IRS Relief Procedures for Certain Former Citizens

IRS Relief Procedures for Certain Former Citizens

Relief Procedures for Certain Former Citizens 

Relief Procedures for Certain Former Citizens: Expatriation is on the rise and in response, the IRS has developed a new expatriation program. For certain Accidental Americans and other foreign residents who had no knowledge that they were subject to U.S. tax and required to file a 1040, the expatriation and covered expatriate rules can be harsh.

In order to soften the blow for these unsuspecting taxpayers, the IRS has developed the Relief Procedures for Certain Former Citizens — to help the U.S. Persons to get into compliance, with minimal tax consequences. With the IRS continuing to aggressively enforce foreign accounts compliance and offshore penalties, the program could not have come at a better time. The IRS Relief Procedures for Certain Former Citizens is a great opportunity for U.S. persons who qualify. 

We will summarize the IRS Relief Procedures for Relief Procedures for Certain Former Citizens

How to Qualify for Relief Procedures for Certain Former Citizens

The IRS Tax Relief Procedures are summarized below.

As provided by the IRS:

“WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service today announced new procedures that will enable certain individuals who relinquished their U.S. citizenship to come into compliance with their U.S. tax and filing obligations and receive relief for back taxes.

The Relief Procedures for Certain Former Citizens apply only to individuals who have not filed U.S. tax returns as U.S. citizens or residents, owe a limited amount of back taxes to the United States and have net assets of less than $2 million.”

Only taxpayers whose past compliance failures were non-willful can take advantage of these new procedures. Many in this group may have lived outside the United States most of their lives and may have not been aware that they had U.S. tax obligations.”

Elements for the Relief Procedures for Certain Former Citizens

The elements to qualify for the program include:

  • Not have filed U.S. Tax Returns on 1040; 
  • Owe a Limited Amount of Back Taxes
  • Net Assets of less than $2M
  • Non-Willful non-compliance

As further provided by the IRS:

“Eligible individuals wishing to use these relief procedures are required to file outstanding U.S. tax returns, including all required schedules and information returns, for the five years preceding and their year of expatriation.

Provided that the taxpayer’s tax liability does not exceed a total of $25,000 for the six years in question, the taxpayer is relieved from paying U.S. taxes.

The purpose of these procedures is to provide relief for certain former citizens. Individuals who qualify for these procedures will not be assessed penalties and interest. The IRS is offering these procedures without a specific termination date.”

Which Tax Forms does IRS Relief Procedures Require?

In order to qualify, the taxpayer must file:

  • Five (5) years of prior U.S. Tax Returns;
  • Current year tax return; and
  • The TOTAL tax liability cannot exceed $25,000
  • All Interest and Penalties are waived

As further provided by the IRS:

“The IRS will announce a closing date prior to ending the procedures.

Individuals who relinquished their U.S. citizenship any time after March 18, 2010, are eligible so long as they satisfy the other criteria of the procedures. These procedures are only available to individuals.

Estates, trusts, corporations, partnerships and other entities may not use these procedures. The IRS will host an on-line webinar in the near future providing additional information and practical tips for making a submission to the Relief Procedures for Certain Former Citizens.

Relinquishing U.S. citizenship and the tax consequences that follow are serious matters that involve irrevocable decisions.

Taxpayers who relinquish citizenship without complying with their U.S. tax obligations are subject to the significant tax consequences of the U.S. expatriation tax regime.

Taxpayers interested in these procedures should read all the materials carefully, including the FAQs, and consider consulting legal counsel before making any decisions.”

FAQ for Relief Procedures for Certain Former Citizens

The following is a summary of important aspects of the ” IRS Relief Procedures for Certain Former Citizens”

Who Can Apply for IRS Relief Procedures?

“In order to meet the requirements for the program, the individual must meet the following requirements:

You have relinquished your U.S. citizenship after March 18, 2010.

You have no filing history as a U.S. citizen or resident;

You did not exceed the threshold in IRC 877(a)(2)(A), related to average annual net income tax for the period of 5 tax years ending before your date of expatriation;

Your net worth is less than $2,000,000 at the time of expatriation and at the time of making your submission under these procedures;

You have an aggregate total tax liability of $25,000 or less for the five tax years preceding expatriation and in the year of expatriation (after application of all applicable deductions, exclusions, exemptions and credits, including foreign tax credits, but excluding the application of IRC 877A and excluding any penalties and interest).

You agree to complete and submit with your submission all required Federal tax returns for the six tax years at issue, including all required schedules and information returns.  See FAQs 11, 12, and 16 for information on how to complete these returns.

Only taxpayers whose past compliance failures were due to non-willful conduct may use these procedures. All eligibility criteria must be strictly met to use these procedures.”

Net Worth Test ($2M)

The individual must have net assets worth less than $2M. This is to coincide with the Exit Tax, which has a separate $2M requirement.

No Filing History as a U.S. Citizen or Resident

This is one of those rare occasions in which the IRS requires that the individual submitting to the program has been a non-filer in prior years.

Previously Filed 1040NR ‘may’ be Okay

The concept of citizenship under U.S. tax law is complex. The IRS understands, and therefore provides that ” If a person was filing 1040NR, “under the good faith belief that you were not a U.S. citizen, you may use these procedures.

You Can Cure an Incorrect Prior Renouncement

The IRS will allow individuals to use this program to fix a previously incorrect renouncement.

Yes, so long as your date of relinquishing U.S. citizenship was after March 18, 2010. Specifically, the date reflected on your Certificate of Loss of Nationality of the United States, Form DS-4083, in the field “That: he/she thereby expatriated __self on (Date) ______ under the provisions of Section…” must be after March 18, 2010. Or, the date on the copy of the court order described in IRC 877A(g)(4)(D) must be after March 18, 2010. See FAQ 11, item 1.

Owe A Limited Amount of Back Taxes

In order to qualify for the Program, an expatriate’s tax liability does not exceed a total of $25,000 for the six years in question.

5 -Years of Preceding-Year Tax Compliance

Unlike the Streamlined Program (which requires 3-years of amended or original returns) or Voluntary Disclosure (VDP aka Post-OVDP) which requires 6-years of amended returns, the IRS Relief Procedures for Certain Former Citizens requires “5-Years” of  outstanding U.S. tax returns, including all required schedules and information returns, for the five years preceding and their year of expatriation.

Common information returns, include: FBAR, Form 8938, Form 3520-A, Form 5471, Form 8865

6-Years of Total Tax Compliance

An applicant must file 5-years of prior returns, and then a current year dual-return, for a total of 6-years of tax and informational reporting filing:

“Eligible individuals wishing to use these relief procedures are required to file outstanding U.S. tax returns, including all required schedules and information returns, for the five years preceding and their year of expatriation,” the total submission requires 6-years.

“You agree to complete and submit with your submission all required Federal tax returns for the six tax years at issue, including all required schedules and information returns.  See FAQs 11, 12, and 16 for information on how to complete these returns.

FBARs are Still Required with Submission

The IRS just loves itself some FBARs. And, if you are going to submit under these procedures, then FBAR filing is still required for compliance.

Although filing FBARs is not an eligibility criterion, if you have an FBAR filing requirement, you should file them.

If you are eligible to use these procedures and file FBARs before your submission or contemporaneously with your submission, the IRS will not assert FBAR penalties.

If you fail to file FBARs, the IRS may assert FBAR penalties if your submission is selected for examination.

If you have an FBAR filing requirement, you must file FBARs electronically with FinCEN. On the cover page of the electronic form, select “Other” as the reason for filing late.  An explanation box will appear.  In the explanation box, enter “Relief for Certain Expatriates procedures.” 

Non-Willfulness is Required

This program will only apply to expatriates who were “non-willful.” There is no bright-line test yet to determine willful vs. non-willful. Rather, it is based on a “Totality of the Circumstances” test.

Tax & Penalty Waiver

Unlike the Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures, in which a person is relieved from paying penalties on FBAR and FATCA assets, but still must pay taxes due — under this program, a person will be relieved from paying taxes and will avoid penalties.

Who can use the IRS Relief Procedures?

These procedures are limited to individuals.  “Estates, trusts, corporations, partnerships and other entities may not use these procedures.”

Can Taxpayers use Applicable Foreign Tax Credits and Deductions

Yes. As provided by the IRS:

“and may claim all available deductions and credits, including foreign tax credits, to the extent permitted”

But, depending on the facts and circumstances — especially the tax rate in the foreign country — an individual may or may not still have a tax liability greater than $25,000.

Will The IRS send an Acceptance Notice?

Yes. Unlike the Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures, the IRS will send a notification of acceptance:

Yes. After reviewing your submission to confirm that you meet the eligibility criteria, the IRS will send you a letter notifying you that your submission was received and complete.

Can I Change my Mind Later about IRS Relief Procedures?

The IRS will not let you go back — the decision is irrevocable

No. Unless a finding of loss of U.S. citizenship is vacated by the Department of State, relinquishing U.S. citizenship is irrevocable.  There is no procedure for retracting an income tax return signed under penalties of perjury, though taxpayers usually can file amended tax returns.

This is why it is important that all applicants first speak with experienced counsel before submission.

Golding & Golding: About Our International Tax Law Firm

Golding & Golding specializes exclusively in international tax, and specifically IRS offshore disclosure, expatriation, and the relief procedures for certain former citizens.

Contact our firm today for assistance with getting compliant.