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May 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns | International Tax Lawyer & Attorney

On May 21, 2018, the IRS announced the creation of another six compliance campaigns. Let’s explore these May 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns in more detail.

May 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Background Information

After a long period of planning, the IRS Large Business and International division (“LB&I”) finalized its new restructuring plan in 2017. Under the new plan, LB&I decided to switch to issue-based examinations and IRS campaigns.

The idea behind the IRS compliance campaigns is to concentrate the LB&I limited resources where they are most needed – i.e. where there is the highest risk of noncompliance. The first campaigns were announced by the IRS on January 31, 2017. Then, the IRS introduced additional campaigns in November of 2017 and March of 2018. As of March 13, 2018, there were a total of twenty-nine campaigns outstanding.

Six New May 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns

On May 21, 2018, the LB&I introduced the following new campaigns: Interest Capitalization for Self-Constructed Assets; Forms 3520/3520-A Non-Compliance and Campus Assessed Penalties; Forms 1042/1042-S Compliance; Nonresident Alien Tax Treaty Exemptions; Nonresident Alien Schedule A and Other Deductions; and NRA Tax Credits. Each of these campaigns was selected by the IRS through the analysis of the LB&I data as well as from suggestions made by IRS employees.

It is also important to point out that each of these campaigns as well as the twenty-nine previous campaigns were reviewed by the IRS in light of the 2017 Tax Reform (which was enacted on December 22, 2017).

May 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Interest Capitalization for Self-Constructed Assets

The first campaign focused on the Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) Section 263A. Under this provision if a taxpayer engaged in certain production activities with respect to “designated property”, he is required to capitalize the interest that he incurs or pays during the production period with respect to this property.

IRC Section 263A(f) defined “designated property” as: (a) any real property, or (b) tangible personal property that has: (i) a long useful life (depreciable class life of 20 years or more), or (ii) an estimated production period exceeding two years, or (iii) an estimated production period exceeding one year and an estimated cost exceeding $1,000,000.

The IRS created this campaign with the goal of ensuring taxpayer compliance by verifying that interest is properly capitalized for designated property and the computation to capitalize that interest is accurate. Construction companies are likely to be the most immediate target of this campaign. Given the fact that Section 263A is not well-known, the IRS adopted varous treatment streams for this campaign, including issue-based examinations, education soft letters, and educating taxpayers and practitioners to encourage voluntary compliance.

May 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Form 3520/3520-A Non-Compliance and Campus Assessed Penalties

This campaign reflects the increasing attention of the IRS to foreign trusts. This is a highly complex area of law. In order to deal with this complexity, the IRS stated that it will adopt a multifaceted approach to improving Form 3520 and Form 3520-A compliance. The treatment streams will include (but not limited to) examinations and penalties assessed by the campus when the forms are received late or are incomplete. The IRS will also use Letter 6076 to inform the trusts about their potential Form 3520-A obligations.

May 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Form 1042/1042-S Compliance

Taxpayers who make payments of certain US-source income to foreign persons must comply with the related withholding, deposit and reporting requirements. This campaign targets Withholding Agents who make such payments but do not meet all of their compliance duties. The IRS will address noncompliance and errors through a variety of treatment streams, including examination.

May 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Nonresident Alien Tax Treaty Exemptions

This campaign is intended to increase compliance in nonresident alien (NRA) individual tax treaty exemption claims related to both effectively connected income and Fixed, Determinable, Annual Periodical (“FDAP”) income. Some NRA taxpayers may either misunderstand or misinterpret applicable treaty articles, provide incorrect or incomplete forms to the withholding agents or rely on incorrect information returns provided by US payors to improperly claim treaty benefits and exempt US-source income from taxation. This campaign will address noncompliance through a variety of treatment streams including outreach/education and traditional examinations.

May 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Nonresident Alien Schedule A and Other Deductions

This is another campaign that targets NRAs. In this case, the IRS focuses on the Form 1040NR Schedule A itemized deductions. NRA taxpayers may either misunderstand or misinterpret the rules for allowable deductions under the previous and new IRC provisions, do not meet all the qualifications for claiming the deduction and/or do not maintain proper records to substantiate the expenses claimed. The campaign will address noncompliance through a variety of treatment streams including outreach/education and traditional examinations.

May 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: NRA Tax Credits

This is yet another (third) campaign that targets NRAs; this time it concerns tax credits claimed by the NRAs. The IRS here targets NRAs who erroneously claim a dependent tax credit and who either have no qualifying earned income, do not provide substantiation/proper documentation, or do not have qualifying dependents. Furthermore, the IRS also wants to target NRAs who claim education credits (which are only available to U.S. persons) by improperly filing Form 1040 tax returns. This campaign will address noncompliance through a variety of treatment streams including outreach/education and traditional examinations.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Tax Help

If you have been contacted by the IRS as part of any of its campaigns, please contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help. We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the world with their US tax compliance issues, and we can help you!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

Noncompetition Agreement Income Sourcing | International Tax Lawyer

Oftentimes, as part of their noncompetition agreement, a taxpayer may receive income for restraining from competing with another party in certain areas. An issue often arises with respect to international noncompetition agreement income sourcing rules – i.e. should the income paid as part of such a noncompetition agreement be considered US-source income or foreign-source income? Let’s explore the answer to this question in this essay.

Noncompetition Agreement Income Sourcing: General Rule

The general rule with respect to income sourcing for noncompetition agreements was settled in the distant year 1943. In that year, the Tax Court held that the source of income from a noncompetition agreement is the location of the forbearance. Korfund Co., Inc. v. Commissioner, 1 T.C. 1180, 1187 (1943). In other words, income received from an agreement not to compete is deemed to be income earned in a place where the agreement prohibits the taxpayer from competing.

The reasoning of the Tax Court is clearly laid out in its opinion. The Court stated that the rights that a party enjoys from the noncompetition agreement “were interests in property in [the] country [of forbearance]. … The situs of the right was in the United States, not elsewhere, and the income that flowed from the privileges was necessarily earned and produced here. … These rights were property of value and the income in question was derived from the use thereof in the [country of forbearance].” Id.

In 1996, in its Field Service Advice, the IRS restated its commitment to the position adopted by the Tax Court in Korfund: “income from covenants not to compete covering areas outside of the United States is foreign source income because the income from a covenant covering areas outside the United States is from the use of a property right outside the United States.” 1996 FSA LEXIS 191, *5 (I.R.S. August 30, 1996).

Noncompetition Agreement Income Sourcing: Apportionment

What if a noncompetition agreement covers both, part of the United States and a foreign country? In this case, the IRS is likely to take a position that an apportionment of some sort is necessary. In other words, only part of the income will be deemed as US-source income, while the rest will be considered foreign-source income.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With Noncompetition Agreement Income Sourcing

If you are dealing with an international noncompetition agreement, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help with US international tax compliance. Our firm has helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the world with their US international tax issues. We Can Help You!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

Main Worldwide Income Reporting Myths | International Tax Attorney St Paul

In a previous article, I discussed the worldwide income reporting requirement and I mentioned that I would discuss the traps or false myths associated with this requirement in a future article. In this essay, I will keep my promise and discuss the main worldwide income reporting myths.

Worldwide Income Reporting Myths: the Source of Myths

I would like to begin by reminding the readers about what the worldwide income reporting rule requires. The worldwide income reporting requirement states that all US tax residents are obligated to disclose all of their US-source income and foreign-source income on their US tax returns.

This rule seems clear and straightforward. Unfortunately, it does not coincide with the income reporting requirements of many foreign tax systems. It is precisely this tension between the US tax system and tax systems of other countries that gives rise to numerous false myths which eventually lead to the US income tax noncompliance. Let’s go over the four most common myths.

Worldwide Income Reporting Myths: Local Taxation

Many US taxpayers incorrectly believe that their foreign-source income does not need to be disclosed in the United States because it is taxed in the local jurisdiction. The logic behind this myth is simple – otherwise, the income would be subject to double taxation. There is a variation on this myth which relies on various tax treaties between the United States and foreign countries on the prevention of double-taxation.

The “local taxation” myth is completely false. US tax law requires US tax residents to disclose their foreign-source income even if it is subject to foreign taxation or foreign tax withholding. These taxpayers forget that they may be able to use the foreign tax credit to remedy the effect of the double-taxation.

Where the foreign tax credit is unavailable or subject to certain limitations, the danger of double taxation indeed exists. This is why you need to consult an international tax attorney to properly structure your transactions in order to avoid the effect of double-taxation. In any case, the danger of double taxation does not alter the worldwide income reporting requirement – you still need to disclose your foreign-source income even if it is taxed locally.

The tax-treaty variation on the local taxation myth is generally false, but not always. There are indeed tax treaties that exempt certain types of income from US taxation; the US-France tax treaty is especially unusual in this aspect. These exceptions are highly limited and usually apply only to certain foreign pensions.

Generally, however, tax treaties would not prevent foreign income from being reportable in the United States. In other words, one should not turn an exception into a general rule; the existence of a tax treaty would not generally modify the worldwide income reporting requirement.

Worldwide Income Reporting Myths: Territorial Taxation

Millions of US taxpayers were born overseas and their understanding of taxation was often formed through their exposure to much more territorial systems of taxation that exist in many foreign countries. These taxpayers often believe that they should report their income only in the jurisdictions where the income was earned or generated. In other words, the followers of this myth assert that US-source income should be disclosed on US tax returns and foreign-source income on foreign tax returns.

This myth is false. US tax system is unique in many aspects; its invasive worldwide reach stands in sharp contrast to the territorial or mixed-territorial models of taxation that exist in other countries. Hence, you cannot apply your prior experiences with a foreign system of taxation to the US tax system. With respect to individuals, US tax laws continue to mandate worldwide income reporting irrespective of how other countries organize their tax systems.

Worldwide Income Reporting Myths: De Minimis Exception

The third myth has an unclear origin; most likely, it comes from human nature that tends to disregard insignificant amounts. The followers of this myth believe that small amounts of foreign source income do not need to be disclosed in the United States, because there is a de minimis exception to the worldwide income reporting requirement.

This is incorrect: there is no such de minimis exception. You must disclose your foreign income on your US tax return no matter how small it is.

This myth has a special significance in the context of offshore voluntary disclosures. The Delinquent FBAR Submission Procedures can only be used if there is no income noncompliance. Oftentimes, taxpayers cannot benefit from this voluntary disclosure option, because they failed to disclose an interest income of merely ten or twenty dollars.

Worldwide Income Reporting Myths: Foreign Earned Income Exclusion

Finally, the fourth myth comes from the misunderstanding of the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (the “FEIE”). The FEIE allows certain taxpayers who reside overseas to exclude a certain amount of earned income on their US tax returns from taxation as long as these taxpayers meet either the physical presence test or the bona fide residency test.

Some US taxpayers misunderstand the rules of the FEIE and believe that they are allowed to exclude all of their foreign income as long as they reside overseas. A variation on this myth ignores even the residency aspect; the taxpayers who fall into this trap believe that the FEIE excludes all foreign income from reporting.

This myth and its variation are wrong in three aspects. First of all, even in the case of FEIE, all of the foreign earned income must first be disclosed on a tax return and then, and only then, would the taxpayer be able to take the exclusion on the tax return. Second, the FEIE applies only to earned income (i.e. salaries or self-employment income), not passive income (such as bank interest, dividends, royalties and capital gains). Finally, as I already stated, in order to be eligible for the FEIE, a taxpayer must satisfy one of the two tests: the physical presence test or the bona fide residency test.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With Your Worldwide Income Reporting

Worldwide income reporting can be an incredibly complex requirement despite its appearance of simplicity. In this essay, I pointed out just four most common traps for US taxpayers; there are many more.

Hence, if you have foreign income, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help. Our highly-experienced tax team, headed by a known international tax lawyer, Mr. Eugene Sherayzen, has helped hundreds of US taxpayers to bring themselves into full compliance with US tax laws. We can help You!

Contact Us 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.