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

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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.

Transfer Pricing – IRS announces changes in APA for Mexican Maquiladoras

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IRS today announced that U.S. taxpayers with maquiladora operations in Mexico will not be exposed to double taxation if they enter into a unilateral advance pricing agreement (APA) with Mexico’s Servicio de Administración Tributaria (SAT) under terms discussed in advance between the U.S. and Mexican competent authorities.

Maquiladoras typically operate in Mexico as contract manufacturers of foreign multinationals.

To recap in 1999, the U.S. and Mexican competent authorities reached an agreement on transfer pricing and other aspects of the tax treatment of maquiladoras of U.S. multinational enterprises. The new agreement updates and expands upon the 1999 agreement in order to reflect recent revisions to Mexican domestic tax rules governing transfer pricing rules, documentation requirements and other tax attributes of maquiladoras.

Because the transfer pricing framework adopted under SAT’s program was discussed and agreed upon with the U.S. competent authority in advance, the transfer pricing results set forth in unilateral APAs executed between SAT and Mexican affiliates of U.S. taxpayers pursuant to this program will be regarded as “arm’s length” under section 482 of the Internal Revenue Code.

In conjunction with the 1999 agreement, this announcement will provide certainty for U.S. taxpayers regarding double taxation, foreign tax credits and permanent establishments in relation to transactions with their maquiladoras. Further guidance on the U.S. taxable years and tax consequences of these unilateral APAs will be included in a forthcoming IRS practice unit.

Please contact CPA Global Tax for further information and assistance.

 

So who is behind the scene..really!

On August 24th, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCen) issued a guidance that requires private banks, credit unions and trust companies to identify the beneficial owners of legal entities and the people who control these entities. The step is taken to track down people who are hiding company ownership to avoid taxes and other government rules.
As the readers may recall, the rules announced in May 2016 covered federally regulated banks.

It is believed that the FinCen will also soon announce that certain other banks and financial institutions will also be covered under these rules. Banks authorized by law in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to provide banking and other services to nonresident aliens can also be included.

Ownership Percentage

The IRS said this list isn’t exclusive and could be expanded at some point.
In one feature likely to attract attention, FinCEN didn’t propose changing the ownership percentage that triggers reporting from the 25% required in the final rule in May.

Some called for the agency to lower it, asserting that 25% was too high and wouldn’t catch numerous taxpayers trying to hide from the IRS. Others said it was too low and would create big hassles for banks.

FinCEN said it considered increasing the ownership percentage to 50%, but finally concluded that 25% is “appropriate to maximize the benefits of the requirement while minimizing the burden.”

The beneficial ownership rules would require banks to enhance customer identification programs and anti-money laundering initiatives.

Calling all non-residents! Your ITIN may be expiring

IRS recently announced that the Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN) will need to be renewed every 3 years. The new release states that the ITIN is temporary and cannot be permanently used. In order to renew the ITIN, non-residents will need to file a new application on Form W-7 after 3 years, otherwise their tax returns will be rejected.

The IRS announced changes which require certain taxpayers to renew their ITINs. The renewal of ITINs requirement does not apply to ITIN holders who do not need to file their tax returns in 2017.

The following taxpayers require renewal of ITINs:

  • Taxpayers with ITINs not used on federal tax returns for at least once in last 3 years i.e. 2013, 2014 and 2015. Such unused ITINs will require renewal and will not be valid for filing tax returns in 2017.
  •  Taxpayers who were issued ITINs prior to 2013. Their ITINs will begin expiring this year and the taxpayer must renew them to prevent rejection of their tax returns.

IRS further states that Taxpayers will need to renew their ITINs on a rolling basis which means that the first ITINs that will expire are the ones with middle digits of 78 or 79 and the ones that are not used for one of the 3 prior years. These ITINs will need to be renewed with the period beginning October 1, 2016.

The taxpayer who has an expired ITIN and who does not renew it before filing the tax returns in 2017, may have a delay in refund and may be ineligible for certain tax credit like American Opportunity tax credit and child tax credit till the time new ITIN is not received.

Taxpayers should check their ITINs as soon as possible. Taxpayers with an ITIN with middle digits of 78 or 79 can apply for ITINs for the entire family at the same time. Family members include taxpayer, spouse and dependents claimed on their tax returns.

Other important changes for dependents of taxpayers:

Following are the new requirements for dependents whose passport do not have the date of entry in the U.S.:

  1. The IRS will not accept passport as stand-alone identity document if the passport does not have the date of entry in the US for dependents from countries other than Canada and Mexico or dependents of military members overseas.
  2. All such applicants who do not have a date of entry in the US on their passports will now be required to submit medical records for dependents under the age of 6 or U.S. school records for dependent under the age of 18 along with the passport.

All dependents aged 18 years or above can submit the rental or bank statement or utility bill having full name of the applicant and US address along with the passport.

CPA Global Tax & Accounting is an IRS approved Certifying Acceptance Agent. Generally, taxpayers are required to send their original passports and/ or other original documents, however, we can certify these documents, ensure that the Form W-7 is correctly prepared and submit them to IRS.

Fact check for NRAs – is your US source capital gain exempt?

This article should serve as a reminder to foreign students, scholars and other foreign government employees in the USA.

Based on the F, J, Q or M visa categories, the above taxpayers are considered non- resident aliens even if they meet substantial presence test and would otherwise be considered US tax residents.

Internal Revenue Code specifically exempts US source capital gain income generated by the non-resident aliens. I am being often asked a question whether the capital gains are taxable for foreign students, scholars and other NRAs who are in “exempt” categories for the US residency purposes. 

The tax law is very clear on this. A flat 30% tax applies on US source capital gain for the NRAs who are substantially present in US for more than 183 days. This 183-day rule bears no relation to the 183-day rule under the substantial presence test of IRC section 7701(b)(3). 

For example, a foreign diplomat, consular officer, or other nonresident alien employee of a foreign government, or nonresident alien employee of an international organization, who is visiting the United States in A or G nonimmigrant status for a period longer than 183 days in a calendar year would be subject to the 30 percent tax on his/her U.S. source capital gains – even if he/she continues to be a nonresident alien per the “exempt individual” rules under the substantial presence test. The same rule applies to a foreign student or scholar visiting the United States in F, J, M, or Q nonimmigrant status whose presence in the United States equals or exceeds 183 days in any calendar year.