If you Decide to Comply, DON’T choose a Homelander Tax Compliance Professional

I was very surprised to receive the following email on Friday evening. I cannot recall ever getting anything like this before. I will not identify the author because it is not proper to publicly share an email without the permission of the sender. It is not anyone I have ever heard of before and I doubt any of you have either. It took me a while to decide if I would answer or not. I tried to put my reaction aside after all, why be surprised that a tax compliance professional would demonstrate so little awareness outside of his/her experience. In the end, I simply could not ignore how I felt. I replied and have decided to publish the email without naming its author and my response.

I wish I had pointed out to this person that technically, due to the Canadian IGA (or likely any Model I agreement), that there are no harsh penalties that have been implemented. A professional who is truly conversant with this situation should have stated this better. Does such a statement show a conscious attempt to confuse the expat, assuming penalties from FBAR, OVDP etc will come to mind? Could it be a reference to the idea that Form 8938 is a harsh penalty all on it’s own? (As a matter of torture, most definitely….) Or is the practitioner just sloppy? (Maybe we could get this person to rule on all the “plain language” misapplications we hear of….retroactive 877A, anyone?).

I also wish I had challenged the statement that “the program is working.” There is nothing to suggest that the majority of non-resident (or resident, for that matter) Americans have become compliant. The numbers quoted in the statistics for the OVDP are nowhere near 9 million and we know some of those who came forward are Homelanders. For some interesting figures regarding compliance please see Professor William Byrnes’ “Is FATCA Much Ado About Nothing“? . Prof. Byrnes states “The IRS War on the FBAR is simply not working.” (“The IRS received 807,040 FUBARS FBARs in 2012; compliance with FBAR filing appears to be declining.”) Every tax compliance professional should be required to read this report. It would go a long way in curtailing the inflammatory language we experience, intended to confuse & frighten and assumes we are all idiots.

I also should have challenged the nonsense about ICE not allowing visas of former citizens being allowed to enter the U.S. This amounts to the usual threat of the Reed Amendment. Does ICE have the power to override the State Department?

I am simply astonished at the arrogance of this person. What to say of the obvious limited exposure of such an “expert.” (I have never heard anyone suggest that there are bank problems in Canada). Mentioning OVDP and not Streamlined. Who on earth does this person think he/she is?

My USC/resident-CPA sister strongly suggests I complain to the appropriate accountancy board.

And the unmitigated gall of implying I should send clients………good gawd………

*******

(emphases are mine)

If this is the Patricia Moon who has given up her US citizenship because of FATCA, then this is for you. I have seen your “protests” regarding FATCA and filing US tax returns. You stated that you were delinquent in your filings, and that you caught yourself up and then renounced your citizenship.

You are one of the very reasons that FATCA with its harsh penalties was implemented. I have been practicing in the international tax area, specializing in US expatriates, for over 31 years. I am the chairman of a state CPA Society’s International Tax Committee, and have an international reputation in this area. Over my 31 years’ time I have prepared and/or reviewed several thousand tax return. I have seen dozens of people such as yourself , people who are American citizens, and enjoy the benefits of being an American citizen, while failing to fulfill the obligations that come with citizenship – namely filing a US tax return and paying any tax due. One cannot enjoy the benefits of American citizenship without complying with the responsibilities.

Since FATCA has been implemented, there have been citizens such as yourself who have renounced their citizenship. I understand from a couple of US Customs & Immigration attorneys that I work with that ICE often won’t allow visas to come back to the US, sometimes even for vacations, to former US citizens. However, a much larger number of persons have come forward and are now filing tax returns and complying with the responsibilities of being a US citizen.

So the law has worked. It is accomplishing its intended goals. I personally have worked with several formerly noncompliant individuals to “get them legal” through the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program.

Staying legal is not a difficult process. It requires filing a US tax return every year. Often there is no tax due from it, as the foreign tax credits and the foreign earned income exclusion will reduce or eliminate the tax on all but US-sourced income.

Giving up citizenship is a drastic step when compliance is so easy. It is like amputating your arm because you have a hang nail.

And, from my experience, most larger banks WILL continue to work with Americans abroad. Very few are closing American accounts. In Canada, for example, I know that BMO Harris actually promotes accounts for Americans. I have several clients in Canada who bank with them. RBS Bank, Banque Scotia, TD Mortgage Corporation, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, and many others.

Just my thoughts. Feel free to give my name to any individual who wants to become legal, but does not want to go to the extreme that you did.

Thank you.

*******

My response:

Your email is extremely offensive and demonstrates that you understand this situation from one point of view and one only.

Perhaps you are unaware of the fact that the large majority of expats living outside the US for decades were simply unaware of any requirement to file taxes and information returns. The U.S. made no attempts to educate or notify people of these requirements. Surely you have known people who were “non-willful.” I certainly hope you did not put any persons such as these in the OVDP/OVDI.

Your comment “You are one of the very reasons that FATCA with its harsh penalties was implemented” is curious, given I did not owe any tax. I was a stay-at-home mother with an annual income that never exceeded $11,000 CAD from doing the books for my husband’s company. An annuity inherited from my parents was transferred at a later time and I most certainly paid the tax that was due.

As to “I have seen dozens of people such as yourself, people who are American citizens, and enjoy the benefits of being an American citizen….”

  • I had not lived in the United States for thirty years and was/am a law-abiding, tax compliant citizen/resident of Canada
  • I was not “enjoying the benefits of being an American citizen”
  • If you are referring to having the right of return, there is nothing particularly unique there; the majority of countries on earth allow their citizens to return
  • And I certainly am in no need of the Marines coming to save me in Canada (a “benefit” that one would have to pay for, were it even relevant to those living in first-world countries).

If by “benefit” you mean having access to “the greatest country on earth” I will tell you that a component of renouncing involved my observations about Abu Gharib, Guantanamo, the assassination of American citizens by drone without due process and other actions that frankly made me ashamed to have ever been an American citizen. In other words, your assertion that my renunciation was “like amputating your arm because you have a hang nail” simply does not cover all that was involved. Not the least of which, was my Canadian family and how they felt about the effect of U.S. policy on their lives. My husband resented any account information being turned over to FINCEN (given the fact it was his money)and it was a huge issue in the marriage.

I have remained active in this movement having renounced over 6 years ago. I don’t gain anything personally by volunteering a huge portion of my life to this. I am fully conversant with what is required regarding compliance. It is not always simple and it is very expensive. You fail to mention facts such as:

  • the U.S. would expect capital gains tax on the sale of our personal residence for a gain greater than $250k
  • the U.S. treatment of Canadian mutual funds as PFICs is particularly punitive and would require 8621 every year
  • the U.S. insistence that my country’s tax-deferred vehicles designed to help save for education, disability and non-RRSP uses are foreign trusts requiring 3520 and 3520A every year; all of these plans mirror similar programs in the US (529s, ABLE and Roth IRAs)
  • had I been signed on my husband’s company (I wasn’t) we could have found ourselves subject to an annual 5471 and the particularly abusive Transition Tax

I personally have no desire whatsoever to go to the United States. I don’t care what CBP and ICE do. It doesn’t frighten me at all. A Canadian does not need a visa to visit the U.S. anyway.

None of us have ever claimed that obtaining bank accounts or mortgages is difficult in Canada. This is a situation that primarily affects Europeans and it is very, very real. I know many people who have been severely impacted by it. It was perversely disingenuous for Judge Rose claim in the Bopp FATCA ruling, that this was not due to FATCA but to independent action of the banks.

Over the years I have encountered many people such as yourself, who seem to think they are entitled to inflict their opinions and judgments about character based upon presumptions made about U.S. expectations. I wonder if it could ever occur to you that there are other places and people in the world who do not base the value of their existence upon opinions such as you have expressed. I find it difficult to believe you would end asking me to send you clients. I trust this will be the end of any communication.

Regards,

Patricia Moon
Secretary-Treasurer
xxx-xxx-xxxx
Alliance for the Defence of Canadian Sovereignty &
Alliance for the Defeat of Citizenship Taxation

IRS Announces the end of #OVDP – Fascinating Reactions from the Tax Compliance Community

 

OVDP Program

cross-posted from citizenshipsolutions

    by John Richardson

IRS announces the end of #OVDP: Fascinating tweets from the “OVDP Historians” who compose the tax compliance community

IRS announces the end of #OVDP: Fascinating reactions from the tax compliance community

#OVDP: Reactions from the “tax compliance community” (and others who tweeted) to the termination of OVDP

(Note: For the purposes of this post I will use the terms “OVDP” and “OVDI” interchangeably. Each term describes a specific example of one of the “OVDP era” programs, as it existed at a specific point in time. A particularly good analysis of the evolution of the “OVDP era” programs is found here – of interest only to those who want to “OVDP Historians“!)

On March 14, 2018 Professor William Byrnes reported that:

The Internal Revenue Service today announced it will begin to ramp down the 2014 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) and close the program on Sept. 28, 2018. By alerting taxpayers now, the IRS intends that any U.S. taxpayers with undisclosed foreign financial assets have time to use the OVDP before the program closes.

“Taxpayers have had several years to come into compliance with U.S. tax laws under this program,” said Acting IRS Commissioner David Kautter. “All along, we have been clear that we would close the program at the appropriate time, and we have reached that point. Those who still wish to come forward have time to do so.”

Since the OVDP’s initial launch in 2009, more than 56,000 taxpayers have used one of the programs to comply voluntarily. All told, those taxpayers paid a total of $11.1 billion in back taxes, interest and penalties. The planned end of the current OVDP also reflects advances in third-party reporting and increased awareness of U.S. taxpayers of their offshore tax and reporting obligations.

I have heard it said:

The good thing about bad things is that they come to an end.

The bad thing about good things is that they come to an end.
Continue reading IRS Announces the end of #OVDP – Fascinating Reactions from the Tax Compliance Community

Meet the Proposed Commissioner of the IRS – A Welcome Change?

cross-posted from Brock.

Rettig

Politico announced Trump’s nomination Of Charles P. Rettig, including the following excerpts:

Rettig, who specializes in settling complex tax disputes between his taxpayer clients and authorities like the IRS, known as tax controversies, has for more than three decades represented clients before the IRS, the Justice Department, state tax authorities and other jurisdictions.

Rettig is no stranger to the Washington tax policy community. Many IRS officials would be familiar with him because of tax litigation in which he’s been involved.

Rettig’s nomination would break a nearly two-decade practice of naming commissioners from the general business world, a trend that began after the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998. Prior to that, commissioners generally had tax backgrounds.

 
Continuing with the conversation from Media & Blogs thread, I see many mentions of the fact that his firm represented some 100 UBS clients (which may be why some of his articles concern the OVDP). I am trying to locate some actual court cases but the site that keeps coming up in references seems to be down. He also clearly, is respected for his work representing clients by his peers:

TaxControversy360

Rettig would also oversee the implementation of tax reform. Rettig has been a friend and mentor to many of us in the tax controversy bar over the years, and we are encouraged by the selection of someone from the private bar to the post.

Given he is a tax litigator, I don’t expect he would support a change to RBT (hope I am wrong about that) but some of his comments certainly suggest he understands what has happened and that our situation is very different from that of U.S. residents with foreign accounts.

Forbes IRS FBAR Streamlined Procedures Revisited, Am I Non-Willful

If, as some believe, the Streamlined Procedures are being used to entice unsuspecting taxpayers into placing their head onto the FBAR chopping block, the government should be held accountable. However, if, as most believe and our experience seems to support, the Streamlined Procedures were designed to provide not quite willful taxpayers an opportunity back into compliance through a simplified and expedited process, the IRS should respect the vast majority of Streamlined submissions (and requests for transitional treatment) and move on.

Forbes IRS FBAR Voluntary Disclosure Program Taxpayer Interviews

It should be anticipated that the IRS will pursue examinations of the amended returns of taxpayers residing in the United States in some manner. It remains uncertain whether the IRS would or could effectively pursue those residing outside the United States in any realistic manner. It should also be acknowledged that there remain viable alternatives to the OVDP, including the voluntary disclosure practice of the IRS set forth in Internal Revenue Manual (IRM) 9.5.11.9 [see Example 6(A)], Section 4.01 of the Criminal Tax Manual for the U.S. Department of Justice, and Section 3, Policy Directives and Memoranda, Tax Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Certainly, given the complexities of the Internal Revenue Code, other relevant statutes and life in general, many of the indiscretions associated with an income tax return or FBAR are anything but willful or intentional and definitely not fraudulent or criminal in nature. In these situations, an interview of the taxpayer and/or their return preparer can lead to an extremely quick and reasonable resolution.

Forbes articles

Many, many articles penned by Mr. Reddig are available via SSRN and listed here.

Bubblebustin asked for this post to be based upon this paper. Unfortunately the most we can offer is the link and a few excerpts. Strongly suggest everyone read this particular article- Why the Ongoing Problem with FBAR Compliance? from the Journal of Tax Practice & Procedure, August-September 2016, published by CCH, a part of Wolters Kluwer.

A major point in the article is when government is trusted, is seen as legitimate, compliance tends to be a result. It probably does not help that the IRS emphasizes submissions coming from OVDP and Streamlined will be examined “in an effort to uncover leads for criminal prosecutions.” Mr. Rettig is also aware that eighty percent of non-resident filers will have no U.S. Tax Liability. Though again, that is a reference to income tax and does not cover some of our worst grievances.

Potential government actions should consider the
impact
on those six-plus million U.S. people (and their
advisors) sitting in the bleachers domestically or in various
foreign countries trying to determine how best to pursue
some form of voluntary compliance, expatriation or to
possibly just continue sitting in the bleachers … “History
repeats itself because no one was listening the first time.

 

Why the proposed transition tax, if applied to individual U.S. shareholders living abroad, is analogous to the “Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program

 

 
The following was written by John Richardson and is a section of a larger piece yet to be published. I will provide the link at the time it is available and of course, have permission to publish this.

When I first read this, two things occurred to me. The OVDP/OVDI process represented a penalty for a failure to report. A failure to report is not a transaction to be recorded or that can be measured in relation to tax that is owed. The “in lieu of FBAR” penalty. The percentage was a figure set by the Treasury Dept with no clear connection to anything other than the value of an asset. So one agreed to allow a certain level of confiscation not based upon any amount of tax owed. The other issue with OVDP/OVDI was that it was an incredible deal for “whales”-that percentage represented far less than what they would have paid all-told. The transition tax is a gift for multi-nationals; moving to a territorial system, they will not pay what they would have been required to pay were they to repatriate the income that they will now, never be required to do.

Notably the Transition Tax is part of reforms to international taxation. The centerpiece of the reforms is that for US corporate shareholders of foreign companies there will no longer be US taxation of foreign earnings. (In other words, the US has forced corporations to move in the direction of territorial taxation). The transition tax is imposed as a mechanism to fund territorial taxation. Corporate shareholders are subject to the Transition tax and receive the benefits of territorial taxation. Individual shareholders (including possibly Americans Abroad) are subject to the Transition tax but do not receive the benefits of territorial taxation. Americans Abroad, who carry on business through non US corporations may be required to fund the move to territorial taxation (unlike corporate shareholders) and will continue to be taxed and taxed in an even more punitive way.

Of course, referring to OVDP/OVDI &/or the Transition Tax as a “gift refers only to multi-national corporations or people of wealth. For “minnows” OVDP/OVDI was an absolute abomination. The Transition Tax, should it apply to small CFC’s ( read “individuals”), will provoke the largest number of renunciations whether official or via “feet”.

This is an absolute breaking point in our process. Now that the rate on liquid assets is highter (15%), once the calculations are done, the effective rate applied to individuals will be over 18%. It will not be a matter of refusal as much as the simple inability to pay it. No one can continue to contribute to financial suicide, law or not.

**************

Why the proposed transition tax, if applied to individual U.S. shareholders living abroad, is analogous to the “Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP)”


by John Richardson

Significantly, the “transition tax” is NOT based on any income realization event. It is based only on the fact of legally earned retained earnings, which are subject to taxation in the country where they were earned.

The transition tax is a calculation based on an “account balance” – specifically the “retained earnings” account balance on the greater of two dates.

It is a mandatory payment which is based on the value of a “foreign asset”.

Therefore, the “transition tax” as applied to Americans abroad has characteristics that are more like “OVDP” than an income tax (which would be based on a realization event).

In any case, the “transition tax” is nothing more than an asset confiscation with nothing in return.

The application of the “transition tax” to Americans abroad would raise U.S. “citizenship-based taxation” to a new and UNPRECEDENTED level of unfairness and obscenity

Seven Simple Points to be Made Re: Transition Tax and CFCs

 


 
This comment from the Isaac Brock Society makes basic points to be made with regard to the proposed “Transition Tax” in both the House and Senate Tax Reform Bills.
 
Every expat who knows there are private individuals who are incorporated in their country should be contacting relevant government representatives giving them the information that U.S. Tax Reform may impose a “transition tax.” As it is widely surmised that this is an unintended consequence, now is the time to bring it to the forefront and create awareness/resistance to this. We have appealed to the U.S. government to change the relevant sections (or give some clarification); if this does not occur, we cannot allow the compliance community to decide what the law is. In the past this HAS occurred with regard to the treatment of PFICs, applying the Exit Tax retroactively to people who renounced prior to 2008 and putting “minnows” into OVDP/OVDI. Time to stand up and say “NO!”
 
The following points would work for any country; just change the numbers in point 1 and “Canadian” to your country (generally) and the ministers’ names to yours.
 
1. There are approximately one million Canadian citizens who are resident in Canada and are also U.S. citizens (mostly Canada/U.S. dual citizens – with the U.S. citizenship conferred on them because of a U.S.
birthplace).

2. It’s safe to say that a significant number of these “dual citizens” are “small business owners”, who carry on business through Canadian Controlled Private Corporations.

3. It is possible and likely that many of these “small business” owners have (since 1986 or the date of incorporation) accumulated earnings.
These accumulated earnings operate as their “retirement pensions” ( a fact that has been widely discussed with Finance Minister Morneau and Prime Minister Trudeau as part of their discussions on Canadian tax reform).

4. The United States imposes taxation on individuals based ONLY on U.S.citizenship (even if the person lives in Canada). The United States is the only advanced country in the world to impose “citizenship-based taxation”. The United States is the ONLY country in the world that BOTH:
1. Confers citizenship based on birth in the country AND 2. imposes “worldwide taxation” based on citizenship.

5. Many of the Canadian Controlled Private Corporations owned by Canadians with dual citizenship are deemed under the Internal Revenue Code of the United States, to be “U.S. shareholders”, of what are called “controlled foreign corporations”. To repeat, from a U.S. perspective the Canadian shareholders of Canadian Controlled Private Corporations, may be considered to be the “U.S. shareholders” of “Controlled Foreign Corporations”.

6. The United States is in the middle of a process of amending the Internal Revenue Code. It appears that both the House and Senate versions of the bill, include a provision that would require the “U.S. shareholder” of a “controlled foreign corporation” to include directly in his/her personal income, a percentage of the total amount of the “retained earnings” of the “controlled foreign corporation” (which could well be a Canadian Controlled Private Corporation”). This percentage would be based on the amount of the retained earnings which have accumulated since 1986. See for example Sec. 14103 of
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

(See the section starting on page 375 with Sec. 14103 beginning on page391.)

7. Although it is not completely clear that this provision would apply to the Canadian shareholders of Canadian Controlled Private Corporations, the “literal reading of Sec. 14103 suggests that it may.

Certainly there have been (and this is where the danger lies) some tax professionals who are adamant that this would apply.

Conclusion:

It is extremely important that this danger be understood by all “stake holders” in Canada. This would include Finance Minister Morneau and members of the small business community in general.

Some discussion of this problem may be found here.

.

NO Evidence of Intent to apply the “”Transition Tax” to Small Business Corporations of #AmericansAbroad

 

It appears that we are very likely at a breaking point in this intolerable situation faced by expatriates as regards U.S. application of citizenship-based taxation. Tax reform does not happen often. It is critical that relief for expats occur in the current legislation. Many of us simply will not be around in 30 years for the next shift. It will be completely unacceptable if there is no transition (at the very least) to territorial taxation for individuals. Some people may be forced at this point to renounce if only to put a stop on future tax liability. Some will not choose to become compliant simply because it is expensive, they have no ties to the U.S., no intent to go there, etc.

In addition, there is a very dangerous aspect (the “transition tax”) that appears in both the House and Senate bills; it is arguable that it does NOT apply to small corporations owned by US citizens residing outside the United States. The biggest danger here, is that it may remain unclear. We have seen what has happened in a number of situations when this is the case. Some examples are:

1) People who relinquished citizenship decades ago (and who do not have a CLN) have been told they are still U.S citizens. Not by the State Department, not even by the IRS. And not even by the banks per sé. It is the position of many members of the tax compliance community. This is completely unacceptable and no expat should accept such a conclusion without investigating the citizenship aspects of the situation.

2) Accidentals have been told the same thing; they are Americans and must become tax compliant. Again, not directly by the US government (as in “coming after them) but by members of the tax compliance community. This is also unacceptable and no one should become compliant without a complete examination of whether it is in his/her best interests (or not).

3) People who did NOT belong in the OVDP/OVDI programs were put there by tax professionals with hideous and tragic results. The law says one has to file, nowhere does the law say one had to enter one of those programs. If anybody should have known that, it would be the tax compliance community.

4)The IRS has not given a ruling on whether or not 877A is to be applied retroactively. This is another area where tax compliance professionals have decided it is the law. This is definitely NOT in the best interest of anyone renouncing their citizenship and most definitely should not be applied to anyone who renounced/relinquished before it became law.

5)One of the most egregious and limiting situations involves owning foreign mutual funds. There is nothing to support the practice of treating non-US mutual funds as PFICs. Again, guess who insists on this treatment?

All of the above points are as unacceptable as is a lack of change for Americans abroad in tax reform. We have had enough.
 
THIS HAS TO STOP
 
We, as a community, have to make a conscious decision that what they say does not apply to us, is not in our best interests. The application of U.S. law outside of its borders is highly questionable, and should not override the laws of the countries we are residents of. (The IGAs do not represent approval/acceptance of US policy; they are merely proof of what happens when the US threatens to destroy the economies of other nations). “It’s U.S. law.” This is always the argument used to justify application of these ridiculous actions, often with absurd results. Penalties, FATCA “outing” us, application of the Reed Amendment (or worse, the ExPatriot Act if it ever passes)- all can be quite frightening if applied as the tax community claims. Yet there is nothing to suggest that these things are realities. The only people who have been harmed by these things are the ones who are/or tried to comply.

It is time to resist not only the idea that U.S. law should run our lives but also, that the tax community should determine what courses of action we should take. We need to be consistent in our message on this, on FB, in tweets, blogs etc. No more. No more. No more…………

**********

Shortly before the House of Representatives released the Markup for H.R. 1 a Canadian tax lawyer Max Reed authored an article (also here ) claiming that:

New punitive rules that apply to US citizens who own a business. Currently, most US citizens who own a Canadian corporation that is an active business don’t pay tax on the company’s profits until they take the money out. The House plan changes this. It imposes a new, very complicated, set of rules on US citizens that own the majority of a foreign corporation. The proposal would tax the US citizen owner personally on 50% of the entire income of the Canadian corporation that is above the amount set by an extremely complex formula. At best, this will make the compliance requirements for US citizens that own a business extremely complicated and expensive. At worst, this will cause double tax exposure for US citizens who own a Canadian business on 50% of the profits of that business.
Imposition of a 12% one-time tax on deferred profits. Under the new rules, the US corporate tax system is transitioning to a territorial model. As part of this transition, the new rules impose a one-time 12% tax on income that was deferred in a foreign corporation. Although perhaps unintentional, since US citizens will not benefit from a territorial model, the new rules impose a 12% tax on any cash that has been deferred since 1986. Take a simple example to illustrate the enormity of the problem. A US citizen doctor moved to Canada in 1987. She has been deferring income from personal tax in her medical corporation and investing it. Now, 12% of the total deferred income since 1986 would be subject to a one-time tax in the US. That may be a significant US tax bill.
It is unclear what, if anything, will be enacted. However, US citizens in Canada – particularly those that own a business – should pay close attention as their tax situation could get significantly worse. Renouncing US citizenship may become an increasingly attractive option.

There has been much discussion of whether or not this is going to happen (assuming a tax reform bill containing these measures actually is passed).
A very good argument for why this should NOT apply to #AmericansAbroad is
here.

The following comment appeared today on Brock. It reiterates the position that the “transition tax” cannot be viewed as applying to Americans abroad who own small corporations. We can expect that tax professionals are going to claim it does. Start now to learn why it doesn’t make sense and why no one should listen to the notion they owe a tax to the US based upon this new “tax reform.”
 
USCitizenAbroad
November 14, 2017 at 7:16 pm
 
@ Patricia Moon

With respect to the discussion of whether there is a tax on the retained earnings of Canadian Controlled Private Corporations:

First, pick this discussion of the changes to the territorial tax system for corporations at the 35 minute mark here:

https://www.finance.senate.gov/hearings/continuation-of-the-open-executive-session-to-consider-an-original-bill-entitled-the-tax-cuts-and-jobs-act

There is NO evidence of any intention to apply the “transition tax” to anything other than large corporations and certainly not to small business corporations owned by Americans abroad.

Second, an interesting summary was published by the Toronto law firm Oslers which talks about U.S. tax reform and makes NO reference to a possible tax on the retained earnings of CCPCs.

TaxAuthorities/US Tax Reform for Busy Canadians

Note no mention that this could affect CCPCs owned by Canadians:

” Foreign minimum tax – Current taxation of “Foreign high returns”:

Under this provision, a U.S. parent corporation would be subject to
current U.S. taxation (at the new 20% rate) on 50% of its controlled
foreign corporations’ (CFCs’) “high returns.” Tax would be required
to be paid on these imputed income streams regardless of whether the
corresponding earnings were actually distributed to the U.S. parent.
“Foreign high returns” are the excess of the CFC’s net income over a
baseline return (7% plus the federal short-term rate) on the CFC’s
adjusted tax bases in depreciable tangible property, reduced by
interest expense included in the CFC’s net income. “Foreign high
returns” would be defined to exclude certain types of income (including
“effectively connected income,” income from the disposition of
commodities produced or extracted by the taxpayer, and income subject
to tax at an effective rate of at least 18%). This provision, which
cuts against the theory of a “pure” territorial tax system, was
designed to counterbalance incentives that may otherwise linger for
U.S. companies to locate high return generating assets/activities (like
intangible property) in offshore locations.”

My feeling is that regardless of the language that this was not intended to apply to Americans abroad.

What should be done:

The danger is that the compliance community will make the law by interpreting this to apply beyond its obvious intention. The obvious solution is to NOT use the services of any tax firm who interprets the law as applying to CCPCs. After all, it was the compliance firms who created the notion that Canadian mutual funds are PFICs.

Dewees 3: Lessons about the “Oh My God Moment” and dealing with the problems of U.S. citizenship

cross posted from citizenshipsolutions

As I write this post, my mind goes back to one of my very first posts about U.S. compliance issues. This post was called “What you should consider before contacting a lawyer“. Since that time I have written hundreds of post describing the problems faced by Americans abroad.

More recently …

In Dewees 1, I explained the importance of the Canada U.S. tax treaty and how it provides “some protection” to Canadian citizens from U.S. tax debts.

In Dewees 2, I explained some of the characteristics of the OVDP program and how Mr. Dewees got caught in it.

In Dewees 3 (this post), I am suggesting some possible lessons that can be learned from the story of Donald Dewees.

Ten thoughts on U.S. taxation, non-compliance, Americans Abroad and the U.S. taxation of Americans abroad

Continue reading Dewees 3: Lessons about the “Oh My God Moment” and dealing with the problems of U.S. citizenship

Vulnerable Americans Abroad: Legal Weight of IRS Pubs, Info, FAQs = ZILCH!

An article by Virginia La Torre
Jeker JD, at the
angloinfo blog

This is an excellent post. It clarifies how one can determine what the IRS really can (and can’t) do and in particular, points out how the OVDP program is NOT rooted in law. This is important for those who do not/never did belong in OVDP in the first place. OVDP is for criminals. Simply failing to file with no tax due when one is unaware of the requirements does not equate to being a criminal. And don’t forget, once OVDP is entered, there is no “reasonable cause” option available. Instead, one commits to a penalty, pretending to be guilty when likely one is not.

What’s a taxpayer to do? As if the US tax rules are not confusing enough, it’s a sad situation when taxpayers cannot rely on information supplied by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the most commonly accessed and user-friendly formats – such as IRS Publications, “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQs), news releases, videos and the like. On May 18, 2017 IRS issued a memorandum to all of its examiners reminding them that FAQs and other items posted on the IRS website www.IRS.gov that have not been published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin (IRB) are not legal authority.

The five types of guidance published in the IRB are:

Treasury Regulations
IRS Revenue Rulings
IRS Revenue Procedures
IRS Notices, and
IRS Announcements

Be Careful What You Rely On! Case in Point: OVDP

A good example of how serious the problem of “unofficial” IRS guidance can be is evidenced by the IRS “Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program” (OVDP), which was accused of IRS “bait and switch” tactics. Taxpayers with offshore assets and those living abroad are likely very familiar with the OVDP. Even with the critical importance of the OVDP and its monumental impact on thousands of taxpayers, the OVDP is governed only by a long series of FAQs (and much agency secrecy). Taxpayers must be reminded these FAQs are not binding authority, even though the FAQs themselves do not indicate any warning to taxpayers or their advisors of this fact.

More here

Dewees 2: Why did he participate in the 2009 #OVDP Horror Show?

cross posted from citizenship solutions

In an earlier post I explained why the Canada Revenue Agency assisted the IRS in collecting a $133,000 U.S. dollar penalty on a Canadian resident. The bottom line was that he was presumably NOT a Canadian citizen and therefore did NOT have the benefits of the tax treaty. This post is to explain where the penalty came from in the first place.

Will you walk into my parlour?’ – #Americansabroad and IRS “amnesty” offers in the 2009 #OVDP

It has been widely reported that a U.S. citizen residing in Toronto, Canada since 1971, paid a $133,000 U.S. dollar penalty for failing to file IRS forms disclosing that he was running a business through a Canadian corporation. How did this fly get caught in the spider’s web?

The Spider and the Fly is a poem by Mary Howitt (1799–1888), published in 1829. The first line of the poem is “‘Will you walk into my parlour?’ said the Spider to the Fly.” The story tells of a cunning Spider who ensnares a naïve Fly through the use of seduction and flattery. The poem is a
cautionary tale against those who use
flattery and charm to disguise their true evil intentions.

More here

In four years, about 1% of diaspora non-filers chose to come into compliance through Streamlined: IRS

This is cross-posted from Brock. The author, Eric is a long-time writer there who composes excellent analytical posts, particularly concerning the inaccurate numbers of expatriations.

There was a discussion today that made me think of putting this particular post up. This post clearly demonstrates that in spite of all the scares – the FBAR Fundraiser aka OVDP 2009, & the FAQ 35 Bait & Switch, OVDI 2011, OVDP 2012, , OVDP 2014 the FATCA Hunt; the endless clamoring of condors, the media and folks like Shulman and Koskinen going on about The Reed Amendment, the Expatriot Act, “Quiet” Disclosures, 877A is retroactive and last but not least, if you don’t have a CLN you haven’t lost your US citizenship – none of it has made a particularly huge dent on non-compliance of Americans abroad. It is literally making me physically ill to reference all this – a vicious cycle of fines, penalties, interest, scaremongering, & whatever else can be thought of to persecute those who are simply presumed to be guilty i.e., Americans abroad. There can be no doubt whatsoever, that this is intentional. Even with the more-or-less guarantee of no penalties via Streamlined, only a very small number are choosing to become compliant. There are likely many reasons; people have begun to see what the IRS can/cannot do in terms of collection (or even detection); people are no longer willing to enter the U.S., etc. I like to think that some of our efforts to help educate people outside the bubble of American exceptionalism, U.S. Law über alles etc has contributed to opeople making up their minds based upon reason rather than reaction. If I had thought I could avoid filing/renouncing perhaps I would have chosen that too. Yet, large numbers of people remain who were literally destroyed by this shameless persecution and there will be more people who will ruin their lives out of ignorance based upon the falsehood that filing is in their best interests. It is for them that we need to continue…….

Sora Fon The tragedy of “self assessment”, self-enforcement and draconian penalties created to enforce honesty while leaving loopholes for those with influence and wealth. It is all I can do to tell the many indigent US Persons abroad I see, who could never face enforcement or confrontation abroad by an IRS interested only in collections, that (apologies to FDR) the only thing they have to fear is fear itself.

TM Yes and should one publicly caution anyone about coming into the system, there is an immediate swooping of threatening condors always quick to claim one doesn’t know what one is speaking about, what a terrible person you are to advise breaking the law, they will find everybody and blah blah blah.

Sora Fon Just saw this quote which I have to repeat: “A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.” — Edward R. Murrow

TM Agreed. It is why we MUST NOT remain silent.

Some of you may be aware of the nonsense Keith Redmond has endured by emphasizing on Twitter that if one is not in the tax system, it may be best not to enter it.
Excerpted from a post on Brock:

I was very surprised to see some of the Tweets on Twitter when Keith Redmond tried to warn Accidentals not to put themselves into the US tax system. It is interesting that without any proof as to the ability of IRS able to collect via QI, he presumes it and treats Keith in a manner I found inappropriate and unprofessional. I believe the point of contention was to prove that actual Accidental Americans had been “outed” due to QI. This was not provided, nor has it been since that time. There were others that ganged up in more “attacks” that I will not put up here. Brock/Wed Rally Tweeps will remember this extremely unpleasant incident.

If there is no repeal of #FATCA and a move to RBT, it will be clear that resistance will become more and more prevalent. I personally would love to see massive, visible civil disobedience. At the very least, the government can count on seeing the low numbers discussed in the post below.
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Posted on February 18, 2017

On Thursday, the IRS released their “Dirty Dozen Tax Scams” for 2017, among which they listed “unreported offshore accounts”. They go into more detail in IR-2017-35:

Since the first Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) opened in 2009, there have been more than 55,800 disclosures and the IRS has collected more than $9.9 billion from this initiative alone.

In addition, another 48,000 taxpayers have made use of separate streamlined procedures to correct prior non-willful omissions and meet their federal tax obligations, paying approximately $450 million in taxes, interest and penalties. The IRS conducted thousands of offshore-related civil audits that resulted in the payment of tens of millions of dollars in unpaid taxes. The IRS has also pursued criminal charges leading to billions of dollars in criminal fines and restitutions.

Works of the U.S. government are not objects of copyright, which is a boon for stenographers who mislabel themselves as “journalists”: they can just cut-and-paste the U.S. government’s viewpoint on the issues into their magazines without thinking about it, or attempting any analysis.

Anyway, US$450 million is an average of about US$9,400 per Streamlined participant. Not as big as the $13,000 per head they extracted from minnows with two-digit annual tax deficiencies under the 2009 OVDP, but still a sizeable sum from the perspective of the individual.

I’m sure there’s some poor deluded souls in the IRS and the Joint Committee on Taxation staff who are salivating at the thought of getting nine grand per head out of the rest of the millions of diaspora non-filers too — that might help them turn those mythical FATCA revenue estimates into reality. If that’s their aim, however, then forty-eight thousand over four years is a rather slow start.

Continue reading In four years, about 1% of diaspora non-filers chose to come into compliance through Streamlined: IRS