IRS AI Software to Analyze Tax Data | IRS Tax Lawyer Minneapolis

On November 18, 2016, Mr. Benjamin Herndon, the current IRS director for research and analytics, confirmed the recent rumors that the IRS AI Software is being tested to help IRS agents find patterns of tax noncompliance.

The idea is to supplement human analysis of data with the IRS AI software that would analyze any piece of data not only by itself, but also in conjunction with the other data available to the IRS. This way, the IRS AI Software is expected to analyze a very large amount of various data to identify tax noncompliance patterns.

This means that the IRS currently plans to use artificial intelligence for pattern recognition and visualization of data that would help IRS revenue agents uncover tax noncompliance. It is possible that the IRS AI software will even analyze a particular taxpayer’s characteristics in the context of a taxpayer’s behavior to uncover any discrepancies and potential tax noncompliance.

I believe that this is just the first step that the conservative agency is making. In the near future, one can foresee that the IRS AI software will start taking on more and more tasks such as conducting correspondence audits, certain automatized communications with taxpayers, analysis of data during a field audit (the IRS AI Software can be used most effectively during the audits of large corporations which have huge amounts of data), IRS customer support, international tax compliance (particularly analysis of data collected through FATCA and FBARs) and other vital IRS functions. Most likely, the decisions associated with penalty imposition and the negotiation of offer in compromise will rest with human IRS agents for now.

Finally, the biggest immediate impact of the IRS AI software is likely to be felt in the ability of the IRS to more effectively implement US tax laws and conduct more audits due to the fact that the IRS revenue agents will now be able to devote less time to audit analysis and more time to enforcement of tax laws.

In sum, the US taxpayers should be ready for the impending improved ability of the IRS to identify tax noncompliance and conduct more audits due to increased efficiency which will be introduced by the IRS AI Software.

Importance of Pre-Immigration Tax Planning

Pre-immigration tax planning is done by very few of the millions of immigrants who come to the United States. This is highly unfortunate because US tax laws are highly complex and it is very easy to get into trouble. The legal and emotional costs of bringing your tax affairs back into US tax compliance (after you violated any of these complex laws) are usually a lot higher than those of the pre-immigration tax planning. In this writing, I would like to discuss the concept and process of pre-immigration tax planning for persons who wish to immigrate and/or work in the United States.

The concept of pre-immigration tax planning is far more complex than what people generally believe. Most people simply focus on the actions required by local tax laws of their home country; very little attention is actually paid to the tax laws of the future host country – the United States. Perhaps, the only exception to this rule is avoidance of double-taxation; however, even this concept is approached narrowly to avoid only the taxation of US-source income by the home country.

Yet, the pre-immigration tax planning should focus on both, US tax laws and the laws of the home country. It is even safe to argue that a much larger effort should be going into US tax planning due to the much farther reach and the higher level of complexity of the US tax system; in fact, the capacity of US tax laws to invade one’s life is not something for which the new US immigrants are likely to be prepared. Furthermore, once a person emigrates to the United States, he will likely lose his tax residency in his home country.

Once the correct focus on US tax laws is adopted, the pre-immigration tax planning process should begin by securing a consultation with an international tax lawyer in the United States. Beware of using local tax lawyers who are not licensed in the United States to do your pre-immigration tax planning – having an idea of US tax laws is not the same as practicing US tax law. A separate article can be written on how to find and secure the right international tax lawyer, but, if you are reading this article, you already know that you should call Sherayzen Law Office for help with your pre-immigration tax planning!

During the consultation, your international tax lawyer should carefully go over your existing asset structure, their acquisition history, any built-up appreciation and other relevant matters. Then, he should classify the assets according to their likely US tax treatment and identify the problematic assets or assets which need further research. The lawyer should also discuss with you some of the most common US tax compliance requirements.

After the initial consultation, your US international tax lawyer will engage in preliminary pre-immigration tax planning, creating the first draft of your plan solely from US tax perspective.

Then, he will contact a tax professional in your home country (preferably a tax professional that you supply and who is familiar with your asset structure). If you have assets in multiple jurisdictions, the US lawyer should also contact tax attorneys in these jurisdictions in order to find out the tax consequences of his plan in these jurisdictions. He will then modify his plan based on these discussions to create the second draft of your pre-immigration tax plan.

The next step of your pre-immigration tax planning should be the discussion of the relevant details of the modified plan with your immigration lawyer in order to make sure that the plan does not interfere with your immigration goals. Once the immigration lawyer’s approval is secured, you can proceed with the implementation of the tax plan.

Obviously, this discussion of your pre-immigration tax planning is somewhat simplified in some aspects and overly structured in others. Not all of the steps need to be always followed, especially followed in the same order; a lot will depend on your asset structure and how complex or simple it is.

Finally, it is important to emphasize that pre-immigration tax planning applies not only to persons who wish to obtain US permanent residence, but also to persons who just wish to work (either as employees, contractors or business owners) in the United States, because these persons are likely to become US tax residents even if they never become US permanent residents.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Experienced Help With Your Pre-Immigration Tax Planning

If you are thinking of immigrating to or working in the United States, contact a leading international tax law firm in this field, Sherayzen Law Office, for professional tax help. Our experienced legal team has helped foreign individuals and families around the world and we can help you!

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US Income Tax Obligations of Green Card Holders: General Overview

There is a common misconception among Green Card Holders (a common name for US permanent residents) that their US income tax obligations are limited in nature in comparison to US citizens. In this article, I seek to dispel this erroneous myth and provide some general outlines of the US income tax obligations of Green Card Holders.

US Income Tax Obligations of Green Card Holders: Worldwide Income Reporting

I receive a lot of phone calls from Green Card holders who believe that their US income tax reporting obligations are limited only to US-source income (sourcing of income, by the way, is also a very complex subject and I often see egregious mistakes committed even by experienced accountants).

This is not correct. In fact, US permanent residents and US citizens are both considered to be “tax residents of the United States.” US tax residents are required to report their worldwide income on US tax returns and pay US income taxes on foreign-source income (and, obviously, US-source income).

Thus, if you have a Green Card and you have foreign assets (such as foreign bank and financial accounts, foreign businesses, foreign trusts, et cetera), you must report the income from such foreign assets on your US tax returns.

Be careful! You must remember that all foreign income must be reported in US dollars and according to US tax laws. Leaving aside the issue of currency conversion (which is a topic for another article), the reporting of foreign income under US tax laws may be extremely challenging because foreign tax laws may treat this income in a different manner. Let me emphasize this point – the treatment of income under foreign local tax rules may not actually be the same as the treatment of the same income under US tax rules.

For example, Assurance Vie accounts in France may be completely tax-exempt if certain conditions are met. However, the annual income from these accounts must be reported on US tax returns.

Moreover, to make matters worse, these accounts may contain PFIC (Passive Foreign Investment Company) investments which are treated in a very complex and generally unfavorable manner under US tax laws. The calculation of US tax liability in this case may be extremely complex (especially since the French banks are not required to keep the kind of information that is necessary to properly calculation PFIC tax and interest).

US Income Tax Obligations of Green Card Holders: Reporting of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts

As US tax residents, the Green Card holders are also required to disclose their ownership of certain foreign bank and financial accounts to the IRS. Many US permanent residents are shocked to learn about these requirements and the draconian penalties associated with failure to file the required information reports.

The top two bank and financial account reporting requirements are FinCEN Form 114 (known as “FBAR” – the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts) and Form 8938 (which was born out of FATCA). Other forms, such as Form 8621, may apply.

It is beyond the scope of this article to discuss these requirements in detail. However, it is impossible to overstate their importance, especially the FBAR, due to potentially astronomical non-compliance penalties (including criminal penalties). You can find more information about these requirements at

US Income Tax Obligations of Green Card Holders: Reporting of Foreign Business Ownership

Many US permanent residents are surprised to find out that they may be required to provide detailed reports about their foreign businesses – corporations, partnerships and disregarded entities. Indeed, Green Card holders may be subject to burdensome and expensive US reporting requirements on Forms 5471, 8865, 926, 8938, et cetera. These forms may require Green Card holders to provide foreign financial statements translated under US accounting standards, including US GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Practices).

Again, you can find more information about these requirement at

US Income Tax Obligations of Green Card Holders: Reporting of Foreign Trusts

Another complex trap for Green Card Holders is reporting of an ownership or a beneficiary interest in a foreign trust (generally, on Form 3520). This complicated topic is beyond the scope of this article, but you can find more information about these requirements at

US Income Tax Obligations of Green Card Holders: Other Reporting Requirements

There are numerous other US income tax obligations of Green Card Holders that may apply. Moreover, US has multiple income tax treaties with various countries which may modify your particular tax situation. In order to fully determine your US tax obligations as a Green Card holder, it is best to consult with an experienced international tax attorney.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Help With Your US Income Tax Obligations

Sherayzen Law Office is a specialized international tax law firm which is highly experienced in helping US Permanent Residents with their US income tax obligations and reporting requirements. One of the unique features of our firm is that our tax team provides both legal and accounting services to our clients throughout the world.

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Swiss Bank Program Update: Bank Zweiplus and Banca Stato del Cantone Ticino

On August 20, 2015, the US Department of Justice announced another Swiss Bank Program update – Bank Zweiplus AG (Bank Zweiplus) and Banca dello Stato del Cantone Ticino (Banca Stato) have reached resolutions under the department’s Swiss Bank Program.

The Swiss Bank Program, which was announced on August 29, 2013, provides a path for Swiss banks to resolve potential criminal liabilities in the United States. Swiss banks eligible to enter the program were required to advise the department by December 31, 2013, that they had reason to believe that they had committed tax-related criminal offenses in connection with undeclared U.S.-related accounts. Banks already under criminal investigation related to their Swiss-banking activities and all individuals were expressly excluded from the program.

Swiss Bank Program Update: Bank Zweiplus Background and Non-Prosecution Agreement

As part of its Swiss Bank Program Update, the DOJ provided various background information regarding Bank Zweiplus. The Bank was founded in July 2008 as a retail bank based in Zurich. Offices located in Geneva and Basel, Switzerland, were closed in 2008 and 2012, respectively. Since Aug. 1, 2008, Bank Zweiplus maintained and serviced 44 U.S.-related accounts with an aggregate value of approximately $12.1 million.

Bank Zweiplus was aware that U.S. taxpayers have a legal duty to report to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) their ownership of bank accounts outside the United States and to pay taxes on income earned in such accounts. Nevertheless, in disregard of U.S. laws, the bank provided a variety of traditional Swiss banking services that assisted some U.S. taxpayers in concealing their undeclared accounts. For example, Bank Zweiplus maintained numbered accounts and accounts held in the name of structures which were effectively owned or controlled by U.S. persons, including structures in the British Virgin Islands and the Bahamas.

Bank Zweiplus cooperated with the department during its participation in the Swiss Bank Program and encouraged its U.S. clients to enter the IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (nowclosed). Bank Zweiplus will pay a penalty of $1.089 million.

Swiss Bank Program Update: Banca Stato Background and Non-Prosecution Agreement

As part of its Swiss Bank Program Update, the DOJ provided various background information regarding Banca Stato. Banca Stato was established in 1915 and is headquartered in Bellinzona, Switzerland. Banca Stato was aware that U.S. taxpayers had a legal duty to report to the IRS and pay taxes on the basis of all of their income, including income earned in accounts that the U.S. taxpayers maintained at the bank. Despite this, the bank opened and serviced accounts for U.S. clients who the bank knew or had reason to know were not complying with their U.S. income tax obligations.

During the applicable period, Banca Stato maintained and serviced 187 U.S.-related accounts with an aggregate maximum balance of approximately $137 million. Banca Stato will pay a penalty of $3.393 million.

Impact of this Swiss Bank Program Update on US Taxpayers

Starting August 20, 2015, noncompliant U.S. accountholders at Bank Zweiplus and Banca Stato must now pay that 50 percent penalty to the IRS if they wish to enter the IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program.

Follow this link to the DOJ website for more information on this Swiss Bank Program Update.

Finter Bank Zurich AG Reaches Resolution with US DOJ

On May 15, 2015, Finter Bank Zurich AG (Finter Bank) became the third Swiss bank to sign a Non-Prosecution Agreement with US DOJ according to the terms of the DOJ Program for Swiss Banks.

DOJ Program for Swiss Banks

On August 29, 2013, the DOJ announced the creation of the “The Program for Non-Prosecution Agreements or Non-Target Letters for Swiss Banks (Program)” with the goal or creating a voluntary disclosure program for Swiss banks. Under the Program, the Swiss banks would prove DOJ with detailed description of specified activities with respect to US-owned accounts as well as the identification of all accounts held by US persons at any point since August of 2008. In exchange, the Program promised Swiss banks an opportunity to forever resolve their past US non-compliance issues (including criminal illegal activities) with respect to US-held accounts. For Category 2 banks, the Program also imposed various penalty requirements. The banks already under criminal investigation related to their Swiss-banking activities and all individuals were expressly excluded from the program.

Finter Bank timely entered the Program and payed the required penalties. This is why it became the third Swiss bank to resolve its issues under the Program.

Finter Bank Background

Finter Bank was founded in 1958 in Chiasso, Switzerland, and has a branch office in Lugano, Switzerland. Since August 1, 2008, Finter Bank has maintained 283 U.S.-related accounts with an aggregate maximum balance of approximately $235 million.

Since its establishment and continuing through at least October 2011, Finter Bank, through its managers, employees and others, aided and assisted U.S. clients in opening and maintaining undeclared accounts in Switzerland and concealing the assets and income they held in these accounts from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). After August 2008, when Swiss bank UBS AG publicly announced that it was the target of a criminal investigation by U.S. tax authorities, Finter Bank accepted accounts from U.S. persons exiting other Swiss banks.

Finter Bank provided services that allowed U.S. clients to eliminate the paper trail associated with the undeclared assets and income, including “hold mail” services and numbered and coded accounts. In addition, Finter Bank assisted clients in using sham entities as nominee beneficial owners of undeclared accounts, solicited Forms W-8BEN that falsely stated under penalties of perjury that the sham entities beneficially owned the assets in the undeclared accounts, and provided cash cards and credits cards linked to the undeclared accounts.

Finter Bank Non-Prosecution Agreement

According to the terms of the non-prosecution agreement signed on May 15, Finter Bank agreed to cooperate in any related criminal or civil proceedings, demonstrate its implementation of controls to stop misconduct involving undeclared U.S. accounts and pay a $5.414 million penalty in return for the department’s agreement not to prosecute Finter Bank for tax-related criminal offenses.

Consequences of Finter Bank Non-Prosecution Agreement for US Taxpayers

In resolving its criminal liabilities under the program, Finter Bank encouraged U.S. accountholders to come into tax compliance and participate in the IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program. However, the taxpayers who did not listen to Finter Bank’s pleas and have not disclosed their secret Swiss accounts now face an importance consequence as a result of Finter Bank Non-Prosecution Agreement – if these taxpayers wish to enter the OVDP now, the penalty percentage has increased from 27.5 percent to 50% of the highest balance of their accounts for the past eight years.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Help With Disclosure of Your Foreign Bank Accounts

If you have undisclosed foreign bank accounts and any other assets, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help as soon as possible. Our legal team consists of tax professionals who specialize in offshore voluntary disclosures and have helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the world.

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