Tag Archives: FBAR

Considering renouncing US citizenship? Thinking #citizide? @Expatriationlaw moderates a "Retain or Renounce" conversation among a lawyer, a financial planner and an accountant

As 2018 comes to a close, the “Retain or Renounce” discussion intensifies. American Citizens Abroad (ACA) writes that …


The @citizide twitter account frames the question as follows …

In an #FBAR and #FATCA world #Americansabroad ask: “To retain or renounce US citizenship, whether tis better to live free ..” – #citizide explore this question

The hashtag #citizide has been established in the twittersphere …
The “Retain or Renounce” question is discussed by a wide range or professional advisers …

To hear the snippets of the discussion continue on …
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Part 22 – The 16th amendment authorises an Income Tax – but the @USTransitionTax is a wealth tax!

Part 1: The constitutional authorisation for the US income tax

As explained in a recent post at Tax Connections:

Written by TaxConnections Admin | Posted in TaxConnections

IRS- First Tax Return Form In 1913

Origin Of Internal Revenue Service

The roots of IRS go back to the Civil War when President Lincoln and Congress, in 1862, created the position of commissioner of Internal Revenue and enacted an income tax to pay war expenses. The income tax was repealed 10 years later. Congress revived the income tax in 1894, but the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional the following year.

16th Amendment

In 1913, Wyoming ratified the 16th Amendment, providing the three-quarter majority of states necessary to amend the Constitution. The 16th Amendment gave Congress the authority to enact an income tax. That same year, the first Form 1040 appeared after Congress levied a 1 percent tax on net personal incomes above $3,000 with a 6 percent surtax on incomes of more than $500,000.

In 1918, during World War I, the top rate of the income tax rose to 77 percent to help finance the war effort. It dropped sharply in the post-war years, down to 24 percent in 1929, and rose again during the Depression. During World War II, Congress introduced payroll withholding and quarterly tax payments.

1913 Form 1040

(PDF 126KB, 4 pages, including instructions)

A New Name

In the 50s, the agency was reorganized to replace a patronage system with career, professional employees. The Bureau of Internal Revenue name was changed to the Internal Revenue Service. Only the IRS commissioner and chief counsel are selected by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

Today’s IRS Organization

The IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 prompted the most comprehensive reorganization and modernization of IRS in nearly half a century. The IRS reorganized itself to closely resemble the private sector model of organizing around customers with similar needs.

(Note that even in 1913, the most prominent part of the 1040 was the Penalty Provision.)

1913

Part 2: Taxation must be constitutional. Is the transition tax an income tax?

A new paper by Sean P. McElroy titled: “The Mandatory Repatriation Tax Is Unconstitutional” suggests that:

Abstract
In late 2017, Congress passed the first major tax reform in over three decades. This Essay considers the constitutional concerns raised by Section 965 (the “Mandatory Repatriation Tax”), a central provision of the new tax law that imposes a one-time tax on U.S.-based multinationals’ accumulated foreign earnings.

First, this Essay argues that Congress lacks the power to directly tax wealth without apportionment among the states. Congress’s power to tax is expressly granted, and constrained, by the Constitution. While the passage of the Sixteenth Amendment mooted many constitutional questions by expressly allowing Congress to tax income from whatever source derived, this Essay argues the Mandatory Repatriation Tax is a wealth tax, rather than an income tax, and is therefore unconstitutional.

Second, even if the Mandatory Repatriation Tax is found to be an income tax (or, alternatively, an excise tax), the tax is nevertheless unconstitutionally retroactive. While the Supreme Court has generally upheld retroactive taxes at both the state and federal level over the past few decades, the unprecedented retroactivity of the Mandatory Repatriation Tax — and its potential for taxing earnings nearly three decades after the fact — raises unprecedented Fifth Amendment due process concerns.

Here is a copy of the paper …

SSRN-id3247926

The point is that the transition tax is not a tax on income. It is a tax on “fake income”. It is “fake income” on two levels:

First, by definition it is not based on income. It is based on a pool of capital that was not subject to taxation when it was earned.

Second, Sec. 965 deems it to be income precisely because it not actual income which is based on any realisation event.

Is this the simplest argument for why the Section 965 transition tax may be unconstitutional?

John Richardson Follow me on Twitter @Expatriationlaw

Bye Bye Storify, Hello Wakelet – My "Stories" will live in this post and be moved to https://wakelet.com/@Expatriationlaw

Today is May 15, 2018. Tomorrow Storify closes forever (unless it provides a last minute_ reprieve.
Therefore, I am creating this post to “store” copies of my 6 Storify Stories.
They are being saved here in pdf format. I have also moved them over to my Wakelet account where I will continue posts of this type.
‘Will you walk into my parlour?’ – #Americansabroad and IRS “amnesty” offers in the 2009 #OVDP
Australian Greens Senator @LarissaWaters resigns because of her CANADIAN place of birth. Too bad she was born in Canada
Can the common law “revenue rule” be used to stop the enforcement of U.S. “citizenship taxation” on non-U.S. residents?
My tax professional told me my “non-U.S. mutual fund is a #PFIC! What is a #PFIC and what do I do?
Tax, culture and how the USA uses #citizenshiptaxation to impose US culture (and penalties) on other countries
The “Pax Americana” to the “Tax Americana”: How the USA is imposing a separate, punitive tax regime on “nonresidents”

Part 9: Responding to the Sec. 965 “transition tax”: From the "Pax Americana" to the "Tax Americana"


This is the ninth in my series of posts about the Sec. 965 Transition Tax and whether/how it applies to the small business corporations owned by taxpaying residents of other countries (who may also have U.S. citizenship). These small business corporations are in no way “foreign”. They are certainly “local” to the resident of another country who just happens to have the misfortune of being a U.S. citizen.
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Part 6: Responding to the Sec. 965 “transition tax”: A "reprieve" until June 15, 2018


Introduction
This is the sixth in my series of posts about the Sec. 965 Transition Tax and whether/how it applies to the small business corporations owned by tax paying residents of other countries (who may also have U.S. citizenship). These small business corporations are in no way “foreign”. They are certainly “local” to the resident of another country who just happens to have the misfortune of being a U.S. citizen.
This post will draw on the lessons/discussion from the first five posts. The specific purpose of this post is to argue that what the United States calls “taxation” (presumably because it is found in the Internal Revenue Code), as applied to “nonresidents” is actually a separate tax regime that:
1. Imposes different tax rules on “nonresidents” (certain individuals who live outside the United States); and
2. Those rules for “nonresidents” are designed to operate primarily as “confiscations of non-U.S. assets.
The Internal Revenue Code of the United States is based on three principles:
Principle 1: A hatred for all things foreign
Principle 2: A hatred of all forms of deferral (except IRAs, 401Ks and other U.S. sanctioned forms of deferral)
Principle 3: Attempts of prevent “leakage” of “U.S. person” owned assets from the U.S. tax system.
The interaction of these three principles creates a complex, penalty laden, “anti-deferral regime”, that specifically targets income and assets earned in other countries and located in other countries.
The time has come for countries who have U.S. tax treaties that contain the “savings clause” and which have signed to FATCA IGAs to “wake up” to this reality.
To put it simply: What the U.S. calls “taxation” is actually the “confiscation” of assets located in other countries. The “transition tax” is a timely and exceptionally brazen example of how this confiscation works.
The first five posts in my “transition tax” series were:
Part 1: Responding to The Section 965 “transition tax”: “Resistance is futile” but “Compliance is impossible”
Part 2: Responding to The Section 965 “transition tax”: Is “resistance futile”? The possible use of the Canada U.S. tax treaty to defeat the “transition tax”
Part 3: Responding to the Sec. 965 “transition tax”: They hate you for (and want) your pensions!
Part 4: Responding to the Sec. 965 “transition tax”: Comparing the treatment of “Homeland Americans” to the treatment of “nonresidents”
Part 5: Responding to the Sec. 965 “transition tax”: Shades of #OVDP! April 15/18 is your last, best chance to comply!
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Part 5: Responding to the Sec. 965 “transition tax”: Shades of #OVDP! April 15/18 is your last, best chance to comply!

Introduction
This is the fifth in my series of posts about the Sec. 965 Transition Tax and whether/how it applies to the small business corporations owned by tax paying residents of other countries (who may also have U.S. citizenship). These small business corporations are in no way “foreign”. They are certainly “local” to the resident of another country who just happens to have the misfortune of being a U.S. citizen.
The purpose of this post is to argue that (as applied to those who do not live in the United States) the transition tax is very similar to the OVDP (“Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Programs”) which are discussed here. Some of my initial thoughts (December 2017) were captured in the post referenced in the following tweet:


The first four posts in my “transition tax” series were:
Part 1: Responding to The Section 965 “transition tax”: “Resistance is futile” but “Compliance is impossible”
Part 2: Responding to The Section 965 “transition tax”: Is “resistance futile”? The possible use of the Canada U.S. tax treaty to defeat the “transition tax”
Part 3: Responding to the Sec. 965 “transition tax”: They hate you for (and want) your pensions!
Part 4: Responding to the Sec. 965 “transition tax”: Comparing the treatment of “Homeland Americans” to the treatment of “nonresidents”
*A review of what what the “transition tax” actually is may be found at the bottom of this post.
This post is for the purpose of the arguing that, as applied to those who live outside the United States, payment of the “transition tax” in 2018, is the financial equivalent to participation in 2011 OVDI (“Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program”).
 


Seven Reasons Why The U.S. Transition Tax as applied to “nonresidents” is similar to the “Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program As Applied To “Nonresidents”. In both cases there are benefits to Homeland Americans and extreme detriments to “nonresidents”. These detriments amount to a punishment for living outside the United States and becoming a “tax resident” of another country.
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Does the end of #OVDP signal a move FROM the "voluntary disclosure" model TO the "enforcement model"?

The IRS recently announced that it was ending OVDP – the “Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program.”
The reaction of the “tax compliance community has been largely that the “retiring” of the OVDP program should be interpreted to be a “last, best chance to come into compliance!” A comment at the Isaac Brock Society asks:

“Those who still wish to come forward have time to do so.”
I haven’t finished reading John’s farewell to OVDP but that IRS statement caught my eye. It does NOT say “who must come forward” or “who have yet to come forward”. Who the heck would ever “wish” to come forward, especially after reading about Just Me’s trial by OVDP fire and the betrayal of trust suffered by our dear Dr. Marcus Marcio Pinheiro (aka markpinetree)?

I suppose there could be two possible reasons:
1. The OVDP program could be replaced with something worse; and/or
2. There could be some (few and far between) situations where OVDP might actually be better than streamlined.


What do the “tax professionals” think? A collection of comments from the twittersphere follows:


Interestingly, the IRS announcement was accompanied by the statement that:

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.

A comment from the Isaac Brock Society asks:

Doesn’t this just mean that they will move from the “voluntary disclosure” model to the “enforcement model” where they will begin to use the information gathered in FATCA, etc, to send notices to people with large fines?
To me, this sounds more like a gunshot that begins the battle between the IRS and expats versus an expat victory.

And in the real world …
Last week I was shown a sample of an IRS form letter received by an elderly American woman who has (apparently) not lived in the United States for fifty years. During those fifty years she had dutifully and responsibly filed her U.S. tax returns. Of course, she was living in a “foreign” country outside the United States.
Those interested might have a look at the following form letter she received. Notice that the letter appears to have been prompted because the IRS received information that she had an account at a “foreign bank”.
IRS – ltr form 6019
Looks like quite the fishing expedition to me. What a “penalty laden” list of possible accusations. Would you like to receive a letter like this about your “local” bank accounts?

IRS announces the end of #OVDP: Fascinating tweets from the "OVDP Historians" who compose 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.
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Mr. Bedrosian (a pioneer in FBAR history) meets Mr. #FBAR: The good, the bad and the ugly

Why the Arthur Bedrosian meeting with Mr. FBAR is important
Synopsis:

The Bedrosian FBAR case is an incredibly important victory for taxpayers. Judge Baylson first ruled that FBAR “willfulness” in the “civil” context did NOT require knowledge that filing an FBAR was a legal duty (the criminal standard). He then ruled that Mr. Bedrosian’s failure to report the account was a form of negligence that did NOT meet the required standard of “willfulness”.
Perhaps the message is:
The failure to file an FBAR will be “willful”, if the circumstances of the failure, were evidence of conduct that the FBAR statute was designed to punish.
 
In other words, it is possible to know about Mr. FBAR, fail to file Mr. FBAR and NOT be “willful”!
The “Readers Digest” Version …
The Bad …
The District Court held that the test for what constitutes “willfulness” in the “civil FBAR penalty” context is not the test used in a criminal context – “the intentional violation of a known legal duty”. All that is required is that the person voluntarily NOT file an FBAR. (One need not know that he is violating a legal duty).


The Good …
The failure to file an FBAR can be a form of “negligence” that falls short of “willfulness”. In other words, one can know about the FBAR requirement, fail to file the FBAR and still fall short of “willfulness”.


The Ugly …
The IRS had initially taken the position that Mr. Bedrosian’s misadventures in FBAR were nonwillful. But, they changed their mind.
Round 1 goes to Mr. Bedrosian. Will the IRS appeal?


Mr. Bedrosian has earned a place in FBAR history. He is a true “FBAR Pioneer”. His “Adventures in FBAR” place him in the club of: Mr. Pomerantz, Mr. Hom , Mr. Kentera, Mr. Horsky and Mr. Warner. Fortunately, mere visitors to American do not yet have to file the FBAR. Interestingly, Mr. FBAR appears to have been the “role model” for a Russia foreign bank account reporting laws.
To learn more about the FBAR Odyssey of Mr. Arthur Bedrosian …
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Tax, culture and how the USA uses #citizenshiptaxation to impose US culture (and penalties) on other countries

Civilizations and countries define themselves in part by their tax policies
In 1993 Samuel Huntington wrote “The Clash Of Civilizations“. His basic thesis is captured in the following paragraph from Foreign Affairs Magazine.

World politics is entering a new phase, and intellectuals have not hesitated to proliferate visions of what it will be-the end of history, the return of traditional rivalries between nation states, and the decline of the nation state from the conflicting pulls of tribalism and globalism, among others. Each of these visions catches aspects of the emerging reality. Yet they all miss a crucial, indeed a central, aspect of what global politics is likely to be in the coming years.
It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.

Tax policy and the possible “clash of civilizations”
To what extent does the insistence of the USA on imposing the Internal Revenue Code (“citizenship-based taxation”) on the citizen/residents of other countries, foreshadow a “clash of civilizations”?


This post was motivated by the article by Virginia La Torre Jeker which is referenced in the above tweet. It is an excellent discussion of how the Internal Revenue Code might (or might not) accommodate the reality of Sharia law. The post raises many questions and alerts practitioners to the challenges of applying the Internal Revenue Code to the lives of people whose culture is largely outside the United States. The post raises many “technical issues”. I expect there will further discussion of this issue on Virginia’s blog.
Taxation does NOT exist in a cultural vacuum. A country’s tax system reflects the counry’s cultural values. As the tax historian Charles Adams has noted, the rise and fall of civilizations can be linked to its tax policies. To impose the Internal Revenue Code on people who live outside the United States is to export U.S. cultural values and impose those values on other nations. The United States claims the right to impose the Internal Revenue Code on U.S. citizens who live outside the United States. The reality is that there are millions of people with no connection to the United States (other than a place of birth). U.S. citizenship is acquired automatically if one has the fortune (or misfortune depending on your point of view) of having been (as Bruce would sing) “Born In The USA!
FATCA and the tax compliance industry are working hard to identify those who may be U.S. citizens and do NOT live in the United States. What the United States views as a good source of tax revenue should be seen more broadly. Leaving aside basic issues of fairness, to impose U.S. taxation (according to U.S. rules/cultural values) on the residents of other countries, is sure to create problems. As part of tax reform, the United States must stop imposing the Internal Revenue Code on people who are NOT residents of the United States!
The following “Storification” is an attempt to explain the problem from an “outside the USA” perspective …
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