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

On September 10, 2018, the IRS Large Business and International division (“LB&I”) announced the creation of another five compliance campaigns. Let’s explore in more depth these September 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns.

September 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Background Information

Since January of 2017, the IRS has been regularly adding more and more compliance campaigns. The compliance campaigns were created by the LB&I after extensive planning concerning the restructuring of its compliance enforcement activities. The IRS solution to the then existing enforcement problems was to move towards issue-based examinations and a compliance campaign process in which the IRS itself decides which compliance issues that present risk require a response in the form of one or multiple treatment streams to achieve compliance objectives. The idea is to concentrate the IRS resources where they are most need – i.e. where there is a substantial risk of tax noncompliance.

The new campaigns have been coming in batches. The IRS announced the initial batch of thirteen campaigns on January 31, 2017. Then, the IRS added another eleven campaigns in November of 2017, five in March of 2018, six in May of 2018 and five in July of 2018. The new campaigns announced on September 10, 2018, brings the total number of campaigns to forty five as of that date.

It is important to point out that the tax reform that passed on December 22, 2017, may impact some of these existing campaigns.

Five New September 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns

Here are the new September 2018 IRS Compliance campaigns that should be added to the forty campaigns that were announced prior to that date: IRC Section 199 – Claims Risk Review, Syndicated Conservation Easement Transactions, Foreign Base Company Sales Income – Manufacturing Branch Rules, Form 1120-F Interest Expense & Home Office Expense and Individuals Employed by Foreign Governments & International Organizations. All of these campaigns were selected by the IRS through LB&I data analysis and suggestions from IRS employees.

September 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: IRC Section 199 – Claims Risk Review

Public Law 115-97 repealed the Domestic Production Activity Deduction (“DPAD”) for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017. This campaign addresses all business entities that may file a claim for additional DPAD under IRC Section 199. The campaign objective is to ensure taxpayer compliance with the requirements of IRC Section 199 through a claim risk review assessment and issue-based examinations of claims with the greatest compliance risk.

September 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Syndicated Conservation Easement Transactions

The IRS issued Notice 2017-10, designating specific syndicated conservation easement transactions as listed transactions requiring disclosure statements by both investors and material advisors. This campaign is intended to encourage taxpayer compliance and ensure consistent treatment of similarly situated taxpayers by ensuring the easement contributions meet the legal requirements for a deduction, and the fair market values are accurate. The initial treatment stream is issue-based examinations. Other treatment streams will be considered as the campaign progresses.

September 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Manufacturing Branch Rules for Foreign Base Company Sales Income

In general, foreign base company sales income (“FBCSI”) does not include income of a controlled foreign corporation (“CFC”) derived in connection with the sale of personal property manufactured by such a corporation. There is an exception to this general rule. If a CFC manufactures property through a branch outside its country of incorporation, the manufacturing branch may be treated as a separate, wholly owned subsidiary of the CFC for the purposes of computing the CFC’s FBCSI, which may result in a subpart F inclusion to the US shareholder(s) of the CFC.

The goal of this campaign is to identify and select for examination returns of US shareholders of CFCs that may have underreported subpart F income based on certain interpretations of the manufacturing branch rules. The treatment stream for the campaign will be issue-based examinations.

September 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: 1120-F Interest Expense & Home Office Expense

Two of the largest deductions claimed on Form1120-F (US Income Tax Return of a Foreign Corporation) are interest expenses and home office expense. Treasury Regulation Section 1.882-5 provides a formula to determine the interest expense of a foreign corporation that is allocable to their effectively connected income. The amount of interest expense deductions determined under Treasury Regulation Section 1.882-5 can be substantial.

Similarly, Treasury Regulation Section 1.861-8 governs the amount of Home Office expense deductions allocated to effectively connected income. Through its data analyses, the IRS noted that Home Office Expense allocations have been material amounts compared to the total deductions taken by a foreign corporation.

This IRS campaign addresses both of these Form 1120–F deductions. The campaign compliance strategy includes the identification of aggressive positions in these areas, such as the use of apportionment factors that may not attribute the proper amount of expenses to the calculation of effectively connected income. The goal of this campaign is to increase taxpayer compliance with the interest expense rules of Treasury Regulation Section 1.882-5 and the Home Office expense allocation rules of Treasury Regulation Section 1.861-8. The treatment stream for this campaign is harsh – issue-based examinations only.

September 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Individuals Employed by Foreign Governments & International Organizations

Foreign embassies, foreign consular offices and international organizations operating in the United States are not required to withhold federal income and social security taxes from their employees’ compensation nor are they required to file information reports with the Internal Revenue Service. This lack of withholding and reporting often results in unreported income, erroneous deductions and credits, and failure to pay income and Social Security taxes, because some individuals working at foreign embassies, foreign consular offices, and various international organizations may not be reporting compensation or may be reporting it incorrectly.

This campaign will focus on outreach and education by partnering with the Department of State’s Office of Foreign Missions to inform employees of foreign embassies, consular offices and international organizations. The IRS will also address noncompliance in this area by issuing soft letters and conducting examinations.

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!

2017 Tax Reform Seminar | U.S. International Tax Lawyer & Attorney

On April 19, 2018, Mr. Eugene Sherayzen, an international tax lawyer, co-presented with an attorney from KPMG at a seminar entitled “The 2017 U.S. Tax Reform: Seeking Economic Growth through Tax Policy in Politically Risky Times” (the “2017 Tax Reform Seminar”). This seminar formed part of the 2018 International Business Law Institute organized by the International Business Law Section of the Minnesota State Bar Association.

The 2017 Tax Reform Seminar discussed, in a general manner, the main changes made by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to the U.S. international tax law. Mr. Sherayzen’s part of the presentation focused on two areas: the Subpart F rules and the FDII regime.

Mr. Sherayzen provided a broad overview of the Subpart F rules, the types of income subject to these rules and the main exceptions to the Subpart F regime. He emphasized that the tax reform did not repeal the Subpart F rules, but augmented them with the GILTI regime (the discussion of GILTI was done by the KPMG attorney during the same 2017 Tax Reform Seminar).

Then, Mr. Sherayzen turned to the second part of his presentation during the 2017 Tax Reform Seminar – the Foreign Derived Intangible Income or FDII. After reviewing the history of several tax regimes prior to the FDII, the tax attorney concluded that the nature of the current FDII regime is one of subsidy. In essence, FDII allows a US corporation to reduce its corporate income by 37.5% of the qualified “foreign derived” income (after the year 2025, the percentage will go down to 21.875%). Mr. Sherayzen explained that, in certain cases, there is an additional limitation on the FDII deduction.

Qualifying income includes: sales to a foreign person for foreign use, dispositions of property to foreign persons for foreign use, leases and licenses to foreign persons for foreign use and services provided to a foreign person. There are also a number exceptions to qualifying income.

Mr. Sherayzen concluded his presentation at the 2017 Tax Reform Seminar with a discussion of the reaction that FDII produced in other countries. In general this reaction was not favorable; China and the EU even threatened to sue the United States over what they believed to be an illegal subsidy to US corporations.

FACC Seminar (French-American Chamber of Commerce Seminar) | News

On October 19, 2017, Mr. Eugene Sherayzen, an owner of Sherayzen Law Office and a highly experienced international tax attorney, conducted a seminar titled “Introduction to U.S. International Tax Compliance for U.S. Owners of Foreign Businesses” at the French-American Chamber of Commerce in Minneapolis, Minnesota (the “FACC Seminar”). The audience of the FACC Seminar consisted of business lawyers and business owners.

The FACC Seminar commenced with the breakdown of the title of the seminar into various parts. Mr. Sherayzen first analyzed the tax definition of “owner” and contrasted it with the legal definition of owner. Then, he identified who is considered to be a “U.S. owner” under the U.S. international tax law.

During the second part of the FACC Seminar, Mr. Sherayzen discussed the definition of “foreign” (i.e. foreign business) and the definition of the concept of “business”, contrasting it with a foreign trust. At this point, the tax attorney also acquainted the attendees with the differences between the common-law and the civil-law definitions of partnership.

Then, the focus of the FACC Seminar shifted to the discussion of the U.S. international tax requirements. The tax attorney stated that he would discuss four major categories of U.S. international tax requirements: (1) U.S. tax reporting requirements related to ownership of a foreign business; (2) U.S. owner’s tax reporting requirements related to assets owned by a foreign business; (3) U.S. tax reporting requirements related to transactions between a foreign business and its U.S. owners; and (4) income recognition as a result of anti-deferral regimes.

Mr. Sherayzen first discussed the U.S. tax reporting requirement related to the ownership of a foreign business. In particular, he covered Forms 5471, 8865 and 8858. The tax attorney also introduced the catch-all Form 8938. In this context, he also explained the second category of U.S. international tax requirements concerning the assets owned by a foreign business.

The next part of the FACC Seminar was devoted to the U.S. tax reporting requirements concerning transactions between a foreign business and its U.S. owners. Mr. Sherayzen explained in detail Form 926 and Schedule O of Form 8865, including the noncompliance penalties associated with these forms. The tax attorney also quickly reviewed Form 8886 for participating in transactions related to tax shelters. The discussion of the complex penalty system of Form 8886 surprised the audience.

The last part of the FACC Seminar was devoted to the income tax recognition and other U.S. tax reporting requirements that arise by the operation of anti-deferral regimes. Both, the Subpart F and the PFIC regimes were covered by the tax attorney.

Happy New Year 2019 from Sherayzen Law Office!

The legal tax team of Sherayzen Law Office, Ltd. wishes a very Happy New Year 2019 to our clients, blog readers and all US taxpayers around the world! May this new year bring you good health, prosperity and happiness! And, of course, full and proper compliance with all US international tax laws.

2019 Will Be a Highly Challenging Year from US Tax Compliance Perspective Due to the 2017 Tax Reform

The coming year is going to be a challenging one for all US taxpayers due to the enormous changes made to the Internal Revenue Code as a result of the 2017 tax reform. Already in 2018, some US taxpayers (especially owners of foreign corporations) had to work through the tax year 2017 transition rules.

The 2017 tax reform will be felt on an even grander scale in 2019 as millions of US taxpayers will struggle with the new rules in order to correctly file their 2018 tax returns. While many of these rules are meant to benefit these taxpayers, the tax compliance associated with them is likely to be complex.

Happy New Year 2019 to Individual US Taxpayers!

After the pain of learning how to comply with the new rules subsides, tens of millions of Americans are likely to call this a Happy New Year 2019 due to lower 2018 individual tax rates, the doubling of the child tax credit and higher standard deduction.

Millions of other, especially the upper middle-class Americans, however, are likely to be greatly hurt by the itemized deductions limitations with respect to state taxes and property taxes. The elimination of personal exemptions will further aggravate this problem. It will not be a Happy New Year 2019 for these taxpayers.

Happy New Year 2019 to Small-Business Owners!

It should still be a Happy New Year 2019 for the majority of the small business owners, including owners of S-corporations, due to the 20% reduction of pass-through income mandated by the tax reform. New depreciation rules are likely to have an overall beneficial impact, even if, in some cases, they may not be very helpful.

Happy New Year 2019 to C-Corporations and Their US & Foreign Owners!

It will be a very Happy New Year 2019 for one class of taxpayers in particular – regular C-corporations. These taxpayers arguably benefitted from the 2017 tax reform more than any type of taxpayers. The reduction in the tax rate from 35% to 21%, introduction of Foreign-Derived Intangible Income (“FDII”) and a whole series of small changes to corporate tax code have already led to the surge to corporate profits; this corporate tax boom is likely to continue to play out this year.

On the other hand, the introduction of the GILTI (Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income) tax, new attribution rules concerning the inclusion of non-US corporations and a myriad of other rules will greatly complicate the tax year 2018 corporate tax compliance. In fact, some corporations that never paid any taxes on their foreign income may now be forced to pay the GILTI tax in the United States.

Happy New Year 2019 to US Taxpayers Who Are Trying to Remedy Past Tax Noncompliance Through an Offshore Voluntary Disclosure!

The taxpayers with undisclosed foreign bank accounts and other assets will face increasing challenges in the year 2019 due to two unwelcome trends that came into existence after FATCA was fully implemented but became apparent to most professionals only in 2018. First, the IRS is narrowing the voluntary disclosure options, especially for willful taxpayers. As I just mentioned, this trend began already in 2017, but it could be clearly observed in the closure of the flagship 2014 OVDP on September 28, 2018. While it does not appear that the Streamlined Compliance Procedures will be targeted by the IRS any time soon, there is always a danger that the IRS may modify the terms of this voluntary disclosure option.

The November 20, 2018 modification of the Traditional Voluntary Disclosure (which greatly narrowed the utility of this option) is another manifestation of this trend. In fact, this modification poses a direct danger of forcing taxpayers into either Streamlined Compliance Procedures or the Traditional Voluntary Disclosure Program at the expense of Reasonable Cause disclosures.

The second trend complements the first trend: the loss of interest in offshore voluntary disclosures directly coincided with an increasingly aggressive IRS tax enforcement. The IRS audits, especially international tax audits, are on the rise as the IRS is taking advantage of the huge pile of information it has accumulated as a result of the previous voluntary disclosure programs, Swiss bank program and FATCA compliance.

The taxpayers will need professional help from an international tax attorney to successfully navigate around the legal challenges posed by these two negative trends in US international tax enforcement.

Taxpayers Will Need the Professional Help of Sherayzen Law Office For Proper Tax Compliance and Offshore Voluntary Disclosures of Foreign Assets in 2019

Overall, the new year 2019 promises to be a very interesting but highly complex year from the perspective of US international tax compliance. US taxpayers without adequate legal help are likely to either fail to take full benefit of the 2017 tax reform, suffer excessively from the negative aspects of the reform and/or even face the dreaded IRS penalties for international tax noncompliance.

At the same time, the narrower post-OVDP offshore voluntary disclosure options and the rising intensity of IRS audits will also present additional challenges to the already difficult situation of many taxpayers who wish to voluntarily resolve their past US international tax noncompliance issues.

Sherayzen Law Office can help you meet all of your 2019 tax challenges, including annual 2018 tax compliance, 2019 offshore voluntary disclosures of foreign assets and foreign income and IRS audit defense. We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers like you, and We can help you!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

Interest Income Sourcing | International Tax Lawyer & Attorney

This article is a continuation of a recent series of articles on the US source of income rules. In this article, I would like to introduce the readers to the interest income sourcing rules.

Interest Income Sourcing: Definition of “Interest”

Let’s first understand what is meant by the word “interest”. It is very curious that there is no definition of this term in the Internal Revenue Code nor in the Treasury regulations. Indeed, when applied to real life situations, the tax definition of interest spreads to items which do not at first appear as interest income (the most famous example is the original issue discount); the contrary is also true – sometimes an income that appears to be interest income is not considered to be such by the IRS (for example, commitment fees).

Generally, “interest” is a payment for the use of money. In most cases, there is a relationship of indebtedness that accompanies the requirement to pay interest; however, this is not always the case. In fact, there are numerous rules and rulings that one must know in order to properly determine how the IRS will treat a certain payment.

Interest Income Sourcing: General Rule

Generally, the interest is sourced at the residence of the obligor. IRC § 861(a)(1). Thus, if the obligor resides in the United States, then the interest paid on the obligation will be considered as US-source income. This is the case even if the obligor is a foreign national who resides in the United States. On the other hand, if a US citizen resides in a foreign country, then the interest that he pays to his lender is a foreign-source income.

This rule may lead to a paradoxical situation. For example, if a US citizen resides in Spain and pays interest to a Spaniard, this interest would be considered as Spanish-source income. At the same time, if a Spaniard resides in the United States and pays interest to a US citizen who resides in Spain, then the interest would be considered as US-source income.

Generally, interest paid by domestic corporations and domestic partnerships follows the same interest income sourcing rules. There are, however, some exceptions to this rule. For example, with respect to banks, interest on deposits with a foreign branch of a domestic corporation is not considered to be US-source income. IRC § 861(a)(1)(A)(i).

I wish to emphasize that I am stating here a general rule only. There are various exceptions, especially with respect to the portfolio interest. Most of these exceptions are especially relevant to nonresident aliens who receive interest from the United States.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With US International Tax Law, Including Interest Income Sourcing Rules

Sherayzen Law Office is a leading international tax law firm in the United States which has helped hundreds of US taxpayers with their US international tax issues. We can help you!

Contact Us Today To Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!