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Form 872 Refund Claims | Foreign Accounts International Tax Lawyer

The subject of this article is the discussion of the Form 872 Refund Claims, particularly whether filing Form 872 can extend the time for the taxpayer to claim a refund for the relevant years. Stated broadly, the key question that this article seeks to explore is whether an extension of time for assessment of tax can effect the taxpayer’s ability to file a refund claim for the extended years.

Form 872 Refund Claims – Form 872 and Offshore Voluntary Disclosures

Form 872 is a form used by the IRS to obtain the consent from the taxpayer to extend the time to assess tax. This consent can be obtained for income tax, self-employment tax of FICA tax on tips.

The form is used in a great variety of cases, but, in the US international tax context, it is mostly known for its use in the IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP). Form 872 is in fact obligatory in the OVDP due to the fact that the OVDP voluntary disclosure period is eight years whereas the standard statute of limitations is only three years (even with 25% gross income, there are still at least two years that cannot be opened by the IRS without claiming fraud). Moreover, Form 872 is also used to prevent the statute of limitations from expiring for the rest of the years while the OVDP case is pending.

Form 872 Refund Claims: Form 872 Extends the Statute of Limitations for Refund Claims

According to IRC §6511(c), if the taxpayer and the IRS agree to extend the time within which the IRS can assess a tax, the taxpayer receives a corresponding extension of the time within which he may file a credit or refund claim. Form 872 itself states in paragraph 4 that:

Without otherwise limiting the applicability of this agreement, this agreement also extends the period of limitations for assessing any tax (including penalties, additions to tax and interest) attributable to any partnership items (see section 6231 (a)(3)), affected items (see section 6231(a)(5)), computational adjustments (see section 6231(a)(6)), and partnership items converted to nonpartnership items (see section 6231(b)). Additionally, this agreement extends the period of limitations for assessing any tax (including penalties, additions to tax, and interest) relating to any amounts carried over from the taxable year specified in paragraph (1) to any other taxable year(s). This agreement extends the period for filing a petition for adjustment under section 6228(b) but only if a timely request for administrative adjustment is filed under section 6227. For partnership items which have converted to nonpartnership items, this agreement extends the period for filing a suit for refund or credit under section 6532, but only if a timely claim for refund is filed for such items.

Limitations on Form 872 Refund Claims

There is an important limitation on Form 872 Refund Claims. Form 872 Refund Claims will only be accepted if the extension agreement is entered into before the expiration of the claim period. See IRC §6511(c)(1). This means that, if Form 872 is entered into by the parties by the time that the statute of limitations had already expired, the taxpayer is unlikely to succeed in his Form 872 Refund Claims.

The Form 872 agreement becomes effective when signed by the taxpayer and the District Director or an Assistant Regional Commissioner (See Treas. Reg. § 301.6511(c)-1).

Let’s look at a basic example to understand this limitation on Form 872 Refund Claims better.  Let’s suppose that a taxpayer X filed his 2003 US tax return on April 15, 2004. In March of 2007, the IRS decided to audit X’s 2003 US tax return and Form 872 was entered into by both parties at that time. In this case, without an agreement (and absent other special circumstances such as foreign tax credit issues, 25% under-reporting of income, et cetera), the presumed expiration of the assessment period would be on April 15, 2007; similarly, X’s refund claim period would have expired on April 15, 2007. Since Form 872 was entered into by both parties in March of 2007 (i.e. prior to the expiration of the normal refund claim period), however, X can file his Form 872 refund claims during the period that covers the duration of the extension plus six months thereafter.

Time to File Form 872 Refund Claims

As it was hinted in the example above, the period within which a taxpayer may file a credit or refund claim arising from the tax liability covered by Form 872 is extended for the period of the extension plus an additional six months. See IRC §6511(c)(1).

What Can Be Claimed on Form 872 Refund Claims

With respect to timely Form 872 Refund Claims, the taxpayer can claim an amount limited to the amount that would have been allowable under the normal limitation rules if the claim had been filed on the date the agreement was executed AND any tax paid after the execution of the agreement but before the filing of the claim. IRC §6511(c)(2).

What is the amount allowable under the normal limitation rules? It varies widely based on for what the refund is claimed (i.e. the type of the claim) and what is the filing period. For example, if Form 872 Refund Claims are filed within the three-year filing period, the amount of the refund or credit is limited to the tax paid on the liability at issue within the three years immediately preceding the filing of the claim plus the period of any extension of time for filing the return. IRC §6511(b)(2)(A). On the other hand, Form 872 Refund Claims based on a foreign tax credit adjustment can be granted many years back because the statute of limitations is ten years.

Form 872 Cannot Reduce the Claim Period for Form 872 Refund Claims

One final point that should be mentioned is that Form 872 and any other agreement to extend the assessment period cannot reduce the refund and credit claim period. The law clearly states that, when an extension agreement is executed, the taxpayer’s claim period shall not expire before the expiration of the additional assessment period plus six months.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Help With Your Form 872 Refund Claims

If you entered into a Form 872 agreement to extend the time to assess tax (whether as a result of OVDP, opt-out OVDP audit, FBAR Audit or regular audit) or any other type of agreement to extend the assessment period, contact Sherayzen Law Office for help with filing your Form 872 refund claims.

50% Offshore Penalty of the 2014 OVDP

The 50% Offshore Penalty is a unique feature of the 2014 OVDP. What is so unusual about this penalty is that its impact widens with each passing month and year to include and affect more and more US taxpayers. In this article, I would like to explore the emergence of the 50% Offshore Penalty and its importance to US international tax compliance.

2014 OVDP Penalty Structure

On June 18, 2014, the IRS completely changed the entire legal landscape of US voluntary disclosure. The unwieldy and uncompromising penalty structure of the 2012 OVDP was replaced by the new Streamlined Procedures and a completely modified 2014 OVDP.

Under the new rules, the IRS eliminated the 5% and 12.5% penalties of the 2012 OVDP and replaced them with milder and more flexible Streamlined Domestic Offshore Penalty of 5% and Streamlined Foreign Offshore Penalty of 0%. On the other hand, the old default 25% penalty of the 2012 OVDP evolved into a new stringent system of dual penalty structure: 27.5% default Offshore Penalty and 50% Offshore Penalty.

FAQ 7.2 and 50% Offshore Penalty

The 27.5% default Offshore Penalty applies unless the participating US taxpayer has foreign accounts in a bank on a special IRS list as described in FAQ 7.2.

FAQ 7.2 states that, starting August 4, 2014, any taxpayer who enters OVDP will be subject to a 50% Offshore Penalty if, at the time the Preclearance letter is submitted to the IRS-CI (Criminal Investigation), a “public disclosure” has already occurred.

FAQ 7.2. further states that a “public disclosure” has occurred if one of the following three events occurs. First, if the foreign financial institution (FFI) where the undisclosed foreign account is held or another “facilitator who assisted in establishing or maintaining the taxpayer’s offshore arrangement” (“facilitator”) is under IRS or US DOJ investigation. The investigation should be the one that is related to accounts that are beneficially owned by a US person.

Second, the FFI or facilitator is cooperating with the IRS or the Department of Justice in connection with accounts that are beneficially owned by a U.S. person. In other words, where a foreign bank signs a Non-Prosecution Agreement with US DOJ; this means every Swiss bank that reached resolution with the DOJ under the Swiss Bank Program; OR

Third, the FFI or facilitator has been identified in a John Doe Summons seeking information about U.S. taxpayers who may hold financial accounts at this FFI or have accounts established or maintained by the facilitator.

FAQ 7.2 provides an example of when a public disclosure occurs: “a public filing in a judicial proceeding by any party or judicial officer; or public disclosure by the Department of Justice regarding a Deferred Prosecution Agreement or Non-Prosecution Agreement with a financial institution or other facilitator.

It is easy to see now why the 50% Offshore Penalty has been increasing in influence – every Non-Prosecution Agreement, every DOJ investigation, every John Doe summons automatically expands the application of the 50% Offshore Penalty to another FFI or even a set of FFIs.

Entire Penalty Base is Subject to 50% Offshore Penalty

If a public disclosure occurs with respect to the FFI or facilitor where the US taxpayer has one or more foreign accounts, the 50% Offshore Penalty applies not only to these accounts but to all of the taxpayer’s assets included in the penalty base. For example, if a US taxpayer has one account at UBS, ten accounts in an Australian bank (for which no public disclosure occurred) and a foreign rental property that generated unreported foreign income, the 50% Offshore Penalty will apply to all of these assets.

List of FFIs and Facilitators

The IRS published the list of all FFIs and Facilitators for which public disclosure has occurred with the dates when the 50% penalty is activated with respect to these FFIs and Facilitators. Here, I am only providing the list up to date through January 7, 2016:

UBS AG
Credit Suisse AG, Credit Suisse Fides, and Clariden Leu Ltd.
Wegelin & Co.
Liechtensteinische Landesbank AG
Zurcher Kantonalbank
swisspartners Investment Network AG, swisspartners Wealth Management AG, swisspartners Insurance Company SPC Ltd., and swisspartners Versicherung AG
CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank Limited, its predecessors, subsidiaries, and affiliates
Stanford International Bank, Ltd., Stanford Group Company, and Stanford Trust Company, Ltd.
The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited in India (HSBC India)
The Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son Limited (also known as Butterfield Bank and Bank of Butterfield), its predecessors, subsidiaries, and affiliates
Sovereign Management & Legal, Ltd., its predecessors, subsidiaries, and affiliates (effective 12/19/14)
Bank Leumi le-Israel B.M., The Bank Leumi le-Israel Trust Company Ltd, Bank Leumi (Luxembourg) S.A., Leumi Private Bank S.A., and Bank Leumi USA (effective 12/22/14)
BSI SA (effective 3/30/15)
Vadian Bank AG (effective 5/8/15)
Finter Bank Zurich AG (effective 5/15/15)
Societe Generale Private Banking (Lugano-Svizzera) SA (effective 5/28/15)
MediBank AG (effective 5/28/15)
LBBW (Schweiz) AG (effective 5/28/15)
Scobag Privatbank AG (effective 5/28/15)
Rothschild Bank AG (effective 6/3/15)
Banca Credinvest SA (effective 6/3/15)
Societe Generale Private Banking (Suisse) SA (effective 6/9/15)
Berner Kantonalbank AG (effective 6/9/15)
Bank Linth LLB AG (effective 6/19/15)
Bank Sparhafen Zurich AG (effective 6/19/15)
Ersparniskasse Schaffhausen AG (effective 6/26/15)
Privatbank Von Graffenried AG (effective 7/2/15)
Banque Pasche SA (effective 7/9/15)
ARVEST Privatbank AG (effective 7/9/15)
Mercantil Bank (Schweiz) AG (effective 7/16/15)
Banque Cantonale Neuchateloise (effective 7/16/15)
Nidwaldner Kantonalbank (effective 7/16/15)
SB Saanen Bank AG (effective 7/23/15)
Privatbank Bellerive AG (effective 7/23/15)
PKB Privatbank AG (effective 7/30/15)
Falcon Private Bank AG (effective 7/30/15)
Credito Privato Commerciale in liquidazione SA (effective 7/30/15)
Bank EKI Genossenschaft (effective 8/3/15)
Privatbank Reichmuth & Co. (effective 8/6/15)
Banque Cantonale du Jura SA (effective 8/6/15)
Banca Intermobiliare di Investimenti e Gestioni (Suisse) SA (effective 8/6/15)
bank zweiplus ag (effective 8/20/15)
Banca dello Stato del Cantone Ticino (effective 8/20/15)
Hypothekarbank Lenzburg AG (effective 8/27/15)
Schroder & Co. Bank AG (effective 9/3/15)
Valiant Bank AG (effective 9/10/15)
Bank La Roche & Co AG (effective 9/15/15)
Belize Bank International Limited, Belize Bank Limited, Belize Corporate Services Limited, their predecessors, subsidiaries, and affiliates (effective 9/16/15)
St. Galler Kantonalbank AG (effective 9/17/15)
E. Gutzwiller & Cie, Banquiers (effective 9/17/15)
Migros Bank AG (effective 9/25/15)
Graubundner Katonalbank (effective 9/25/15)
BHF-Bank (Schweiz) AG (effective 10/1/15)
Finacor SA (effective 10/6/15)
Schaffhauser Kantonalbank (effective 10/8/15)
BBVA Suiza S.A. (effective 10/16/15)
Piguet Galland & Cie SA (effective 10/23/15)
Luzerner Kantonalbank AG (effective 10/29/15)
Habib Bank AG Zurich (effective 10/29/15)
Banque Heritage SA (effective 10/29/15)
Hyposwiss Private Bank Genève S.A. (effective 10/29/15)
Banque Bonhôte & Cie SA (effective 11/3/15)
Banque Internationale a Luxembourg (Suisse) SA (effective 11/12/15)
Zuger Kantonalbank (effective 11/12/15)
Standard Chartered Bank (Switzerland) SA, en liquidation (effective 11/13/15)
Maerki Baumann & Co. AG (effective 11/17/15)
BNP Paribas (Suisse) SA (effective 11/19/15)
KBL (Switzerland) Ltd. (effective 11/19/15)
Bank CIC (Switzerland) Ltd. (effective 11/19/15)
Privatbank IHAG Zürich AG (effective 11/24/15)
Deutsche Bank (Suisse) SA (effective 11/24/15)
EFG Bank AG (effective 12/3/15)
EFG Bank European Financial Group SA, Geneva (effective 12/3/15)
Aargauische Kantonalbank (effective 12/8/15)
Cornèr Banca SA (effective 12/10/15)
Bank Coop AG (effective 12/10/15)
Crédit Agricole (Suisse) SA (effective 12/15/15)
Dreyfus Sons & Co Ltd, Banquiers (effective 12/15/15)
Baumann & Cie, Banquiers (effective 12/15/15)
Bordier & Cie Switzerland (effective 12/17/15)
PBZ Verwaltungs AG (effective 12/17/15)
PostFinance AG (effective 12/17/15)
Edmond de Rothschild (Suisse) SA (effective 12/18/15)
Edmond de Rothschild (Lugano) SA (effective 12/18/15)
Bank J. Safra Sarasin AG (effective 12/23/15)
Coutts & Co Ltd (effective 12/23/15)
Gonet & Cie (effective 12/23/15)
Banque Cantonal du Valais (effective 12/23/15)
Banque Cantonale Vaudoise (effective 12/23/15)
Bank Lombard Odier & Co Ltd (effective 12/31/15)
DZ Privatbank (Schweiz) AG (effective 12/31/15)
Union Bancaire Privée , USP SA (effective 1/6/16)

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Help with Your Undisclosed Foreign Accounts

If you have undisclosed foreign accounts, including those FFIs and Facilitators for which public disclosure has occurred, you should contact the experienced international tax team of Sherayzen Law Office, Ltd. Our international tax law firm has helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the globe to bring their tax affairs into full compliance with US tax laws, while reducing their penalty exposure.

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