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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!

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!

Minsk Seminar Conducted by US International Tax Lawyer & Attorney

On June 9, 2017, Mr. Eugene Sherayzen, an international tax attorney and owner of Sherayzen Law Office, was the keynote speaker at a seminar “Introduction to U.S. Tax Compliance for U.S. Citizens and Green Card Holders Residing and Doing Business in Belarus” in Minsk, Republic of Belarus (the “Minsk Seminar”). The attorney conducted the entire Minsk Seminar in Russian, because he speaks this language fluently.

The Minsk Seminar was presented before the Minsk City Lawyer’s Association. It was a historic event, because it appears that this was the very first time that a practicing US international tax attorney conducted a seminar on this topic in Minsk. The Minsk Seminar was well-attended by close to 25-30 persons (despite the fact that it was conducted on a Friday afternoon); it appears that virtually all attendees were practicing lawyers in Minsk.

Mr. Sherayzen decided to make his presentation as broad as possible, but attended to details only as necessary. As a result, this more than two-hour presentation covered the main topics concerning US international tax reporting requirements of a U.S. citizen living and/or doing business in Belarus.

The tax attorney started the Minsk Seminar with the definition of a U.S. tax resident, emphasizing that a U.S. citizen and a U.S. Permanent Resident who reside in Belarus should be considered U.S. tax residents. Then, Mr. Sherayzen discussed the worldwide income reporting requirement and broadly covered various topics concerning specific income recognition.

The tax attorney continued the Minsk Seminar with an overview of the U.S. international information returns concerning individuals who have foreign assets, including an ownership interest in a foreign business. The severe FBAR penalties caused consternation among the attendees. As part of this discussion, he also explained the common-law concept of a “trust”.

The last part of the Minsk Seminar was devoted to the discussion of the U.S. anti-deferral regimes, such as Subpart F and PFIC rules. Mr. Sherayzen explained the potential tax consequences of income recognition under both of these regimes.

Throughout the Minsk Seminar, the Belarussian attorneys asked many questions and readily engaged in a lively comparison of the Belarussian tax rules to the U.S. tax rules. Overall, it was a very friendly seminar. Mr. Sherayzen looks forward to future presentations on this and other U.S. international tax topics in Eastern Europe.

FBAR: Financial Interest, Signature Authority, and Other Comparable Authority

One of the major requirements that gives rise to the obligation to file the FBAR is that a U.S. person has either a financial interest in, or a signature authority or other comparable authority over the relevant foreign financial accounts. In deciding whether the FBAR is required, it is useful to go through all three of these requirements in order.

First, the filer needs to determine whether he has a financial interest in the account. If the account is owned by an individual, the financial interest exists if the filer is the owner of record or has legal title in the financial account, whether the account is maintained for his own benefit or for the benefit of others, including non-U.S. persons. See 75 Fed. Reg. at 8847. Hence, if the owner of record or holder of legal title is a U.S. person acting as an agent, nominee, or in some other capacity on behalf of another U.S. person, the financial interest in the account exists and this agent or nominee needs to file the FBAR. If a corporation is the owner of record or the holder of legal title in the financial account, a shareholder of a corporation has a financial interest in the account if he owns, directly or indirectly, more than 50 percent of the total value of the shares of stock or has more than 50 percent of the voting power. Id. Where a partnership is the owner of record or the holder of legal title in the financial account, a partner has a financial interest in the financial account if he owns, directly or indirectly, more than 50 percent of the interest in profits or capital. Similar rule applies to any other entity (other than a trust) where a U.S. person owns, directly or indirectly, more than 50 percent of the voting power, total value of the equity interest or assets, or interest in profits. Id. Special rules apply to trust and can be found in the Proposed Regulations. Id. Finally, a U.S. person who “causes an entity to be created for a purpose of evading the reporting requirement shall have a financial interest in any bank, securities, or other financial account in a foreign country for which the entity is the owner of record or holder of legal title.” Id.

If there is no financial interest in the foreign financial account, the filer should determine whether he has signature authority over the account. A U.S. person has account signature authority if that person can control the disposition of money or other property in the account by delivery of a document containing his signature to the bank or other person with whom the account is maintained. See 75 Fed. Reg. at 8848. Notice, once again, that control over the disposition of assets in the account is one of the main factors in deciding whether the FBAR needs to be filed.

It is important to mention that, pursuant to the IRS Announcement 2010-23, persons with signature authority over, but no financial interest in, a foreign financial accounts for which an FBAR would otherwise have been due on June 30, 2010, will now have until June 30, 2011, to report those foreign financial accounts. Combined with IRS Announcement 2009-62, this means that the deadline has been extended for the calendar year 2009 and all prior years.

Finally, even if no financial interest or signature authority exists, the filer has to continue his analysis and determine whether he has “other comparable authority” over the account. This catch-all, ambiguous term is not defined by the IRS. Nevertheless, the instructions to FinCEN Form 114 formerly Form TD F 90-22.1 generally state that the other comparable authority exists when the filer can exercise power comparable to the signature authority over the account by communication with the bank or other person with whom the account is maintained, either directly or through an agent, or in some other capacity on behalf of the U.S. person.