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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!

October 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns | International Tax Lawyer & Attorney News

On October 30, 2018, the IRS Large Business and International division (LB&I) has announced five additional compliance campaigns. Let’s discuss in more detail these October 2018 IRS compliance campaigns.

October 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Background Information

By the middle of the 2010s, the IRS realized that the then-existing structure of the LB&I was not the best format to address modern noncompliance issues; it could not even accurately identify potential noncompliant taxpayers. Also, the IRS believed that LB&I was not applying the IRS funds in an efficient manner.

Hence, after extensive planning, the IRS decided to move LB&I toward issue-based examinations and a compliance campaign process. Under the new format, LB&I itself decided 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 approach made the best use of IRS knowledge and appropriately deployed the right resources to address specific noncompliance issues.

Each campaign was preceded by strategic planning, re-deployment of resources, creation of new training and tools as well as careful taxpayer population selection through metrics and feedback. The IRS has also built a supporting infrastructure inside LB&I for each specific campaign.

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 and five campaigns on September 10, 2018. In other words, as of September 11, 2018, there were a total of forty-five campaigns. The additional five October 2018 IRS compliance campaigns bring the total number of campaigns to fifty.

Five New October 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns

Here are the new October 2018 IRS Compliance campaigns that should be added to the already-existing forty-five campaigns: Individual Foreign Tax Credit Phase II, Offshore Service Providers, FATCA Filing Accuracy, 1120-F Delinquent Returns and Work Opportunity Tax Credit. Each of these five campaigns was identified through LB&I data analysis and suggestions from IRS employees.

October 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Individual Foreign Tax Credit Phase II

IRC Section 901 alleviates double-taxation through foreign tax credit for income taxes paid by US taxpayers on their foreign-source income. In order to claim the credit, one must meet certain eligibility requirements. This campaign addresses taxpayers who have claimed the credit, but did not meet the requirements. The IRS will address noncompliance through a variety of treatment streams, including examination.

October 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Offshore Service Providers

The goal of this campaign is purely punitive – to target US taxpayers who engaged Offshore Service Providers that facilitated the creation of foreign entities and tiered structures to conceal the beneficial ownership of foreign financial accounts and assets for the purpose of tax avoidance or evasion. The treatment stream for this campaign will be issue-based examinations.

October 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: FATCA Filing Accuracy

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) was enacted in 2010 as part of the HIRE Act. The overall purpose is to detect, deter and discourage offshore tax abuses through increased transparency, enhanced reporting and strong sanctions. Under FATCA, Foreign Financial Institutions and certain Non-Financial Foreign Entities are generally required to report the foreign assets held by US account holders; the same applies to substantial (beneficial) US owners of these assets. This campaign addresses those entities that have FATCA reporting obligations but do not meet all their compliance responsibilities. The Service will address noncompliance through a variety of treatment streams, including termination of the FATCA status.

October 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: 1120-F Delinquent Returns

The campaign addresses delinquent (i.e. filed late) Forms 1120-F. Form 1120-F is a US income tax return of a foreign corporation. It must be accurate, true and filed timely in order for a foreign corporation to claim deductions and credits against effectively connected income. For these purposes, Form 1120-F is generally considered to be timely filed if it is filed no later than eighteen months after the due date of the current year’s return.

The IRS may waive the filing deadline where, based on its facts and circumstances, the
foreign corporation establishes to the satisfaction of the IRS that the foreign corporation acted reasonably and in good faith in failing to file Form 1120-F. The reasonable cause standard is described in Treas. Reg. Section 1.882-4(a)(3)(ii). LB&I Industry Guidance 04-0118-007 (dated February 1, 2018) established procedures to ensure waiver requests are applied in a fair, consistent and timely manner under the regulations.

The objective of the 1120-F Delinquent Returns campaign is to encourage foreign entities to timely file Form 1120-F returns and address the compliance risks for delinquent 1120-F returns. The IRS hopes to accomplish it by field examinations of compliance-risk delinquent returns and external education outreach programs.

October 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Work Opportunity Tax Credit

This campaign addresses the consequences of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) certification delays and the burden of amended return filings. Due to delays associated with the WOTC certification process, taxpayers are often faced with the burdensome requirement of amending multiple years of federal and state returns to claim the WOTC in the year qualified WOTC wages were paid. This requirement, coupled with any resulting examinations of this issue, is an inefficient use of both taxpayer and IRS resources.

Pursuant to Rev. Proc. 2016-19, the IRS has agreed to accept the “WOTC year of credit eligibility” issue into the Industry Issue Resolution (IIR) program. The IIR is intended to provide remedies to reduce taxpayer burden, promote consistency, and decrease examination time to most effectively use IRS resources. The campaign’s objective is to collaborate with industry stakeholders, Chief Counsel, and Treasury to develop an LB&I directive for taxpayers experiencing late certifications and to promote consistency in the examinations of WOTC claims.

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!

2019 IRS Hiring Spree Targets US International Tax Compliance

On May 11, 2019, the IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig stated that the IRS is rapidly increasing the number of agents in certain divisions. US international tax compliance is the primary target of this 2019 IRS hiring spree.

2019 IRS Hiring Spree: Affected IRS Divisions

The Commissioner announced this news while speaking at the American Bar Association’s Section of Taxation conference in Washington, D.C. He stated that the Large Business and International (“LB&I), Small Business/Self-Employed (“SB/SE”) and Criminal Investigation (“CI”) divisions are the ones that form the core of the 2019 IRS hiring spree. Additionally, the Office of Chief Counsel and the Modernization and Information Technology Division are also beefing up their staff.

2019 IRS Hiring Spree: Why the IRS is Hiring New Agents

The Commissioner expressly mentioned two reasons for the 2019 IRS hiring spree – reducing the tax gap and assuring international compliance. Interestingly, he also mentioned that he will not allow the illegal tax shelter scandals, like the ones that happened in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, to happen on his watch.

The Commissioner went on to identify certain problematic areas where he wants the new hires to focus. He specifically listed: digital economy, transfer pricing, syndicated conservation easements, employment tax and cash-intensive businesses.

Finally, the Commissioner stated that he wants to expand the IRS message to the taxpayers who speak English as a second language. He said: “I’m from Los Angeles. In the grocery store in line there are more than six languages being spoken. This is 2019. We need to have our information available to every American trying to get it right.” He also shared that he was surprised when he found out that the IRS printed tax returns in only six languages.

The Commissioner emphasized that the IRS should not just print the returns in more languages, but also to provide IRS guidance in more languages. Also, he stated that the quality of translation services can be further improved. Undoubtedly, this will be the job of some of the new hires.

2019 IRS Hiring Spree: Consequences for Noncompliant Taxpayers with Foreign Assets and Foreign Income

The new IRS hiring spree means that there will be more audits and investigations of noncompliant taxpayers, including those who own foreign assets and receive foreign income. The fact that the Commissioner specifically mentioned illegal tax shelters and international tax compliance is a direct confirmation that taxpayers with offshore assets will soon be at an even higher risk of the IRS discovery of their tax noncompliance.

Furthermore, with more agents available, the IRS can expand the scope of its international tax audits. We can anticipate that there will be more audits with respect to Forms 3520/3520A (owners and beneficiaries of foreign trusts), 5471 (owners of a foreign corporation), 8621 (PFICs) and 8865 (owners of an ownership interest in a foreign partnership).

The IRS will also able to better utilize the piles of data it receives from foreign financial institutions under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”) and bilateral automatic information exchange treaties. In other words, the IRS will be able to identify more noncompliant taxpayers.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With Your Undisclosed Foreign Assets and Foreign Income

If you have undisclosed foreign assets and foreign income, you need to contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help as soon as possible. Within just a few months, the IRS ability to locate you will expand much further than ever. If the IRS audits you or even just commences an investigation of your foreign assets, you may not be able to utilize the offshore voluntary disclosure options to reduce your FBAR and other IRS penalties.

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!