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July 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns | International Tax Lawyer & Attorney

On July 2, 2018, the IRS announced the creation of another five compliance campaigns. Let’s discuss these July 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns in more detail.

July 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Background Information

The IRS compliance campaigns is the end result of a long period of planning by the IRS Large Business and International division (“LB&I”). The idea behind the IRS compliance campaigns is to concentrate the LB&I resources in a way that deals with the potential noncompliance area in the most efficient way. The first campaigns were announced by the IRS on January 31, 2017. Then, the IRS rapidly added new campaigns in November of 2017, March of 2018 and May of 2018. As of July 1, 2018, there were 35 campaigns outstanding.

Five New July 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns

Here are the new July 2018 IRS Compliance campaigns that should be added to the already existing thirty-five campaigns: Restoration of Sequestered AMT Credit Carryforward, S Corporation Distributions, Virtual Currency, Repatriation via Foreign Triangular Reorganizations and Section 965 Transition Tax.

Each of these campaigns was identified by the IRS through LB&I data analysis and suggestions from IRS employees.

July 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Restoration of Sequestered AMT Credit Carryforward

This campaign deals with the complex issues concerning sequestered Alternative Minimum Tax (“AMT”) credit. Refunds issued or applied to a subsequent year’s tax, pursuant to IRC Section 168(k)(4), are subject to sequestration and are a permanent loss of refundable credits. Taxpayers may not restore the sequestered amounts to their AMT credit carryforward, but some are doing so in any case.

Given the complexity of the issues involved, the IRS decided to make soft letters as the primary treatment stream for this campaign. Soft letters will be mailed to taxpayers who are identified as making improper restorations of sequestered amounts. The IRS will then monitor these taxpayers to make sure that they correct the problem and stay in compliance. The idea is to educate taxpayers on the proper treatment of sequestered AMT credits so that they self-correct all problems.

July 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: S Corporation Distributions

This is a very important campaign that will affect a very large number of small business owners. It will focus on three major problem areas. The first issue is failure to report gain upon the distribution of appreciated property to a shareholder. The second issue is the proper classification of a corporate distribution (of cash and property) as a taxable dividend. Finally, the third issue concerns non-dividend distributions to shareholders in excess of their stock basis; such distributions are taxable. The IRS adopted a more severe approach to this campaign. The treatment streams for this campaign include issue-based examinations, tax form change suggestions and stakeholder outreach.

July 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Virtual Currency

This campaign is the IRS attempt to catch up with modern technology and properly tax transactions that involve virtual currencies. IRS Notice 2014-21 classifies virtual currency as “property” for federal tax purposes. Hence, any sales or exchanges that involve virtual currencies will be taxable in the United States.

The fact that these transactions take place outside of the United States would not affect the taxability of foreign currencies as long as a US tax resident is involved in these transactions. As Sherayzen Law Office has pointed out numerous times in the past, US tax residents are subject to taxation on their worldwide income. This rule includes virtual currencies.

This campaign involves highly complex issues and requires flexible approach to compliance enforcement. This is why the IRS will address noncompliance related to the use of virtual currency through multiple treatment streams including outreach and examinations.

The IRS has expressly stated that its compliance enforcement activities will follow the general tax principles applicable to all transactions in property as outlined in Notice 2014-21. The IRS will also continue to consider and solicit taxpayer and practitioner feedback in education efforts, future guidance and development of Practice Units.

Interestingly enough, the IRS stated that it will not create a voluntary disclosure program specifically to address tax non-compliance involving virtual currency. Instead, the IRS urges taxpayers with unreported virtual currency transactions to self-correct their returns as soon as practical.

July 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Repatriation via Foreign Triangular Reorganizations

This campaign focuses on enforcement of Notice 2016-73 (“the Notice”) which the IRS issued in December of 2016. The Notice curtails the claimed “tax-free” repatriation of basis and untaxed CFC earnings following the use of certain foreign triangular reorganization transactions. The goal of the campaign is to identify and challenge these transactions by educating and assisting examination teams in audits of these repatriations.

July 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Section 965 Transition Tax

This is a highly important campaign that focuses on the issue that will continue to plague US taxpayers for a long time – 965 transition tax. IRC Section 965 requires US shareholders (a term of art) to pay a transition tax on the untaxed foreign earnings of certain specified foreign corporations as if those earnings had been repatriated to the United States. Taxpayers may elect to pay the transition tax as a lump-sum payment or in installments over an eight-year period. This means that some (and probably most) of these US shareholders should have paid some or all of the tax on their 2017 income tax return.

The LB&I already engaged in an outreach campaign in 2018 to reach trade groups, advisors and other outside stakeholders to raise awareness of filing and payment obligations concerning the 965 transition tax. The IRS even circulated an external communication on this subject through stakeholder channels in April of 2018.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Tax Help

If you have been contacted by the IRS as part of any of its campaigns, you should 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!

South African Bank Accounts | International Tax Lawyer & Attorney Los Angeles California

Due to various waves of emigration from South Africa since early 1990s, there is a significant number of South Africans who live in the United States. Many of these new US taxpayers continue to maintain their South African bank accounts even to this very day. These taxpayers need to be aware of the potential US tax compliance requirements which may apply to these South African bank accounts. This is exactly the purpose of this article – I intend to discuss the three most common US tax reporting requirements which may apply to South African bank accounts held by US persons. These requirements are: worldwide income reporting, FBAR and Form 8938.

South African Bank Accounts: US Tax Residents, US Persons and Specified Persons

Prior to our discussion of these reporting requirements, we need to identify the persons who must comply with them. It turns out that this task is not that easy, because different reporting requirements have a different definition of “filer”.

The most common and basic definition is the one that applies to the worldwide income reporting requirement – US tax residency. A US tax resident is a broad term that covers: US citizens, US permanent residents, persons who satisfy the Substantial Presence Test and individuals who declare themselves as US tax residents. This general definition of US tax residents is subject to a number of important exceptions, such as visa exemptions (for example, an F-1 visa five-year exemption for foreign students) from the Substantial Presence Test.

FBAR defines its filers as “US Persons” and Form 8938 filers are “Specified Persons”. These concepts are fairly similar to US tax residency, but there are important differences. Both terms apply to US citizens, US permanent residents and persons who satisfy the Substantial Presence Test. The differences arise mostly with respect to persons who declare themselves as US tax residents. A common example are the treaty “tie-breaker” provisions, which foreign persons use to escape the Substantial Presence Test for US tax residency purposes.

Determination of your US tax reporting requirements is the primary task of your international tax lawyer. I strongly recommend that you do not even attempt to do this yourself or use an accountant for this purpose. It is simply too dangerous.

South African Bank Accounts: Worldwide Income Reporting

All US tax residents must report their worldwide income on their US tax returns. This means that US tax residents must disclose to the IRS on their US tax returns both US-source and foreign-source income. In the context of the South African bank accounts, foreign-source income means all bank interest income, dividends, royalties, capital gains and any other income generated by these accounts.

South African Bank Accounts: FBAR Reporting

FinCEN Form 114, the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (“FBAR”), requires all US Persons to disclose their ownership interest in or signatory authority or any other authority over South African (and any other foreign country) bank and financial accounts if the aggregate highest balance of these accounts exceeds $10,000. I encourage you to read this article (click on the link) concerning the definition of a “US Person”. You can also search our firm’s website, sherayzenlaw.com, for the explanation of other parts of the required FBAR disclosure.

The definition of “account”, however, deserves special attention here. The FBAR definition of an account is substantially broader than what this word generally means in our society. “Account” for FBAR purposes 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, whenever there is a custodial relationship between a foreign financial institution and a US person’s foreign asset, there is a very high probability that the IRS will find that an account exists for FBAR purposes.

Finally, FBAR has a very complex and severe penalty system. The most feared penalties are criminal FBAR penalties with up to 10 years in jail (of course, these penalties come into effect in extreme situations). On the civil side, the most dreaded penalties are FBAR willful civil penalties which can easily exceed a person’s net worth. Even FBAR non-willful penalties can wreak a havoc in a person’s financial life.

Civil FBAR penalties have their own complex web of penalty mitigation layers, which depend on the facts and circumstances of one’s case. One of the most important factors is the size of the South African bank accounts subject to FBAR penalties. Additionally, since 2015, the IRS has added another layer of limitations on the FBAR penalty imposition. These self-imposed limitations of course help, but one must keep in mind that they are voluntary IRS actions and may be disregarded under certain circumstances (in fact, there are already a few instances where this has occurred).

South African Bank Accounts: FATCA Form 8938

Form 8938 is filed with a federal tax return and forms part of the tax return. This means that a failure to file Form 8938 may render the entire tax return incomplete and potentially subject to an IRS audit.

Form 8938 requires “Specified Persons” to disclose on their US tax returns all of their Specified Foreign Financial Assets (“SFFA”) as long as these Persons meet the applicable filing threshold. The filing threshold depends on a Specified Person’s tax return filing status and his physical residency. For example, if he is single and resides in the United States, he needs to file Form 8938 as long as the aggregate value of his SFFA is more than $50,000 at the end of the year or more than $75,000 at any point during the year.

The IRS defines SFFA very broadly to include an enormous variety of financial instruments, including foreign bank accounts, foreign business ownership, foreign trust beneficiary interests, bond certificates, various types of swaps, et cetera. In some ways, FBAR and Form 8938 require the reporting of the same assets, but these two forms are completely independent from each other. This means that a taxpayer may have to do duplicate reporting on FBAR and Form 8938.

Specified Persons consist of two categories of filers: Specified Individuals and Specified Domestic Entities. You can find a detailed explanation of both categories by searching our website sherayzenlaw.com.

Finally, Form 8938 has its own penalty system which has far-reaching income tax consequences (including disallowance of foreign tax credit and imposition of 40% accuracy-related income tax penalties). There is also a $10,000 failure-to-file penalty.

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

If you have South African bank accounts, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help with your US international tax compliance. We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers with their US international tax issues, and We can help You!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!