Posts

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!

FDII Export Incentive | Foreign Business Income Tax Lawyer & Attorney

The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the “2017 tax reform” or “TCJA”) enacted a highly-lucrative incentive for US corporations to export directly from the United States – the Foreign-Derived Intangible Income (“FDII”) regime. In this article, I would like to introduce the readers in a general manner to the FDII export incentive contained in the TCJA.

FDII Export Incentive: TCJA

The creation of the participation exemption system posed a problem for the drafters of the TCJA – how does one stop US corporations from running all of their foreign business through a foreign corporation since foreign corporate profits may actually be transferred to the United States tax-free? Among other provisions of this complex law, the drafters utilized two powerful incentives for US corporations to export directly overseas.

The first one was a “stick” – the Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income or GILTI. The GILTI regime established what can be best described as a global minimum tax on the earnings of foreign subsidiaries of a US business entity.

The second approach was a “carrot” – the FDII export incentive. The FDII regime creates a powerful incentive for US corporations to export goods and services from the United States by creating a deemed deduction of a large percentage of corporate export income. In other words, the effective corporate tax rate is reduced through the FDII regime because a portion of a corporation’s export income is being deducted and never subject to US taxation.

FDII Export Incentive: General Description of the Deemed Deduction

The deemed deduction applies only to a US corporation’s FDII. FDII is basically a certain portion of corporate income from foreign sources determined by a formula established by Congress.

The formula requires a multi-step process. The first steps involve the determination of the Deduction-Eligible Income (DEI), Qualified Business Asset Investment (“QBAI”), Foreign-Derived Deduction-Eligible Income (“FDDEI”). Once all of these items are calculated, then the Deemed Intangible Income (“DII”) is figured out.

FDII is calculated last. The basic formula for FDII is: DII times the ratio of FDDEI over DEI.

The last step is to calculate the tax liability which involves the reduction of FDII by 37.5%. Thus, the effective tax rate for a corporate taxpayer (assuming the current 21% corporate tax rate stays the same) with respect to its FDII is only 13.125%.

It should be mentioned that the current deemed deduction will stay at 37.5% only through December 31, 2025. For the years after December 31, 2025, the deemed deduction will go down to 21.875%. This means that the effective tax rate on FDII will be 16.406%. Unless the law changes (which is possible), non-FDII corporate income will continue to be taxed at 21%.

FDII Export Incentive: Net Impact of the Deemed Deduction

Based on even just this general analysis of FDII, we can understand why the FDII export incentive is such an important part of the US corporate tax law. First, in most cases, the FDII deduction is a disincentive to shift foreign-source income from a US corporation to a controlled foreign corporation (“CFC”). A CFC may be subject to taxation under two different anti-deferral regimes, Subpart F or GILTI tax. Subpart F income will just force the recognition of foreign income by the CFC right away without any deemed deduction (i.e. this would be the worst-case scenario).

If the Subpart F rules do not apply, then the corporation may be subject to the GILTI tax. It is true that the effective corporate tax rate for GILTI, after its current 50% deemed reduction is only 10.5%. Nevertheless, FDII”s effective tax rate of 13.125% significantly reduces the difference from that what it would have been otherwise (i.e. between 10.5% and 21%). Moreover, when one factors in the additional administrative, US tax compliance and local tax compliance expenses, this difference may become nonexistent.

Second, the FDII deemed deduction makes US corporations more competitive worldwide, because they may now realize a higher profit margin even if they lower the prices for their products and services sold overseas.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With FDII Calculations and International Business Tax Planning

If your business engages in selling products or services overseas, there are opportunities for international business tax planning from US perspective. Contact Sherayzen Law Office to take advantage of these opportunities through professional, creative and ethical tax help.

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!

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!

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!