International Financial Law Prof Blog

Editor: William Byrnes
Texas A&M University
School of Law

Thursday, October 15, 2020

IRS sending soft letters to encourage compliance with foreign trust reporting

Practice Area:  Withholding & International Individual Compliance

Lead Executive: John Cardone, Director, WIIC

Campaign Point of Contact: Robert G. Davis

This campaign will take a multifaceted approach to improving compliance with respect to the timely and accurate filing of information returns reporting ownership of and transactions with foreign trusts. The Service will address noncompliance through a variety of treatment streams PDF including, but not limited to, examinations and penalties assessed by the campus when the forms are received late or are incomplete.

 

October 15, 2020 in Tax Compliance | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 10, 2020

John McAfee Indicted for Tax Evasion

Allegedly Hid Cryptocurrency, a Yacht, Real Estate and Other Properties in Nominee Names to Evade Taxes Download Indictment

An indictment was unsealed today charging John David McAfee with tax evasion and willful failure to file tax returns, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant for the Western District of Tennessee. The June 15, 2020 indictment was unsealed following McAfee’s arrest in Spain where he is pending extradition.

According to the indictment, John McAfee earned millions in income from promoting cryptocurrencies, consulting work, speaking engagements, and selling the rights to his life story for a documentary. From 2014 to 2018, McAfee allegedly failed to file tax returns, despite receiving considerable income from these sources. The indictment does not allege that during these years McAfee received any income or had any connection with the anti-virus company bearing his name.

According to the indictment, McAfee allegedly evaded his tax liability by directing his income to be paid into bank accounts and cryptocurrency exchange accounts in the names of nominees. The indictment further alleges McAfee attempted to evade the IRS by concealing assets, including real property, a vehicle, and a yacht, in the names of others.

If convicted, McAfee faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison on each count of tax evasion and a maximum sentence of one year in prison on each count of willful failure to file a tax return. McAfee also faces a period of supervised release, restitution, and monetary penalties.

John McAfee has over the past decade been held responsible for a murder in a Florida court of his Belize neighbor, arrested in the Dominican Republic on weapons charges,  bragged about not filing tax returns, among other chaos:. See by example https://www.cnet.com/news/john-mcafee-released-from-confinement/ and Yahoo Finance story

October 10, 2020 in Tax Compliance | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Multilateral Convention to tackle tax evasion and avoidance continues to expand its reach in developing countries, as Botswana, Eswatini, Jordan and Namibia join

Today, at the OECD Headquarters in Paris, four countries have signed the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters (the Convention), bringing the total number of jurisdictions that participate in the Convention to 141.

Today's signing by Botswana, Eswatini, Jordan and Namibia which takes place as the world addresses the impact of COVID-19, underlines the commitment of the signatories to participate in international tax co-operation and exchange of information and further strengthens the global reach of the Convention, in particular in Africa. In addition to over 8000 exchange relationships in place, these signings will trigger 554 new exchange relationships under the Convention for the four signing jurisdictions following their ratification, allowing them to engage in the exchange of information with 140 other jurisdictions, including all major financial centres.

The Convention enables jurisdictions to engage in a wide range of mutual assistance in tax matters: exchange of information on request, spontaneous exchange, automatic exchange, tax examinations abroad, simultaneous tax examinations and assistance in tax collection. It guarantees extensive safeguards for the protection of taxpayers' rights.

The Convention is the primary instrument for swift implementation of the Standard for Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information in Tax Matters (CRS). The CRS – developed by the OECD and G20 countries – enables more than 100 jurisdictions to automatically exchange offshore financial account information.

Beyond the exchange of information on request and the automatic exchange pursuant to the Standard, the Convention is also a powerful tool in the fight against illicit financial flows and is a key instrument for the implementation of the transparency standards of the OECD/G20 Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Project.

October 8, 2020 in GATCA, Tax Compliance | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 3, 2020

IRS offers blanket settlement for syndicated conservation easement transactions: Pay 10% penalty but deduct costs of transaction

The Internal Revenue Service this week released Notice 2021-001, containing information on Chief Counsel's settlement initiative for certain pending Tax Court cases involving abusive syndicated conservation easement transactions. Prior coverage of the settlement initiative can be found in IRS news release IR-2020-196.

As part of a continuing effort to combat abusive transactions, the Internal Revenue Service announced today the completion of the first settlement under its initiative to resolve certain docketed cases involving syndicated conservation easement transactions.

On June 25, 2020, the IRS Office of Chief Counsel announced that it would offer to settle certain cases involving abusive syndicated conservation easement transactions. Since then, Chief Counsel has sent letters to dozens of partnerships involved in these transactions whose cases are pending before the U.S. Tax Court.

"We are seeing movement on these settlements," said IRS Chief Counsel Mike Desmond. "Given the potential for significant penalties, we anticipate more taxpayers will take similar actions and ultimately accept these offers, and we encourage them to do so."

The IRS will continue to actively identify, audit and litigate these abusive transactions as part of its vigorous effort to combat abuse in this area. These transactions undermine the public's trust in tax incentives for private land conservation and in tax compliance in general. Ending these abusive schemes remains a top priority for the IRS. The IRS continues to strongly recommend that participants seek the advice of competent, independent advisors in considering the potential resolution of their matter.

The settlement requires a concession of the tax benefits claimed by the taxpayers and imposes penalties:

  • All partners in an electing partnership must agree to settle to receive these terms,

    and the partnership must make a lump-sum payment representing the aggregate tax, penalties and interest for all of the partners before settlement is accepted by the IRS.

  • Chief Counsel will allow investors to deduct the cost of acquiring their partnership

    interests but it will require a penalty of at least 10 percent.

  • Partners who are promoters of conservation easement schemes are not allowed

    any deductions and must pay the maximum penalty asserted by IRS (typically 40 percent).

  • If less than all the partners agree to settle, the IRS may settle with those partners

    but will normally impose less favorable terms on the settling partners.

This week, the first settlement under the terms of the initiative was finalized. Coal Property Holdings, LLC and its partners agreed to a disallowance of the entire $155 million charitable contribution deduction claimed for an easement placed on a 3,700-acre tract of land in Tennessee. On October 28, 2019, the Tax Court issued its Opinion (153 T.C. 126) granting the government's motion for partial summary judgment holding that the "judicial extinguishment" provisions of the easement deed did not satisfy the requirements of section 1.170A-14(g)(6), Income Tax Regs.

Under the terms of the settlement, the investor partners were permitted to deduct their cost of investing in the conservation easement transactions and paid a 10 percent penalty, whereas the promoter partner was denied any deduction and paid a 40% penalty. The taxpayers also fully paid all tax, penalties, and interest in conjunction with the settlement. The settlement will be reflected in a stipulated decision document entered by the Tax Court and in a separately entered closing agreement. A public statement acknowledging the settlement was part of the agreement between the IRS and the taxpayer.

IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig thanked the trial team for their exceptional dedication and work on the case: "The IRS is pleased that the partnership in the Coal Property transaction has agreed to this settlement, and we encourage other participants in qualifying easement cases to accept the terms of the Chief Counsel's initiative," Rettig said.

Coal Property was represented by Christopher S. Rizek and Scott D. Michel of the Washington, D.C. law firm Caplin & Drysdale. "In light of the significance of the Court's ruling on the perpetuity issue, our client decided to take advantage of an assured penalty reduction in the IRS initiative and settle this matter under the IRS's terms, and it is pleased that this case is resolved," Rizek said.

October 3, 2020 in Tax Compliance | Permalink | Comments (0)

IRS expands enforcement focus on abusive micro-captive insurance schemes

With the Oct. 15th filing deadline quickly approaching, the Internal Revenue Service today encouraged taxpayers to consult an independent tax advisor if they participated in a micro-captive insurance transaction.

The IRS encourages any taxpayer who has continued to engage in an abusive micro-captive insurance transaction to not anticipate being able to settle its transaction with the IRS or Chief Counsel on terms more favorable than previously announced settlement offers and that any potential future settlement initiative that the IRS may consider will require additional concessions by the taxpayer.

With this in mind, the IRS encourages taxpayers to consult an independent tax advisor if they participated in a micro-captive insurance transaction. These taxpayers should seriously consider exiting the transaction and not claiming deductions associated with abusive micro-captive insurance transactions, just like many other taxpayers did who were contacted by the IRS in March and July 2020.

For those taxpayers that do not exit the transaction and continue taking such deductions, the IRS will disallow tax benefits from transactions that are determined to be abusive and may also require domestic captives to include premium payments in income and assert a withholding liability related to foreign captives. The IRS will also assert penalties, as appropriate, including the strict liability penalty that applies to transactions that lack economic substance under sections 7701(o) and 6662(i).  The IRS Office of Chief Counsel will continue to litigate these abusive transactions in Tax Court. 

"The IRS enforcement efforts will continue on these abusive transactions,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said. “Any future settlement terms will only get worse, not better. The IRS has never been better positioned in its quest to eradicate abusive transactions following the stand-up of a dedicated promoter office, a new Fraud Enforcement Office, enhanced service-wide coordination with Criminal Investigation and the Office of Professional Responsibility, and our advanced data analytics and mining capabilities. Taxpayers are strongly encouraged to use this opportunity to put this behind them and get into compliance.”

Abusive micro-captives have been a concern to the IRS for several years. The transactions first appeared on the IRS "Dirty Dozen" list of tax scams in 2014 and remain a priority enforcement issue for the IRS. In 2016, the Department of Treasury and IRS issued Notice 2016-66 (PDF), which identified certain micro-captive transactions as having the potential for tax avoidance and evasion.  In March and July 2020, IRS issued letters to taxpayers who participated in a Notice 2016-66 transaction alerting them that IRS enforcement activity in this area will be expanding significantly and providing them with the opportunity to tell the IRS if they’ve discontinued their participation in this transaction before the IRS initiates examinations.  Early responses indicate that a significant number of taxpayers who participated in these transactions have exited the transaction. 

This summer, the IRS issued a new round of section 6112 letters to material advisors who filed with the IRS pursuant to Notice 2016-66. In addition, the IRS has deployed 12 newly formed micro-captive examination teams to substantially increase the examinations of ongoing abusive micro-captive insurance transactions.

Also, as part of IRS’s continued focus in this area, the IRS has become aware of variations of the abusive micro-captive insurance transactions.  Examples of these variations include certain Puerto Rico and offshore captive insurance arrangements that do not involve section 831(b) elections.

These variations appear to be designed and marketed with the express intent of avoiding reporting under Notice 2016-66 and yet perpetuating in some cases the same or similar abusive elements as abusive micro-captive insurance transactions.  The IRS is aware of these abusive transactions and is actively working to counter their proliferation.  The IRS cautions taxpayers that, to the extent they engage in variations of abusive micro-captive transactions that are substantially similar to Notice 2016-66, they must be disclosed.  Otherwise, the IRS will impose penalties for the failure to disclose.

October 3, 2020 in Tax Compliance | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Tax Inspectors Without Borders Report for Developing Countries to Increase Tax Revenues and Address COVID-19 challenges

The international community continues to make progress towards strengthening developing countries' ability to effectively tax multinational enterprises, despite the adverse impact of the COVID-19 crisis on domestic resource mobilisation efforts.

Tax Inspectors Without Borders (TIWB), a joint OECD/UNDP initiative launched in July 2015 to strengthen developing countries' auditing capacity and multinationals' compliance worldwide, has gained increased relevance in the COVID-19 era as a practical tool to help developing countries collect all the taxes due from multinational enterprises. To-date, TIWB assistance has delivered more than USD 537 million in additional revenue for developing countries up to June 2020, according to its latest annual report.

The report was presented today by OECD Secretary-General, Angel Gurría, and United Nations Development Programme Administrator, Achim Steiner, during a ministerial panel discussion in the margins of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly. The meeting was co-hosted by the Permanent Mission of Finland to the United Nations, the OECD and UNDP.

With programmes across Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, the TIWB initiative has 80 completed and ongoing programmes in 45 countries and jurisdictions worldwide. An additional 19 programmes have been requested and are in the pipeline. The report notes strong support from a broad range of partners, including regional and international organisations, as well as key donors of official development assistance (ODA). Sixteen countries have deployed their serving tax officials to provide hands-on, learning-by-doing assistance to auditors in developing countries. Among the partner administrations are those engaged in South-South co-operation including India, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa.

The success of the current TIWB model has also triggered the expansion of the initiative on tax crime investigations and the use of information exchanged automatically between governments, both of which will help fight Illicit Financial Flows. New programmes will also cover tax treaty negotiations, the extractives and environmental tax issues.

"Despite the constraints that the COVID-19 crisis has imposed, the TIWB initiative remains fully 'open for business' thanks to measures instituted to support experts in continuing to deliver assistance remotely," said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. "Not only are we open, but we are extending the TIWB focus to provide support in other areas of taxation to fight against corruption and promote integrity."

"Tax Inspectors Without Borders is playing a key role in helping developing countries to recover from the pandemic - their new service aims at increasing domestic revenues while supporting the transition to greener, more sustainable economies," said Mr Steiner, UNDP Administrator.

In his address to the meeting, H.E. Ville Skinnari, Finland's Minister for Development Co-operation and Foreign Trade, said "I congratulate UNDP, OECD and the wider UN-system to promote tax justice and domestic resource mobilisation. We have done our homework in Finland, too: In June this year we launched Government of Finland's new Taxation for Development Action Programme."

October 1, 2020 in Tax Compliance | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 20, 2020

J5 reflects on two-years pursuing global tax cheats

Leaders from five international tax organizations are marking the two-year anniversary of the formation of the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (J5) this week.

The J5 includes the Australian Taxation Office (ATO, the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA), the Dutch Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD), Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) from the UK and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI) from the US.

Taking advantage of each country's strengths, the J5's initial focus was on enablers of tax crime, virtual currency and platforms that enable each country to share information in a more efficient manner. Within the framework of each country's laws, J5 countries shared information and were able to open new cases, more completely develop existing cases, and find efficiencies to reduce the time it takes to work cases. Operational results have always been the goal of the organization and they have started to materialize.

"While operational results matter, I've been most excited at the other benefits that this group's existence has provided," said Don Fort, Chief, IRS Criminal Investigation. "In speaking with law enforcement partners domestically and abroad as well as stakeholders in various public and private tax organizations, there is real support for this organization and tangible results we have all seen due to the cooperation and global leadership of the J5."

During the two years since the J5's inception, hundreds of data exchanges between J5 partner agencies have occurred with more data being exchanged in the past year than the previous 10 years combined. Each J5 country brings different strengths and skillsets to the J5 and leveraging those skills and capabilities enhance the effectiveness and success of the J5.

Experts from the J5 countries have seen indications that tax offenders are embracing ever more complex methods to conceal their wrongdoings, creating multiple mechanisms and structures that are split across jurisdictions, taking advantage of those areas that offer secrecy and regulatory benefits. With this information, the J5 finds itself continuously adapting to the latest criminal methods and changing behaviors to prioritize the collective operational activity to tackle this dynamic threat picture.

Since the inception of the organization, two J5 countries have hosted events known as "Challenges" aimed at developing operational collaboration. FIOD hosted the first J5 "Challenge" in Utrecht in 2018 and brought together leading data scientists, technology experts and investigators from all J5 countries in a coordinated push to track down those who make a living out of facilitating and enabling international tax crime. The event identified, developed, and tested tools, platforms, techniques, and methods that contribute to the mission of the J5 focusing on identifying professional enablers facilitating offshore tax fraud. The following year, the U.S. hosted a second "Challenge" in Los Angeles and brought together investigators, cryptocurrency experts and data scientists in a coordinated push to track down individuals perpetrating tax crimes around the world.

Last week, a Romanian man was arrested in Germany and admitted to conspiring to engage in wire fraud and offering and selling unregistered securities in connection with his role in the BitClub Network, a cryptocurrency mining scheme worth at least $722 million. This plea was the first for a case under the J5 umbrella and stemmed from collaboration with the Netherlands during the "Challenge" in Los Angeles in 2019.

"The value of the Challenges cannot be overstated," said Fort. "When you take some of the smartest people from each organization and put them in a room for a few days, the results are truly impressive. Each country found investigative leads and was able to further cases utilizing tools and techniques created by each country's experts specifically for the Challenge. I see us doing more of these events in the future."

Last year, the United States and the World Bank hosted cyber training in Washington, DC bringing together more than 120 international and domestic law enforcement partners from approximately 20 countries to address emerging areas associated with cybercrime, virtual currency, blockchain and the dark web. Additionally, to ensure J5 countries were using all law enforcement and legal tools available during their collaborative work, trainings were held in Sydney and the Netherlands on international elements of the UK corporate criminal offense legislation and prosecution opportunities to lawyers and public prosecutors.

After two years of collaboration, data sharing and accelerated casework, the J5 began seeing operational results in early 2020. J5 countries participated in a globally coordinated day of action to put a stop to the suspected facilitation of offshore tax evasion. The action was part of a series of investigations in multiple countries into an international financial institution located in Central America, whose products and services are believed to be facilitating money laundering and tax evasion for customers across the globe. Evidence, intelligence and information collection activities such as search warrants, interviews and subpoenas were undertaken in each country and significant information was obtained and shared as a result. That investigation is ongoing.

"To see each country participate in a coordinated enforcement action all over the world at the same time with the same goal in mind was a real watershed moment for this organization," said Fort. "And that was just the beginning. With dozens of cases in our collective pipelines, I'm excited to see what the next year brings in terms of operational results."

In addition to the group's work with enablers and virtual currency, the J5 also focused on platforms that enable each country to share information in a more organized manner. FCInet is one such platform that each country has invested in to further that goal. FCInet is a decentralized virtual computer network that enables agencies to compare, analyze and exchange data anonymously. It helps users to obtain the right information in real-time and enables agencies from different jurisdictions to work together while respecting each other's local autonomy. Organizations can jointly connect information, without needing to surrender data or control to a central database. FCInet doesn't collect data, rather it connects data.

The J5 was formed in 2018 after a call to arms from the OECD Taskforce on Tax Crime and has been working together to gather information, share intelligence and conduct coordinated operations, making significant progress in each country's fight against transnational tax crime.

For more information about J5, please visit www.irs.gov/j5

July 20, 2020 in Tax Compliance | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 14, 2020

to prohibit the use of tax flow-through entities and the provision of trust services to high-risk third countries and EU Blacklisted jurisdictions

Loyens & Loeff writes that the Netherlands government proposal entails the following prohibitions:

  1. The prohibition to facilitate the use of a flow-through entity, which currently is one of the trust services under the Wtt 2018.
  2. It will be prohibited to enter into a business relationship or provide a trust service in case a client, object company or the UBO of a client or object company resides in or has its seat in (a) a high-risk third country or (b) a non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes. The original list of high-risk third countries adopted by the European Commission may be found here, more countries were added to the list in October 2017December 2017 and July 2018. A list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes is kept by the EU Council and can be found here.

Proposals in Dutch from Dutch Ministry here

May 14, 2020 in BEPS, Tax Compliance | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Multiple IRS Job Announcements in IRS Tax Exempt & Government Entities

The IRS has announced multiple Internal Revenue Agent job openings in both Employee Plans and Exempt Organizations as part of the IRS Pathways Recent Graduate Program. These positions are open in multiple cities and have a starting pay scale of GS 5 – 9.

Revenue agents in Employee Plans examine the books and records of employer-sponsored retirement plans such as 401(k) plans.

You can learn more about, and apply for, one of the recent graduate positions on USAjobs.gov, but you need to hurry.

These job openings close on May 8, 2020. 

May 2, 2020 in Tax Compliance | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Eighth Circuit Upholds Determination that Wells Fargo is Liable for Penalties for Engaging in Abusive Tax Shelter Scheme

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a precedential opinion on Friday, April 24, 2020, affirming a district court decision that a transaction designed to generate massive foreign tax credits (referred to as the STARS tax shelter) lacked economic substance and business purpose and was subject to the accuracy-related penalty for negligence, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Joshua Wu of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.

In Wells Fargo v. United States, No. 17-3578, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota and the position of the United States. Wells Fargo, like several other U.S. banks, had entered into the STARS shelter, a transaction promoted to them by Barclays PLC and KPMG as a method of generating foreign tax credits on U.S. income. The Eighth Circuit rejected the transaction as an economic sham subject to penalties, consistent with the decisions of three other courts of appeals. In rejecting Wells Fargo’s appeal, the court agreed with the government that “STARS was an elaborate and unlawful tax avoidance scheme, designed to exploit the differences between the tax laws of the U.S. and the U.K. and generate U.S. tax credits for a foreign tax that Wells Fargo did not, in substance, pay.” 

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Zuckerman thanked Tax Division attorney Judith Hagley and former Tax Division attorneys Gilbert Rothenberg and Richard Farber, who handled the case on appeal for the government, as well as Chief Senior Litigation Counsel Dennis Donohue, Senior Litigation Counsel Kari Larson, trial attorneys William Farrior, Harris Phillips, Matthew Johnshoy, and former Tax Division attorney Viki Economides Farrior, who litigated the case in the district court.

Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found on the division’s website.

April 28, 2020 in Tax Compliance | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

IRS announce relaxation of U.S. tax resident "days count" related to COVID-19 emergency

The Internal Revenue Service today issued guidance that provides relief to individuals and businesses affected by travel disruptions arising from the COVID-19 emergency. 

The guidance includes the following:

  1. Revenue Procedure 2020-20, which provides that, under certain circumstances, up to 60 consecutive calendar days of U.S. presence that are presumed to arise from travel disruptions caused by the COVID-19 emergency will not be counted for purposes of determining U.S. tax residency and for purposes of determining whether an individual qualifies for tax treaty benefits for income from personal services performed in the United States;
  2. Revenue Procedure 2020-27, which provides that qualification for exclusions from gross income under I.R.C. section 911 will not be impacted as a result of days spent away from a foreign country due to the COVID-19 emergency based on certain departure dates; and
  3. An FAQ, which provides that certain U.S. business activities conducted by a nonresident alien or foreign corporation will not be counted for up to 60 consecutive calendar days in determining whether the individual or entity is engaged in a U.S. trade or business or has a U.S. permanent establishment, but only if those activities would not have been conducted in the United States but for travel disruptions arising from the COVID-19 emergency. 

April 21, 2020 in Tax Compliance | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Covid-19 Tax Facts News: Health Plans. Worthless Securities Deduction.

Texas A&M University School of Law has launched a Covid-19 expert response team.  Listen to Professor Neal Newman and William discussing the Covid-19 SBA forgiveness loans, deferral on paying the employer's Social Security tax, and the Employee Retention Tax Credit (YouTube). Find the response team members from all disciplines here: Download Texas A&M Coronavirus_Experts

Editor’s Note: New rulings from the IRS help clarify that COVID-19 expenses can be paid by HDHPs (before the deductible has been met) and FSAs can pay for genetic testing when the information is intended to be provided to a medical professional for treatment purposes. Note that the decision on genetic testing comes in the form of a PLR that addresses some rather unique facts, so it may not be very broadly applicable. We also have a new (and regrettably timely) ruling on worthless securities.

IRS Announces HDHPs Can Pay Coronavirus Costs

The IRS announced that high deductible health plans are permitted to cover the costs associated with the coronavirus. HDHPs can cover coronavirus-related testing and equipment needed to treat the virus. Generally, HDHPs are prohibited from covering certain non-specified expenses before the covered individual's deductible has been met. Certain preventative care expenses are excepted from this rule. HDHPs will not jeopardize their status if they pay coronavirus-related expenses before the insured has met the deductible, and the insured will remain HSA-eligible. The guidance applies only to HSA-eligible HDHPs. For more information on the rules governing HDHPs, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Tax Court Rules on Deduction

The Tax Court held that a worthless securities deduction may be permitted even if the entity that issued the securities still held some value. In a complex case involving a number of rounds of financing over several years, the court found it was reasonable to believe that a junior interest may be worthless if there are not funds to pay currently, or anticipated in the future, the senior interests. For more information on the worthless securities deduction, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

IRS Finds Health FSA Can Reimburse a Portion of Ancestry Genetic Testing

In a private letter ruling (applicable only to the taxpayer requesting the ruling), the IRS found that a portion of the ancestry genetic test could be reimbursed by the health FSA. In the redacted PLR, the IRS discussed whether the genetic testing service could be classified as medical care. The taxpayer's goal was to provide genetic information to their healthcare provider, but it was impossible to purchase the genetic information without also purchasing the ancestry services. The IRS found that portions of the testing may be considered medical care, although ancestry reports could not be classified as reimbursable medical care. The IRS directed the taxpayer to use a "reasonable method" to allocate between medical and non-medical services. For more information on health FSAs, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

2020’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

April 16, 2020 in Tax Compliance | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Employee Retention: SBA Loan or Tax Credits? Which offers more money to my business, and when?

Texas A&M University School of Law has launched a Covid-19 expert response team.  Listen to Professor Neal Newman and William discussing the Covid-19 SBA forgiveness loans, deferral on paying the employer's Social Security tax, and the Employee Retention Tax Credit (YouTube). Find the response team members from all disciplines here: Download Texas A&M Coronavirus_Experts

For a business with by example 400 employees, a $5,000 credit per employee is worth $2,000,000 of tax-free tax credit that can be more beneficial than an SBA Loan.  The SBA loan is not straight forward and regardless, is not in general allowed for business above 500 employees.  The taxpayer must choose either one or the other - the PPP (forgivable employee retention) SBA loan or the employee retention tax credit.  For small employers with less than say 250 employees (not exactly 'small' in most American minds) the answer is probably the SBA loan. But for employer with more than 350 employees, the answer is probably that the Employee Retention Tax Credit is worth more to the business.  Watch the webinar above or ask your questions live this Thursday, April 16th (Register now for our webinar on Wednesday, April 16, at 2:00 EDT)

 

2020’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

April 15, 2020 in Financial Regulation, Tax Compliance | Permalink | Comments (0)

another reason to (re) locate a business to Texas: New York state and city do not adopt the CARES Act tax provisions

  • Deloitte covers New York's new budget that purposefully 'decouples' from the CARES Act tax relief for New York based business and other states' business that have income within New York.
  • BDO explains it here as well.
  • Pillsbury here.

Anything that improves the employment of tax professionals, I am for.  Thus, states with their own tax codes that do not correspond to the federal Internal Revenue Code, at least for my students and alumni, are OK by me.  Unless I own a business.  Then it's maddeningly complex, and compliance expensive, to operate in several tax regimes.

Not saying that the CARES Act provisions made good tax policy sense.  But unless New York state (and city) has something better to offer, the Covid-19 meltdown does not seem like an opportune time to 'stick it' to Congress' because Congress seems to enact ineffectual tax provisions. Not that the typical New York voter understands or cares about 163(j) relief or NOL. But New York based business in particular may come to understand when the CPA / tax advisor informs that on the federal return Covid-19 stimulus relief is allowable but not so on the NY state return. Some NY based businesses are going to feel that their state didn't have their backs.  Other businesses that are large enough and able because of industry to relocate operations have time a plenty at this moment to think about such relocation.  (And by the way, Texas will be open for business again soon).      

April 15, 2020 in Tax Compliance | Permalink | Comments (0)

Determining the Employer's Obligations Under the New Proposed Withholding Regulations

Texas A&M University School of Law has launched a Covid-19 expert response team.  Listen to Professor Neal Newman and William discussing the Covid-19 SBA forgiveness loans, deferral on paying the employer's Social Security tax, and the Employee Retention Tax Credit (YouTube). Find the response team members from all disciplines here: Download Texas A&M Coronavirus_Experts

Determining the Employer's Obligations Under the New Proposed Withholding Regulations

The regulations are clear that the employer is not required to ascertain whether the withholding allowance claimed by the employee is greater than those to which the employee is actually entitled. However, the IRS (or published guidance) may direct an employer to submit employees’ withholding certificates (or the certificates relating to groups of employees) to the IRS. Further, the IRS may notify the employer that an employee is not entitled to claim more than a certain withholding allowance. For more information on the new withholding regulations, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

2020’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

April 15, 2020 in Tax Compliance | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Tax Impact of Stimulus' RMD Waiver, Early Withdrawals: Bloink & Byrnes Webinar

Sign up now for ThinkAdvisor's free tax webinar on Thursday, April 16, from 2-2:30 p.m. EDT.

The $2 trillion stimulus plan signed into law on March 28 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, includes a temporary waiver of required minimum distribution (RMD) rules for certain defined contribution plans and IRAs during 2020.

There are also special rules for use of retirement funds that waives the 10% early withdrawal penalty for distributions up to $100,000 from qualified retirement accounts for coronavirus-related purposes made this year.

Register now for our 30-minute webinar on Thursday, April 16, at 2:00 EDT. Hear from two expert sources about the tax implications of these withdrawals and other retirement issues in the CARES Act during our free ThinkAdvisor webcast:

  • ROBERT BLOINK, Esq., LL.M., has taught at Texas A&M University School of Law and Thomas Jefferson School of Law; and
  • WILLIAM BYRNES, Esq., LL.M., CWM, is an executive professor and associate dean of special projects at the Texas A&M University School of Law.

April 14, 2020 in Tax Compliance | Permalink | Comments (0)

Covid-19 Tax Facts News: Coronavirus Response Act and Families First Act's Tax Relief for Small Business Owners

Texas A&M University School of Law has launched a Covid-19 expert response team.  Listen to Professor Neal Newman and William discussing the Covid-19 SBA forgiveness loans, deferral on paying the employer's Social Security tax, and the Employee Retention Tax Credit (YouTube). Find the response team members from all disciplines here: Download Texas A&M Coronavirus_Experts

            William H. Byrnes, J.D.
        Robert Bloink, J.D., LL.M.

The IRS provided concrete responses to the COVID-19 virus in the tax field. First, the IRS has now formally extended the income tax filing deadline for tax year 2019 to July 15, as well as the FBAR form, FATCA form, and several other reporting forms initially left out of the IRS extension. Because this is an extension of the actual filing deadline (not just an extension of time to pay owed taxes) it also pushes a number of related deadlines (e.g. for qualified plan contributions) back to July. President Trump also signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which creates a paid sick leave program and related tax credits for small businesses, as well as the CARES Act calling for forgivable SBA loans (without tax consequences) or a $5,000 tax credit per employee retained for medium and large size businesses.

Our comment is that for a business with by example 400 employees, a $5,000 credit per employee is worth $2,000,000 of tax-free tax credit that can be more beneficial than an SBA Loan.  The SBA loan is not straight forward and regardless, is not in general allowed for business above 500 employees.  The taxpayer must choose either one or the other - the PPP (forgivable employee retention) SBA loan or the employee retention tax credit.  For small employers with less than say 250 employees (not exactly 'small' in most American minds) the answer is probably the SBA loan.  But above 250, careful consideration and analyzing the benefits/outcomes of each program must be weighed. Watch the webinar above.. or the one forthcoming Thursday, April 16th (sign up on Tax Facts Online).   

Avoid Confusion Over IRS 90-Day Extension of the Federal Tax Payment Deadline

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the IRS has announced that it will extend the tax payment deadline from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020. Interest and penalties during this period will also be waived. The April 15 filing deadline was also extended to July 15, although in separate guidance. Individuals and pass-through business entities owing up to $1 million in federal tax are eligible for the relief, as are corporations owing up to $10 million in federal tax. Individuals who do not anticipate being able to file by July 15 should be aware of their option for requesting a six-month filing extension to October 15. The extension is available by filing Form 4868. For more information on federal tax filing requirements, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Coronavirus Act Creates Paid Sick Leave Benefits for Small Business Employees

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act applies to private employers with fewer than 500 employees (and government employers), and makes several key changes to paid time off laws. The bill: (1) provides 80 hours' additional paid sick leave for employees (pro-rated for part-time workers) and (2) expands FMLA protections. The additional paid sick leave is capped at $511 per day (total of $5,110) for employees who cannot go to work or telecommute because they (1) are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a diagnosis, or (2) are subject to government-mandated quarantine or a recommendation to self-quarantine. The additional paid sick leave is capped at 2/3 of the employee's pay rate, subject to a maximum of $200 per day or $2,000 total if the employee (1) is caring for or assisting someone subject to quarantine, (2) caring for a child whose school or care provider is unavailable or (3) experiencing "substantially similar conditions" specified by HHS. For more information on the family and medical leave tax credit available for business owners, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Coronavirus Response Act: Tax Relief for Small Business Owners

The law contains a tax credit to help small business owners subject to the new paid sick leave and expanded FMLA requirements. The tax credit is computed each quarter, and allows as a credit (1) the amount of qualified paid sick leave wages paid in weeks 1-2, and (2) qualified FMLA wages paid (in the remaining 10 weeks) during the quarter. The credit is taken against the employer portion of the Social Security tax. Amounts in excess of the employer Social Security taxes due will be refunded as a credit (in the same manner as though the employer had overpaid Social Security taxes during the quarter). The Act also provides a tax credit for qualified health plan expenses that are allocable to periods when the paid sick leave or family leave wages are paid. For more information on refundable tax credits, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

2020’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

April 14, 2020 in Financial Regulation, Tax Compliance | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 13, 2020

Covid-19 Tax Facts News: CARES Act Payment Extensions, FATCA and FBAR Filing Extensions

Texas A&M University School of Law has launched a Covid-19 expert response team.  Listen to Professor Neal Newman and William discussing the Covid-19 SBA forgiveness loans, deferral on paying the employer's Social Security tax, and the Employee Retention Tax Credit (YouTube). Find the response team members from all disciplines here: Download Texas A&M Coronavirus_Experts

                    Prof. William Byrnes
          Robert Bloink, J.D., LL.M.
Lots of CVOID-19 legislation in the updates this week. The IRS and DOL continue to release new guidance--and update existing guidance--at an unprecedented and fast pace. For the time being, clients and advisors alike should check the actual text of the guidance before taking concrete action to make sure they are operating under the most up-to-date rules.

IRS Releases FAQ on COVID-19 Filing, Payment Extensions

The IRS FAQ clarifies that the filing and payment extensions (from April 15 to July 15) apply regardless of whether the taxpayer is actually sick or quarantined because of COVID-19. For fiscal year taxpayers with 2019 returns due April 15, the deadline is extended to July 15 regardless of whether April 15 is an original or extended filing deadline. Taxpayers facing filing or payment deadlines that are not April 15 must note that their deadlines have not generally been extended. The relief also does not apply to payroll or excise tax payments (deposit dates remain unchanged, but employers may be eligible for the new paid sick leave tax credit, see Tax Facts Q8550). Taxpayers do not have to do anything to take advantage of the extension--they simply file their returns and make required payments by the new July 15 deadline. Taxpayers who filed and schedule a payment for April 15 must, however, take action to reschedule their payment for July 15 if they wish (by contacting the credit or debit card company if the payment was scheduled directly with the card issuer). For more information, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

FBARs (Foreign Bank & Financial Accounts Reporting) is automatically extended from April 15 to October 15 (see FinCEN March 2020 notice). 

FATCA form 8938 may be submitted July 15th by automatic extension.  The IRS extended on April 6, by Notice 2020-23 (Update to Notice 2020-18, Additional Relief for Taxpayers Affected by Ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic), the 3 month filing relief to FATCA.

"This relief includes not just the filing of Specified Forms, but also all schedules, returns, and other forms that are filed as attachments to Specified Forms or are required to be filed by the due date of Specified Forms, including, for example, Schedule H and Schedule SE, as well as Forms 3520, 5471, 5472, 8621, 8858, 8865, and 8938." 

Counting Employees for COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave & FMLA Expansion Purposes

DOL FAQ provides that an employer is subject to the expanded paid sick leave and FMLA rules if the employer has fewer than 500 full-time and part-time employees. Employees on leave and temporary employees should be included, while independent contractors are not included in the count. Each corporation is usually a single employer. When a corporation has an ownership interest in another corporation, the two are separate employers unless they are joint employers for Fair Labor Standards Act purposes. Joint employer status is based on a facts and circumstances analysis, and is generally the case when (1) one employer employs the employee, but another benefits from the work or (2) one employer employs an employee for one set of hours in a workweek, and another employer employs the same employee for a separate set of hours in the same workweek. For more information on the details provided by current DOL guidance, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Calculating Sick Pay for Part-Time and Variable Hour Workers Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

With respect to the FMLA extension, the rate of pay for part-time employees is based upon the number of hours they would normally be scheduled to work. For employees with variable schedules, pay is based upon a number equal to the average number of hours that the employee was scheduled per day over the 6-month period ending on the date on which the employee takes such leave, including hours for which the employee took leave of any type or (2) if the employee did not work over such period, the reasonable expectation of the employee at the time of hiring of the average number of hours per day that the employee would normally be scheduled to work. As of now, the law provides that leave may not be carried over into 2021. For more information on the law's requirements, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

RMDs Suspended for 2020, Penalty Waived for Coronavirus Distributions

The CARES Act suspended the required minimum distribution (RMD) rules for 2020--a suspension that applies to all 401(k), 403(b), and certain 457(b) deferred compensation plans maintained by the government, as well as IRAs. The law also contains a provision waiving the 10% early distribution penalty that applies to retirement account withdrawals. The relief generally mirrors the relief commonly granted in more localized natural disaster situations. The Act allows employees to take up to $100,000 in distributions from an employer-sponsored retirement plan (401(k), 403(b) or defined benefit plan) or an IRA without becoming subject to the penalty. Unless the participant elects otherwise, inclusion of the distribution in income is spread over three years, beginning with the tax year of distribution. The Act also provides a repayment option, where the participant has the option of repaying the distribution over the three-taxable year period beginning with the tax year of distribution. In this case, the distribution will be treated as an eligible rollover made in a trustee-to-trustee transfer within the 60-day window. For more information on expanded access to retirement funds, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

2020’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

April 13, 2020 in Tax Compliance | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Byrnes & Bloink’s Covid-19 TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly for April 10, 2020

Texas A&M University School of Law has launched a Covid-19 expert response team.  Listen to Professor Neal Newman and William discussing the Covid-19 SBA forgiveness loans, deferral on paying the employer's Social Security tax, and the Employee Retention Tax Credit (YouTube). Find the response team members from all disciplines here: Download Texas A&M Coronavirus_Experts

           Prof. William H. Byrnes
        Robert Bloink, J.D., LL.M.
Today we have three big updates from the newly-passed CARES Act. The first allows NOLs for tax years 2018 through 2020 to be carried back five years. This give business who had NOLs and were waiting to carry them forward to future tax years to apply them to past years, potentially resulting in additional tax refunds. The other two updates relate to deferrals and tax credits for payroll taxes in 2020.

CARES Act Provides NOL Relief for Struggling Businesses

The CARES Act allows corporations to carry back net operating losses (NOLs) incurred in 2018, 2019, and 2020 for five years (excluding offset to untaxed foreign earnings transition tax). Post-tax reform, these NOLs could only be carried forward. For tax years beginning prior to January 1, 2021, businesses can offset 100% of taxable income with NOL carryovers and carrybacks (the 80% taxable income limitation was lifted). With respect to partnerships and pass-through entities, the CARES Act amended the effective date for the new excess business loss rules created by the 2017 tax reform legislation. The new rules will only apply beginning in 2021 (rather than 2018). Pass-through taxpayers who have filed a return reflecting excess business losses will presumably be entitled to refund by filing an amended return, absent guidance to the contrary. For more information, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

CARES Act Permits Penalty-Free Payroll Tax Deferral for Employers

The CARES Act allows both employers and independent contractors to defer payment of employer payroll taxes without penalty. Importantly, employers with fewer than 500 employees are entitled to withhold payroll taxes as an advance repayment of the tax credit for paid sick leave and expanded FMLA leave under the FFCRA. Under the CARES Act payroll tax deferral, employers are permitted to defer the employer portion of the payroll tax on wages paid through December 31, 2020 for up to two years. Payroll taxes are generally due in two installments under CARES: 50% by December 31, 2021 and the remaining 50% by December 31, 2022. Economic hardship is presumed, meaning the employer does not have to produce documentation establishing that COVID-19 impacted the business. Payroll tax deferral options apparently apply to all employers, regardless of size. However, employers who have loans forgiven under the CARES Act Payroll Protection Loan program are not eligible for the deferral. For more information, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

CARES Act Employee Retention Tax Credit

The CARES Act creates a new refundable tax credit designed to help employers who retain employees during the COVID-19 health crisis. The credit is taken against employment taxes and is equal to 50% of the first $10,000 of qualified wages paid to the employee. The credit is available for calendar quarters where either (1) operations were either fully or partially suspended because of a government-issued order relating to COVID-19 or (2) the business' gross receipts declined by more than 50% when compared to the same calendar quarter in 2019. For more information, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

April 11, 2020 in Economics, Tax Compliance | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 6, 2020

15 Competent Authority Analyst Positions with the IRS LB&I (APMA Project Leader)

Pay scale & grade GS 14       Salary $119,559 to $170,800 per year

Locations: 15 vacancies in the following locations: (job posting)

  • Laguna Niguel, CA
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • San Jose, CA
  • Washington, DC
  • Chicago, IL
  • New York, NY

WHAT DOES A COMPETENT AUTHORITY ANALYST (APMA TEAM LEADER) DO? This position seeks tax professionals who will primarily perform the duties of an Advance Pricing and Mutual Agreement (APMA) Team Leader within the office of the Deputy Commissioner (International) and U.S. Competent Authority, under the Director of Transfer Pricing Operations. Incumbent possess substantial skill in the area of international tax provisions of the Internal Revenue Code relating to transfer pricing with advanced knowledge of relevant provisions in U.S. income tax treaties (e.g., Articles 7, 9 and 25), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Transfer Pricing Guidelines, and foreign transfer pricing rules. The major responsibilities include leading teams of IRS professionals in the analysis and development of advance pricing agreements and the resolution of double tax cases arising from transfer pricing adjustments.

As a Competent Authority Analyst (APMA) you will:

  • Receive requests for competent authority consideration and/or APA submissions.
  • Review requests to ensure compliance with applicable procedural guidelines. Take necessary action to perfect requests.
  • Assist field revenue agents and other IRS technicians (attorneys, economists, and international examiners) to further develop facts/issues in cases. May secure additional information directly from taxpayer or treaty partner.
  • Prepare positions and other memoranda for the U.S. Competent Authority, recommending a course of action based on analysis of the facts of the case, appropriate tax law and treaty, and the position of the foreign country.
  • Participate in or lead development of Bilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APA), including preparing and negotiating the U.S. position, providing advice to both taxpayers and other IRS personnel concerning competent authority implications i.e., Mutual Agreement. Also, coordinates with appropriate IRS personnel to insure the review of APA Annual Reports to determine taxpayer compliance with previously executed agreements.
  • Negotiate with foreign Competent Authority representatives when the foreign official does not accept U.S. position on particular issues. Determine and recommend reasonable offers that will still protect U.S. interest. Assigned to a specific country as coordinator, specializing in specific country issues, and planning negotiation agenda. Responsible for preparing documents implementing the Mutual Agreement with the foreign country(ies).
  • Perform program analyst and staff assignments regarding non-case related matters. Review Counsel-prepared material (e.g., regulations or revenue procedures) for accuracy and consistency in respect of tax treaty administration matters.
  • Advise field agents and other IRS and Treasury personnel on competent authority issues.
  • Participate in Treasury-led teams negotiating tax treaties.
  • Speak before external and internal groups regarding competent authority procedures and tax treaty technical issues, e.g., in training classes and professional organizations, such as, the American Bar Association.

WHERE CAN I FIND OUT MORE ABOUT OTHER IRS CAREERS? If you want to find out more about IRS careers, visit us on the web at www.jobs.irs.gov

Announcement number 20PHI-LBB0158-0930-14
Control number 563657400

April 6, 2020 in Tax Compliance | Permalink | Comments (0)