise Taxes

Notice 2020-23 applies to excise tax payments on investment income and return filings on Form 990-PF, Return of Private Foundation or Section 4947(a)(1) Trust Treated as Private Foundation as well as excise tax payments and return filings on Form 4720, Return of Certain Excise Taxes under Chapters 41 and 42 of the Internal Revenue Code.

July 15 Deferral: Quarterly Estimated Tax Payments

Notice 2020-23 applies to various types of quarterly estimated income tax payments calculated on or submitted with the following forms:

  1. 990-W, Estimated Tax on Unrelated Business Taxable Income for Tax-Exempt Organizations,
  2. 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals;
  3. 1040-ES (NR), U.S. Estimated Tax for Nonresident Alien Individuals;
  4. 1040-ES (PR), Estimated Federal Tax on Self Employment Income and on Household Employees (Residents of Puerto Rico);
  5. 1041-ES, Estimated Income Tax for Estates; and Trusts; and
  6. 1120-W, Estimated Tax for Corporations.

July 15 Deferral: Certain Other Affected Taxpayers and Elections; Tax Court Deadlines

Notice 2020-23 also applies to any person performing a time-sensitive action listed in either § 301.7508A-1(c)(1)(iv) – (vi) of the Procedure and Administration Regulations or Revenue Procedure 2018-58, 2018-50 IRB 990 (December 10, 2018), which is due to be performed on or after April 1, 2020, and before July 15, 2020 (“Specified Time-Sensitive Action”). For purposes of this notice, the term Specified Time-Sensitive Action also includes an investment at the election of a taxpayer due to be made during the 180-day period described in the IRS §1400Z-2(a)(1)(A).

Affected Taxpayers also have until July 15, 2020, to perform all Specified Time-Sensitive Actions, that are due to be performed on or after April 1, 2020, and before July 15, 2020. This relief includes the time for filing all petitions with the Tax Court, or for review of a decision rendered by the Tax Court, filing a claim for credit or refund of any tax, and bringing suit upon a claim for credit or refund of any tax. This notice does not provide relief for the time period for filing a petition with the Tax Court, or for filing a claim or bringing a suit for credit or refund if that period expired before April 1, 2020.

July 15 Deferral: Schedules, Elections and Other Forms

Notice 2020-23 applies not only to the aforementioned forms (hereinafter “Specified Forms), but also to schedules, returns, and other forms that are filed as attachments to the Specified Forms or are required to be filed by the due date of the Specified Forms. For example, this affects Schedule H and Schedule SE.

Moreover, elections that are made or required to be made on a timely filed Specified Form (or attachment to a Specified Form) shall be timely made if filed on such Specified Form or attachment, as appropriate, on or before July 15, 2020

July 15 Deferral: International Information Returns and 965 Tax Payments

Notice 2020-23 applies to all US international information returns including forms 3520, 5471, 5472, 8621 (including PFIC elections), 8858, 8865, and 8938. Furthermore, the Notice applies to installment payments under section 965(h) due on or after April 1, 2020, and before July 15, 2020.

This is highly important to Sherayzen Law Office clients’ because almost all of our clients must file these forms and many are required to make 965 installment tax payments.

July 15 Deferral: 2016 Unclaimed Refunds

For 2016 tax returns, the normal April 15 deadline to claim a refund has also been extended to July 15, 2020. The law provides a three-year window of opportunity to claim a refund. If taxpayers do not file a return within three years, the money becomes property of the U.S. Treasury. Notice 2020-23 requires taxpayers to properly address, mail and ensure the tax return is postmarked by the July 15, 2020, date.

July 15 Deferral: IRS Audits, IRS Appeals and Amended Tax Returns

Notice 2020-23 provides a 30-day postponement for “Affected Taxpayers” with respect to “Time-Sensitive IRS Actions” if the last date for performance of the action is on or after April 6, 2020, and before July 15, 2020.

Notice 2020-23 defines “Affected Taxpayers” as:

  1. Persons who are currently under examination (including an investigation to determine liability for an assessable penalty under subchapter B of Chapter 68);
  2. Persons whose cases are with the Independent Office of Appeals; and
  3. Persons who, during the period beginning on or after April 6, 2020 and ending before July 15, 2020, file written documents described in section 6501(c)(7) of the Code (amended returns) or submit payments with respect to a tax for which the time for assessment would otherwise expire during this period.

Notice 2020-23 defines “Time Sensitive IRS Action” as actions described in § 301.7508A-1(c)(2).

July 15 Deferral: Extension of time to file beyond July 15

It is still possible to request an extension of time beyond July 15, 2020 (to October 15, 2020). In order to do it, individual taxpayers must file Form 4868 and business taxpayers must file Form 7004. Both forms should be filed by July 15, 2020.

Taxpayers should keep in mind that an extension to file is not an extension to pay taxes. Taxpayers must estimated their tax liability and pay any taxes owed by July 15, 2020, even if they request an extension to file forms.

§318 Option Definition | US International Tax Lawyer & Attorney

This article continues our series of articles on the IRC (Internal Revenue Code) §318 constructive ownership rules. In this article, I would like to introduce the readers to the infamous §318 option attribution rules. Before we delve into the discussion of the constructive ownership rules for options, however, it is important to understand what “option” actually means for the purpose of §318. Hence, today, I will focus on the §318 option definition.

§318 Option Definition: Main Rule

An option is a right to obtain stock at a certain price and date. I want to emphasize that option is not an obligation, it is a right which a taxpayer may or may not ever exercise.

Such a broad §318 option definition includes a great variety of options: options to purchase stock, option to acquire unissued stocks (as long as a shareholder has the right to obtain stock at his election – see Rev. Rul. 68-601), certain warrants and debentures that may be converted into stocks (as long as there are no contingencies, other than time, that must be met before the conversions rights can be exercised – see FSA 200244003), et cetera.

§318 Option Definition: Rights Not Considered Options

Not all rights to acquire stock, however, are considered options for the purposes of §318 option definition. There is a large number of exceptions, but all of them are centered around the concept of some type of restrictions on the exercise of the option. I will list below the five most popular exceptions which are not considered options under §318(a)(4):

First, a right to acquire stock is not an option if the optionee does not have control over the exercise of the option. For example, if there are many contingencies which can prevent exercise of an option, then this is not an option of the purposes of §318(a)(4). See FSA 199915007.

Second, a corporation’s right to buy back its own stocks is not an option for the purposes of §318. Rev. Rul. 69-562.

Third, a right of first refusal is not an option for the purposes of §318. For example, if the right to purchase stock is contingent on the obligor’s decision to sell, then this is not an option under §318(a)(4). TAM 8106008. We can even broaden the rule not only to a right of first refusal, but to almost all situations where the exercise of option depends on the other party’s decision to sell.

Fourth, certain stock appreciation rights are not options if they only entitle the owner of these rights to cash benefits, but do not permit acquisition of stock. Of course, if contract entitles the owner to the right to acquire stocks, then such stock appreciation rights may actually be options §318. See PLR 9341019.

Finally, the right to acquire stocks is not an option under §318 if such transfer is restricted and requires consent. For example, the IRS held in TAM 9410003 that such an arrangement (i.e. restriction on the transfer of shares without other shareholders’ consent) combined with the right of first refusal did not constitute an option to acquire those shares.

§318 Option Definition: Exceptions to Restrictions

I would like to warn the readers, however, that not all restrictions on exercise of an option automatically exclude a right to acquire a stock from the §318 option definition. We can outline two broad exceptions to restrictions here.

First, where the control over the decision to exercise the option rests with the holder of the right to purchase a stock, such a restriction is insufficient to prevent this arrangement to be treated as an option. See Rev. Rul. 68-601.

Second, where the restriction is fixed in time. For example, under FSA 200244003, a warrant is an option if there are no contingencies or limitations on the right to exercise other than time limitation. Similarly, if the right to acquire shares can only be exercised on a fixed date, it is an option. Rev. Rul. 89-64.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With US International Tax Law Concerning Foreign Corporations

If you are an owner of a foreign corporation, you are facing a very difficult task of working through the enormous complexity of US international tax compliance requirements and trying to avoid the high IRS noncompliance penalties. In order to be successful in this matter, you need the professional help of Sherayzen Law Office.

We are an international tax law firm that specializes in US international tax compliance and offshore voluntary disclosures. We have successfully helped hundreds of US taxpayers worldwide with this issue, and we can help you!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

Indian US Dollar Remittances | International Tax Lawyer & Attorney

For some years now, India has remained at the top of all countries that receive remittances in US dollars. A lot of these funds flow from Indian-Americans and Indians who reside in the United States. The problem is that a lot of them are not in compliance with respect to their US international tax obligations that arise as a result of these Indian US dollar remittances.

Indian US Dollar Remittances: India Has Been the Top Recipient

For many years now, India has been one of the top countries in turn of US dollar remittances; lately it has occupied the number one spot. For example, in 2018, India received about $78.6 billion from overseas; China was a distant with only $67.4 billion followed by Mexico ($35.7 billion), the Philippines ($33.8 billion) and Egypt ($28.9 billion).

One of the biggest (if not the biggest) sources of these Indian US dollar remittances has been the United States. In fact, according to the World Bank, one of the reasons why Indian US dollar remittances were so high in 2018 was a better economic performance of the US economy. Hence, we can safely conclude that a large number of Indian-Americans and Indians who reside in the United States send a large portion of their US earnings back to India.

Indian US Dollar Remittances: US International Tax Compliance Issues

The biggest problem with Indian US dollar remittances is their potential for triggering various US international tax compliance requirements, because these remittances are made by US tax residents. Oftentimes, the repatriated funds are sitting in Indian bank accounts or they are invested in Indian stocks, bonds, mutual funds and structured products. Moreover, some of these funds are used to purchase real estate which is rented out to third parties. Still other funds are used to finance business ventures in India.

Such usage of repatriated funds may result in the obligation not only to report Indian income in the United States , but also to file numerous US information returns such as: Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FinCEN Form 114 better known as FBAR), Forms 8938, 8621, 5471 and others. Failure to report foreign income and file these information returns may result in the imposition of draconian IRS penalties and even a criminal prosecution.

Indian US Dollar Remittances: Unawareness Among Indians of US Tax Compliance Requirements

The high potential of Indian US dollar remittances to give rise to US tax compliance issues is combined with a widespread unawareness of these issues among Indians and Indian-Americans. Many of these taxpayers are not even aware of the fact that they are considered US tax residents. Others simply have never heard of the requirement to disclose foreign accounts and other foreign assets in the United States. Still others cling to erroneous ideas and various incorrect myths concerning US tax system.

The rise of various US tax compliance requirements as a result of remittances of funds to India and the widespread ignorance of these requirements among Indians is a bad combination, because it creates the potential for the imposition of the aforementioned draconian IRS penalties on Indians who are not even conscious of the fact that they need to report their worldwide income.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With US International Tax Compliance and Offshore Voluntary Disclosures Concerning Remittances of US Earnings to India

If you are an Indian who resides in the United States and you sent part of your US earnings to India, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help. We have successfully helped hundreds of Indians and Indian-Americans to resolve their US international tax compliance issues, including conducting offshore voluntary disclosures (such as Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures and Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures) with respect to past US tax noncompliance. We can help you!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!