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2020 SDOP Eligibility Requirements | SDOP Tax Lawyer & Attorney

In a recent article, I mentioned that Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures (“SDOP”) will continue to be the most important voluntary disclosure option in 2020 for US taxpayers who reside in the United States. However, not all taxpayers will qualify to participate in the 2020 SDOP. In this article, I will discuss the main 2020 SDOP eligibility requirements.

2020 SDOP Eligibility Requirements: Background Information

The IRS introduced Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures in June of 2014 as part of the most radical overhaul of offshore voluntary disclosure process since the introduction of the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (“OVDP”) in 2009.

The IRS created SDOP first to supplement OVDP, not to replace it. The idea was to mitigate the OVDP’s rigidity by streamlining the voluntary disclosure process for taxpayers who non-willfully failed to comply with US international tax requirements.

Almost from the start, SDOP grew in popularity and quickly eclipsed OVDP. Tens of thousands of taxpayers utilized this option to lower IRS penalties in a relatively (i.e. relative to OVDP) fast and painless way. As a result, SDOP continues to exist even today while the 2014 OVDP was closed in September of 2018.

2020 SDOP Eligibility Requirements: Five Main Eligibility Requirements

In order to quality to participate in the SDOP, taxpayers must meet all of the following requirements: (1) US residence; (2) US tax return filing compliance; (3) US international tax noncompliance; (4) non-willfulness; and (5) no IRS examination. Let’s discuss each requirement in more detail.

2020 SDOP Eligibility Requirements: US Residence

In order to participate in SDOP, a taxpayer must be a US tax resident who did not meet any of non-residence tests of Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures. This requirements applies differently to two categories of taxpayers.

The first category consists of US citizens and US permanent residents (i.e. “green card” holders). In order to satisfy the 2020 SDOP eligibility requirements, these taxpayers must have a US abode and must not physically reside outside of the United States for more than 329 full days in each of the past three years. I explore what this means further in a future article on Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures.

The second category of taxpayers includes all individuals who are not US citizens and US permanent residents. In order for these individuals to be eligible to participate in SDOP, they must satisfy the substantial presence test in each of the past three years. Generally, under 26 U.S.C. §7701(b)(3), an individual meets the substantial presence test if the sum of the number of days on which such individual was present in the United States during the current year and the 2 preceding calendar years (when multiplied by the applicable multiplier) equals or exceeds 183 days. There are many exceptions to this rule, but they are outside of the scope of this article.

2020 SDOP Eligibility Requirements: Filing of US Tax Returns

In order to participate in the SDOP, a taxpayer must have previously filed a US tax return for each of the most recent three years for which the US tax return due date (or properly applied for extended due date) has passed. There is an exception to this rule for situations where a taxpayer’s income was below the tax return filing threshold and he was not required to file the tax return for that year.

2020 SDOP Eligibility Requirements: International Tax Noncompliance

An SDOP disclosure must have some relationship to US international tax noncompliance. A taxpayer must have failed to report income from a foreign financial asset and must have failed to file FBAR or any other US international information return, such as Forms 3520, 3520-A, 5471, 8865, 8938, 8621, 926, et cetera.

2020 SDOP Eligibility Requirements: Non-Willfulness

This is the most important and most difficult eligibility requirement for participating in SDOP: taxpayer’s violations of US international tax law must be non-willful. Moreover, they must be non-willful with respect to each aspect of the voluntary disclosure: FBARs, each international information return and foreign income. In other words, if a taxpayer was non-willful with respect to non-filing of Form 5471, but willful with respect to non-filing of FBARs, then, his entire eligibility to participate in SDOP is compromised.

SDOP provides the following definition of non-willfulness: “non-willful conduct is conduct that is due to negligence, inadvertence, or mistake or conduct that is the result of a good faith misunderstanding of the requirements of the law.” Obviously, proving non-willfulness is a matter highly dependent on facts and requires an individual approach to each client’s case. It is the job of an international tax attorney to make good use of the facts and determine whether non-willfulness can be established.

2020 SDOP Eligibility Requirements: Taxpayer Not Subject to Examination

Finally, a taxpayer who wishes to participate in SDOP must not be subject to an IRS civil examination or an IRS criminal investigation. Whether all relevant years are subject to an examination or just a few of them is irrelevant; it does not even matter whether the examination is focused on a particular international information return. In all of these cases, the taxpayer will most likely lose eligibility to conduct his voluntary disclosure through SDOP.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With the Determination of Whether You Satisfied the 2020 SDOP Eligibility Requirements

If you have undisclosed foreign accounts or any other offshore assets and you wish to know whether you are eligible to participate in the 2020 SDOP, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional legal help. Our experienced international tax law firm will thoroughly analyze your case, determine your SDOP eligibility, examine all alternative voluntary disclosure options and skillfully prepare the necessary tax and legal documents necessary to complete your offshore voluntary disclosure.

We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers with their offshore voluntary disclosures, and we can help you!https://sherayzenlaw.com/streamlined-domestic-offshore-procedures/

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

Premier Minneapolis Minnesota Voluntary Disclosure Lawyer | International Tax Attorney

Mr. Eugene Sherayzen, the founder and owner of Sherayzen Law Office, Ltd., is a premier Minneapolis Minnesota Voluntary Disclosure Lawyer. Why is this the case? Let’s explore the top five reasons for it.

Premier Minneapolis Minnesota Voluntary Disclosure Lawyer: Experience

Mr. Sherayzen started practicing law at the end of 2005. In other words, he has been an international tax lawyer for over 13 years. During this time, he has successfully conducted hundreds of voluntary disclosures for US taxpayers all around the world.

He is a highly experienced lawyer in every type of a voluntary disclosure: OVDP/OVDI (while these programs existed), Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures (“SDOP”), Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures (“SFOP”), Delinquent FBAR Submission Procedures, Delinquent International Information Return Submission Procedures and Reasonable Cause Disclosures.

During 2014-2016, Mr. Sherayzen also conducted the Transition to Streamlined Disclosure for some of his OVDP clients. Moreover, starting 2017, he has also helped his clients with the IRS audits of voluntary disclosures done pursuant to SDOP and SFOP. During all of these years, Mr. Sherayzen also helped clients with amendment of Forms 906 signed pursuant to OVDP or OVDI.

As a result of such an intense and diverse voluntary disclosure practice, Mr. Sherayzen has accumulated a tremendous, in many ways unique, amount of experience in offshore voluntary disclosures.

Premier Minneapolis Minnesota Voluntary Disclosure Lawyer: Knowledge

Knowledge comes with experience. Mr. Sherayzen may be considered a true expert on offshore voluntary disclosure. Not only does he possess a deep understanding of substantive US international tax law, but his extensive experience with offshore voluntary disclosures endowed him with a profound knowledge of the procedural aspects of offshore voluntary disclosures.

Premier Minneapolis Minnesota Voluntary Disclosure Lawyer: Ethical Creativity

This combination of knowledge and experience allows Mr. Sherayzen to devise creative ethical legal strategies for his clients’ offshore voluntary disclosures. Each strategy is customized based on the facts of each case. All pros and cons are carefully considered to achieve the necessary balance of risks and rewards. Potential IRS challenges are considered and prepared for. Each alternative strategy is discussed with each client in order to choose the most agreeable one to the client.

It should be emphasized that Mr. Sherayzen offers only those voluntary disclosure strategies which comply with the legal and ethical standards demanded by the IRS as well as the legal profession.

Premier Minneapolis Minnesota Voluntary Disclosure Lawyer: Customization

Mr. Sherayzen rejects “one size fits all” approach to offshore voluntary disclosure and strongly believes a case strategy must be considered only in light of the specific facts of each case. Too often, with dismay, he sees how many accountants and even lawyers herd their clients into one approach, charging a flat fee for it, without the proper consideration of specific facts of each case.

Mr. Sherayzen believes that each case is unique and deserves a special consideration of its special facts and circumstances. Each legal strategy must be adjusted to fit these facts and circumstances in order to produce the best result for the client.

Premier Minneapolis Minnesota Voluntary Disclosure Lawyer: Voluntary Disclosure Team

Mr. Sherayzen also counts on the support of a superb voluntary disclosure team of accountants and staff – a team which he has gradually built and trained over the past 13 years. He carefully chose each member of team and personally trained him to master certain aspects of a voluntary disclosure. The team is not trained only in their specific duties, but also to help each other, creating a sense of comradeship among Sherayzen Law Office employees. Everyone’s work goes through at least two levels of review to assure the highest quality. As a result, Mr. Sherayzen and his team are able to conduct and produce successful highly-efficient high-quality offshore voluntary disclosures.

Contact Mr. Sherayzen Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

SDOP Voluntary Disclosure Period and Tax Return Filing Deadline

A lot of tax professionals and taxpayers fail to recognize the vital connection between a tax return filing deadline (like April 18, 2016) and the determination of the SDOP Voluntary Disclosure Period. In this article, I will explain what the SDOP Voluntary Disclosure Period and how it is related to tax return filing deadlines.

SDOP Background

Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedure exists in its current format since June 18, 2014, when the IRS announced the most dramatic changes to its Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) since 2009 OVDP. In essence, SDOP is an alternative to OVDP and allows taxpayers to bring their tax affairs into full compliance with US tax laws in a simpler way with a lower penalty.

SDOP Voluntary Disclosure Period

One of the most important differences between SDOP and OVDP is the Voluntary Disclosure Period – i.e. how many tax years should the voluntary disclosure cover. While OVDP voluntary disclosure period covers the past eight years for FBARs and tax returns, SDOP voluntary disclosure period covers only six past years of FBARs and only three years of past tax returns.

Connection Between SDOP Voluntary Disclosure Period and the Tax Return Filing Deadline

There is an important connection between SDOP voluntary disclosure period and the Tax Return Filing Deadline. As it mentioned above, SDOP Voluntary Disclosure Period covers “past” three years of tax returns.

What does “past year” mean in this context? It means a year for which the U.S. tax return due date (or properly applied for extended due date) has passed. The connection between SDOP voluntary disclosure period and the tax return filing deadline now becomes clear.

Let’s illustrate it further with a hypothetical example. If SDOP is scheduled to be completed on April 1, 2016, the SDOP voluntary disclosure period will cover the most recent three years of U.S. tax returns for which the Tax Return filing Deadline has passed. As of April 1, 2016, the deadline for the 2015 tax return has not yet passed; this means that the SDOP voluntary disclosure period (for tax return purposes) will cover tax years 2012-2014.

If SDOP is scheduled to be completed on April 30, 2016 and the 2015 tax return was timely filed (if not and no extension was filed, the taxpayer will likely be disqualified from participating in SDOP), then the SDOP voluntary disclosure period will shift to the tax years 2013-2015.

What if SDOP is completed on April 30, 2016, and an extension was filed for the 2015 tax return? In this case, the SDOP voluntary disclosure period will remain limited to 2012-2014 tax years.

SDOP Voluntary Disclosure Period’s Relationship to Tax Filing Deadline Offers Planning Opportunities

This relationship between SDOP voluntary disclosure period and the tax filing deadline offers plenty of planning opportunities for SDOP disclosures which are completed around the tax filing deadline because it allows the taxpayer’s attorney (who is doing SDOP on behalf of his client) exercise a certain degree of control over which years will be included in the SDOP voluntary disclosure period.

For example, if a taxpayer has a large tax liability in the tax year 2012 if the return is amended and a small tax liability in the tax year 2015, then the taxpayer’s attorney will likely choose to prepare and file timely 2015 tax return. On the other hand, there are situations where the taxpayer would like to include tax year 2012 in the SDOP voluntary disclosure period (for example, if there is a large foreign capital loss), then the taxpayer’s attorney would opt for filing an extension for the 2015 tax return.

It is important to emphasize that a decision with respect to SDOP voluntary disclosure period should always rest with an international tax attorney who is handling the SDOP disclosure. There may be complex reasons for excluding and including years within SDOP voluntary disclosure period and only an experienced tax professional should make these decisions.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help with Your Voluntary Disclosure

Offshore Voluntary Disclosures with respect to unreported foreign income and foreign assets can be extraordinarily complex, especially in light of draconian IRS penalties that U.S. taxpayers often face. This is why these matters should always be handled by an experienced international tax attorney.

Sherayzen Law Office is one of the most experienced international tax laws firms, especially when it comes to offshore voluntary disclosures. We have helped clients around the world to participate in every major voluntary disclosure program, including 2009 OVDP, 2011 OVDI, 2012 OVDP, 2014 OVDP, Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures, Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures and other related voluntary disclosure options. Not only did we help our clients to go through these complex legal procedures and prepared all of their tax forms (including those related to foreign business ownership, trust ownership and PFICs), but we also saved our clients millions in potential penalties and tax liabilities!

We can help You! Contact 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!