Sherayzen Law Office Successfully Completes October 2018 Tax Season

Sherayzen Law Office, Ltd., successfully ended yet another tax season. The October 2018 tax season presented formidable challenges not only due to the diversity of the issues involved, but also the sheer volume of deadlines that needed to be completed between September 16 and October 15, 2018.

Let’s analyze the October 2018 tax season in more detail.

October 2018 Tax Season: Diversity of Tax Forms

During this October 2018 tax season, the tax team of Sherayzen Law Office had to deal with highly diverse tax issues – as usual. Our team is very well-versed in foreign income reporting and US international information returns such as: FBAR and FATCA Form 8938, business tax forms (926, 5471, 8858 and 8865), foreign trust forms (3520 and 3520-A), foreign gifts & inheritance reporting (Form 3520 and other relevant forms), PFICs and others. All of these forms needed to be completed for the October 2018 tax season.

However, there was something very new this time – Section 965 Transition Tax. As a result of the 2017 tax reform, US owners of certain foreign corporations were forced to recognize as income the accumulated E&P of their foreign corporations at their ownership percentage. The Section 965 tax compliance added a significant burden to the October 2018 tax season.

October 2018 Tax Season: High Volume of Deadlines & High Diversity of Assets

Between September 16 and October 15, 2018, Sherayzen Law Office completed over 70 deadlines for its clients. As part of these deadlines, we filed about 50 FBARs and a similar number of Forms 8938, about two dozens of Forms 5471/5472 and a smaller number of Forms 8865, about a dozen of Forms 3520 and over 200 Forms 8621.

Numerous forms were filed to report foreign rental income as well as foreign dividend and interest income. The vast majority of the filed tax returns included Foreign Tax Credit calculations.

October 2018 Tax Season: Diversity of Countries

The reported assets belonged to a wide variety of countries. During the October 2018 Tax Season, Sherayzen Law Office reported assets from virtually all main areas of the world. The majority of assets were reported from the European (particularly: France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom) and Asian countries (especially, China, India and Thailand); a smaller number of assets reported for Canada and Latin America. The deadlines for most of our New Zealand and all of our Australian clients were completed prior to September 15.

Lebanon and Egypt stood out among the Middle Eastern clients.

Sherayzen Law Office is a Leader in US International Tax Compliance

Sherayzen Law Office is committed to helping our clients to properly comply with their US international tax requirements. Our highly knowledge and higher experienced tax team has successfully helped hundreds of clients around the world with their US tax compliance issues, including offshore voluntary disclosures of foreign assets and foreign income. Our successful October 2018 tax season is just another proof of our commitment to our clients!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

4th Quarter 2017 Underpayment, Overpayment & PFIC Interest Rates

On September 8, 2017, the IRS announced that the 4th Quarter 2017 underpayment and overpayment interest rates will remain the same as they were in the third quarter of 2017. The IRS underpayment interests also govern the PFIC interest rates under the default Section 1291 method of calculation. PFIC interest rates are very important not only to taxpayers who currently hold PFICs, but also to the US taxpayers who are participating in the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures and, to a lesser extent, the IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (“OVDP”).

Recent History of the IRS Underpayment, Overpayment and PFIC Interest Rates

Following the global financial meltdown, the Federal Reserve quickly dropped its interest rates to almost zero. The IRS underpayment, overpayment and PFIC interest rates are set to follow the Federal Reserve short-term rates on a quarterly basis.

For taxpayers other than corporations, the overpayment and underpayment rate is the federal short-term rate plus 3 percentage points. Generally, in the case of a corporation, the underpayment rate is the federal short-term rate plus 3 percentage points and the overpayment rate is the federal short-term rate plus 2 percentage points. The rate for large corporate underpayments is the federal short-term rate plus 5 percentage points. The rate on the portion of a corporate overpayment of tax exceeding $10,000 for a taxable period is the federal short-term rate plus one-half (0.5) of a percentage point.

Hence, from the 4th quarter of 2011 through the first quarter of 2016, the IRS underpayment, overpayment and PFIC interest rates remained at 3%. Once the Federal Reserve started to raise its short-term rates, however, the IRS raised the interest rates in the second quarter of 2016, from 3% to 4%. Since then, the rates remained the same.

4th Quarter 2017 IRS Underpayment, Overpayment and PFIC Interest Rates

4th quarter 2017 IRS underpayment, overpayment and PFIC interest rates will be as follows:

four (4) percent for overpayments (two (3) percent in the case of a corporation);
four (4) percent for underpayments;
six (6) percent for large corporate underpayments; and
one and one-half (1.5) percent for the portion of a corporate overpayment exceeding $10,000.

These interest rates were computed based on the federal short-term rate determined during July of 2017 to take effect on August 1, 2017, plus daily compounding. The 4th Quarter IRS underpayment, overpayment and PFIC interest rates will apply during the period of October 1, 2017, through December 31, 2017.

International Tax Lawyers | Passive Foreign Investment Company

Congress enacted the Passive Foreign Investment Company provisions (PFIC) as part of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 in order to deter U.S. investors from deferring or avoiding payment of U.S. taxes by investing in offshore entities. The PFIC rules are structured to provide a disincentive for U.S. investors to defer investment income taxes by owning passive investments in foreign companies that do not regularly distribute their earnings. If it is determined that a U.S. investor is a PFIC shareholder, there can be severe tax implications for the taxpayer.

U.S. taxpayers who are shareholders of PFIC are likely to pay a significant additional tax on realized gains from sales of PFIC shares, and on PFIC dividends that meet the definition of “excess distributions” (an “excess distribution” applies to gains or distributions that exceeds 125% of the average distributions for the previous three years, or less if applicable). In both cases, the tax is applied at the taxpayer’s ordinary income tax rate, regardless of whether capital gains rates would typically apply. Further, an interest charge may be imposed, to offset the years of tax deferral in holding the offshore investment. As an additional disincentive, PFIC shares may not receive a stepped-up cost basis at the shareholder’s death.

Definition of a PFIC and Two-Part Test

In general, a foreign corporation that is determined to be neither a “controlled foreign corporation” (CFC) as defined in IRC section 957, nor a “foreign personal holding company” (FPHC) as defined in IRC section 552, will be determined to be a PFIC if it includes at least one U.S. shareholder and meets either one of the two tests found in IRC section 1297. If at least 75% or more of its gross income is passive income (based upon investments as opposed to operating income), or if at least 50% of the average percentage of its assets are investments that produce, or are held for the production of passive income, the foreign corporation will meet the definition of a PFIC. Passive income generally includes interest, dividends, rents, capital gains, and similar items. There is no requirement of ownership of a certain minimum percentage of shares, as there is with CFCs or FPHCs. Thus, if the test is met, PFIC status will apply, even if a shareholder owns a minimal percentage of shares with no ability to influence the business decisions of the company.

The PFIC rules apply to each U.S. person (the precise definition of who constitutes U.S. person is beyond the scope of this article, but it may become an issue in many situations) who is a shareholder of a PFIC. PFIC rules, however, do not apply to foreign shareholders or the foreign corporation itself. PFICs may include different types of entities such as various investment vehicles and foreign-based mutual funds.

Two options are commonly suggested by the U.S. tax lawyers to the shareholders in order to avoid PFIC taxation burden: Qualified Election Fund and Mark-to-Market. Both of these options, however, have their own peculiar characteristics and impose different types of tax obligations on the shareholders.

Qualified Electing Fund

In general, U.S. shareholders who own shares either directly or indirectly in a PFIC may be able to avoid the burdensome standard PFIC taxation provisions by electing to treat the PFIC as a Qualified Electing Fund (QEF) on Form 8621. Shareholders making this annual election are taxed on their pro rata share of the PFIC’s ordinary earnings as ordinary income, and their pro rata share of the net capital gains as long-term capital gain. A shareholder’s basis in the stock of a QEF is increased by the earnings included in gross income and decreased by a distribution from the QEF to the extent of previously taxed amounts. Finally, U.S. shareholders interested in making this election must also be able to obtain the required information from the PFIC.

While treating a PFIC as a QEF may be beneficial in that it allows taxpayers to opt out of the standard PFIC tax and interest rules, it also forces shareholders to pay taxes currently on undistributed income earned by a foreign corporation. Thus, QEF may be of limited use to taxpayers who lack adequate liquidity to pay taxes. Another important point about a QEF is that, due to the complexity of the rules and possible additional tax amounts, if the decision is made to elect QEF treatment of PFIC, it may be advisable to elect a QEF in the first year of holding an offshore investment.


Another option for U.S. shareholders of a PFIC (who do not elect to treat a PFIC as a QEF), is to elect the mark-to-market method. This election is only available if the shares are considered “marketable stock”. Marketable stock is regularly traded stock with an ascertainable value on recognized exchanges as defined in the IRC regulations. If the shareholder elects to mark the stock to market, he will annually report, as ordinary income, the amount equal to any excess of the fair market value (FMV) of the PFIC stock as of the close of the taxable year over the adjusted basis of the shares (i.e. as if the shares had actually been sold at FMV). If the adjusted basis of the PFIC shares exceeds its FMV as of the close of the taxable year, the shareholder may generally deduct an ordinary loss (subject to certain statutory limitations).

Shareholders who directly own shares in a PFIC electing the mark-to-market method may increase their adjusted basis in PFIC shares through income recognized, and decrease the adjusted basis through deductions taken.


The tax issues surrounding PFICs are very complex and should be handled by a tax professional. Sherayzen Law Office can help you analyze your tax situation, determine whether PFIC rules apply, identify the alternatives in light of your whole tax situation, and implement the tax strategy most suited to your business and investment needs.

Call NOW to discuss your tax situation with an experienced tax lawyer!