It is a common, almost default practice in Brazil to invest in Brazilian mutual funds. While this practice is perfectly innocent for majority of Brazilians, it may present a huge compliance issue for Brazilians who are also US taxpayers. The problem is that this type of an investment draws at least two important US tax reporting requirements – FBAR and Form 8621. In this article, I will provide a broad overview of each of these requirements concerning Brazilian mutual funds.
Brazilian Mutual Funds: FBAR Reporting
FinCEN Form 114, the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, commonly known as “FBAR”, is undoubtedly the most important requirement that applies to US taxpayers with Brazilian mutual funds. As long they meet the filing threshold, US taxpayers are required to disclose all of their Brazilian mutual funds on FBAR.
The threshold is very easy to meet for two reasons. First, it is very low, just $10,000. Second, this threshold is determined by taking the calendar-year highest balances of all of the taxpayer’s foreign accounts and adding them all up. Sometimes, this results in significant over-reporting of a person’s actual balances, which easily satisfies the FBAR reporting threshold.
What makes FBAR compliance so important is its draconian penalty system. FBAR noncompliance may result in severe noncompliance penalties, even criminal penalties. Civil 2021 FBAR Civil Penalties | IRS FBAR Tax Lawyer & Attorney willful penalties are huge and are imposed on a per-account basis. Even if the taxpayer did not know about the existence of FBAR, the IRS may still impose large non-willful FBAR penalties.
Brazilian Mutual Funds: Form 8621 PFIC Reporting
The biggest practical problem with Brazilian mutual funds, however, lies in the fact that all of these funds are classified as Passive Foreign Investment Companies or PFICs under US international tax law. This is bad news for US taxpayers, because being an owner of a PFIC means a substantial tax compliance burden, especially under the default IRC Section 1291 rules.
There are four PFIC problems that make PFIC tax compliance so burdensome to US owners of foreign mutual funds. First, the PFIC tax and PFIC interest can be substantial. Moreover, since PFIC tax and PFIC interest are calculated independent of a taxpayer’s actual tax bracket, a taxpayer with Brazilian mutual funds may see a significant rise in his US tax liability. It may occur even in a situation where a taxpayer may not otherwise owe any tax to the IRS. This fact may also be significant in the context of an offshore voluntary disclosure.
Second, PFIC calculations may be very complex and expensive. The professional fees for PFIC calculations may easily outstrip all other professional fees related to other aspects of your US tax compliance.
Third, the actual disclosure of PFIC income occurs on Form 8621 before it is entered into your personal or business tax return. This information return must be filed with your US tax return. Unfortunately, since the vast majority of tax software programs (consumer and professional) do not support Form 8621 compliance, it is very likely that you will not be able to e-file your US tax return; rather, you may have to mail it.
Finally, Form 8621 is a very obscure requirement known mostly to a handful of US tax professionals who specialize in US international tax compliance (such as Sherayzen Law Office). This means that your local tax accountants are unlikely to be able to do PFIC calculations. Rather, in order to stay in full US tax compliance, you will have to secure help from someone among a very small number of PFIC specialists, like those at Sherayzen Law Office, that exist in the United States.
Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With US Tax Reporting of Your Brazilian Mutual Funds
If you are a US owner of Brazilian mutual funds, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional assistance. We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers resolve their US tax compliance issues concerning foreign mutual funds, including Brazilian mutual funds, and we can help you!
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