Category Archives: Offshore Assets and Accounts Disclosure

Thinking About Taxes

By:  Coleman Jackson, Attorney & Certified Public Accountant
March 07, 2020

Thinking About Taxes

Thinking about spending that money withheld from employees’ wages to take a tour of the world, pay other business expenses or house payments?  Don’t do it before reading Internal Revenue Code Section 7702!   Hear those alarm bells ringing!  Anyone required to collect, account for, and turn over to the United States Treasury and willfully fails to carry out this duty are subject to severe civil penalties and upon being found guilty of the felony of failing to collect, account for, and turn over can be fined up to $10,000 and spend up to five years in federal prison.  Payroll tax fraud is a serious crime that is commonly investigated by the IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) Division.  This unit of the IRS investigates all kinds of violations of the Internal Revenue Code.  CI along with the Financial Crimes Network investigates FBAR violations (these are U.S. persons with foreign bank accounts and other foreign assets who fail to timely and accurately disclose these holding on Form 114), money laundering (these are individuals or entities engaged in some kind of unlawful activity and endeavoring to get dirty money into the normal banking system) and other financial crimes.

 

Thinking about not filing that required income tax, gift tax or other federal tax return or providing fraudulent information the IRS?  Don’t do it before reading Internal Revenue Code Sections 7207 and 7203Hear those whistles blowing!  Anyone who intentionally gives false documents, which includes returns and any other written representation to the Internal Revenue Service and any of its employees knowing that its materially false or fraudulent is subject to civil fines and upon being found guilty of the felony of giving the Service false returns or other documents can be fined up to $10,000 (if individual) and up to $50,000 (if corporation), and spend up to one year in federal prison.  Multiples applies in that cumulative false statements, returns and documents can generate multiplication of the civil fines and additional years to the duration of the prison term.

 

Thinking about paying fewer taxes than is lawfully owed by engaging in creative accounting, leaving that or this item off the return while adding and dreaming about things that never happened? Don’t do it before reading Internal Revenue Code Section 7201Hear those gongs clanging! Anyone who intentionally attempts to evade or defeat any tax imposed under the Internal Revenue Code is subject to civil penalties up to $100,000 (if individual) and up to $500,000 (if corporation), and spend up to five years in federal prison upon conviction.

 

Thinking about taxes?  Stay away from the tumbling … lie.


This law blog is written by the Taxation | Litigation | Immigration Law Firm of Coleman Jackson, P.C. for educational purposes; it does not create an attorney-client relationship between this law firm and its reader.  You should consult with legal counsel in your geographical area with respect to any legal issues impacting you, your family or business.

Coleman Jackson, P.C. | Taxation, Litigation, Immigration Law Firm | English (214) 599-0431 | Spanish (214) 599-0432     

FBAR

By:  Coleman Jackson, Attorney, Certified Public Accountant
July 16, 2019

FBAR - foreign bank accounts

 

The 1970 Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act, which is otherwise known as the Bank Secrecy Act requires U.S. residents, citizens and businesses with foreign bank accounts and certain other overseas assets to report those interest to the Financial Crimes Network annually on Form 114 by April 15th of the following year. Form 114 is the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts or (FBAR). The Bank Secrecy Act has a number of reporting requirements that are placed on financial institutions as well as those placed persons with foreign asset interests.  The record keeping and reporting requirements placed on  foreign account holders  are set out in detail in 31 U.S.C. Sec. 5414Form 114, the FBAR must be filed electronically through the Bank Secrecy Act E-Filing Network website.  The Financial Crimes Network is an agency of the United States Treasury but it is not the Internal Revenue Service.  These are two separate agencies under the U.S. Department of Treasury.

 

The Bank Secrecy Act at 31 U.S.C. Sec. 5414 also requires taxpayers with foreign bank accounts to disclose those accounts on their annual federal tax returns.

 

The Bank Secrecy Act at 31 U.S.C. Sec. 5414 also requires taxpayers with foreign bank accounts to disclose those accounts on their annual federal tax returns.  IRS Form 1040 at line 7a of Schedule B specifically asks whether the taxpayer has an interest or signatory authority over a foreign bank account.  A ‘yes ‘answer to this question on Schedule B requires the taxpayer to identify the country of the account and certain other details.  A taxpayer’s failure to check the box ‘yes’ when they have foreign bank interest or signatory authority over a foreign asset seriously increases their legal jeopardy because courts have said that failure to ‘check the box’  constitutes a willful violation of the  Bank Secrecy Act.  Failure to read the return has been held to be insufficient to avoid liability under the Act.  Avoiding knowledge of the Acts requirements has not been a successful plan.   Federal courts all over the country have addressed these various defenses and found them lacking weight.

 

IRS Form 1040 at line 7a of Schedule B specifically asks whether the taxpayer has an interest or signatory authority over a foreign bank account.

 

When a violation of the Bank Secrecy Act is not willful, the FBAR penalty for failure to disclose financial interest in foreign bank accounts, securities or other financial assets is capped at $10,000.  This cap only applies to non-willful violations of the FBAR statute.  Failure to check the box correctly and failure to disclose to a tax return preparer the existence of foreign bank accounts or other assets overseas is extremely likely to be found to be a willful violation of the Act.  The penalty permitted under the Bank Secrecy Act for a willful violation is equal to the greater of $100,000 or 50% of the highest balance in the account at the time of the violation.  There are also criminal penalties for violation of the Bank Secrecy Act if a taxpayer is tried and convicted under the Act.  Under the law, the Internal Revenue Service has 6 years from the date of the violation to assess the FBAR penalty and they can sue the taxpayer or the taxpayer’s estate to the collect the penalties.  Note that assessed FBAR penalties do not go away with the death of the taxpayer.

 

If the IRS assess FBAR penalties and the taxpayer refuses to pay them, the U.S. government can seek to collect the penalties in federal court pursuant to 31 U.S.C. Sec. 5321(b)(1).

 

Again, If the IRS assess FBAR penalties and the taxpayer refuses to pay them, the U.S. government can seek to collect the penalties in federal court pursuant to 31 U.S.C. Sec. 5321(b)(1).   The government must demonstrate in court by a preponderance of the evidence that (a) the taxpayer is a U.S. resident, citizen or business entity subject to the Bank Secrecy Act, (b) the taxpayer had a reporting obligation under the Bank Secrecy Act and failed to satisfy that reporting obligation, and (c) the nature of the taxpayer’s violation in terms of non-willful or willful violation of the statute, and (d) the taxpayer has failed to timely pay the assessed penalty.  The taxpayer must plead and prove any statute of limitations defects in the government’s case.  FBAR cases, as a general matter, are fact based cases.  Taxpayers win some and loose some.

This law blog is written by the Taxation | Litigation | Immigration Law Firm of Coleman Jackson, P.C. for educational purposes; it does not create an attorney-client relationship between this law firm and its reader.  You should consult with legal counsel in your geographical area with respect to any legal issues impacting you, your family or business.

Coleman Jackson, P.C. | Taxation, Litigation, Immigration Law Firm | English (214) 599-0431 | Spanish (214) 599-0432

Giving is good! Giving is Subject to Federal Taxation

By Coleman Jackson, Attorney and Certified Public Accountant
June 10, 2019

Giving is good!  Giving is Subject to Federal Taxation

The Holy Bible at 1 Timothy 6:17 says that God gives to us richly all things….  It is a blessing to be able to give.  Giving is an expression of gratitude and love.  It is good to give.  Every relationship should be based on the desire to give.  It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Giving in the United States creates tax obligations on the giver.  Internal Revenue Code Section 2503 defines “taxable gifts” as the “total amount of gifts made during the calendar year, less deductions provided in subchapter C (section 2522 and following).”  The federal gift tax rules applies to gifts of present interest to a donee as oppose to transfers of future interest by the donor to the donee.  Under United States federal tax laws, the donor (giver) is taxed on the fair market value of the gift.  The recipient of the gift or donee is not taxed on the gift.  But!   Special tax reporting rules imposes on the donee a duty to disclose to the IRS certain large gifts from foreign nationals.

 

Giving in the United States creates tax obligations on the giver

 

The total annual valuation of gifts given by a donor is a tally of all gifts given by the donor for the calendar year.  Such gifts are reported annually on Form 709, United States Gift (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax ReturnForm 709, United States Gift (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return is due on April 15th of the year following the year of the gift.  For example if Jose Giver gives the following gifts in 2019:

  • Stocks and bonds to Jeremiah Recipient worth $40,000 fair market value;
  • Wires $250,000 to the foreign bank account of Jennifer Recipient ; and
  • Gives $4,000 to his niece, Carolyn Recipient under 21 years of age at the date of the gift.

 

Form 709 United States Gift

Jose Giver must tally the three gifts to all recipients made in 2019 and report the gifts on April 15th 2020 on Form 709, United States Gift (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return.  The total amount of gifts for 2019 is $294,000. Internal Revenue Code Section 2503 provides an annual exclusion for gifts of present interests made to any person by a donor.  In 2018 the annual exclusion amount is $15,000 and pursuant to IRC Sec. 2523 the annual exclusion is $155,000 on gifts to spouses who are not U.S. Citizens.  For gifts given in 2019 the annual exclusion amount remains $15,000, but the annual exclusion for gifts to spouses who are not U.S. Citizens decreases to $152,000 for gift made in 2019.  Note that the annual exclusion amount is indexed to the inflation rate; therefore, it could change from year to year.

 

Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts

Other federal laws, including other tax reporting and disclosure rules could be implicated by the facts described in the above hypothetical.  For example, Jeremiah Recipient may have to report gains & losses realized on the stocks and bonds.  The $250,000 wired to Jennifer Recipient’s foreign bank account could possibly create reporting requirements under the Bank Secrecy Act which requires that U.S. persons; which includes U.S. citizens, resident aliens, trusts, estates, and domestic entities to file Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts with the Financial Crimes Network on April 15th 2020 if the foreign account balance is $10,000 or more at any time during the calendar year.  Further the $4,000 to his under aged niece implicates the Generation- Skipping Transfer tax rules. That applies when gifts skip a generation.   Giving is good!  Giving is subject to federal taxation.

This law blog is written by the Taxation | Litigation | Immigration Law Firm of Coleman Jackson, P.C. for educational purposes; it does not create an attorney-client relationship between this law firm and its reader.  You should consult with legal counsel in your geographical area with respect to any legal issues impacting you, your family or business.

Coleman Jackson, P.C. | Taxation, Litigation, Immigration Law Firm | English (214) 599-0431 | Spanish (214) 599-0432.

 

 

 

Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets

By:  Coleman Jackson, Attorney, Certified Public Accountant
May 06, 2019

Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets

 

Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets is Department of Treasury (internal Revenue Service’s Form 8938. Form 8938 is filed with the taxpayers’ annual tax return.   Internal Revenue Code Sec. 6038D mandates that specified individuals, who include U.S. citizens, resident aliens, and certain non-resident aliens that have an interest in specified foreign financial assets and meet the reporting threshold must annually report those specified foreign assets using Form 8938.  The federal tax law that mandates these reporting requirements was enacted by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Obama in 2010.  The law is entitled the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).  The law’s stated purpose is to combat tax evasion by U.S. taxpayers using foreign bank accounts and assets.  This law is separate and distinct from the better known Bank Secrecy act enforced by the Financial Crimes Network (FinCen) mandating foreign accounts disclosures under the FBAR requirements.  We have discussed the FBAR requirements in prior blogs on a number of occasions.  We will not repeat those discussions here.   Interested readers should look up our prior blogs for discussions regarding the FBAR and the penalties associated with violation of the FBAR reporting requirements.  You can read all of our blogs at http://www.cjacksonlaw.com/blog/.

 

Form 8938

 

For now, let’s return to our discussion of FATCA and Form 8938.  Specified individuals with foreign assets meeting a certain reporting threshold must report their foreign financial assets to the Internal Revenue Service annually using Form 8938.   The term, “Foreign Financial Assets” under FATCA is defined broader than mere foreign deposit and custodian accounts; FATCA applies also to “Other Foreign Assets”, which could be any property, including virtual property interest of   Specified Individuals.  For example, the term other foreign asset could apply to foreign land, foreign buildings & equipment, foreign business interest, such as ownership interest in a foreign partnership, corporation, trust, or estate if the reporting threshold is met for the tax period.  Further, other foreign assets also could apply to Specified Individuals’ interest in foreign stocks, bonds, debentures, virtual currency and, practically speaking, wealth or value formulated in any other form and composition if the reporting threshold is met for the tax period.  The point is this; the definition of the term ‘asset’ is interpreted broadly under FATCA.

annually reporting of FATCA and Form 8938

 

To summarize, specified individuals must annually report their interest in specified foreign financial assets using Form 8938 if the values of the assets are $50,000 on the last day of the tax year or $75,000 at anytime during the tax year (higher reporting threshold amounts apply to married individuals filing jointly and individuals living abroad).  Fair market value in U.S. dollars is used to compute the asset value pursuant to the IRS instructions for Form 8938.  Normal civil and criminal penalties under the Internal Revenue Code could apply when Specified Individuals who meet the FATCA reporting threshold fail to comply with FATCA requirements.

This law blog is written by the Taxation | Litigation | Immigration Law Firm of Coleman Jackson, P.C. for educational purposes; it does not create an attorney-client relationship between this law firm and its reader.  You should consult with legal counsel in your geographical area with respect to any legal issues impacting you, your family or business.

Coleman Jackson, P.C. | Taxation, Litigation, Immigration Law Firm | English (214) 599-0431 | Spanish (214) 599-0432.

Federal Courts Clarify Standard for Proving Taxpayer’s Willful Violation of Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR)

By:  Coleman Jackson, Attorney and Certified Public Accountant
February 13, 2019

Federal Courts Clarify Standard for Proving Taxpayer’s Willful Violation of Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR)

 

United States citizens, lawful permanent residence and certain other persons that are classified under 31 U.S.C. Sec. 5311 and promulgated Regulations must file with the Financial Crimes Network annually a Report of Foreign Bank Account, Form 114.  The U.S. persons covered under the disclosure law must file the report each year for foreign bank accounts exceeding $10,000 in the prior calendar year whether it is a single account or an aggregate of accounts.  If the $10,000 threshold is met, FBAR reporting requirements are triggered.

 

Form 114 FBAR reporting

 

The amount of the FBAR penalty depends upon whether the taxpayer’s violation was willful or non-willful. What is willfulness in the FBAR context?  The general consensus developed in the courts is that the term, ‘willful’ “denotes that which is intentional, or knowing, or voluntary, as distinguished from accidental, and that it is employed to characterize conduct marked by careless disregard whether or not one has the right so to act.”            Wehr v. Burroughs Corp., 619 F.2d 276, 281 (3d Cir. 1980).  A taxpayer has willfully violated 31 U.S.C. Sec. 5314 when they knowingly or recklessly fails to file a FBAR.  A person commits a reckless violation of the FBAR statute by engaging in conduct that violates an objective standard:  action entailing an unjustifiably high risk of harm that is either known or so obvious that it should be known.  The Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Bedrosian v. U.S., 2018 (3rd Cir. 2018) that

 

This holding is in line with other courts that have addressed civil FBAR penalties, see, e.g. United States v. Williams, 489 F. App’x 655, 658 (4th Cir. 2012) as well as our prior cases addressing civil penalties assessed by the IRS under the tax laws, see e.g., United States v. Carrigan, 31 F. #d 130, 134 (3d Cir. 1994). 

 

In Kimble v. U.S., 2018 (Fed, Cl. 2018), the court ruled that the taxpayer recklessly disregarded her duty to report foreign accounts because she failed to review her tax returns for accuracy and falsely represented in her tax return that she did not have any foreign bank accounts.  Note that Schedule B of Form 1040 at line 7(a) specifically asks taxpayer’s whether or not they have any foreign bank accounts. The question format is ‘yes or no’, and if it is answered ‘yes’, it leads to a series of additional inquiries with respect to the foreign bank accounts.

 

The civil penalties for a FBAR violation

 

The civil penalties for a FBAR violation are codified in 31 U.S.C. Sec. 5321(a)(5).  The maximum penalty for a non-willful violation is $10,000 per occurrence.  The maximum penalty for a willful violation of the FBAR statute is the greater of $100,000 or 50% of the balance in the unreported foreign account at the time of the violation.

 

This law blog is written by the Taxation | Litigation | Immigration Law Firm of Coleman Jackson, P.C. for educational purposes; it does not create an attorney-client relationship between this law firm and its reader.  You should consult with legal counsel in your geographical area with respect to any legal issues impacting you, your family or business.

Coleman Jackson, P.C. | Taxation, Litigation, Immigration Law Firm | English (214) 599-0431 | Spanish (214) 599-0432

Offshore Accounts? The Train Is Leaving the Station! IRS To End Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) on September 28, 2018

By:  Coleman Jackson, Attorney and Certified Public Accountant
September 22, 2018

The IRS is closing down the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program on September 28, 2018.  This voluntary international tax compliance program was designed to help people, organizations and business entities hiding money, accounts and assets overseas to get current and come into compliance with U.S. tax laws voluntarily under a reduced civil penalty structure and leniency with respect to potential criminal prosecution.  This program that has been in effect since about 2009  and extended in 2012 and again in 2014 is ending in about 7 days.

Non-compliant taxpayers with offshore accounts and assets have seven days to request permission to enter into the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program.  Entry into the program begins with submission to the IRS Criminal Division a request for preliminary consideration for disclosure under the OVDP program.  If the prelim request is granted, the disclosure, review, approval and closing process takes about 12 to 18 months.  Taxpayers who may have committed criminal international tax evasion or are holding undisclosed offshore accounts risk being reported by their offshore banking or financial institution since these overseas institutions are required to either directly or indirectly report United States Citizens and/or Green Card Holders with accounts in their financial institutions to the Internal Revenue Service.

Once the OVDP expires on September 28, 2018, the IRS might implement a replacement program or some procedure or method for non- compliant taxpayers to come into international tax compliance, but as of yet, the IRS has not announced any offshore accounts leniency programs or procedures that will replace the expiring OVDP.  Word to the wise— apply for the OVDP before it expires on September 28, 2018.

This law blog is written by the Taxation | Litigation | Immigration Law Firm of Coleman Jackson, P.C. for educational purposes; it does not create an attorney-client relationship between this law firm and its reader.  You should consult with legal counsel in your geographical area with respect to any legal issues impacting you, your family or business.

Coleman Jackson, P.C. | Taxation, Litigation, Immigration Law Firm | English (214) 599-0431 | Spanish (214) 599-0432

IRS to End the 2014 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program on September 28, 2018

By:  Coleman Jackson, Attorney, CPA
March 27, 2018

IRS to End the 2014 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program - OVDP on September 28, 2018

Have you heard the news!  On Monday, March 13, 2018 the IRS announced that it will end the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program on September 28, 2018.

It is likely already too late for all those people who are taking their chances and have not already made steps to enter the OVDP.  Practitioners from all over the country have experienced extreme delays in getting taxpayers pre-cleared into the 2014 OVDP for months.  Pre-clearance requests are taking more than 6 months these days.  IRS representatives have stated that the preclearance processing unit of the IRS has long backlogs in even logging in new OVDP preclearance requests.  The unit has about a 9 to 12 month back log in pre-clearance requests… so we have been told.

Taxpayers who have not taken advantage of the 2014 OVDP must act quickly.

Taxpayers who have not taken advantage of the 2014 OVDP must act quickly.  Repeat it is possible that it is now too late to act.  The U.S. Treasury has been receiving directly or indirectly information from foreign financial institutions concerning U.S. persons with foreign bank accounts for about two years now.   They probably already know those U.S. persons who hold foreign bank accounts.  The chances of being detected with respect to foreign bank holdings are probably extremely high.  In fact it might be impossible to hide from detection; and, possible federal prosecution of violators could rise.

Violators of FBAR rules by failing to timely report offshore bank accounts are subject to civil fines and criminal prosecution.  Foreign Bank Accounts are reported annually on April 15th by filing Form 114 with the Financial Crimes Network.  Delinquent FBARs put taxpayers in legal jeopardy.  There may also be federal income tax issues involved also if the taxpayer has under-reported its income or unfiled federal tax returns.   Tax fraud and delinquent FBARs are serious crimes which can result in violators spending years in federal prison upon conviction.

This law blog is written by the Taxation | Litigation | Immigration Law Firm of Coleman Jackson, P.C. for educational purposes; it does not create an attorney-client relationship between this law firm and its reader.  You should consult with legal counsel in your geographical area with respect to any legal issues impacting you, your family or business.

Coleman Jackson, P.C. | Taxation, Litigation, Immigration Law Firm | English (214) 599-0431 | Spanish (214) 599-0432