Posts

March 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns | International Tax Lawyer & Attorney

With this article, we begin a series of articles dedicated to the description of the IRS compliance campaigns initiated between March of 2018 and April of 2019. This article is dedicated to the March 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns.

March 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Background Information

On March 13, 2018, the IRS Large Business and International division (“LB&I”) has announced the creation of another five additional compliance campaigns. This news came after similar announcements on January 31, 2017 and November 3, 2017 about the selection of a total of twenty-four IRS compliance campaigns.

These campaigns came into existence as a result of a long and broad restructuring of the LB&I, which required a large investment of time and resources. Campaign development in particular required strategic planning and deployment of resources, training and tools, metrics and feedback.

The basic idea behind the IRS campaigns is to focus the limited resources of the IRS on the high-risk compliance issues in the most efficient way. These campaigns also go hand-in-hand with the recent IRS shift to issue-based audits.

Five March 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns

On March 13, 2018, the IRS announced the creation of five additional campaigns: Costs that Facilitate an IRC Section 355 Transaction, SECA Tax, Partnership Stop Filer, Sale of Partnership Interest and Partial Disposition Election for Buildings.

Each of these campaigns was identified by the IRS through the LB&I data analysis as well as recommendations from IRS compliance employees.

March 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Costs that Facilitate an IRC Section 355 Transaction

In general, costs to facilitate a tax-free corporate distribution under IRC Section 355, such as a spin-off or split-up, must be capitalized (i.e. they cannot be deducted). Nevertheless, some taxpayers may execute a corporate distribution and improperly deduct the costs that facilitated the transaction in the year the distribution was completed. The goal of this campaign is to ensure that taxpayers only capitalize the facilitative costs. The IRS intends to reach this goal through issue-based examinations.

March 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: SECA Tax

This campaign focuses on partners’ self-employment tax under the Self-Employment Contributions Act (“SECA”). Unless a partner qualifies as a “limited partner” for self-employment tax purposes, he must report his pass-through income from the partnership and pay the required self-employment tax under SECA.

The IRS, however, has realized that, with respect to service-based partnerships (particularly, law firms), some partners have improperly claimed that they qualified as limited partners. As part of this campaign, the IRS will focus on limited liability partnerships, limited partnerships and limited liability companies.

March 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Partnership Stop Filer

This campaign focuses on a very common problem – a partnership ceases to file tax returns even though it continues to do business, fails to supply Schedules K-1 to its partners and the partners never report any of the pass-through income from the partnership.

Since there are various possible reasons that cause this problem to arise, the IRS decided to adopt a flexible approach to enforcement in this campaign. The treatment streams will vary from stakeholder outreach, soft letters (to encourage voluntary self-correction) to issue-based examinations.

March 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Sale of Partnership Interest

A sale of a partnership interest usually results in a capital gain or loss. The taxation of such a gain varies from long-term capital gains tax rate of 15% (if the partnership interest was held for more than a year) and higher capital gains rates for appreciated collectibles to short-term capital gains and, in some cases, even ordinary income (for example, in situations where the a partnership has inventory items or unrealized receivables at the time of the sale or exchange).

This campaign intends to deal with two problems that arise with respect to a sale of a partnership interest. First, the IRS will target taxpayers who simply do not report the sale (there is a surprisingly large number of these individuals, especially in a small-business setting, like a restaurant).

Second, the IRS wants to improve compliance with respect to correct taxation of the gain from a disposition of a partnership interest. The incorrect reporting usually occurs where the entire such gain is taxed at long-term capital gain tax rates, rather than 25% or 28% capital gain rates.

The IRS realizes that there are a variety of reasons for errors concerning the proper reporting and taxation of a partnership disposition gain. For this reason, it will apply a variety of treatment streams to noncompliance taxpayers, including soft letters and examinations. Additional treatment streams include practitioner and taxpayer outreach, tax software vendor outreach, and tax form and publication change suggestions.

March 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Partial Disposition Election for Buildings

In August of 2014, the IRS issued regulations concerning IRC Section 168. In particular, Treas. Reg. Section 1.168(i)-8 supply the rules concerning gain/loss recognition with respect to partial disposition of MACRS property. In order to comply with the Section168 disposition regulations and make a partial disposition election, a taxpayer must be able to substantiate that it:

disposed of a portion of a MACRS asset owned by the taxpayer;
identified the asset that was partially disposed;
determined the placed-in-service date of the partially disposed asset;
determined the adjusted basis of the disposed portion; and
reduced the adjusted basis of the asset by the disposed portion.

The goal of this campaign is to ensure taxpayers accurately recognize the gain or loss on the partial disposition of a building, including its structural components. The treatment stream for this campaign is issue-based examinations and potential changes to IRS forms and the supporting instructions and publications.

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!

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!

SLO’s 2017 Seminar on Business Lawyers’ International Tax Mistakes

On February 23, 2017, Mr. Eugene Sherayzen, an international tax lawyer and owner of Sherayzen Law Office (“SLO”), conducted a seminar titled “Top 5 International Tax Mistakes Made by Business Lawyers”. The seminar was sponsored by the Corporate Counsel Section and International Business Law Section of the Minnesota State Bar Association.

Mr. Sherayzen commenced the seminar by asking a question about why business lawyers should be concerned with making international tax mistakes. After identifying the main answers, the tax attorney stated that he would focus on the strategic mistakes, rather than any specific U.S. international tax requirements.

Mr. Sherayzen first discussed the Business Purity Trap, a situation where business lawyers view a business transaction as something exclusively within the business law domain and with no relation whatsoever to U.S. tax law. The tax attorney stated that all business transactions have tax consequences, even if the effect is not immediate and there is no actual income tax impact.

Then, Mr. Sherayzen discussed the Tax Dabble Trap. This trap describes a situation where a business lawyer attempts to provide an advice on an international tax issue. The tax attorney explained why business lawyers often fall into this trap and the potentially disastrous consequences this trap may have for the business lawyers’ clients.

The Tax Law Uniformity Trap was the third trap discussed by the tax attorney. One of the most common international tax mistakes that business lawyers (and also many accountants) make is to believe that U.S. domestic tax law and U.S. international tax law are similar. Mr. Sherayzen also pointed out that there is a variation on this trap with respect to foreign owners of U.S. entities.

The discussion of the fourth trap, the Tax Professional Equality Trap, turned out be very fruitful. Mr. Sherayzen drew a sharp distinction between the role played by a general accountant versus the role of an international tax attorney. He also specifically focused on the potentially disastrous consequences the reliance on a domestic accountant may have in the context of offshore voluntary disclosures.

Finally, Mr. Sherayzen discussed the Foreign Exceptionalism Trap. This trap deals with a false belief that certain foreign transactions that occur completely outside of the United States have no tax consequences for the U.S. clients involved in these transactions. Mr. Sherayzen also pointed out that danger of relying solely on foreign accountants and lawyers in this context.

He concluded the seminar with a short examination of another “bonus” tax trap called the Linguistic Uniformity Trap. The description of all tax traps was accompanied by real-life examples from Mr. Sherayzen’s international tax law practice.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional U.S. International Tax Advice to Avoid Costly International Tax Mistakes

If you are a business lawyer who deals with international business transactions or transactions involving tax residents of a foreign country, please contact Sherayzen Law Office to avoid costly international tax mistakes. Our law firm has worked with many business lawyers, helping them to properly structure international business transactions in a way that avoids making international tax mistakes. Remember, it is much easier and cheaper to avoid making international tax mistakes than fixing them later.

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

Dividend Income Sourcing | International Tax Lawyer & Attorney

One of the most important issues in US international tax law is the sourcing of income – i.e. the determination of whether the income is foreign or domestic for US tax purposes. In this article, I will introduce readers to US tax rules concerning dividend income sourcing (note, I will not be discussing substitute dividends and so-called “fast-pay” stocks as part of this article).

Dividend Income Sourcing: General Rule

Aside from limited exceptions, the source of dividend income is determined by whether the corporation that pays the dividends is foreign or domestic.

Dividend Income Sourcing: Domestic Corporations

Generally, if a US domestic corporation pays a dividend to its shareholders, the income is sourced in the United States. IRC §861(a)(2)(A).

There are three limited exceptions to this general rule, but only the first exception is really relevant at this point. The first exception is found in the complex rules concerning a Domestic International Sales Corporation (“DISC”). Basically, under IRC §861(a)(2)(D), dividends from a DISC are US-source income unless the dividends are attributable to “qualified export receipts”. In other words, if all of the gross income of a DISC satisfies the definition of qualified export receipts, then the entire gross income will be considered as derived from a foreign source. This is the basic rule and there are important exceptions and considerations that must be considered if one engages in a detailed analysis.

The second exception was a dividend paid by a Section 936 corporation. A Section 936 corporation was a special type of a domestic corporation that did business in the US possessions. At this point, the repeal of IRC §936 makes this section largely irrelevant.

Finally, the third exception existed mostly prior to 1987. At that time, if a taxpayer was able to show that 80% of the gross income of the payor corporation for the relevant period of time consisted of foreign-source income, then the dividend was also foreign-source even if it was paid by a domestic corporation. The relevant period of time for making this determination included the three fiscal years of the corporation preceding the year in which the dividend was declared (obviously, if the corporation existed for less than three years, then the period of time was reduced to the number of years the corporation had been in existence). Interestingly, with the exception of mergers and consolidations, the dividends were foreign-source even if the payor corporation filed a consolidated return with an affiliated group which did not meet what was known as the 80/20 rule.

This third exception became largely irrelevant as of January 1, 1987. However, the 80/20 corporations were exempted from tax withholding even as late as prior to 2010. At that time, the Congress finally repealed the 80/20 company rule, though it still left a grandfather clause for it.

Dividend Income Sourcing: Foreign Corporations

Dividend income sourcing with respect to foreign corporations is more complex. Generally, dividends from foreign corporations are considered to be foreign-source income unless 25% or more of the corporation’s gross income for the three years preceding the taxable year (in which the distribution occurred) was from income that was effectively connected with a trade or business in the United States. This is the so-called “25% exception”.

If the 25% threshold is satisfied, then the dividend is apportioned according to the percentage of the corporation’s income effectively connected to the United States versus foreign-source income. This rule obviously affects the ability of a US person to take full foreign tax credit.

Now, let’s look at the 25% exception from the perspective of a foreign person receiving a dividend from a foreign corporation. Again, if a foreign dividend was paid to a foreign person from a company that did not satisfy the 25% exception, then no part of the dividend was sourced to the United States. If, however, the 25% exception was satisfied, then a foreign person had US-source income according to the apportionment rule described above. In other words, a foreign dividend paid from a foreign company to a foreign individual may result in US-source income even though none of these persons are US tax residents!

Moreover, prior to 2005, such a foreign individual would have to declare this US-source income in the United States and, theoretically, pay tax on it. Obviously, this was unlikely to happen because either the foreign corporation was subject to the branch profits tax which offset the tax on dividends paid by the corporation or a tax treaty prevented the taxation of such dividend. Nevertheless, if neither exception applied, a foreign person could find himself in noncompliance with US tax laws (and there was even some litigation on this subject).

When it passed the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004, the US Congress finally relented and exempted from US taxation all dividends that fell within the 25% exception and were paid to foreign persons on or after January 1, 2005. IRC §871(i)(2)(D).

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help with Dividend Income Sourcing

Sherayzen Law Office is a highly experienced international tax law firm that specializes in US international tax compliance, offshore voluntary disclosures and international tax planning. Our clients have greatly benefitted from our reliability, profound knowledge of international tax law (including dividend income sourcing), detailed and comprehensive approach to tax compliance and creative ethical tax planning (even during offshore voluntary disclosures). We can help You!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!