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Tax Residency Starting Date | International Tax Lawyer & Attorney

In situations where a person was not classified as a resident alien at any time in the preceding calendar year and he became a resident alien at some point during current year, a question often arises concerning the tax residency starting date of such a person. This article seeks to provide a succinct overview of this question in three different contexts: US permanent residence, substantial presence test and election to be treated as a tax resident.

Tax Residency Starting Date: General Rule for Green Card Holders

Pursuant to IRC (Internal Revenue Code) §7701(b)(2)(A)(iii), the starting tax residency date for green card holders is the first day in the calendar year in which he or she is physically present in the United States while holding a permanent residence visa.  However, if the green card holder also satisfies the Substantial Presence Test prior to obtaining his green card, the tax residency is the earliest of either the green card test described in the previous sentence or the substantial presence test (see below).

Tax Residency Starting Date: General Rule for the Substantial Presence Test

Generally, under the substantial presence test, the tax residence of an alien starts on the first day of his physical presence in the United States in the year he met the substantial presence test. See IRC §7701(b)(2)(A)(iii).  For example, if an alien meets the requirements of the Substantial presence test in 2022 and his first day of physical presence in the United States was March 1, 2022, then his US tax residency started on March 1, 2022.

Tax Residency Starting Date: Nominal Presence Exception & the Substantial Presence Test

A reader may ask: how does the rule described above work in case of a “nominal presence” in the United States. IRC §7701(b)(2)(C) provides that, for the purposes of determining the residency starting date only, up to ten (10) days of presence in the United States may be disregarded, but only if the alien is able to establish that he had a “closer connection” to a foreign country rather than to the United States on each of those particular ten days (i.e., all continuous days during a visit to the United States may be excluded or none of them). There is some doubt about the validity of this rule, but it has never been contested in court as of the time of this writing.

This rule may lead to a paradoxical result.  For example, if X visits the United States between March 1 and March 10 and leaves on March 10; then later comes back to the United States on May 1 of the same year and meets the substantial presence test, then he may exclude the first ten days in March and his US tax residency will start on May 1.  If, however, X prolongs his visit and leaves on March 12, then none of the days will be excluded (since March 11 and 12 cannot be excluded under the rules) and his US tax residency will commence on March 1.

I want to emphasize that the nominal presence exception only applies in determining an alien’s residency starting date. It is completely irrelevant to the determination of whether a taxpayer met the Substantial Presence Test; i.e. the days excluded under the nominal presence exception are still counted toward the Substantial Presence Test calculation.

Tax Residency Starting Date: Additional Requirements for Nominal Presence Exception & Penalty for Noncompliance

The IRS has imposed two additional requirements concerning claiming “nominal presence” exclusion (again, both of them have questionable validity as there is nothing in the statutory language about them).  First, the alien must show that he had a “tax home” in the same foreign country with which he has a closer connection.

Second, Treas. Regs. §301.7701(b)-8(b)(3) requires that an alien who claims the nominal presence exception must file a statement with the IRS as well as attach such statement to his federal tax return for the year in which the termination is requested. The statement must be dated, signed, include a penalty of perjury clause and contain: (a) the first day and last day the alien was present in the United States and the days for which the exemption is being claimed; and (b) sufficient facts to establish that the alien has maintained his/her tax home in and a closer connection to a foreign country during the claimed period. Id.

A failure to file this statement may result in an imposition of a substantial penalty: a complete disallowance of the nominal presence exclusion claim.  Since IRC §7701(b)(8) does not contain the requirement to file any statements with the IRS to claim the nominal presence exception, the penalty stands on shaky legal grounds.  However, as of the time of this writing, there is no case law directly on point.

Additionally, as almost always in US international tax law, there are exceptions to this rule.  First, if the alien shows by clear and convincing evidence that he took: (a) “reasonable actions” to educate himself about the requirement to properly file the statement and (b) “significant affirmative actions” to comply with this requirement, then the IRS may still allow the nominal presence exclusion claim to proceed. Treas. Regs. 301.7701(b)-8(d)

Second, under Treas. Regs. §301.7701(b)-8(e), the IRS has the discretion to ignore the taxpayer’s failure to file the required nominal presence statement if it is in the best interest of the United States to do so.

Tax Residency Starting Date: Election to Be Treated as a US Tax Resident

In situations where a resident alien elects to be treated as a US tax resident (for example, by filing a joint resident US tax return with his spouse), the tax residency date starts on the first day of the year for which election is made.  See Treas. Regs. §7701(b)(2)(A)(iv).

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help with US International Tax Law, Including the Determination of the Tax Residency Starting Date

If you have foreign assets or foreign income or if you are trying to determine your tax residency status in the United States, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help.  Our law firm is a leader in US international tax compliance; we have helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the world and we can help you!

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2021 Form 3520 Deadline in 2022 | Foreign Trust Tax Lawyer & Attorney

The beginning of a new tax season starts the clock on completing the required US international information returns, including Form 3520. In this brief essay, I will discuss the tax year 2021 Form 3520 deadline.

2021 Form 3520 Deadline: What is Form 3520

IRS Form 3520 is a US international information return used by the IRS to collect information related to foreign trusts, foreign gifts and foreign inheritance. In essence, Form 3520 collects four types of data from US taxpayers:

  • Certain transactions with foreign trusts;
  • Ownership of foreign trusts under the rules of sections 671 through 679;
  • Receipt of certain large gifts from foreign persons; and
  • Bequests from foreign persons.

It is very important that you file Form 3520 timely, because late filing Form 3520 penalties can be very high. For example, a failure to timely disclose a reportable foreign gift on Form 3520 may result in a penalty as high as 25% of the value of the gift. Initial Form 3520 penalty for a failure to report a property transferred by a US transferor to a foreign trust may be as high as 35% of the gross value of the property.

2021 Form 3520 Deadline: Where to File

Form 3520 reporting is complicated by the fact that this form is not filed with a US tax return. Rather, for the tax year 2021, a Form 3520 with all required attachments should be mailed to the following address:

Internal Revenue Service Center
P.O. Box 409101
Ogden, UT 84409

My recommendation is to mail your 2021 Form 3520 by US Certified Mail.

2021 Form 3520 Deadline: When to File

Generally, 2021 Form 3520 deadline will correspond to your US income tax return deadline. In other words, a US person must file his Form 3520 by and including the 15th day of the 4th month following the end of such person’s tax year for US income tax purposes. Same rule applies to Forms 3520 filed by an estate and on behalf of a US decedent. If the due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, file by the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.

For individual taxpayers who reside in the United States, this usually means April 15. However, due to the fact that April 15 is a legal holiday this year, your 2021 Form 3520 will be due on April 18, 2022.

Moreover, if you are a US citizen or resident and (a) you live outside of the United States and Puerto Rico and your place of business or post of duty is outside the United States and Puerto Rico, OR (b) you are in the military or naval service on duty outside of the United States and Puerto Rico, then your tax deadline will shift to the 15th day of the 6th month (i.e. June 15). In other words, if you satisfy either (a) or (b) above and you are either a US citizen or US resident, then your 2021 Form 3520 will be due on June 15, 2022. You must include a statement with your 2021 Form 3520 showing that you are a U.S. citizen or resident who meets one of these conditions listed above.

Finally, if a US person is granted an extension of time to file an income tax return, the due date for filing Form 3520 shifts to the15th day of the 10th month following the end of the US person’s tax year. In other words, if you are an individual who filed an extension on your US income tax return, then your 2021 Form 3520 will be due on October 17, 2022 (because October 15 falls on a Saturday this year).

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With Your 2021 Form 3520 Deadline

If you are required to file a Form 3520 for the tax year 2021 (whether because you are an owner or a beneficiary of a foreign trust, you received a foreign gift or you received a foreign inheritance), contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help. We have successfully helped US taxpayers around the world with their Form 3520 compliance, and we can help you!

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Subsidiary vs. Branch | International Business Tax Lawyer Minneapolis

For the purposes of US international tax laws, it is very important to distinguish a subsidiary from a branch. Let’s define both terms in this short essay.

Subsidiary vs. Branch: Definition of a Branch

A branch is a direct form of doing business by a corporation in another country where the corporation retains the direct title of the assets used in the branch’s business. In other words, a branch is a direct extension of the corporation to another country.

Most importantly, there is no separate legal identity between a corporation’s branch in one country and its head office in another. It is all the same company doing business in two countries.

One of the practical advantages of a branch is that it usually requires a lot less effort to establish a branch than a subsidiary. However, it is not always the case – for example, in Kazakhstan, creation of a branch is a very formal process. Moreover, while the legal formalities may not be that complicated, the tax consequences of having a branch in another country may be far more complex.

Subsidiary vs. Branch: Definition of a Subsidiary

A subsidiary is a complete opposite of a branch. It is a separately-chartered foreign corporation owned by a US parent corporation. In other words, a subsidiary has its own legal identity separate from that of its parent US corporation. In the eyes of a local jurisdiction, the US corporation is merely a shareholder of its foreign subsidiary; the US corporation is not directly doing any business in the foreign jurisdiction.

Of course, a situation can be reversed: it can be a foreign parent corporation that organizes a US subsidiary. In this case, the foreign parent company will have its separate identity from its US subsidiary. It will be merely a shareholder of the US company in the eyes of the IRS.

As a separate legal entity, subsidiaries will usually have a host of legal and tax duties in the jurisdiction where they are organized.

Subsidiary vs. Branch: Forced Tax Similarities

Despite these legal differences, the US tax treatment of a subsidiary and a branch created some artificial similarities between these two forms of business. The reason for these similarities is the huge potential for tax deferral through subsidiaries.

The basic trend here is to minimize the advantages of a separate legal identity of a subsidiary, making it a lot more similar to a branch when it comes to tax treatment. The IRS has achieved this through the usage of a number of anti-deferral regimes, such as Subpart F rules and GILTI tax, as well as transfer pricing rules.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office to Determine Whether a Branch or a Subsidiary is Best for Your Business

Whether you are a US business entity who wishes to do business overseas or a foreign entity that wishes to do business in the United States, you can contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help. We have helped domestic and foreign businesses with their US international tax planning concerning their inbound and outbound transactions, and we can help you!

International Tax Planning Priorities for US Corporations

Sometimes, I encounter in my practice one particularly damaging belief concerning international tax planning for US corporations that engage in cross-border transactions and maintain a foreign subsidiary or a network of foreign subsidiaries. This is a belief that international tax planning for such corporations should only focus on the reduction of its US taxes above all other considerations. I reject this one-sided view and argue for balancing of international tax planning priorities for such US corporations. In this article, I will discuss the top priorities that are subject to balancing during proper international tax planning for US corporations who operate overseas.

International Tax Planning Priorities: Tax Planning Should Correspond to Dynamic Facts

Before we outline international tax planning priorities, we need to state a rule that seems very obvious but, unfortunately, is often overlooked – tax planning must correspond to the factual situation around which the planning is done. Since a factual situation of a business is prone to rapid changes, tax planning either needs to pro-actively respond to these dynamic facts or, in cases where it is not possible, adjust to these facts as soon as possible in order to avoid a negative tax impact in the future.

This means that engaging in business transactions that spread over multiple taxing jurisdictions requires continuous tax planning, continuous monitoring of the factual background in which these transactions take place and continuous assessment of tax consequences of these activities.

This rule also means that tax planning must respond to the facts generated by the required business transaction rather than create business transactions purely to save taxes. I should point out that such purely tax-motivated schemes are also unlikely to pass judicial review.

International Tax Planning Priorities: Lower US Tax Liability

There is no question that ethically lowering US tax liability based on the opportunities and incentives present in the Internal Revenue Code is one of the most important priorities of international tax planning. As I stated above, however, this is not the only priority.

International Tax Planning Priorities: Lower Foreign Tax Liability

It is not just the US tax liability of the head office that we should be concerned about. International tax planning should also seek to lower foreign tax liability of its subsidiaries. Moreover, if lowering US tax liability comes at the cost of increasing foreign tax liability or missing an opportunity to minimize it, this outcome may not be optimal for the overall corporate structure.

International Tax Planning Priorities: Maximizing Corporate Earnings

This is a key issue that many practitioners and business owners often miss in US international tax planning. Tax planning is not only about lowering taxes at any cost. If a business is continuously losing a significant amount of money (not strategically recognizing losses, but its profits are actually reduced) because of tax planning, then such tax planning may not be worth the effort.

Effective tax planning means that a tax practitioner should coordinate tax saving efforts with business priorities. Business planning will always see to utilize corporate cash and personnel in a way that maximizes profits. Moreover, business planning will also seek to creatively allocate and move excess cash flow between corporate subsidiaries (and the head office) for the same purpose.

It is precisely the latter function of business planning that requires the most attention of international tax attorneys, because it may result in significant tax costs (which may more than offset the benefit of business planning). At the same time, tax planning must be done in such a way as to minimize the damage it can do to the business’ ability to move cash across the entire corporate structure.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for International Tax Planning Help

At Sherayzen Law Office, we understand these priorities and the need to balance them before finalizing international tax planning. We can help you!

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Foreign Partnership Definition | International Business Tax Lawyers

Defining a partnership as “foreign” or “domestic” can be highly important for US tax purposes. In this article, I will explain the foreign partnership definition and explain its significance.

Foreign Partnership Definition: Importance

There may be important US international tax law consequences that stem from whether a partnership is classified as “foreign” or “domestic”. These consequences may encompass not only income tax compliance, but also the type of information returns that may have to be filed. Even tax withholding requirements may be affected by this classification.

Let me give you a few examples of where foreign partnership directly appears in the IRC (Internal Revenue Code) in order for you to appreciate the significance of the foreign partnership definition. The term foreign partnership appears in such diverse provisions as IRC §6046A (filing of information returns by U.S. persons with regard to acquisition, disposition, or substantial change of interest in foreign partnership – this is the famous IRS Form 8865), §3401(d)(2) (wage withholding), §168(h)(5) (tax-exempt entity leasing rules) and even tax withholding rules for disposition of US real property under §1445.

The main reason for this significance of the foreign partnership definition lies in §7701(a)(30), which states that a foreign partnership is not a “US Person”, a highly important term of art in US international tax law. The implications of being a “foreign person” rather than a “US person” can be huge, extending as far as affecting anti-deferral tax regimes.

Foreign Partnership Definition: Formal Partnership

Let’s delve now into the foreign partnership definition. Our starting point is §7701(a)(5); it states that a partnership is considered to be foreign as long as it is “not domestic”. §7701(a)(4) defines domestic partnership as those which were “created or organized in the United States, or under the law of the United States or of any State.”

Under §7701(a)(9), the term “United States” includes only the states and the District of Columbia. In other words, if a partnership is formally organized in any place other than the fifty states of the United States and the District of Columbia, it is a foreign partnership.

What about partnerships created or organized in US possessions? The IRS and the courts have consistently stated that they are foreign (though there are more examples of these rulings with respect to corporations rather than partnerships).

What if a partnership is chartered both in the United States and another country? Without delving too deeply into legal analysis, pursuant to Treas. Reg. §301.7701-5(a), such a partnership would be classified as a domestic entity

Foreign Partnership Definition: Common Law/Private Agreement Partnerships

The above definition only works well in cases where a partnership is formally created or organized under the laws of a country. However, it is also possible for the IRS to classify a contractual relationship as a partnership for tax purposes. In these cases, the determination of whether a partnership is a foreign or domestic for US international tax purposes is a lot more difficult.

At this point, there is no absolute clarity provided by the IRS on this issue. However, there are two main approaches for determining whether a deemed partnership is domestic or foreign that may be acceptable to the IRS: (1) the contract’s governing law; and (2) primary location of the business of the deemed partnership. Let’s review these approaches.

Foreign Partnership Definition for Deemed Partnerships: Governing Law Approach

The governing law approach to classification of partnerships as foreign or domestic states that a partnership should be classified as foreign or domestic depending on the governing law which controls the agreement that gave rise to the deemed partnership.

The IRS often likes this approach, because it pretty much mimics the foreign partnership definition for formal partnerships described above. In other words, while in a formal partnership we look at the place of organization, the governing law approach for deemed partnerships basically looks at the jurisdiction which controls the legal enforcement of the partnership agreement. Both approaches are based on the premise that the foreign partnership definition should depend on whether the partners’ rights and duties are defined under domestic or foreign law.

Foreign Partnership Definition for Deemed Partnerships: Business Location Approach

The primary location of business approach, on the other hand, seeks to classify a deemed partnership not based on where the partners’ rights and duties are defined, but based on where the business of the partnership is actually conducted. The advantage of this approach is that it is closer to business reality and does not artificially classify a partnership based on which law governs it.

There are, however, problems with this approach which make the IRS like it a lot less. First of all, it is very difficult to apply this approach to a partnership with extensive business operations within and outside of the United States. Second, the classification of the same partnership may often switch depending on the shift in the volume of its US operations versus foreign operations.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Help With Foreign Partnership Definition

If you are unclear about the classification of your partnership for US tax purposes or you wish to change the existing classification for US tax planning purposes, contact the US international tax law firm of Sherayzen Law Office for professional help. We Can Help You!