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.

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.

 

No Form 1042 extensions, higher penalties and no refunds – IRS changes its ways!

As readers may recall, in 2013 IRS launched a new foreign payment practices (FPP) division under the LB&I to specifically oversee withholding agents’ compliance activities. The short article is intended to make the withholding agents and other affected taxpayers/ tax professionals aware that FPP has recently begun proposing significantly higher penalties for late filing of Form 1042-S and 1042 by the withholding agents.

Generally, Form 1042 and 1042-S are required to be filed by the withholding agent with regard to the U.S. source income paid to the non-U.S. persons. The forms must be prepared for the calendar year regardless of the withholding agent’s taxable year. These Forms are due on or before March 15th of the following calendar year. They must also be furnished to the payees by the same date. 

Until recently IRS was granting a 30-day extension for filing Form 1042-S when they filed application for extension of time to file on Form 8809 on or before March 15th. Form 1042 can be extended for 6 months by filing Form 7004. IRS has recently proposed regulations that will limit granting the automatic extension with regard to Form 1042-S. IRS proposed regulations state that the extension will be allowed only under extreme circumstances and may be denied if no such circumstances exist. Withholding agents must be bear in mind that IRS may not grant extensions in future and it may be considered not only late but late with intentional disregard. 

In case of intentional disregard of filing Form 1042-S, the penalty is greater of $250 per form or 10% of the amount required to be reported. Based on the facts and circumstances, in order to prove intentional disregard, IRS must show that 1) The filer was required to file an information return, 2) filer knew or should have known about the requirement to file, and 3) deliberately chose not to file or ignored the requirement to file (this occurs in case of repeated failures or delays in filings). 

Now think about this in another perspective. In Notice 2015-10, IRS stated that it will consider the refund claim only if it can trace the withholding payment as actually paid. In case the IRS cannot trace that, no refund will be issued. This along with the difficulties in applying for 1042-S extensions and increased penalties, withholding agents are well advised going forward to implement a serious process to file the forms in a timely manner.

 

Important News from IRS

American Opportunity Tax Credit not available to students on F1 visas

The American Opportunity Tax Credit is available to help eligible students and their parents offset the cost of higher education by reducing the amount of the federal income tax they owe. If they don’t owe tax, the AOTC could result in a refund.

If a student is in the United States on an F1 Student Visa, the student would generally be considered a nonresident alien for federal tax purposes. A student who is a nonresident alien for any part of the tax year is not eligible and cannot claim the AOTC unless the student elects to be treated as a resident alien for federal tax purposes.

To learn more about resident and nonresident alien status and restrictions on claiming the education credits, read American Opportunity Tax Credit – Information for Foreign Students.

Now you can find your Social Security 1099 or 1042S online

If you receive Social Security benefits but did not receive or misplaced either form SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S, you may now view, print or replace the form online by creating a Social Security account.

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Form 3115 not mandatory for small taxpayers IRS says in IR-2015-29

The Internal Revenue Service today made it easier for small business owners to comply with the final tangible property regulations.

Requested by many small businesses and tax professionals, the simplified procedure is available beginning with the 2014 return taxpayers are filling out this tax season. The new procedure allows small businesses to change a method of accounting under the final tangible property regulations on a prospective basis for the first taxable year beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2014.

Also, the IRS is waiving the requirement to complete and file a Form 3115 for small business taxpayers that choose to use this simplified procedure for 2014.

“We are pleased to be able to offer this relief to small business owners and their tax preparers in time for them to take advantage of it on their 2014 return,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “We carefully reviewed the comments we received and especially appreciate the valuable feedback provided by the professional tax community on this issue.”

IRS says inverted companies won’t be allowed to access foreign earnings without paying US tax

IRS announced that it intends to issue regulations under Code Sec. 304(b)(5)(B), Code Sec. 367 , Code Sec. 7701(l), and Code Sec. 7874 with respect to corporate inversion transactions.

Among others, the regulations will prevent inverted companies from accessing a foreign subsidiary’s earnings while deferring U.S. tax through the use of creative loans, which are known as “hopscotch” loans (under section 956(e) of the code).

In general, the forthcoming regulations will prevent inverted companies from using certain techniques to access the overseas earnings of the U.S. company’s foreign subsidiaries without being subject to US tax. This would close a loophole to prevent inverted companies from transferring cash or property from a controlled foreign corporation to a new parent to completely avoid U.S. tax, and make it more difficult for U.S. entities to invert.

Notice 2014-52 further added that regulations will generally apply to transactions completed on or after Sept. 22, 2014.