The Importance of Disclosing Offshore Accounts and Assets

The Importance of Disclosing Offshore Accounts and Assets

If you have offshore accounts or assets, it’s important for you to be aware of the standard protocol related to disclosing them to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Any money, trusts, inheritance, or corporate earnings that you have in a foreign bank account or foreign financial account is subject to reporting to the IRS.

If you do not disclose your offshore accounts, you could face fines, penalties, and even criminal charges that can severely impact yourself, your family, and your business.

Why Do I Have to Report the Offshore Accounts and Assets When the Money is Overseas?

 Any United States Citizen, Foreign National subject to U.S. income tax, Legal Permanent Resident, or Expat who has an offshore account must report the accounts by law.  Regardless of whether or not there is a tax liability, you must report the accounts on such forms as a Schedule B, FBAR, 8938, 3520, or more.

How Soon Do I Need to Disclose My Inheritance, Trust, or Corporate Assets?

By law, you must report the assets and or accounts immediately.  Under the Foreign Act Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), all foreign bank accounts, foreign financial accounts, and foreign income must be reported to the IRS.  Failure to do so could result in outstanding tax liabilities in addition to fines and penalties.

What Happens if I Can’t Prove I Reported My Accounts?

 Your offshore accounts could be frozen or forfeited by the bank or foreign financial institution.

I Didn’t Know I Had to Disclose Them, What Can I Do Now?

 Whether your failure to disclose your foreign accounts and assets was considered willful or not, you are still under obligation to disclose them. With the proper guidance of an experienced tax attorney who has knowledge of the correct protocol and forms to fill out, you can still report your foreign accounts and assets.

Can I Use a CPA, an Accountant or Enrolled Agent to Help Me Become Compliant?

Failing to disclose foreign accounts and assets as an attempt to avoid or evade tax compliance, or even out of ignorance, is a serious matter.

If you have received a FATCA letter from the IRS and need to be in compliance, it is in your best effort, and that of your family and your future, to secure a tax attorney with experience in offshore account and asset compliance.

A tax attorney is bound by attorney client privilege, assuring all your communication is completely confidential. As well, a tax attorney can help by filling out the proper forms, avoiding delays, and speeding up the process.

Mendes Weed, LLP has Experience with Offshore Account and Asset Disclosure and Compliance

 If you or someone you know needs the advice and support of an experienced tax attorney with knowledge of foreign asset and account disclosure and compliance, Mendes Weed, LLP may be able to help.

We represent clients throughout Walnut Creek, Alamo, Danville, Blackhawk, Pleasanton, Livermore, Solano County, Alameda County, San Mateo County, Santa Clara County, San Francisco and Sacramento, and we’d be happy to represent you, as well.

Contact us and make an appointment, or visit our website for more information.

Disclaimer: The tips and materials provided in this email are for informational purposes only, offered as public service. No information in this email should be considered legal advice or used as a substitute for legal advice. For legal advice, you should contact an attorney directly.

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The Implications of the International Tax Treaty on Your Business

The Implications of the International Tax Treaty on Your Business

One June 7, 2017, more than 70 countries joined together in Paris France to sign The Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting. The tax treaty, abbreviated as MLI, was not signed by 68 other countries, including the United States.

The tax pact was designed to promote financial transparency and contest tax avoidance by multinational corporations. According to Clark Gascoigne, deputy director of the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition, “Tax dodging by large multinationals is a global problem that costs American taxpayers in excess of $130 billion per year—more than any other country.”

Although the U.S. did not sign the treaty, they were instrumental in participating in the development of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting agreement under Obama.

The U.S’s refusal to sign could be due to the fact it already has measures in place in current treaties. According to Bloomberg News reports, the U.S.  has tough anti-abuse tax provisions and the MLI can still be successful. Will Morris, tax committee chairman of the Business and Industry Advisory Committee surmises about the new treaty, “The improvements to mutual agreement procedures and, even more, the group of core countries entering into mandatory binding arbitration will be a huge plus for business.”

The first changes to the tax treaty will take place in 2018 with no consideration for grandfathering, states the Bloomberg news article.

Effects of U.S.’s Decision on Your Business

 The codes and laws governing business taxation are always changing. We’ve seen the impact of the news of the MLI treaty headlined in the news.  Is your business compliant? Are you aware of the implications not being compliant can have on your business?  What steps do you take to make sure you are paying the proper taxes? Will this new treaty affect your corporation or partnership?

 Keeping up with the tax modifications internationally or even in our own neighborhood is an important step in helping clients deal with the impact of taxes in their lives. If you are unaware of international tax modifications and how they can affect you and or your business, you should consult an experienced tax attorney.

Mendes Weed, LLP Advocates for Your Tax Rights

As one of their principal attorneys, Christina Weed is an advocate for your rights.  Christina assists clients in the areas of tax law, business law, and estate planning in both transactional and litigation matters.

Keeping up-to-date with the trends in her areas of practice is just one way Christina assists clients. If you would like to connect with Christina, please give Mendes Weed, LLP a call at 925-390-3222.  We are here to help. We have offices in Walnut Creek, San Francisco and Sacramento and we serve clients in Walnut Creek, Alamo, Danville, Blackhawk, Pleasanton, Livermore, Solano County Alameda County, San Mateo County, Santa Clara County, Sacramento and San Francisco.

Disclaimer: The tips and materials provided on this page are for informational purposes only, offered as public service. No information on this website should be considered legal advice or used as a substitute for legal advice. For legal advice, you should contact an attorney directly.

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I Haven’t Reported My Foreign Accounts and Assets. How Can I Come into Compliance and Avoid Harsh Penalties?

I Haven’t Reported My Foreign Accounts and Assets. How Can I Come into Compliance and Avoid Harsh Penalties?

For many people, taxes can be a daunting process. When you add on the stress of having to report income earned from foreign accounts, pursuant to Federal Law, the process can be downright stressful and a hassle.

It was Not My Intent to Fail to Report My Foreign Accounts and Assets

It’s not uncommon for some people to make a mistake when it comes to reporting their income from foreign sources. For the most part, most people do not try to hide their foreign accounts or assets.  But filling out the Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR) incorrectly, receiving bad tax advice, being unaware of foreign compliance requirements, and just forgetting to report foreign income can be detrimental.

In fact, the penalties for not reporting foreign assets and accounts can be hefty, leading to even more chaos, expense, anxiety, strife, and even jail time.

Here are the Answers to Some Commonly Asked Questions Regarding Tax Law, Foreign Assets, and Foreign Accounts

What Constitutes a Foreign Account or Foreign Asset?

Some examples of Foreign Accounts and Foreign Assets include:

  • Savings
  • Checking
  • Deposit and Brokerage Accounts held with a bank or broker-dealer
  • Stocks and Securities issued by a foreign corporation
  • Note, Bond, Debenture issued by a foreign person
  • Interest rate and currency swaps
  • Foreign Partnership interest
  • Interest in a foreign retirement or deferred compensation plan
  • Interest in a foreign estate
  • Interest in a foreign-issued insurance contract or annuity with a cash-surrender value
  • Mutual fund
  • Trust

*Some examples of forms that may need to be filed: FinCEN Form 114 (FBAR Foreign Bank Account Report); Form 8938 (Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets); Form 8665 (Return of U.S. Persons With Respect to Certain Foreign Partnerships; Form 5471 Information Return of U.S. Persons with Respect to Certain Foreign Corporations; Form 5472 (Information Return of a 25% Foreign-Owned U.S. Corporation or a Foreign Corporation Engaged in a U.S. Trade or Business); Form 3520 (Annual Return to Report Transactions with Foreign Trusts and Receipt of Certain Foreign Gifts); and Others.

Who is Accountable for Reporting Foreign Accounts and Assets?

  • Any U.S. taxpayer with a financial interest in any foreign account or foreign financial asset.
  • Any U.S. taxpayer with a signature authority over any foreign account or foreign financial asset.
  • Any U.S. taxpayer who has incurred income due to having a vested interest in the financial interest of any foreign account or asset.

* tax payers can be individuals, trusts, estates, domestic entities, or a majority owner of a business

Who must Report Foreign Financial Accounts/Assets?

  • Persons (citizens and resident aliens) with foreign assets or accounts of $10k or more anytime of the year.

*This applies to singles or married filing separately

What are the Penalties for Failure to Report Foreign Financial Accounts? 

  • FBAR (FinCEN Form 114) filing requirement
  • Non-willful violations, (not reporting financial assets because you didn’t know you had to) can result in up to $10,000 in penalties per violation.
  • Willful violations (failing to report financial assets on purpose) can result in up to $100,000 in fines or 50% of account balances for each violation with possible criminal charges.
    • Note: These penalties are subject to adjustments for inflation
    • For violations occurring after August 1, 2016, whose associated violations occurred after November 2, 2015, the IRS may assess an inflation-adjusted civil penalty not to exceed $12,459 per violation for non-willful violations that are not due to reasonable cause. For willful violations, the inflation-adjusted penalty may be the greater of $124,588 or 50 percent of the balance in the account at the time of the violation, for each violation.

What are the Penalties for Failure to Report Foreign Financial Assets?

  • Form 8938 filing requirement
  • Fines up to $10,000
  • Fines up to $10,000 for every 30 days after IRS issues a Failure to Disclose document
  • Possible criminal charges
    • Note: These penalties are subject to adjustments for inflation

What if I Disclosed Income but Failed to File Foreign Tax Forms?

You may be able to amend your prior tax return.

When is the Deadline for Filing my FBAR? 

The deadline for filing is April 15, with an extension available to October 15.

Are there any Federal Programs to Help Me?

We can discuss the IRS and Treasure Programs that may be available to you to reduce or eliminate penalties. See my website for more information.

I Think I May Need Tax Law Representation.  How Can You Help?

For anyone with foreign accounts or assets, it’s beneficial to seek the advice of a professional tax attorney. There are filing exceptions to the reporting requirement, and you might have to report even if you do not earn income.

A tax accountant is not sufficient. You need the advice of a certified tax attorney who will keep all communication confidential while advocating for your needs.

As a Tax Attorney, I can guide you through the reporting process, scrutinize past returns, and serve as your advocate to help diminish or avoid the penalties and criminal prosecution that can be imposed.

If you have failed to report foreign accounts or assets and need someone to represent you, let’s connect. 

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