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1 posts from May 2015

05/07/2015

Your Foreign Accounts Tax Deadline Alert

The global marketplace has round-the-clock worldwide Internet-enabled communications, sales and trading cycles. That has ensured more Americans than ever before work, live and/or do business in or with another country. Think about your accounts; you could be among the 4 out of 10 of Americans who have a bank account, brokerage account, mutual fund, trust or other type of foreign financial account or foreign asset. If so, a June 30th filing deadline approaches to meet updated tax reporting guidelines, even if your account has produced no taxable income.

Globe and calculator in blueThere are several different kinds of tax and crime-prevention documents that need to be filed depending upon whether you are an American working overseas; paying an American to work for your company overseas; a business owner selling and/or producing products and services overseas; an entity organized in a foreign jurisdiction; and/or someone who has international investments.

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) requires the filing of a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) annually for anyone with a foreign financial interest in types of foreign accounts by June 30th. This particularly affects Americans who work overseas and their employers, as well as those with interests in foreign accounts (including those with ownership interests in or signature authority over bank and certain investment accounts).

The FATCA was passed to ensure that income is reported and any applicable taxes are paid, though some American-based global companies claim the variety of tax and crime-fighting policies enacted by several government agencies are hard to keep up with and are creating an undue burden.

Ready for more acronyms? The FBAR filing is part of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) that requires you to report foreign financial accounts exceeding certain thresholds to the Department of Treasury. This report, FBAR Form FinCEN Report 114, must now be filed electronically through the BSA’s E-Filing System. Those individuals with only signature authority over these accounts have until next June in 2016 to begin the electronic filing of these annual reports.

U.S. taxpayers with specified foreign financial assets that exceed certain thresholds must also report those assets to the IRS on Form 8938 Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets. Again, this requirement is in addition to the FBAR filing requirement.

But wait, there's more... If you happen to be a U.S. citizen or resident who is an officer or director of a foreign corporation, you may also have additional filing requirements including a Form 5471  Information Return of U.S. Persons With Respect to Certain Foreign Corporations.  Filing a Form 5471 is required if an American has acquired (in one or more transactions) either stock which meets the 10% stock ownership requirement with respect to the foreign corporation or an additional 10% or more (in value or voting power) of the outstanding stock of the foreign corporation. A person is considered to have “acquired” stock in a foreign corporation when that person has an unqualified right to receive the stock, even though the stock is not actually issued.  To find out more click here for the IRS Form 5471 information. 

FBAR-Reminder-840x440What if you don’t file? Delinquent, insufficient or improper FBAR filings have hefty penalties. The penalties for failure to file an FBAR include a civil penalty of $10,000 for each non-willful violation. But if your violation is found to be willful, the penalty is the greater of $100,000 or 50 percent of the amount in the account for each violation – and each year you didn’t or don't file is counted as a separate violation.

While many commentators agree that income and asset holdings should be accountable, the method and overlapping reporting issues are so complicated that some experts argue it may be decreasing the will of Americans to look worldwide for employment and customers, hindering American competitiveness on the worldwide scale.

Some experts call the tax policies “inexplicably complex and overly intrusive”. One American lawyer working overseas writes that the “regulatory net applies so broadly that personal and business accounts of law-abiding Americans simply trying to comply with the rules are caught up in its paperwork net – and drowning.”

If you have questions about whether you must file a FBAR and/or other tax forms, contact us now at McRuer CPAs.  Reminder: If you need to file a report you should do so by the June 30th deadline to avoid a costly omission.*

*This information summarizes certain recent tax, legislative and/or regulatory developments that may interest McRuer CPAs clients and friends. This report is intended for general information purposes only, is not a complete summary of the matters referred to, and does not represent legal, regulatory or tax advice nor does it constitute a professional service offering to the recipient.  Recipients of this report are cautioned to seek appropriate professional advice regarding any of the matters discussed in this report considering the recipients' own particular situation. McRuer CPAs does not undertake to keep the recipients of this report advised of future developments or of changes in any of the matters discussed in this report.

 

 

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