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FBAR United States Definition | FBAR Lawyer & Attorney Minneapolis MN

The United States is defined differently with respect to different parts (and, sometimes even within the same part) of the United States Code. There is a specific definition of the United States for FBAR Purposes. In this brief essay, I would like to discuss the FBAR United States Definition and explain its importance to FBAR compliance.

Importance of FBAR United States Definition to FinCEN Form 114

Before we discuss the FBAR United States Definition, we need to the context in which it is used and why it is important for US international tax purposes. FBAR is a common acronym for the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, FinCEN Form 114. It used to be known under a different name – TD F 90-22.1.

FBAR is part of Title 31, Bank Secrecy Act, but the IRS has administered FBAR since 2001. The IRS primarily uses FBAR not to fight financial crimes (which was its original purpose), but for tax enforcement. In particular, the IRS found that FBAR is an extremely useful tool for combating tax evasion associated with a strategy of hiding money in secret foreign bank accounts.

FBAR’s draconian penalties is what makes this form the favorite with the IRS, but much hated by US taxpayers. The penalties range from a jail sentence to civil willful penalties and even civil non-willful penalties which may exceed a taxpayer’s net worth.

It is precisely these penalties which make it absolutely necessary for US taxpayers to understand when they need to file FBARs. One of the aspects of this understanding is the FBAR United States Definition, which allows one to determine two things. First, the FBAR United States Definition is used to define the United States for the purposes of the Substantial Presence Test. Second, the FBAR United States Definition allows one to classify bank accounts as foreign or domestic for FBAR compliance purposes.

FBAR United States Definition

31 CFR 1010.100(hhh) contains the FBAR United States Definition. Under this provision, the United States is defined as: the States of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Indian Lands (as defined in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act) and the territories and insular possessions of the United States. As of February 3, 2019, the US territories and insular possessions refer to: Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, US Virgin Islands and Northern Mariana Islands.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional FBAR Help

If you have undisclosed foreign accounts, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help. We have successfully helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the world with their FBAR issues, and We can help You! Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

Broadcom Re-domiciliation Approved | International Tax Lawyer & Attorney

On January 29, 2018, Broadcom Board of Directors approved the plan for Broadcom re-domiciliation in the United States. This move was expected after Broadcom’s November of 2017 pledge to president Trump that the company would return to the United States.

Broadcom Re-domiciliation: A Story of Tax Inversion and Tax Remorse

The story of the Broadcom re-domiciliation began fairly recently in February of 2016. At that time, Broadcom did what was very popular during the Obama administration – tax inversion. California-based Broadcom allowed itself to be acquired by Singapore’s Avago Technologies Limited with the result of creation of a single Singapore entity.

The real motivation for the inversion was lowering the corporate taxes. At that time, during the political climate that existed in the United States, Broadcom thought that it was a good move.

Now, Broadcom believes that the tax inversion might not have been such a great thing to do in light of the new developments and certain consequences that it did not seem to have anticipated prior to tax inversion. First of all, Broadcom’s business in the US has continued to expand as it stepped-up its acquisition strategy. Already in 2017, barely a year and a half after tax inversion, Broadcom has stated that the benefits of this business strategy outweigh the potential additional taxes it might have to pay when it returns to the United States (especially after the tax reform – see below).

Second and closely related to the first reason, as a foreign company based in Singapore, Broadcom is under constant scrutiny of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFI”). CFI focuses on the review of transactions that may result in control of a US business by a foreign person and the impact of such control on US national security. This is an irritating and expensive factor that continuously hinders Broadcom’s acquisition strategy in the United States.

Third, Broadcom apparently did not anticipate that the tax reform be so radical and so beneficial to corporations. There is one issue in particular that makes Broadcom re-domiciliation in the United States so important. At the time of its tax inversion, Broadcom established a deferred tax liability on its balance sheet with respect to integration of the company’s intellectual property (“IP”). Under the old law, this deferred tax liability would have become payable at 35% tax rate in the United States.

Now, under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (“TCJA”), this deferred liability will be recognized in fiscal year 2018 as deemed repatriated foreign earnings at a much lower tax rate. This means that Broadcom re-domiciliation in 2018 will save the company a huge amount in taxes; or, as the company itself put it: “a material reduction in the amount of other long-term liabilities on our balance sheet”.

Broadcom Re-domiciliation Approved Within One Month of TCJA

The tax motivation behind Broadcom re-domiciliation became especially evident in light of the fact that the Broadcom Board approved it within just one month of the passage of TCJA. Moreover, in its filings with SEC, Broadcom directly stated that, as a result of TCJA, the tax cost of being a US-based multinational company has decreased substantially.

Sherayzen Law Office will continue to observe the impact of the recent tax reform on the behavior of US companies that went through tax inversion.

IMF Wants “Modern” Croatian Real Estate Tax | Tax Lawyer News

On January 16, 2018, the International Monetary Fund (“IMF”) released its 2017 Article IV consultation notes with respect to Croatia. Among its recommendations is the introduction of a modern Croatian Real Estate Tax.

Croatian Real Estate Tax: IMF assessment of Croatian Economy

The IMF began on the positive note stating that, in 2017, Croatia continued its third year of positive economic growth, mostly supported by tourism, private consumption, trade partner growth and improved confidence. The IMF also noted that the fiscal consolidation was progressing at a much faster pace than originally anticipated with Croatia leaving the European Union’s Excessive Deficit Procedure in June of 2017. The international organization made other positive comments, particularly stressing that Croatia was overcoming its Agrokor crisis.

Then, the IMF turned increasingly negative. It first noted that, while the balance risks has improved, it was not satisfied with the high level of Croatian public and external debt levels. Then, it stated that the full impact of the Agrokor restructuring is not yet known. The IMF was also unhappy about the pace of structural reforms since 2013 (when Croatia became a member of the EU), further stating that Croatia’s GDP per capita stood at about 60% of the EU average and Croatian business environment remained less favorable than that of its peers.

Finally, the IMF expressed its concerns over the fact that the output did not recover from its pre-recessing level and stated that, in the medium-term, the Croatia’s economic growth is expected to decelerate. Hence, the IMF emphasized that Croatia needed to do more to improve its economic prospects.

Croatian Real Estate Tax: IMF Recommendations

What precisely does Croatia need to do in the IMF opinion? Mainly reduction of public debt.

How does the IMF recommend that Croatia accomplish this task? The IMF made a number of proposals that can be consolidated into five courses of action. First, enhance the efficiency of public services by streamlining public services. Second, keep the wages low and reform the welfare state policies (here, it probably means either slashing the state benefits or privatizing them). Third, relaxing the labor regulations, particularly in the areas of hiring and temporary employment. Fourth, enhancement of legal and property rights. Finally, improvement of the structure of revenue and expenditure.

This last enigmatic phrase is the keyword for reducing the expenses and the introduction of new taxes. In particular, the IMF wants to see an introduction of a modern Croatian real estate tax.

What is a “Modern” Croatian Real Estate Tax According to IMF

The IMF defined a “modern” Croatian real estate tax as a “real estate tax that is based on objective criteria” and the one that “would be more equitable and would yield more revenue than the existing communal fees.” The idea is that “a modern more equitable property tax could allow for a reduction of less growth-friendly taxes.” In fact, the additional revenue derived from this tax “could compensate for a further reduction in the income tax burden, the parafiscal fees, or even VAT.”

It should be noted that the Croatian government already listened to the IMF and tried to impose a Croatian real property tax starting January of 2018, but the implementation of the law was suspended in light of strong public opposition.

Sherayzen Law Office will continue to monitor the situation.

Tax Cuts & Jobs Act: 2018 Standard Deduction and Exemptions

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 made dramatic changes that affected pretty much every US taxpayer. This is the first article of the series of articles on the Act. I will start this series with the discussion of simple US domestic issues (such as 2018 standard deduction and personal exemptions), then gradually turn to more and more complex US domestic and international tax issues, and finish with the examination of the highly complex issues concerning E&P income recognition for US owners of foreign corporations and the new type of Subpart F income.

Today, I will focus on the 2018 standard deduction and exemptions.

Standard Deduction for the Tax Year 2017

Standard deduction is the amount of dollars by which you can reduce your adjusted gross income (“AGI”) in order to lower your taxable income and, hence, your federal income tax. The standard deduction is prescribed by Congress. If you use standard deduction, you cannot itemize your deductions (i.e. try to reduce your AGI by the amount of actual allowed itemized deductions) – you have to choose between these two options.

Standard deduction varies based on your filing status (there is an additional standard deductions of individuals over the age of 65 or who are blind).

For the tax year 2017, the standard deduction are as follows: $6,350 for single taxpayers and married couples filing separately, $12,700 for married couples filing a joint tax return and $9,350 for heads of household.

2018 Standard Deduction and Exemptions

Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the 2018 standard deduction will virtually double in size: $12,000 for single taxpayers and married couples filing separately, $24,000 for married couples filing a joint tax return and $18,000 for heads of household. All of these amounts will be indexed for inflation.

It is important to point out, however, that these increased standard deduction amounts will only last until 2025. Then, the standard deduction should revert to the old pre-2018 law.

Personal Exemptions & Impact of 2018 Standard Deduction

Personal exemption is an additional amount of dollars by which the Congress will allow you to reduce your AGI (already reduced by either standard deduction or itemized deductions). When IRC Section 151 was enacted in 1954, the idea behind a personal exemption was to exempt from taxation a certain minimal amount a person needs to survive at a subsistence level.

Personal exemption can be claimed for you and your qualified dependents; in case of joint tax returns, each spouse is granted a personal exemption. However, a personal exemption for a spouse can be claimed even if the spouses are filing separate tax returns, but certain requirements have to be met.

For the tax year 2017, the personal exemption amount is $4,050. The exemption is subject to a phase-out at a certain level of income.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 repeals personal exemptions for the tax years 2018-2025. After 2025, the law reverts to the one that existed as of the tax year 2017. In other words, the increase in 2018 standard deduction will be at least partially offset by the elimination of 2018 personal exemption.

In some cases, where taxpayers claim many personal exemptions for their dependants, the elimination of personal exemptions may actually result in the increase in taxation (compared to the 2017 law) despite the increase of 2018 standard deduction. Of course, such an increase in taxation needs to take into account potential increase in child tax credit under the new law. Hence, in order to assess the full tax impact of the tax reform for large families, one needs to consider other factors in addition to just 2018 standard deduction.

Mistake as Reasonable Cause | Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Lawyer

This article is a continuation of a series of articles on the Reasonable Cause Exception as a defense against various IRS penalties. Today, we will be exploring whether a mistake made by a taxpayer satisfies the ordinary business care and prudence standard and can be considered a reasonable cause.

Mistake Alone Does Not Constitute Reasonable Cause

Generally, the IRS takes the view that a mistake alone is not sufficient to establish a reasonable cause defense to an imposition of an IRS penalty, because it is not considered to be a conduct that would qualify as ordinary business care and prudence – i.e. generally, situations when a taxpayer acted prudently, reasonably and in good faith (taking that degree of care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise) and still could not comply with the relevant tax requirement.  We remind the readers that the ordinary business care and prudence standard is at the heart of the Reasonable Cause Exception.

Mistake Can Help Establish Reasonable Cause

While a taxpayer’s mistake alone is insufficient to establish a reasonable cause, the Internal Revenue Manual (IRM) specifically foresees a possibility that a mistake can help assert a reasonable cause defense. IRM 20.1.1.3.2.2.4 (12-11-2009) specifically states that the Reasonable Cause Exception may be established if mistake with “additional facts and circumstances support the determination that the taxpayer exercised ordinary business care and prudence but nevertheless was unable to comply within the prescribed time”.

In other words, if mistake, in combination with other facts and circumstances, established that a taxpayer’s behavior was consistent with the ordinary business care and prudence standard, the IRS may agree that the tax noncompliance was caused by a reasonable cause.

IRS Factors Supporting Mistake as a Reasonable Cause

IRM 20.1.1.3.2.2.4 (12-11-2009) does not limit the number of factors that will be considered by the IRS in deciding whether there are sufficient facts and circumstances supporting mistake as a reasonable cause. However, it provides five specific factors to which the IRS will pay special attention:

1. When and how the taxpayer became aware of the mistake;

2. The extent to which the taxpayer corrected the error;

3. The relationship between the taxpayer and the subordinate (if the taxpayer delegated the duty);

4. If the taxpayer took timely steps to correct the failure after it was discovered;

5. The supporting documentation.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Legal Help with Establishing a Reasonable Cause Exception in Your Case

If the IRS imposed a penalty for your prior tax noncompliance, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office for the legal help. We will thoroughly review the facts of your case, determine available defense options, including the Reasonable Cause Exception defenses, implement the case strategy with which you feel comfortable, and negotiate the abatement or reduction of your IRS penalties.

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!