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Colombian Bank Accounts | International Tax Lawyer & Attorney Miami

Even today many US owners of Colombian bank accounts remain completely unaware of the numerous US tax requirements that may apply to them. The purpose of this essay is to educate these owners about the requirement to report income generated by these accounts in the United States as well as the FBAR and FATCA obligations concerning the disclosure of ownership of Colombian bank accounts to the IRS.

Colombian Bank Accounts: Individuals Who Must Report Them

Before we discuss the aforementioned requirements in more detail, we need to determine who is required to comply with them. In other words, is every Colombian required to file FBAR in the United States? Or, does this obligation apply only to certain individuals?

The answer is very clear: only Colombians who fall within one of the categories of US tax residents must comply with these requirements. US tax residents include US citizens, US Permanent Residents, an individual who satisfies the Substantial Presence test and an individual who properly declares himself a US tax resident. There are important exceptions to this general rule, but, if you fall within any of these categories, you need to contact an international tax attorney as soon as possible to determine your US tax obligations concerning your ownership of Colombian bank accounts.

Colombian Bank Accounts: Income Reporting

All US tax residents are subject to the worldwide income reporting requirement. In other words, they must disclose on their US tax returns not only their US-source income, but also their foreign income. The latter includes all bank interest income, dividends, royalties, capital gains and any other income generated by Colombian bank accounts.

The worldwide income reporting requirement also requires the disclosure of PFIC distributions, PFIC sales, Subpart F income and GILTI income. These are complex requirements which are outside the scope of this article, but US owners of Colombian bank accounts need to be aware of the existence of these requirements.

Colombian Bank Accounts: FinCEN Form 114 (FBAR)

FinCEN Form 114, the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (commonly known as “FBAR”) mandates US tax residents to disclose their ownership interest in or signatory authority or any other authority over Colombian bank and financial accounts if the aggregate highest balance of these accounts exceeds $10,000. Every part of this sentence has a special significance and contains a trap for the unwary.

The most dangerous of these traps is the definition of an “account”. The FBAR definition of account is much broader than how this word is generally understood by taxpayers. For the purposes of FBAR compliance, this term includes checking accounts, savings accounts, fixed-deposit accounts, investments accounts, mutual funds, options/commodity futures accounts, life insurance policies with a cash surrender value, precious metals accounts, earth mineral accounts, et cetera. In fact, it is very likely that the IRS will find that an account exists whenever there is a custodial relationship between a foreign financial institution and a US person’s foreign asset.

FBAR has its own intricate penalty system which is widely known for its severity. The FBAR penalties range from incarceration to willful and even non-willful penalties which may easily exceed the value of the penalized accounts. In order to circumvent the potential 8th Amendment challenges and make the penalty imposition more flexible, the IRS has implemented a system of self-imposed limitations, but it is a completely voluntary system (i.e. the IRS can, and in fact already did several times, disregard these limitations).

Colombian Bank Accounts: FATCA Form 8938

While Form 8938 is a relative newcomer (since tax year 2011), it has occupied a special place among the US international tax requirements. In fact, one could argue that it is currently as important as FBAR for US taxpayers with Colombian bank accounts.

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”) gave birth to Form 8938, making it part of a taxpayer’s federal tax return. This means that a failure to file Form 8938 may render the entire federal tax return incomplete, and the IRS may be able to audit the return. Immediately, we can see the profound impact Form 8938 has on the Statute of Limitations for the entire tax return.

Given the fact that it is a direct descendant of FATCA, it is not surprising Form 8938’s primary focus is on foreign financial assets. Form 8938 requires a US taxpayer to disclose all Specified Foreign Financial Assets (“SFFA”) as long as he satisfies the relevant filing threshold. The filing thresholds differ depending on the filing status and the place of residence (i.e. inside or outside of the United States) of the taxpayer.

SFFA includes an enormous variety of foreign financial assets, including foreign bank and financial accounts. In fact, with respect to bank and financial accounts, Form 8938 is very similar to FBAR, which often results in double-reporting of the same assets. It is important to emphasize that Form 8938 does not replace FBAR, both forms must still be filed. In other words, US taxpayers should report their Colombian bank accounts on FBAR and disclose them again on Form 8938.

Form 8938 has its own penalty system which contains some unique elements. In addition to its own $10,000 failure-to-file penalty, Form 8938 directly affects the accuracy-related income tax penalties and the ability of a taxpayer to use foreign tax credit.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With the US Tax Reporting of Your Colombian Bank Accounts

US international tax compliance is extremely complex. It is very easy to get yourself into trouble, and much more difficult and expensive to get yourself out of this trouble. This is why, if you have Colombian bank accounts, you should contact the experienced international tax attorney and owner of Sherayzen Law Office, Mr. Eugene Sherayzen. Mr. Sherayzen has helped hundreds of US taxpayers with their US international tax issues, and He can help You!

Contact Mr. Sherayzen Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

Worldwide Income Reporting Requirement | IRS International Tax Lawyer

Worldwide income reporting is at the core of US international tax system. Yet, every year, a huge number of US taxpayers fail to comply with this requirement. While some of these failures are willful, most of this noncompliance comes from misunderstanding of the worldwide income reporting requirement. In this essay, I will introduce the readers to the worldwide income reporting requirement and explain who must comply with it.

Worldwide Income Reporting Requirement: Who is Affected

It is important to understand that the worldwide income reporting requirement applies to all US tax residents. US tax residents include US citizens, US Permanent Residents (the so-called “green card” holders), taxpayers who satisfied the Substantial Presence Test and non-resident aliens who declared themselves US tax residents on their US tax returns. This is the general definition and there are certain exceptions, including treaty-based exceptions.

Worldwide Income Reporting Requirement: What Must Be Disclosed

The worldwide income reporting requirement mandates US tax residents to disclose all of their US-source income and all of their foreign-source income on their US tax returns. This seems like a very straightforward rule, but its practical application creates many tax traps for the unwary, which I will discuss in a future article.

Worldwide Income Reporting Requirement: Constructive Income and Anti-Deferral Regimes

It is important to emphasize that the worldwide income reporting requirement requires the disclosure not only of the income that you actually received, but also the income that you are deemed to have received by the operation of law. In other words, US tax residents must also disclose their constructive income.

One of the most common sources of constructive income in US international tax law are Anti-Deferral regimes that arise from the ownership of a foreign corporation. The two most common regimes are Subpart F rules (which apply only to a Controlled Foreign Corporation) and the brand-new GILTI  regime. You can find out more about these two highly-complex US tax laws by searching the articles on our website.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With the Worldwide Income Reporting Requirement

The worldwide income reporting requirement can be extremely complex; you can easily get yourself into trouble with the IRS over this issue. In order to avoid making costly mistakes and correct prior US tax noncompliance in the most efficient manner, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office help. We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers to comply with their US international tax obligations with respect to foreign income and foreign assets, and we can help you!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

2019 Tax Filing Season Will Begin on January 28, 2019 | Tax Lawyer News

On January 7, 2019, the IRS confirmed that the 2019 tax filing season will begin on January 28, 2019. In other words, the 2019 tax filing season will begin on schedule despite the government shutdown.

2019 Tax Filing Season for 2018 Tax Returns and 2018 FBAR

During the 2019 tax filing season, US taxpayers must file their required 2018 federal income tax returns and 2018 information returns. Let me explain what I mean here.

One way to look at the US federal tax forms is to group them according to their tax collection purpose. The income tax returns are the tax forms used to calculate a taxpayer’s federal tax liability. The common example of this type of form is Form 1040 for individual taxpayers.

The information returns are a group of federal tax forms (and, separately, FBAR) which taxpayers use to disclose certain required information about their assets and activities. These forms are not immediately used to calculate a federal tax liability. A common example of this form is Form 8938. FinCEN Form 114, the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Account, commonly known as FBAR, also belongs to this category of information returns even though it is not a tax form.

There is a third group of returns that consists of hybrid forms – i.e. forms used for both, income tax calculation and information return, purposes. Form 8621 for PFICs has been a prominent example of this type of a form since tax year 2013.

2019 Tax Filing Season Deadline and Available Extensions for Individual Taxpayers

Individual US taxpayers must file their required income tax and information returns by Monday, April 15, 2019. An interesting exception exists for residents of Maine and Massachusetts. Due to the Patriots’ Day holiday on April 15 in these two states and the Emancipation Day holiday on April 16 in the District of Columbia, the residents of Maine and Massachusetts will have until April 17, 2019 to file their US tax returns.

Taxpayers who reside overseas get an automatic extension until June 17 , 2019, to file their US tax returns.  The reason why the deadline is on June 17 is because June 15 falls on a Saturday. The taxpayers still must pay their estimated tax due by April 15, 2019.

Taxpayers can also apply for an automatic extension until October 15, 2019, to file their federal tax returns. Again, these taxpayers must still pay their estimated tax due by April 15, 2019, in order to avoid additional penalties.

Finally, certain taxpayers who reside overseas may ask the IRS for additional discretionary extension to file their 2018 federal tax return by December 16 (because December 15 is a Sunday this year), 2019. These taxpayers should send their request for the discretionary extension before their automatic extension runs out on October 15, 2019.

2019 Tax Filing Season Refunds

In light of the ongoing government shutdown, one of the chief concerns for US taxpayers is whether they will be able to get their tax refunds during the 2019 Tax Filing Season. The IRS assured everyone that it has the power to issue refunds during the government shutdown.

The IRS has been consistent in its position that, under the 31 U.S.C. 1324, the US Congress provided a permanent and indefinite appropriation for refunds. In 2011, the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) disagreed with the IRS and ordered it not to pay any refunds. It appears, however, that the OMB changed its position sometime after 2011.

EU Market Entry Seminar | US International Tax Lawyer & Attorney

On February 8, 2018, Mr. Eugene Sherayzen, an international tax lawyer, co-presented with three other attorneys in a seminar titled “EU Market Entry: Business and Tax Considerations” (the “EU Market Entry” seminar). The EU Market Entry Seminar was co-sponsored by the Business Law Section and International Business Law Section of the Minnesota State Bar Association. The three other speakers were a business lawyer from Germany, a tax lawyer from Lithuania and a business lawyer from the United States.

Mr. Sherayzen began his part of the EU Market Entry Seminar with the explanation of the main purpose of tax planning. He asserted that tax planning should not be done only to reduce costs, but to maximize the real profits of a business transaction.

Then, the tax attorney proceeded with the explanation of the main international tax planning strategies with respect to outbound business transactions. In particular, he discussed in detail the following strategies: (1) overseas profit tax reduction; (2) U.S. tax deferral; and (3) Prevention of double-taxation. Each of these strategies was accompanied by three to four relevant tactics. The tax attorney focused especially on U.S. tax deferral as the “heart” of the U.S. tax planning.

The next part of the EU Market Entry Seminar was devoted to the classification of international business transactions. Mr. Sherayzen grouped different types of international business transactions into three categories: (1) Export of Goods and Services; (2) Licensing & Technology Transfers; and (3) Foreign Investment Transactions (including Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment).

The final part of the EU Market Entry Seminar consisted of applying the aforementioned tax strategies to each of the three groups of international business transactions and determining which strategies were likely to perform better than others with respect to a particular group of international business transactions. For example, Mr. Sherayzen stated that overseas profit tax reduction and prevention of double-taxation were easier to implement for international business transactions that involved export of goods or services; the U.S. tax deferral would be much more difficult to implement in this context and it would require extensive tax planning.

Mr. Sherayzen concluded the EU Market Entry Seminar with an introduction to the audience the concepts of GILTI (Global Intangible Low-Tax Income), BEPS (Base Erosion and Profit Shifting) rules, CbC (country-by-country) reporting and FDII (Foreign Derived Intangibles Income). These concepts were integrated within the discussion of the effectiveness of certain tax strategies with respect to the second and third categories of international business transactions. For example, the tax attorney discussed how the new GILTI rules affect the ability to achieve U.S. tax deferral.

SLO’s 2017 Seminar on Business Lawyers’ International Tax Mistakes

On February 23, 2017, Mr. Eugene Sherayzen, an international tax lawyer and owner of Sherayzen Law Office (“SLO”), conducted a seminar titled “Top 5 International Tax Mistakes Made by Business Lawyers”. The seminar was sponsored by the Corporate Counsel Section and International Business Law Section of the Minnesota State Bar Association.

Mr. Sherayzen commenced the seminar by asking a question about why business lawyers should be concerned with making international tax mistakes. After identifying the main answers, the tax attorney stated that he would focus on the strategic mistakes, rather than any specific U.S. international tax requirements.

Mr. Sherayzen first discussed the Business Purity Trap, a situation where business lawyers view a business transaction as something exclusively within the business law domain and with no relation whatsoever to U.S. tax law. The tax attorney stated that all business transactions have tax consequences, even if the effect is not immediate and there is no actual income tax impact.

Then, Mr. Sherayzen discussed the Tax Dabble Trap. This trap describes a situation where a business lawyer attempts to provide an advice on an international tax issue. The tax attorney explained why business lawyers often fall into this trap and the potentially disastrous consequences this trap may have for the business lawyers’ clients.

The Tax Law Uniformity Trap was the third trap discussed by the tax attorney. One of the most common international tax mistakes that business lawyers (and also many accountants) make is to believe that U.S. domestic tax law and U.S. international tax law are similar. Mr. Sherayzen also pointed out that there is a variation on this trap with respect to foreign owners of U.S. entities.

The discussion of the fourth trap, the Tax Professional Equality Trap, turned out be very fruitful. Mr. Sherayzen drew a sharp distinction between the role played by a general accountant versus the role of an international tax attorney. He also specifically focused on the potentially disastrous consequences the reliance on a domestic accountant may have in the context of offshore voluntary disclosures.

Finally, Mr. Sherayzen discussed the Foreign Exceptionalism Trap. This trap deals with a false belief that certain foreign transactions that occur completely outside of the United States have no tax consequences for the U.S. clients involved in these transactions. Mr. Sherayzen also pointed out that danger of relying solely on foreign accountants and lawyers in this context.

He concluded the seminar with a short examination of another “bonus” tax trap called the Linguistic Uniformity Trap. The description of all tax traps was accompanied by real-life examples from Mr. Sherayzen’s international tax law practice.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional U.S. International Tax Advice to Avoid Costly International Tax Mistakes

If you are a business lawyer who deals with international business transactions or transactions involving tax residents of a foreign country, please contact Sherayzen Law Office to avoid costly international tax mistakes. Our law firm has worked with many business lawyers, helping them to properly structure international business transactions in a way that avoids making international tax mistakes. Remember, it is much easier and cheaper to avoid making international tax mistakes than fixing them later.

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!