Offshore Compliance: When a U.S. person has international or foreign accounts, assets, investments or income, they have an offshore tax and reporting requirements. There are many different IRS International Information tax forms which a taxpayer may be required to use to report their foreign money. These forms are not mutually exclusive, and based on the value or type of assets, the reporting may be very comprehensive.
But, just because a person is non-compliance does not mean they are going away to jail, and if they do, that it will be for 20 years. For example, most people thought Manafort was going to go away for a billion years – but he didn’t.
Because criminal tax matters do not work that way.
Most individuals subject to criminal tax matters will plea out. Those who go to trial and lose, will usually do some jail or prison time, but the average sentence is not 100 years – it is closer to 3-5 years.
Still, who wants to do 3-5 years in prison, right?
IRS Offshore Compliance in 2020
If you have foreign accounts, assets, investments, and/or income, then you may have some IRS offshore reporting responsibilities. If you missed the requirements, you may consider entering one of the IRS Voluntary Disclosure Programs.
For those of you who never had a reporting requirement until this year, you are not out of compliance – and it is best to try to get into (and stay in) compliance.
If you are out-of-compliance, you will want to take care of the issue while it is still easily manageable. The longer you continue to stay out of compliance, the more time-consuming and expensive it will be in the future to get back into compliance.
5 Common International IRS Forms You May Have to File
The following is a list of the more common forms you may have missed:
FBAR (FinCEN 114)
The FBAR is used to report “Foreign Financial Accounts.” This includes investments funds, and certain foreign life insurance policies.
The threshold requirements are relatively simple. On any day of the year, if you aggregated (totaled) the maximum balances of all of your foreign accounts, does the total amount exceed $10,000 (USD)?
If it does, then you most likely have to file the form. The most important thing to remember is you do not need to have more than $10,000 in each account; rather, it is an annual aggregate total of the maximum balances of all the accounts.
This form is used to report “Specified Foreign Financial Assets.”
There are four main thresholds for individuals is as follows:.
- Single or Filing Separate (in the U.S.): $50,000/$75,000
- Married with a Joint Returns (In the U.S): $100,000/$150,000
- Single or Filing Separate (Outside the U.S.): $200,000/$300,000
- Married with a Joint Returns (Outside the U.S.): $400,000/$600,000
Form 3520 is filed when a person receives a Gift, Inheritance or Trust Distribution from a foreign person, business or trust. There are three (3) main different thresholds:
- Gift from a Foreign Person: More than $100,000.
- Gift from a Foreign Business: More than $16,076.
- Foreign Trust: Various threshold requirements involving foreign Trusts
Form 5471 is filed in any year that you have ownership interest in a foreign corporation, and meet one of the threshold requirements for filling (Categories 1-5). These are general thresholds:
- Category 1: U.S. shareholders of specified foreign corporations (SFCs) subject to the provisions of section 965.
- Category 2: Officer or Director of a foreign corporation, with a U.S. Shareholder of at least 10% ownership.
- Category 3: A person acquires stock (or additional stock) that bumps them up to 10% Shareholder.
- Category 4: Control of a foreign corporation for at least 30 days during the accounting period.
- Category 5: 10% ownership of a Controlled Foreign Corporation (CFC).
Form 8621 requires a complex analysis, beyond the scope of this article. It is required by any person with a PFIC (Passive Foreign Investment Company).
The analysis gets infinitely more complicated if a person has excess distributions. The failure to file the return may result in the statute of limitations remaining open indefinitely.
*There are some exceptions, exclusions, and limitations to filing.
What if I am Out of FBAR Compliance?
If you are out of FBAR compliance, the penalties can be severe. Therefore, you may consider entering the IRS offshore voluntary disclosure/tax amnesty, before it is too late.
What Should You Do?
Everyone makes mistakes. If at some point you discover that you should have been reporting your foreign income, accounts, assets or investments, the prudent and least costly (but most effective) method for getting compliance is through one of the approved IRS offshore voluntary disclosure programs.
Golding & Golding: About Our International Tax Law Firm
Golding & Golding specializes exclusively in international tax, and specifically IRS offshore disclosure.
Contact our firm today for assistance.