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Sherayzen Law Office Successfully Completes 2019 April 15 Tax Season

Hundreds of filed complex tax forms and FBARs is the supreme evidence of the successful completion of the 2019 April 15 tax season by Sherayzen Law Office. Sherayzen Law Office is an international tax law firm that specializes in offshore voluntary disclosures and US international tax compliance.

Annual compliance occupies a special place in the firm’s practice. This part of our practice consists of almost entirely clients who were so satisfied with our services that they wanted us to handle their annual tax compliance. It is a proud testimony of the high quality, efficiency and professionalism of Sherayzen Law Office’s work.

Since there are more and more clients every year who wish to retain our services for annual compliance, this has been a very dynamic area of growth. It also means that, with each year, the deadline pressure is rising.

The 2019 April 15 tax season was no exception. A record number of clients placed their utmost confidence in our work and asked us to prepare their 2018 income tax returns, information returns and FBARs. Moreover, the tremendous complexity of the 2017 tax reform has further added to the difficulty of the 2019 April 15 tax season.

Mr. Eugene Sherayzen, the founder and owner of Sherayzen Law Office, recognized very early that this tax season is going to be the most difficult one yet in the firm’s existence. This why he expanded and trained additional workforce at the beginning of 2019, engaged in proper tax season planning, addressed ahead of time the needs of the ongoing audit and offshore voluntary disclosure clients and established aggressive deadlines for the firm.

Thanks to all of this work by Mr. Sherayzen and the firm’s employees, all of the annual compliance deadlines were successfully completed. Moreover, Sherayzen Law Office was also able to finalize the filings for all of the offshore voluntary disclosure clients according to the already-created (by Mr. Sherayzen) customized plans of offshore voluntary disclosure.

We are not planning, however, to simply enjoy the laurels of another success. We look forward to helping hundreds of new clients with their offshore voluntary disclosures, IRS audits and international tax planning. We also already started our preparation for June 15, September 15 and October 15 tax seasons.

If you are looking for an international tax firm to which you entrust your case, you should retain the services of Sherayzen Law Office! We are a team of highly-experienced US international tax specialists who have helped hundreds of US taxpayers with their US international tax compliance and offshore voluntary disclosures. We Can Help You!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

IRS International Tax Campaigns | International Tax Attorney Houston

Five of the thirteen new IRS Campaigns directly target US international tax noncompliance. In this essay, I would like to provide a brief overview of these five IRS International Tax Campaigns. In the future articles, I will explain each of these campaigns in more detail.

IRS International Tax Campaigns: Background Information

After multiple years of preparation and reorganization, the IRS Large Business and International Division announced a new way to enforce US corporate and international tax laws – issue-focused IRS campaigns. An IRS campaign is basically an approach to tax enforcement which allows the IRS to allocate its scarce resources to a specific issue that the IRS believes to be a major noncompliance concern. This is very different from the previous IRS approaches which focused more on specific types of taxpayers.

On January 31, 2017, the IRS outlined the first thirteen campaigns and claimed that many more campaigns are in the process of being developed and finalized. Five of the first thirteen campaigns focus on international tax compliance issues.

IRS International Tax Campaigns: General Description

These five IRS International Tax Campaigns are: Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (“OVDP”) Declines-Withdrawals Campaign, Repatriation Campaign, Form 1120-F Non-Filer Campaign, Inbound Distributor Campaign and Related Party Transactions Campaign.

The international focus of the OVDP, Repatriation, Form 1120-F and Inbound Distribution Campaigns is fairly obvious. The Related-Party Transactions is listed among the IRS International Tax Campaigns because of the IRS focus on the transfer of funds from a controlled foreign corporation to its related pass-through entities (US or foreign) or shareholders.

IRS International Tax Campaigns: What Taxpayers are at Risk

Among the IRS International Tax Campaigns, the OVDP Declines-Withdrawal Campaign and Form 1120-F Non-Filer Campaign can apply to small, mid-market and high net-worth taxpayers. It appears that the Inbound Distributor Campaign is likely to apply to any mid-market to large taxpayers. The rest of the IRS International Tax Campaigns, the Repatriation Campaign and the Related Party Transactions Campaign, specifically identify “mid-market taxpayers” as a targeted group. It should be stated, however, that the Repatriation Campaign will also indiscriminately target failures to state taxable transactions on US tax returns.

From the description above, it is obvious that the IRS is increasing its focus on mid-market taxpayers. Who is considered to be a “mid-market” taxpayer? The IRS defined this category during its first webinar on March 7, 2017 as taxpayers with assets between $10 million and $250 million. If you or your company fall within this category, you are at a high risk of IRS examination.

What Should Taxpayers Exposed to the IRS International Tax Campaigns Do?

If you are taxpayer with tax issues identified in the IRS International Tax Campaigns, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office as soon as possible. Our team of tax professionals, headed by an international tax attorney, Mr. Eugene Sherayzen, will: throughly analyze your case to determine if you are currently in compliance with US tax laws, determine the options for proceeding forward with bringing your tax affairs into full compliance and preparing for an issue-based examination, and implement the preferred option (including the preparation of all legal documents and tax forms).

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

UK FATCA Letters

While the United Kingdom signed its FATCA implementation treaty in 2014, UK FATCA letters (i.e. FATCA letters from UK financial institutions) continue to pour into the mailboxes of U.S. taxpayers. In this article, I would like to discuss the purpose and impact of UK FATCA Letters.

UK FATCA Letters

UK FATCA Letters play an integral role in the FATCA Compliance of UK financial institutions. Under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), the UK foreign institutions are obligated to collect certain information regarding U.S. owners of UK bank and financial accounts and provide this information to the IRS. The collected information must include the name, address and social security number (or, EIN number) of U.S. accountholders.

In order to collect the required information and identify who among their clients is a US person for FATCA purposes, the UK financial institutions send UK FATCA Letters to their clients, asking them to provide the information by the required date. If there is no response within the required period of time (which may be extended), the UK financial institutions report the account to the IRS with the classification as a “recalcitrant account”.

UK FATCA Letters and Undisclosed UK Bank and Financial Accounts

While UK FATCA Letters are important to FATCA compliance of UK financial institutions, they also may have important impact on U.S. taxpayers with undisclosed bank and financial accounts in the United Kingdom, particularly on the ability of such U.S. taxpayers to timely disclose their foreign accounts.

Once a U.S. taxpayer receives UK FATCA Letters, he should be aware that the clock has started on his ability to do any type of voluntary disclosure. This is the case because UK FATCA Letters demand a response within certain limited period of time. Then, the UK financial institutions will report the account to the IRS, which may prompt IRS examination which, in turn, may deprive the taxpayer of the ability to take advantage of any type of a voluntary disclosure option.

Furthermore, UK FATCA Letters start the clock for the taxpayers to do their voluntary disclosure in an indirect way. If the taxpayers do not complete their voluntary disclosure within reasonable period of time (which may differ depending on circumstances) after they receive the letters, the IRS may proceed based on the assumption that prior noncompliance with U.S. tax requirements by the still noncompliant taxpayers was willful.

Finally, UK FATCA Letters may impact a U.S. taxpayer’s legal position with respect to current and future tax compliance, because UK FATCA Letters can be used by the IRS as evidence to prove awareness of U.S. tax requirements on the part of noncompliant U.S. taxpayers. This is particularly relevant for taxpayers who receive these letters right before the tax return and FBAR filing deadlines.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office if You Received UK FATCA Letters

If you received one or more UK FATCA Letters from foreign financial institutions, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office as soon as possible. Attorney Eugene Sherayzen is one of the world’s leading professionals in the area of offshore voluntary disclosures and he will personally analyze your case and create the appropriate voluntary disclosure strategy. Then, under his close supervision, his legal team will implement this strategy, including the preparation of all required tax forms.

Call Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

Streamlined Five Percent Offshore Penalty Calculation

Despite its appearances, the calculation of the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures Title 26 Miscellaneous Offshore Penalty (“Streamlined Five Percent Offshore Penalty) may actually be a complex process. Moreover, the correct calculation of the Streamlined Five Percent Offshore Penalty may lead to some paradoxical conclusions, including a preference for the OVDP Penalty (now closed). Due to the complexity of the calculation of the Streamlined Five Percent Offshore Penalty, this process should be handled by an experienced international tax lawyer. Nevertheless, in this article, I will outline some of the general contours of this process for educational purposes only.

General Calculation of the Streamlined Five Percent Offshore Penalty

The calculation of the Streamlined Five Percent Offshore Penalty is a three-step process. First, you need to identify the Penalty Base. Second, you need to determine the December 31 value of each asset included in the Penalty Base and enter these values into Form 14654. Finally, you need to determine the aggregate value of these assets per year and apply the Streamlined Five Percent Offshore Penalty to the highest aggregate value.

Penalty Base of the Streamlined Five Percent Offshore Penalty

The first and most important step in the calculation is determining the Penalty Base. I strongly advise retaining an international tax lawyer to do this calculation for you; neither the accountants nor the clients themselves should be trusted with this task, because it requires a legal determination of what assets need to be included in the Penalty Base for the Streamlined Five Percent Offshore Penalty.

In general, however, the Penalty Base consists of all foreign assets that are subject to the Streamlined Five Percent Offshore Penalty – i.e. a legal determination needs to be made with respect to which assets need to be included in the calculation of this penalty and which assets do not need to be included.

This determination needs be made with respect to assets that the taxpayer had in each of the last six years – this is called the voluntary disclosure period. For example, in general, the voluntary disclosure period for taxpayers who are filing their voluntary disclosure under the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures in March of 2016 will be calendar years 2009-2014.

After a few changes in its position, the IRS finally established its position on the calculation of the Penalty Base and it is frightfully broad. In general, the Penalty Base for the Streamlined Five Percent Offshore Penalty consists of three types of assets. First, it includes, for each of the six years in the voluntary disclosure period, all foreign financial accounts (as determined by the FBAR rules) in which the taxpayer has a personal financial interest and which should have been, but were not reported, on an FBAR.

The second class of assets, consists of all foreign financial assets (as defined in the instructions for Form 8938) in which the taxpayer has a personal financial interest and that should have been, but were not, reported on Form 8938. Note here the difference in the number of years applicable to this asset class – only in each of the three years in the covered tax return period (i.e. in our example above, in general, it would be years 2012-2014; however, if the 2015 tax return was filed, then, the covered tax return period could shift to 2013-2015). This is very different from the first class of assets reportable on the FBARs. The difference is due to the fact that the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures only require the tax returns to be filed for the past three years, while the FBAR covers the past six years.

This second class of assets is the most problematic, because Form 8938 is very broad and covers a wide range of assets, including interests in foreign businesses and foreign trusts. Moreover, the Streamlined Five Percent Offshore Penalty is even applicable to the assets that are reportable on Forms 3520, 5471, 8621 and other forms which are linked to Form 8938 – i.e. foreign financial assets that would be reportable on Form 8938 had it not been for the provision in Form 8938 instructions designed to eliminate the burden of the duplicate reporting. Other complications may arise with respect to the spectrum of assets that should be included in this second category of the Penalty Base.

The third class of assets includes all foreign financial accounts and other foreign financial assets that were reported on the FBAR and Form 8938, but the gross income for these accounts and assets was not reported in that year. This is called income tax non-compliance.

Valuation of Assets for Streamlined Five Percent Offshore Penalty

After your international tax lawyer determines the assets that need to be included in the Penalty Base, the next step is to value these assets in order to enter them into Form 14654 (here, if you have numerous assets, I recommend that your lawyer creates an attachment that includes all required information). There are two important issues that one must remember with respect to asset valuation for the purpose of calculating the Streamlined Five Percent Offshore Penalty.

First, your lawyer should value the assets as of December 31 value of the applicable year; the IRS is not looking for the highest value of an asset, just the December 31 value. This is easy to do with respect to foreign financial accounts, but the problems arise with respect to other assets included in the Penalty Base, which leads us to the second issue.

Second, special rules apply to valuation of ownership of foreign disregarded entities, corporations and trusts. A reasonable valuation method should be used in making these determinations. Oftentimes, the balance sheet of Form 5471 can be used; however, sometimes an event (for example, a sale of corporate stock) may occur which provides a reasonable value for the stock. Remember, however, the valuation should be done as of December 31. This means that, if the stock is sold on December 30, the value of the stock (for the purpose of the year in which the stock is sold) would be zero.

Application of the Streamlined Five Percent Offshore Penalty to the Highest Aggregate Balance

The last step in the Streamlined Offshore Five Percent Penalty calculation is the easiest. Once the asset values included in the Penalty Base are properly valued and entered into Form 14654, the international tax lawyer needs to add-up the totals for each year and determine the highest aggregate amount among the years. Then, the lawyer should apply the Streamlined Five Percent Offshore Penalty to the highest aggregate balance – this is the amount due to the IRS.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Help With Your Voluntary Disclosure Under the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures

The determination of the Streamlined Five Percent Offshore Penalty may be a difficult and tricky process and you need an international tax lawyer to do it. Moreover, the actual choice of the type of voluntary disclosure that a taxpayer should pursue needs be analyzed by an experienced attorney.

Sherayzen Law Office is a leading offshore voluntary disclosure law firm in the world with clients in virtually every continent. We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers to bring their US tax affairs into full compliance with US tax laws and we can help You!

Contact Us to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

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, you need to 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!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!