Category Archives: Form 3520

Treasury 26 CFR § 301.7701-2 – Business entity definitions discriminate against Canadian Controlled Private Corporations

Synopsis:

Canadian corporations should NOT be deemed (under the Treasury entity classification regulations) to be “per se” corporations. The reality is that corporations play different roles in different tax and business cultures. Corporations in Canada have many uses and purposes, including operating as private pension plans for small business owners (including medical professionals).

Deeming Canadian corporations to be “per se” corporations means that they are always treated as “foreign corporations” for the purposes of US tax rules. This has resulted in their being treated as CFCs or as PFICs in circumstances which do not align with the purpose of the CFC and PFIC rules.

The 2017 965 Transition Tax confiscated the pensions of a large numbers of Canadian residents. The ongoing GILTI rules have made it very difficult for small business corporations to be used for their intended purposes in Canada.

Clearly Treasury deemed Canadian Controlled Private Corporations to be “per se” corporations without:

1. Understanding the use and role of these corporations in Canada; and

2. Assuming that ONLY US residents might be shareholders in Canadian corporations. As usual, the lives of US citizens living outside the United States were not considered.

These are the problems that inevitably arise under the US citizenship-based AKA extraterritorial tax regime, coupled with a lack of sensitivity to how these rules impact Americans abroad. The US citizenship-based AKA extraterritorial tax regime may be defined as:

The United States imposing worldwide taxation on the non-US source income of people who are tax residents of other countries and do not live in the United States!

It is imperative that the United States transition to a system of pure residence-based taxation!

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Introduction

The United States imposes a separate and more punitive tax system on US citizens living outside the United States than on US residents. There are numerous examples of this principle – a principle that is well understood (but not directly experienced) by tax preparers.

The US tax system operates through a combination of laws, Treasury Regulations, enforcement by the tax compliance community and IRS administration. There are many instances where the extraterritorial application of the US tax system results in absurdities, that are very damaging to those who try their best to comply with those laws.

Treasury regulations have an enormous impact on how the Internal Revenue Code applies to Americans abroad. In a previous paper coauthored with Dr. Alpert and Dr. Snyder, we described how Treasury could provide “A Simple Regulatory Fix For Citizenship Taxation“. Treasury regulations can be extremely helpful to Americans abroad or extremely damaging. It is therefore crucial that Treasury consider how its regulations would/could impact the lives of those Americans abroad attempting compliance with the US extraterritorial tax regime. In some cases it may be appropriate to have different regulations for resident Americans than for Americans abroad.

Treasury has demonstrated that it can be very helpful

Although this post will focus on difficulties, it’s important to note that Treasury has demonstrated that it can be very helpful to Americans abroad. It has interpreted the Internal Revenue Code in ways that have mitigated what could have been extreme damage. Here are two recent examples from the GILTI context where Treasury:

– interpreted the 962 Election to allow individuals to receive the 50% deduction in GILTI income inclusion that was allowed to corporations; and

– interpreted the Subpart F rules to mean that ALL income earned by a CFC should be entitled to the high tax exclusion

Clearly some of the news coming from Treasury has been good!

The power to regulate is the power to destroy

This post provides examples of how certain Treasury regulations contribute to the application of the United States extraterritorial tax regime. The examples are found in the following two categories of regulations:

Category A: Foreign Trusts – The Form 3520A Penalty Fundraiser – Regulations That Are Unclear Resulting In Penalties

Category B: Business Entities Designated as “per se” Corporations – Creating CFCs In Unreasonable Circumstances (Canadian Controlled Private Corporations) – Regulations That Are Clear But Over-inclusive

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Part 2 – The Warren “Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act of 2021” and The Wealth Of Other Nations

The fact that …

Leads to the obvious question of …

Hmm…

The fact is that Senator Warren is proposing to impose her wealth tax on property located outside the United States, purchased by individuals who live outside the United States, who have no connection to the United States other than (perhaps) the circumstance of having been born in the United States. Yup, it’s true.

On March 18, 2021, FATCA will turn on 11. The Senator’s proposed wealth tax explicitly states that FATCA is to be used to enforce this tax! Finally an (il)legitimate use for FATCA.

In the 18th Century Adam Smith wrote “The Wealth Of Nations”. In the 21st Century Senator Warren is proposing to impose a wealth tax on “The Wealth Of OTHER Nations”.

Discussion And Analysis

This is the second of what I expect to be a multi-part series on Senator Warren’s proposed wealth tax of 2021. As the above tweet makes clear, the practical utility of the tax depends on US citizenship-based taxation (to whom it applies) and FATCA (how are non-US assets located). In my first post, I referenced Senator Warren’s statement that:

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Treasury exempts applicable “tax-favored foreign trusts” from the Form 3520 (and therefore Form 3520A) requirement

Introduction – A small step for forms, one giant leap for “formkind”

It’s true. Many Americans abroad may no longer be required to file Form 3520 and Form 3520A to report their lives abroad! Early indications appear that many Americans will (assuming their retirement vehicle does qualify as a trust) not be required to report on Form 3520. This new initiative from Treasury a positive step in the right direction.

I have long thought that Treasury could solve many of the problems experienced by Americans abroad. Here is a wonderful example of Treasury taking the initiative to clarify the obvious:

Americans abroad do NOT use non-U.S. pension plans and non-U.S. tax-advantaged investing accounts to evade U.S. taxes. Hence, there is NO reason for the Form 3520 reporting requirement. This is an example of the tax compliance industry sitting down with Treasury, explaining a problem and getting a resolution. I suggest (and hope) that the same can be done for PFIC (Form 8621), Small Business Corporations (Form 5471) and other penalty-laden forms.

Yes, this announcement from Treasury in the form of RP 20-17 is a great achievement. Although it certainly doesn’t solve all the problems, it’s:

A small step for forms, one giant leap for “formkind”

The background to this problem – It starts in 1996 (same year as the beginning of the Exit Tax)…

Since 1996 Internal Revenue Code 6048 has required extensive reporting of almost any interaction with a foreign trust. Treasury has required that the reporting take place on Forms 3520 and 3520A. The forms are complex and subject to the draconian penalty regime described in Internal Revenue Code Section 6677. In order for an entity to be a foreign trust, it must be a trust. A “trust” for IRS purposes is defined by the Treasury Regulations as:

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To be FORMWarned is to be FORMArmed! The easiest way to receive a Form 3520A penalty would be to file a Form 3520


There is evidence from both tax practitioners and from individuals that Americans abroad are suffering from a “Form 3520A” penalty epidemic. Some of the best discussion of both the scope and technicalities of this problem may be found at Tax Connections. See particularly the posts here, here and here. (Mr. Carter’s original post was also reproduced at American Expat Finance.) The posts have attracted commentary from a number of tax professionals. The IRS Taxpayer Advocate has been invited to intervene.
“Tax Compliant” Americans Abroad are just a penalty waiting to happen!
Americans abroad are potentially required a very large number of IRS forms.
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The United States imposes a separate and more punitive tax system on US dual citizens who live in their country of second citizenship

Prologue

Do you recognise yourself?

You are unable to properly plan for your retirement. Many of you with retirement assets are having them confiscated (at this very moment) courtesy of the Sec. 965 transition tax. You are subjected to reporting requirements that presume you are a criminal. Yet your only crime was having been born in America (something you didn’t even choose) and attempting to live as a U.S. tax compliant American outside the United States. Your comments to my recent article at Tax Connections reflect and register your conviction that you should not be subjected to the extra-territorial application of the Internal Revenue Code – when you don’t live in the United States.

The Internal Revenue Code: You can’t leave home without it!

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The "proper care and feeding of the Green Card": Tax Planning for the #GreenCard before coming to America

Introduction – Where this post came from …
In July of 2018 I moderated a discussion on “tax residency”. The discussion was at an immigration conference in Los Angeles that was primarily focused on the EB-5 program. The EB-5 program will lead to a Green Card (meaning that one becomes a permanent resident of the United States).

Here is a video of the discussion. Some parts are audible and others not. But, I decided to create a post which focuses on the issues discussed.
Introduction to the world of Global Mobility
Global mobility is the norm in the 21st century. The United States, Canada and Australia are prime destinations for those seeking “permanent residency” and ultimately a second “citizenship”. Canada has been a pioneer in investor immigration. The United States has long been an area of prime interest. It is important to distinguish between “residency” for immigration purposes (are you legally allowed to live in a country) from “residency” for tax purposes (to what extent are you subject to taxation in the country).
Once you have become a “permanent resident” under the immigration laws, you will have become a “tax resident” under the tax laws. Tax residency in a CRS and FATCA world has become increasingly important. I have previously discussed OECD definitions of tax residency.
There are many “citizenship and/or residency by investment” programs. One example is Portugals’s Golden Visa Program.
The purpose of this post is to create awareness of some aspects of what it means to become a “tax resident” of the United States. When a non-citizen becomes a U.S. “permanent resident” (for immigration purposes), one becomes a “tax resident” of the United States. Once a “tax resident” of the United States (1) very specific procedures must be followed to sever “U.S. tax residency” and (2) “long term residents” will be subject to the S. 877A Exit Tax rules.
If you are a “tax resident” of a country, it is important to understand the tax rules. This is particularly true when considering becoming a “permanent resident” and “tax resident” of the United States.
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Canada U.S. Tax Treaty: Why the 5th protocol of the Canada US Tax Treaty Clarifies that the TFSA is a pension within the meaning of the Canada U.S. Tax Treaty

Article XVIII of the Canada U.S. Tax Treaty Continued – The question of the TFSA
In a previous post I discussed how a U.S. citizen moving to Canada with an existing ROTH will be treated under the Canada U.S. Tax treaty.
The purpose of this post is two-fold:
First,to argue that the the TFSA should be treated as a “pension” within the meaning of Article XVIII of the Canada U.S. Tax Treaty; and
Second, to argue that the 5th protocol (which clarifies that the ROTH IRA) is a pension within the meaning of the Canada U.S. Tax Treaty means that the Canadian TFSA has the same status.
This will be developed in three parts:
Part A – How the Canada U.S. Tax Treaty affects U.S. Taxation of the Canadian TFSA
Part B- Wait just a minute! I heard that the “Savings Clause” means that the treaty would not apply to U.S. citizens?
Part C – The TFSA and Information Returns: To file Form 3520 and 3520A or to not, that is the question
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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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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?

The biggest cost of being a "dual Canada/U.S. tax filer" is the "lost opportunity" available to pure Canadians

Update August 6, 2018:

I have written a sequel to this post – “7 Habits Of Highly Effective Americans Abroad” which you may find of interest:

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The reality of being a “DUAL” Canada U.S. tax filer is that you are a “DUEL” tax filer

“It’s not the taxes they take from you. It’s that the U.S. tax system leaves you with few opportunities for financial planning”.

I was recently asked “what exactly are the issues facing “Canada U.S. dual tax filers?” This is my attempt to condense this topic into a short answer. There are a number of “obvious issues facing U.S. citizens living in Canada.” There are a number of issues that are less obvious. Here goes …
There are (at least) five obvious issues facing “dual Canada U.S. tax filers in Canada”.

At the very least the issues include:
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