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Foreign Income Reporting Without Forms W-2 or 1099 | Tax Lawyer

There is a surprisingly large number of US taxpayers who believe that reporting foreign income that was not disclosed on a Form W-2 or 1099 is unnecessary. Even if they honestly believe it to be true, this erroneous belief exposes these taxpayers to an elevated risk of imposition of high IRS penalties. In this article, I will discuss the US tax rules concerning foreign income reporting which was never disclosed on a Form W-2 or 1099 and how the IRS targets tax noncompliance in this area.

Foreign Income Reporting: Worldwide Income Reporting Requirement

If you are a US tax resident, you are subject to the worldwide income reporting requirement. In other words, you are required to disclose your US-source income and your foreign-source income on your US tax return.

This requirement applies to you irrespective of whether this income was ever disclosed to the IRS on a Form W-2 or Form 1099. It is important to understand that Forms W-2 and 1099 are only third-party reporting requirements. They do not impact your foreign income reporting on your US tax return in any way, because such a disclosure is your personal obligation as a US tax resident.

This means that, if your foreign employer pays you a salary for the work performed in a foreign country, you must disclose it on your US tax return. Similarly, if you are a contractor who receives payments for services performed overseas, you are obligated to disclose these payments on your US tax return. The fact that neither your foreign employer nor your clients ever filed any information returns, such as Forms W-2 or 1099, with the IRS is irrelevant to your foreign income reporting obligations in the United States.

Foreign Income Reporting: Many US Taxpayers Are Noncompliant

Unfortunately, many US taxpayers are not complying with their foreign income reporting obligations. Some of them are doing it willfully, taking advantage of the absence of third-party IRS reporting (such as Forms W-2 and 1099). Others have fallen victims to numerous online false claims of exceptions to the worldwide income reporting.

Foreign Income Reporting: Noncompliant Taxpayers at Elevated Risk of IRS Penalties

The noncompliance in this area is so great that it drew the attention of the IRS. In July of 2019, the IRS announced a specific compliance campaign that targets high-income US citizens and resident aliens who receive compensation from overseas that is not reported on a Form W-2 or Form 1099.

The IRS has adopted a tough approach to noncompliance with the worldwide income reporting requirement – IRS audits only. The IRS did not mention any other, more lenient treatment streams for this campaign.

This means that we will see an increase in the number of IRS audits devoted mainly to discovering unreported foreign income and punishing noncompliant US taxpayers. Of course, these audits may further expand depending on other facts that the IRS discovers during these audits. For example, if foreign income comes from a foreign corporation owned by the taxpayer, the IRS may also impose Form 5471 penalties. If this corporation owns undisclosed foreign accounts, then the taxpayer may also face draconian FBAR civil as well as criminal penalties.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With Your Foreign Income Reporting Obligations and Your Voluntary Disclosure of Unreported Foreign Income

If you are a US taxpayer who earns income overseas, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help with your US tax compliance. Furthermore, if you have not reported your overseas income for prior years, you should explore your voluntary disclosure options as soon as possible in order to reduce your IRS civil penalties and avoid potential IRS criminal prosecution. We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers like you to resolve their US tax noncompliance issues, including those concerning foreign income reporting, and We Can Help You!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

July 2019 IRS Compliance Campaigns | International Tax Lawyer & Attorney

On July 19, 2019, the IRS Large Business and International division (LB&I) announced the approval of another six compliance campaigns. Let’s discuss in more detail these July 2019 IRS compliance campaigns.

July 2019 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Background Information

In the mid-2010s, after extensive tax planning, the IRS decided to restructure LB&I in a way that would focus the division on issue-based examinations and compliance campaign processes. The idea was to let LB&I itself decide which compliance issues presented the most risk and required a response in the form of one or multiple treatment streams to achieve compliance objectives. The IRS came to the conclusion that this was the most efficient approach that assured the best use of IRS knowledge and appropriately deployed the right resources to address specific noncompliance issues.

The first thirteen campaigns were announced by LB&I on January 13, 2017. Then, the IRS added eleven campaigns on November 3, 2017, five campaigns on March 13, 2018, six campaigns on May 21, 2018, five campaigns on July 2, 2018, five campaigns on September 10, 2018, five campaigns on October 30, 2018 and three campaigns on April 16, 2019. With the additional six July 2019 IRS compliance campaigns, the IRS has created a total of fifty-nine total IRS compliance campaigns.

Six New July 2019 IRS Compliance Campaigns

The six new campaigns are: S-Corporations Built-in Gains Tax, Post-OVDP Compliance, Expatriation, High Income Non-Filers, US Territories – Erroneous Refundable Credits and Section 457A Deferred Compensation Attributable to Services Performed before January 1, 2009. As you can see, the new campaigns continue to maintain the IRS focus on US international tax compliance. Let’s discuss each campaign in more detail.

July 2019 IRS Compliance Campaigns: S-Corporations Built-in Gains Tax

This campaign actually focuses on a C-corporation that converted to S-corporation. The main issue here is the Built-in Gains (“BIG”) tax. If a C-corporation has a net unrealized built-in gain, converts to S-corporation and sells assets within five years after the conversion, then it will likely be subject to the BIG tax. The BIG tax is assessed to the S-corporation (this is why the campaign is named in this manner).

LB&I has found that S corporations are not always paying this tax when they sell the C-corporation’s assets after the conversion. LB&I has developed comprehensive technical content for this campaign that will aid revenue agents as they examine the issue. The goal of this campaign is to increase awareness and compliance with the law as supported by several court decisions. Treatment streams for this campaign will be issue-based examinations, soft letters, and outreach to practitioners.

July 2019 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Post-OVDP Compliance

This is an IRS campaign of an especially high interest for international tax lawyers, because it targets specifically taxpayers who went through the IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (“OVDP”). The IRS noticed that some taxpayers again became noncompliant after they went through the OVDP.

The campaign will specifically target post-OVDP taxpayers who failed to remain compliant with their foreign income and asset reporting requirements. The IRS will address tax noncompliance through soft letters and examinations.

July 2019 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Expatriation

This is another IRS campaign of high interest to international tax attorneys. US citizens and long-term residents (defined as lawful permanent residents in eight out of the last fifteen taxable years) who expatriated on or after June 17, 2008, may not have met their filing requirements or tax obligations. The Internal Revenue Service will address noncompliance through a variety of treatment streams, including outreach, soft letters, and examination.

July 2019 IRS Compliance Campaigns: High Income Non-Filers

This campaign again focuses on US international tax law. In particular, the campaign targets high-income US citizens and resident aliens who receive compensation from overseas that is not reported on a Form W-2 or Form 1099. IRS audits are going to be the main treatment stream for this campaign.

July 2019 IRS Compliance Campaigns: US Territories – Erroneous Refundable Credits

Some bona fide residents of US territories are erroneously claiming refundable tax credits on Form 1040. This campaign will address noncompliance through a variety of treatment streams including outreach and traditional examinations.

July 2019 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Section 457A Deferred Compensation Attributable to Services Performed before January 1, 2009

This campaign addresses compensation deferred from nonqualified entities attributable to services performed before January 1, 2009. In general, IRC Section 457A requires that any compensation deferred under a nonqualified deferred compensation plan shall be includible in gross income when there is no substantial risk of forfeiture of the rights to such compensation. The campaign objective is to verify taxpayer compliance with the requirements of IRC Section 457A through issue-based examinations.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Tax Help

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

2019 Zurich Trip Completed | Zurich US International Tax Lawyer & Attorney

In July of 2019, Mr. Eugene Sherayzen, an international tax attorney and owner of Sherayzen Law Office, Ltd., completed his business trip to Zurich, Switzerland. Let’s discuss in more detail this 2019 Zurich Trip, its goals and accomplishments.

2019 Zurich Trip: Goals

Mr. Sherayzen outlined the firm’s goals for the Zurich trip during the Sherayzen Law Office Board of Director’s meeting on March 19, 2019. At the beginning of the meeting, he outlined two long-term goals for Sherayzen Law Office: (1) deepen the firm’s ties to the global banking and investment community, and (2) promote Sherayzen Law Office’s international tax services in Europe.

Mr. Sherayzen stated that the particular goals for the 2019 Zurich trip were as follows: (1) gather the necessary intelligence to achieve the long-term goals; (2) resolve certain issues for the firm’s current clients with Swiss bank accounts; and (3) make promotional videos of the firm’s services.

2019 Zurich Trip: Achievements

The 2019 Zurich trip achieved all of the goals that were outlined above. During the trip, Mr. Sherayzen gathered a large amount of data that will need to be analyzed in the future for the purpose of improving the firm’s marketing strategies.

Second, while in Zurich, Mr. Sherayzen successfully resolved all of the pending issues for the firm’s clients.

Finally, a number of videos were made for the purpose of promoting the vast experience and deep expertise that Sherayzen Law Office has accumulated in US international tax law. Sherayzen Law Office is a leader in US international tax compliance, including offshore voluntary disclosures.

2019 Zurich Trip and Future Plans

Sherayzen Law Office intends to capitalize in the near future on the achievements made by Mr. Sherayzen during this trip. We encourage our clients and followers on social media to stay tuned for future updates, including video updates.

The Board of Directors of Sherayzen Law Office, Ltd., will analyze the successes of the 2019 Zurich trip in order to modify the plans for the firm’s marketing strategies in Europe. The Board already commenced planning for new targeted trips which will lead to the expansion of the firm’s clientele in Europe.

Sherayzen Law Office already has a very large exposure in the European continent. We have helped clients with undisclosed European assets in most countries on the European continent: Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Poland, Portugal, Romania, the Russian Federation, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Ukraine.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With Your US International Tax Compliance

Sherayzen Law Office is a US international tax law firm with deep expertise in all relevant areas of US international tax law, including offshore voluntary disclosures. With clients from over 70 countries around the world, our firm is a leader in US international tax compliance.

We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the world with their US international tax compliance issues, and We can help You! Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

Legal Entity Identifiers: Introduction to LEI | International Tax Lawyer & Attorney

The Legal Entity Identifiers (“LEI”) is a method to identify legal entities that engage in financial transactions. Let’s discuss LEI in more detail.

LEI: Background Information

The establishment of LEI was driven by the recognition by regulators around the world that there is a complete lack of transparency with respect to identifying parties to international transactions. Each business entity is registered at the national level, but another country’s authorities would have great difficulty identifying this entity in an international transaction, including whether this entity has taken consistent tax positions in both countries.

Establishment of LEI; Additional Initiatives

Hence, on the initiative of the largest twenty economies of the world (“G-20“), the Financial Stability Board (“FSB”) developed the framework of Global LEI System (“GLEIS”). FSB was created in 2009 in the aftermath of the financial crisis (it replaced the Financial Stability Forum or “FSF”).

Additionally, in January of 2013, a LEI Regulatory Oversight Committee (“ROC”) was created. ROC is a group of over 70 public authorities from member-countries and additional observers from more than 50 countries. The job of the ROC is coordination and oversight of the worldwide LEI framework.

On May 9, 2017, the ROC announced that it has launched data collection on parent entities in the Global Legal Entity Identifiers System – this is the so-called “relationship data”. The member countries (especially in the European Union (“EU”)) will use this data in a number of regulatory initiatives. For example, as of 2018, the EU uses the relationship data for the purposes of commodity derivative reporting.

How LEI Works

The LEI is a 20-character, alpha-numeric code, to uniquely identify legally distinct entities that engage in financial transactions. The code incorporates the following information:

1.the official name of the legal entity as recorded in the official registers;
2.the registered address of that legal entity;
3.the country of formation;
4.codes for the representation of names of countries and their subdivisions;
5.the date of the first Legal Entity Identifier assignment; the date of last update of the information; and the date of expiration, if applicable.

Here is how the numbering system works:

•Characters 1–4: A four-character prefix allocated uniquely to each LOU.
•Characters 5–6: Two reserved characters set to zero.
•Characters 7–18: Entity—specific part of the code generated and assigned by LOUs according to transparent, sound, and robust allocation policies.
•Characters 19–20: Two check digits as described in the ISO 17442 standard.

Jurisdictions With Rules Referring to LEI

Over 40 jurisdictions have rules that refer to Legal Entity Identifiers: Argentina, Australia, Canada, 31 members of the European Union and European Economic Area, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Mexico, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland, and the United States. IGOs such as Basel Committee on Banking Supervision and International Organization of Securities Commissions also use Legal Entity Identifiers.

Could LEI Be Used for CRS and FATCA Purposes?

Sherayzen Law Office, like many other commentators, believes that there is a possibility that the LEI would be a better alternative than Global Intermediary Identification Number (GIIN) for CRS and FATCA purposes. First of all, it would be more efficient to have one identification system across all compliance terrains. Second, Legal Entity Identifiers are actually more popular than GIINs. As of December 7, 2017, there were 830,477 LEIs issued versus a mere less than 300,000 GIINs.

Panamanian Bank Accounts | US International Tax Lawyer & Attorney

A large number of US taxpayers own Panamanian bank accounts. These taxpayers have bank accounts in Panama for a variety of reasons: personal, business, tax planning and/or estate planning. Many of these account holders still do not realize that their Panamanian bank accounts may be subject to numerous reporting requirements in the United States. In this essay, I will outline the three most common US tax reporting requirements that may apply to Panamanian bank accounts.

Panamanian Bank Accounts: Definition of a “Filer”

Each of the requirements discussed below has its own eligibility requirements – i.e. each has its own definition of “filer” who is required to comply with these requirements. Despite these differences in the definition of a filer, we can identify a certain common definition that underlies all of the requirements we will discuss in this article, even if this definition is modified for the purposes of a particular form. This common denominator is the concept of “US tax residency”.

US tax residents include the following persons: US citizens, US permanent residents, persons who satisfy the Substantial Presence Test and persons who declare themselves as US tax residents. It is important to remember that this general definition of US tax residents is subject to a number of important exceptions.

All of the US international tax reporting requirements adopt US tax residency as the basis for their definitions of a filer. Where there are differences from the definition of US tax residency, they are mostly limited to the application of the Substantial Presence Test and/or the first-year and last-year definitions of a US tax resident.

For example, Form 8938 identifies its filers as “Specified Persons” while FBAR defines its filers as “US Persons”. Yet, the differences between these two terms mostly arise with respect to persons who voluntarily declared themselves as US tax residents or non-residents. A common example can be found with respect to treaty “tie-breaker” provisions, which foreign persons use to escape the effects of the Substantial Presence Test for US tax residency purposes.

The determination of your US tax reporting requirements is the primary task of your international tax attorney. It is simply too dangerous for a common taxpayer or even an accountant to attempt to dabble in US international tax law.

Panamanian Bank Accounts: Worldwide Income Reporting

Now that we understand the concept of US tax residency, we are ready to explore the aforementioned three US reporting requirements with respect to Panamanian bank accounts.

The first and most fundamental requirement is worldwide income reporting. It is also the requirement that applies to US tax residents as they are defined above (i.e. we are dealing here with the classic definition of US tax residency in its purest form).

All US tax residents must disclose their worldwide income on their US tax returns. This means that they must report to the IRS their US-source and foreign-source income. The worldwide income reporting requirement applies to all types of foreign-source income: bank interest income, dividends, royalties, capital gains and any other income.

The worldwide income reporting requirement applies even if the foreign income is subject to Panamanian tax withholding or reported on a Panamanian tax return. It also does not matter whether the income was transferred to the United States or stayed in Panama. US tax residents must disclose their Panamanian-source income on their US tax returns.

Panamanian Bank Accounts: FBAR/FinCEN Form 114

The second requirement that I would like to discuss in this essay is FinCEN Form 114, the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, commonly known as “FBAR”. Under the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970, the US government requires all US Persons to disclose their ownership interest in or signatory authority or any other authority over Panamanian (and any other foreign country) bank and financial accounts if the aggregate highest balance of these accounts exceeds $10,000. If these requirements are met, the disclosure requirement is satisfied by filing an FBAR.

It is important to understand all parts of the FBAR requirement are terms of arts that require further exploration and understanding. I encourage you to search our firm’s website, sherayzenlaw.com, for the definition of “US Persons” and the explanation of other parts of the FBAR requirement.

There is one part of the FBAR requirement, however, that I wish to explore here in more detail – the definition of “account”. The reason for this special treatment is the fact that the definition of an account for FBAR purposes is a primary source of confusion among US Persons with respect to what needs to be disclosed on FBAR.

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.

Despite the fact that FBAR compliance is neither easy nor straightforward, FBAR has a very severe penalty system. On the criminal side, FBAR noncompliance may lead to as many as ten 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. In 2015, the IRS added another layer of limitations on the FBAR penalty imposition. One must remember, however, that these are voluntary IRS actions which the IRS may disregard whenever circumstances warrant such an action.

Panamanian Bank Accounts: FATCA Form 8938

The third requirement that I wish to discuss today is a relative newcomer, FATCA Form 8938. This form requires “Specified Persons” to disclose 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.

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 report the same foreign assets 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.

One must also remember that, unlike FBAR, 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.

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

If you have Panamanian 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 (including disclosure of Panamanian bank accounts), and We can help You!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!