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November 21 2019 BSU Seminar in Minsk, Belarus | International Tax News

On November 21, 2019, Mr. Eugene Sherayzen, an international tax attorney and founder of Sherayzen Law Office, Ltd., conducted a seminar at the Belarusian State University Law School (the “2019 BSU Seminar”) in Minsk, Belarus. Let’s explore the 2019 BSU Seminar in more detail.

2019 BSU Seminar

2019 BSU Seminar: Topic and Attendance

The topic of the seminar was “Unique Aspects of the US International Tax System”. The seminar was well-attended (more than 80 attendees) by the students of the Belarusian State University (“BSU”), BSU law school faculty and attorneys from the Minsk City Bar Association.

The seminar with the follow-up Q&A session lasted close to two and a half hours.

2019 BSU Seminar Part I: Mr. Sherayzen Biography As Illustration of a Successful Career of an International Tax Attorney

The first part of the seminar was devoted to the discussion of Mr. Sherayzen’s legal career. He commenced by describing his educational path: a bachelor’s degree in Political Science, History and Global Studies with Summa Cum Laude honors and a Juris Doctor degree in Law with Cum Laude honors from the University of Minnesota Law School. Then, Mr. Sherayzen discussed how he acquired the passion for US international tax law, founded Sherayzen Law Office at the end of the year 2005 and developed his career as a successful international tax attorney.

At that point, Mr. Sherayzen described his main specialities in US international tax law: (1) offshore voluntary disclosure of foreign assets and foreign income; (2) IRS international tax audits; (3) US tax compliance concerning foreign gifts and foreign inheritance; (4) US tax compliance concerning US information returns, including FBAR and FATCA compliance; and (5) US international tax planning.

2019 BSU Seminar Part II: Discussion of Eight Unique Characteristics of the US International Tax Law

The second pat of the seminar was devoted to the long discussion of eight main unique characteristics of US international tax law. Mr. Sherayzen commenced this part with the concept of “Voluntary Compliance” and its significance for a taxpayer’s personal liability for the accuracy of his IRS submissions. Then, the attorney discussed the enormous complexity and extremely invasive nature of US international tax law. Mr. Sherayzen also separately emphasized the potentially huge penalty exposure as the fourth characteristic of the US international tax law, specifically referring to FBAR penalties.

The attorney continued the discussion with the description of the worldwide reach of the US tax jurisdiction. Here, he used the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”) as an example.

Then, Mr. Sherayzen described the obscurity that surrounds many US international tax provisions and explained how such obscurity presents problems and opportunities for US taxpayers. The attorney concluded the second part of the 2019 BSU seminar with the discussion of the flexibility of US international tax system and how the US tax system should be considered a source of endless opportunities to knowledgeable US international tax attorneys and their clients.

2019 BSU Seminar Part III: Basic Unique Principles of US International Tax System

The next part of the seminar focused on the basic principles of the US international tax system. Mr. Sherayzen organized this part from the perspective of how US taxpayers should declare their foreign assets and taxable income. The structure of this part was based on answering three questions: “who”, “what” and “when”.

The first question was: who should declare their foreign assets and pay taxes on their income? In this context, Mr. Sherayzen defined the concept of “US tax residency”. He further emphasized that non-resident aliens who are not US tax residents may still need to file non-resident US tax returns with the IRS.

The next question was: what income is subject to US taxation and what assets should be declared to the IRS? Here, Mr. Sherayzen describes the most fundamental principle of US international tax law that applies to US tax residents – the worldwide income taxation requirement. He also emphasized that US tax residents must declare on their US international information returns virtually all classes of their foreign assets with the exception of directly-owned real estate.

Then, as part of his discussion of US tax responsibilities of non-residents (for tax purposes), the attorney introduced the “source of income” rules used to characterize income as US-source income or foreign-source income. He provided the audience with the basic rules concerning sourcing of bank interest, dividends, earned income, rental income and royalties.

The final question was: when should the tax be paid on income? In this context, Mr. Sherayzen explained the concept of “realized income” and the general principle that income becomes taxable when it is realized for US tax purposes. He also described the anti-deferral regimes and the Section 250 full participation exemption as exceptions to the general principle of income recognition.

2019 BSU Seminar Part IV: International Information Returns and Conclusion

During the final part of the seminar, Mr. Sherayzen briefly discussed the most important US international information returns. He concluded his lecture by re-stating that US international tax provisions reflect the reality of US position in the world economy and other countries should understand this basic fact before they attempt to copy any US international tax provisions.

2019 Minsk Seminar: US International Corporate Tax Reform | GILTI & FDII

On August 28, 2019, Mr. Eugene Sherayzen, the owner and founder of Sherayzen Law Office, Ltd, gave a seminar at Minsk City Bar Association (“MCBA”) in Minsk, Belarus. The focus of the seminar was on the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“2017 TCJA” or “2017 tax reform”) changes in the US international corporate tax law. Let’s discuss this 2019 Minsk seminar in more detail.

2019 Minsk Seminar: Organizational Aspects

The 2019 Minsk seminar was held at a location owned by MCBA in Minsk, Belarus. The seminar was well-attended by Minsk lawyers of various specializations, not just tax attorneys. Mr. Sherayzen conducted the seminar in the Russian language.

2019 Minsk Seminar: Structure of the Seminar

The seminar consisted of four parts: introduction to Sherayzen Law Office’s international tax practice, discussion of five important concepts of US international tax law, explanation of certain aspects of US international business tax law prior to the 2017 tax reform and the 2017 TCJA changes to US international corporate tax law. Throughout the seminar, Mr. Sherayzen made certain digressions into individual international tax law as well as general business tax law in order to better explain certain aspects of the 2017 tax reform to the audience.

2019 Minsk Seminar: Sherayzen Law Office International Tax Practice

During the seminar, Mr. Sherayzen introduced his law firm, Sherayzen Law Office, Ltd., to the audience. He explained that the focus of his practice is on US international tax law. After explaining what “US international tax law” meant, the attorney described the four main sub-areas of his practice: offshore voluntary disclosures, IRS international tax audits, annual compliance and international tax planning.

2019 Minsk Seminar: Five Concepts

After describing his practice, Mr. Sherayzen discussed in detail five relevant concepts of US international tax law. He first introduced the concept of “US tax residency” and generally described the categories of US tax residents. In response to a question from an attendee, the attorney distinguished US tax residency from immigration residency.

Then, Mr. Sherayzen discussed the principle of worldwide income taxation of US tax residents. The fact that US tax residents must report their worldwide income even if they reside overseas caused consternation among some attendees.

The discussion of the concept of income recognition resulted in a lively exchange between the speaker and the audience. At that point, Mr. Sherayzen alluded that this topic would be relevant to the his explanation of the anti-deferral regimes during the second part of his lecture.

The rest of this part of the seminar focused on the taxation powers of the US congress and the source of income rules. The attorney introduced certain general source-of-income rules, but warned about the enormous amount of exceptions in this area of law.

2019 Minsk Seminar: Pre-Tax Reform US International Corporate Tax Law

Mr. Sherayzen adopted a general historical approach to the explanation of US international corporate tax law prior to the 2017 TCJA. He commenced with a description of the progression of law since the 1920s, explaining the incentives that existed for the accumulation of cash overseas. Then, the attorney discussed the modifications to the law enacted by Congress throughout the years in order to combat tax avoidance by US corporations.

At that point, Mr. Sherayzen introduced the two main anti-deferral regimes: Subpart F rules and PFIC rules. He explained these regimes in a general manner, warning the audience that there were many specific rules and exceptions to these general rules. The attorney also discussed why these two anti-deferral regimes failed to stop tax avoidance and the continued accumulation of corporate cash in foreign subsidiaries.

2019 Minsk Seminar: 2017 Tax Reform

The discussion of the 2017 TCJA consisted of three parts: (1) reasons for the reform; (2) new rules to combat tax avoidance; and (3) tax incentives with respect to returning production to the United States and exporting from the United States.

After introducing the audience to the historical and political context in which 2017 TCJA was enacted, Mr. Sherayzen discussed the new tax avoidance prevention rules, focusing on the Section 965 tax and Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income (“GILTI”) tax. Then, the attorney explained the new tax incentives introduced by the 2017 tax reform, including lower corporate tax rates, full participation exemption and Foreign-Derived Intangible Income (“FDII”).

2019 Minsk Seminar: Conclusion

At the end of the seminar, there was an extensive Q&A session. Questions ranged from re-classification of shareholder loans during an offshore voluntary disclosure to certain aspect of the 2017 tax reform and its impact on corporate restructuring.