Combat-zone contract workers could qualify for foreign earned income exclusion – it’s the new Law!

Certain U.S. citizens or resident aliens, specifically contractors or employees of contractors supporting the U.S. Armed Forces in designated combat zones, may now qualify for the foreign earned income exclusion.
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, enacted in February, changed the tax home requirement for eligible taxpayers, enabling them to claim the foreign earned income exclusion even if their “abode” is in the United States. The new law applies for tax year 2018 and subsequent years and under this law, the taxpayers can choose to exclude their foreign earned income from gross income, up to a certain dollar amount. For tax year 2018, that dollar amount limit is $103,900.
Under prior law, many otherwise eligible taxpayers who lived and worked in designated combat zones failed to qualify because they had an abode in the United States. The new law makes it clear that contractors or employees of contractors providing support to U.S. Armed Forces in designated combat zones are eligible to claim the foreign earned income exclusion.
The foreign earned income exclusion is not automatic. Eligible taxpayers must file a U.S. income tax return each year with either a Form 2555 or Form 2555-EZ attached. These forms, instructions and Publication 54,Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad, will be revised later this year to reflect this clarification.
What is Foreign Earned Income?
Foreign earned income is the income a taxpayer receives for performing personal services in a foreign country or countries during a period in which he or she meets both of the following requirements:
• His or her tax home is in a foreign country, and
• He or she meets either the bona fide residence test or the physical presence test.
Taxpayers choosing the foreign earned income exclusion cannot take advantage of any other exclusion, deduction or credit related to the excluded income. This includes any expenses, losses or other items that would have been deductible had the exclusion not been claimed. CPA Global Tax (www.cpaglobaltax.com) specializes in international tax issues and will be glad to assist if you have any questions!

South Dakota v. Wayfair Inc. opens up challenges for foreign inbound Companies

United States is an attractive place to do business and multinational companies from various countries have operated successfully over a number years. Many foreign inbound companies operate either remotely or by physical presence in United States and are selling in number of states. Until recently these companies were advised by the experts that they were not required to register and collect sales tax in number of states based on their activity due to the protection accorded by the then governing case Quill v. North Dakota. But now this is the thing of the past. On June 21, 2018 the SCOTUS (Supreme Court of United States) determined the physical presence rule was “unsound and incorrect,” and “economic and virtual” contacts between a business and a state were sufficient grounds for nexus – the connection between a state and a business that triggers a tax collection obligation.
Once a business determines it’s reached an economic nexus threshold in a new jurisdiction and has an obligation to collect, it must register to do so with the state tax authority. Under no circumstances should it collect and remit tax in a new jurisdiction before registering to do business there. More than one license and permit may be required in each jurisdiction, and in some states, it may be necessary to register with local tax authorities, as well as the state taxing authority. As a result, registering in a new jurisdiction is likely to be a multi-step process that involves multiple departments, including state and local tax departments, and the secretary of state.
Affected foreign owned businesses must consult and seek help from the advisors in order to avoid playing afoul as non-compliance can be very costly.

Missed April 15, 2018 deadline for making IRC 965 repatriation tax instalment? Proposed regulations come to the rescue

For individual taxpayers who have a net tax liability under IRC section 965 in the individual’s 2017 taxable year of less than $1 million (i.e., the total of all eight installments is less than $1 million) and make a timely election under IRC section 965(h) but missed the April 18, 2018 deadline for making the first of the eight annual installment payments, the guidance in IRS FAQ#16 still applies: The IRS will waive the late-payment penalty (but will not waive the interest) and will not accelerate subsequent installments under IRC section 965(h)(3) if the individual pays the full amount of the first installment (and the second installment) by the due date for its 2018 return (determined without regard to extensions) (i.e., April 15, 2019 for most calendar year taxpayers).

Watch out however for state tax liability. Nearly all states require payment of the liability in the year of the section 965 inclusion and do not allow for the section 965(h) election, or otherwise spreading the liability over 8 years.

Repatriation tax – IRS provides penalty reliefs to many

In recently published Newswire, IRS announced that it will grant penalty relief in certain cases with regard to repatriation tax under IRC 965.

In nutshell, following are the new three relief provisions:

In general, the questions and answers indicate that:
• In some instances, the IRS will waive the estimated tax penalty for taxpayers subject to the transition tax who improperly attempted to apply a 2017 calculated overpayment to their 2018 estimated tax, as long as they make all required estimated tax payments by June 15, 2018.
• For individual taxpayers who missed the April 18, 2018, deadline for making the first of the eight annual installment payments, the IRS will waive the late-payment penalty if the installment is paid in full by April 15, 2019. Absent this relief, a taxpayer’s remaining installments over the eight-year period would have become due immediately. This relief is only available if the individual’s total transition tax liability is less than $1 million. Interest will still be due. Later deadlines apply to certain individuals who live and work outside the U.S.
• Individuals who have already filed a 2017 return without electing to pay the transition tax in eight annual installments can still make the election by filing a 2017 Form 1040X with the IRS. The amended Form 1040 generally must be filed by Oct. 15, 2018.

IRS accordingly updated the FAQ page and added these reliefs.

Please contact CPA Global Tax (www.cpaglobaltax.com) team if you have any questions regarding repatriation tax as well as GILTI tax.

 

Payments to foreign persons and 1042 – Don’t miss the March 15 deadline

IR 2017-43

The Internal Revenue Service today reminded non-U.S. citizens who may have taxable income, such as international students and scholars who may be working or receiving scholarship funds, that they may have special requirements to file a U.S. tax return.

The IRS also reminded withholding agents — such as payroll professionals or universities — that accurately filed Forms 1042-S help speed any refunds due to their non-U.S. citizen taxpayers. Errors on forms or returns could result in some refunds being delayed.

What Non-U.S. Citizen Taxpayers Must Do

The Internal Revenue Code generally requires non-U.S. citizens, whom the code defines as either resident or non-resident aliens, who are engaged in a trade or business within the U.S. to file tax returns. Non-resident aliens such as foreign students, teachers or trainees temporarily in the United States on F, J, M or Q visas are considered engaged in a trade or business.

Most individuals in F-1, J-1, M-1, Q-1 and Q-2 non-immigrant status are eligible to be employed in the U.S. and are eligible to apply for a Social Security number if they are actually employed in the United States. Those not eligible for an SSN but who have a tax filing requirement may request an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number from the IRS.

The non-U.S. citizen’s name must be reported exactly as it appears on the official documentation provided to the withholding agent (such as a Social Security Administration card or some other form of official governmental documentation).

Filing a Form 1040-NR or 1040NR-EZ is required by non-U.S. citizens who have a taxable event such as:

A taxable scholarship or fellowship, as described in Chapter 1 of Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education;

  • Income partially or totally exempt from tax under the terms of a tax treaty; and/or
  • Any other income, which is taxable under the Internal Revenue Code.

Non-U.S. citizens also must attach one copy (generally Copy B) for each Form 1042-S received to their tax returns. Non-U.S. citizens should review the Form 1042-S to ensure it accurately reflects their name and income. If the form does not contain accurate information, they must contact the withholding agent for an amended Form 1042-S.

What Withholding Agents Must Do

Generally, non-U.S. citizens who have taxable income also may have withholding of taxes by the source of their income. Withholding agents are required to complete Form 1042-S, Foreign Person’s U.S. Source Income Subject to Withholding.

Withholding agents must provide five copies of the Form 1042-S. Copy A should go to the IRS; Copies B, C and D to the recipient of the income; and copy E should be retained by the withholding agent. All information, including the name of the taxpayer, must match exactly on all copies of Form 1042-S.

If withholding agents create a substitute Form 1042-S, all five copies must be in the same physical format. The size, shape and format of any substitute form must adhere to the rules of Publication 1179, General Rules and Specifications for Substitute Forms 1096, 1098, 1099, 5498, and Certain Other Information Returns. The official Form 1042-S is the standard for substitute forms.

A common error is to have a Form 1042-S listing two or more recipients in box 13a. The 2016 instructions to Form 1042-S have been updated to clarify that in the case of joint owners, Form 1042-S can only list one of the owners in box 13a.

Withholding agents should review Fact Sheet 2017-03, where they can find the latest changes to Form 1042-S instructions and common errors that delay processing of tax returns.

Mexico enacts penalty free repatriation program

On January 18, 2017, Mexican government approved a decree that will incentivize the taxpayers who have unreported funds offshore. The gist of the decree is as follows:

  1. Applies to Mexican resident individuals or companies as well as to permanent establishments (PEs) in Mexico that generated revenues through direct and indirect investments maintained abroad as of December 31, 2016.
  2. The funds can be repatriated without any penalties and by paying a flat 8% tax on the repatriated funds
  3. The decree took effect on January 19, 2017 and will end on July 19, 2017
  4. Entrants to the program have August 3, 2017 as the last date to pay the tax
  5. Taxpayers are asked to file the tax returns via SAT website and pay tax within 15 days of repatriation of funds
  6. Repatriated funds must be invested in the listed categories only

Mexican individuals and entities who have the undisclosed funds offshore should carefully review the decree and obtain benefit before the deadline.

Who says MNCs want to keep the earnings offshore

IRS recently stated that the U.S. based holding companies claimed $18.3 billion in foreign tax credit in 2013 which is up from $8.17 billion in the previous year. The foreign tax credit was generally claimed for the tax paid in foreign countries on the dividend income repatriated to the U.S. by these holding companies. The data says that the holding companies reported $25.1 billion in such dividend income in 2013.

The data suggests that U.S. companies are bringing in more income from the foreign earnings to finance U.S. operations.

Since the tax incentives are not the motivation for repatriating the earnings, the economic factors seem to be the driving such a trend.