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William Byrnes (Texas A&M) tax & compliance articles

Archive for August, 2015

Meet us at IFA in Basel next week?

Posted by William Byrnes on August 26, 2015


Dr. Andrew Morriss (Dean, Texas A&M & international tax economist) and I look forward toLogo_IFA_Basel_2015meeting other academics and professionals at international tax 69th IFA Congress held in the city of Basel  from Sunday, August 30 to Thursday, September 3.

Email me so that we can link up at the Congress.

The International Fiscal Association (IFA) was established in 1938 with its headquarters in the Netherlands. It is the only non-governmental and non-sectoral international organisation dealing with fiscal matters.   12,000+ government officials, MNE counsel, senior partners, and academics from 111 countries.

Its objects are the study and advancement of international and comparative law in regard to public finance, specifically international and comparative fiscal law and the financial and economic aspects of taxation.

STUDY 1:  TAX INCENTIVES ON RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT (R&D)

STUDY 2: PRACTICAL PROTECTION OF TAXPAYERS’ FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS

SEMINAR A: “PATENT BOXES”

SEMINAR B: THE TAXATION OF EXPATRIATES

SEMINAR C: CROSS-BORDER SUPPLY OF SERVICES AND VAT/GST: DEVELOPMENT OF IFA PROPOSALS

SEMINAR D: PRACTICAL PROTECTION OF TAXPAYERS IN THE EXCHANGE OF INFORMATION PROCESS

SEMINAR E: CROSS-BORDER MERGERS OF COMPANIES

SEMINAR F: IFA/EU: “STATE AID REVIEW AS A MEANS TO COMBAT AGGRESSIVE TAX PLANNING”

SEMINAR G: IFA/OECD

SEMINAR H: THE TAXATION OF GLOBAL FAMILIES

SEMINAR I: EFFECTIVENESS OF PARTICIPATION EXEMPTION

SEMINAR J: RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN INTERNATIONAL TAXATION

SEMINAR K: PRACTICAL PROTECTION OF TAXPAYERS IN THE TAX LITIGATION PROCESS

SEMINAR L: TIMING ISSUES IN THE APPLICATION OF TAX TREATIES

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Aggie Law’s orientation week wraps up

Posted by William Byrnes on August 25, 2015


12th Man SIgned Tshirt

Aggie Law’s orientation week just wrapped up – and mine as well as one of the 11 new Texas A&M law faculty.  The Dean, Andy Morriss, hosted an incoming Aggie BBQ – and Texas BBQ is good BBQ.

139 new Texas Aggies hailing from more than 60 universities, already greeting me in the ‘Howdy’ tradition at every turn.  Friendliest folk – not a whippersnapper among them.

I’m looking forward to engaging with Aggie diversity – one-fifth the first member of the family to graduate from college, quarter ethnically diverse, and majority female.

Just watched the Aggie incoming student interviews.  Quotes like “Aggie land is home”, “I feel like I could walk up to anyone and start a conversation with them” and “It’s like a big family here” – think I am going to fit in.

Especially after my first Aggie football game – against the Arkansas Razorbacks – Sept 26th.

Howdy Aggie 1Ls and GigEm!

Posted in Courses | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

IRS Isn’t Confident FATCA Will Work?

Posted by William Byrnes on August 24, 2015


Dr. Jack Manhire gets a tip of the hat for pointing out the following blog post on Federal Tax Crimes

  • The IRS might use a summons (presumably John Doe Summons) to obtain offshore creditIrs_logocard information to track and identify U.S. offshore account depositors through correspondent banks.
  • The IRS may reinstitute a broker initiative to issues summons to brokers to identify U.S. beneficial owners of foreign corporations with U.S. brokerage accounts.

What this information indicates to  me?

(1) The IRS is not so certain that FATCA reporting will be effective to catch the non-compliant taxpayers.

(2) The IRS estimates that many Americans with foreign accounts are noncompliant.

Given that the IRS has forced billions in spending in four years to bring about FATCA compliance, I find it disturbing that it may not think it is working.  Worse is that this tool was always at the IRS disposal, just like the credit card John Doe Summons, and it is a good tool.  So why not ask for funding to use it back in 2009 instead of FATCA?

It appears that the strategy for bringing non-compliant taxpayers into compliance is hodge podge, without thought to the ramifications of each, as a whole, and without addressing underlying problems, like taxpayer education and easy to file FBAR.  At least Treasury modified the FBAR date to coincide with the 1040 filing date.  But the forms are still uncoordinated with different questions, different filing procedures, different penalties.  Just not good administration techniques.

See Treasury’s Taxpayer Advocate discloses FATCA Imposes Unnecessary Burdens, Will Not Improve Compliance

Posted in FATCA | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

Update on Voluntary Disclosure Programmes: A Pathway to Tax Compliance

Posted by William Byrnes on August 18, 2015


OECDThis second edition reflects the wealth of practical experience gained by 47 countries gained in relation to voluntary disclosure programmes. In addition, the guidance on the design and implementation of the programmes has been updated, particularly taking into account the views of private client advisers.

 When the OECD published the first edition its report on Voluntary Disclosure Programmes in 2010, it was just 18 months after the G20 Leaders had declared the end of the era of banking secrecy and called upon countries to implement the standard on exchange of information on request. In that very short time, considerable progress in the global fight against offshore evasion had been made, with more than 500 tax information exchange agreements having been put in place that comply with the standard.

 The work of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of information for Tax Purposes was reorganised to deliver a robust programme of peer reviews to ensure that agreed standards were being effectively implemented. At the same time, the OECD has always recognised the importance of offering taxpayers the opportunity to become compliant and has encouraged governments to enable people who want to regularise their tax affairs to declare the income and wealth they have concealed in the past. Voluntary disclosure programmes offer such taxpayers a way to do this and for governments a way to secure payment of missing revenue, using relatively limited administrative resources.

 Since 2010, a very substantial amount of further progress has been made in the area of international exchange of information and transparency in tax matters. The Global Forum now has more than 125 members and an impressive body of results from the ongoing programme of peer reviews.

Another major milestone in tax transparency was reached in 2014 with the adoption of the OECD Standard for Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information in Tax Matters. Most financial centres have publicly committed to implementation and are working on a specific and ambitious timetable leading to the first automatic information exchanges in 2017 or 2018.

 With the implementation of the Standard being underway and providing the basis for a new level of transparency in tax matters, the time is right to update the guidance on voluntary disclosure programmes published in 2010.

 This updated report reflects the wealth of practical experience gained by 47 countries gained in relation to voluntary disclosure programmes. In addition, the guidance on the design and implementation of the programmes has been updated, particularly taking into account the views of private client advisers.

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Retirement: Pros, cons, commissions and costs of fixed-index annuities

Posted by William Byrnes on August 17, 2015


Fixed index annuities are the current flavor and will remain so while consumers perceive the market indexes potentially rising,” says William Byrnes, an associate dean at Texas A&M University School of Law in Fort Worth.

Sales of FIAs rose 14% to $38.7 billion in 2013 and another 24% to $48 billion in 2014, or about 21% of all annuity sales …

read the USA Today analysis of Fixed Index Annuities at USA Today and whether these are a good fit for a retirement plan.

Posted in Retirement Planning | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

IRS 2015 APA for Transfer Pricing Final Rev Proc 13 Key Differences from 2013 Version

Posted by William Byrnes on August 13, 2015


This morning the US Treasury released the long awaited Advanced Pricing Agreement Procedures.IRS_logo

The 13 principal differences between these final revenue procedures and the proposed version of Notice 2013-79 are:

1. The final revenue procedure clarifies that if APMA requires, as a condition of continuing with the APA process, that the taxpayer expand the proposed scope of its APA request to cover interrelated matters (interrelated issues in the same years, covered issues or interrelated issues in other years, and covered issues or interrelated issues in the same or other years as applied to other countries), APMA will do so with due regard to considerations of principled, effective, and efficient tax administration and only after considering the views of the taxpayer and the applicable foreign competent authority. Further, APMA will communicate to the taxpayer any concerns about interrelated matters and possible scope expansion as early as possible.

2. In the interest of efficient tax administration, rollback years may be formally covered within an APA. A rollback will be included in an APA when a rollback is either requested by the taxpayer and approved after coordination and collaboration between APMA and other offices within the IRS or, in some cases, is required by APMA, after coordination and collaboration with other offices within the IRS, as a condition of beginning or continuing the APA process.

3 The final revenue procedure provides expanded guidance as to when an APA request will be considered complete.

4. The required contents of APA requests that were specified in the Appendix of the proposed revenue procedure have generally been retained.

5. Taxpayers are required to execute consent agreements to extend the period of limitations for assessment of tax for each year of the proposed APA term, and the required consent could be either general or restricted.

6. User fees are increased for APA requests but provides that total user fees may be reduced for multiple APA requests filed by the same controlled group within a sixty-day period. Also, user fee for requests for discretionary LOB relief are increased.

7. The final revenue procedure limits the scope of requests to which mandatory -pre-filing procedures apply to requests involving taxpayer-initiated positions.

8. To ensure that taxpayers have broad access to the U.S. competent authority to resolve disputes under U.S. tax treaties, taxpayers will not be required under the final revenue procedure to expand the scope of a competent authority request to include interrelated issues as a condition of receiving competent authority assistance. Taxpayers may still be required to provide information that will allow the U.S. competent authority to evaluate the appropriateness of the relief sought under the applicable U.S. tax treaty in light of the taxpayer’s positions on interrelated issues.

9. The final revenue procedure clarifies that the U.S. competent authority may consult with taxpayers with respect to certain additional issues that may arise in connection with competent authority requests, such as issues relevant to the determination of foreign tax credits and repatriation payments.

10. The final revenue procedure provides additional guidance on requesting discretionary determinations under the limitation on benefits articles of U.S. tax treaties, including time frames for taxpayers to provide notification of material changes in fact or law and the introduction of a triennial statement procedure to maintain a favorable grant of discretionary benefits.

11. Consistent with the objective of providing taxpayers with broad access to the U.S. competent authority to resolve disputes under U.S. tax treaties, the U.S. competent authority will not condition assistance on the taxpayer’s notification of the U.S. competent authority, or on obtaining its concurrence, with respect to signing a standard Form 870 with IRS Examination.

Similarly, a taxpayer will not be required to obtain the U.S. competent authority’s agreement prior to entering into a closing agreement or similar agreement with IRS Examination, but in these cases the assistance provided by the U.S. competent authority will be limited to seeking correlative relief from the foreign competent authority, thus potentially not eliminating double taxation.

12. The final revenue procedure provides additional information about the process followed by the U.S. competent authority in conducting its review under the simultaneous appeals procedure.

13. The final revenue procedure clarifies and refines the bases on which the U.S. competent authority may decline to accept a competent authority request or may cease providing assistance, consistent with U.S. tax treaty policy that taxpayers should have broad access to the U.S. competent authority to resolve instances of taxation not in accordance with the applicable U.S. tax treaty.

Procedures for Advance Pricing Agreements  Download APA New Procedures Rev Proc 15-40

Procedures for Requesting Competent Authority Assistance under Tax Treaties  Download APA New MAP Procedures Rev Proc 15-41

William Byrnes is the primary author of Lexis’ Practical Guide to US Transfer Pricing which provides 3,000 pages of in-depth analysis and practical examples for the corporate transfer pricing counsel and risk manager.

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New IRS Procedures to Ensure Effectiveness of Civil FBAR Penalties

Posted by William Byrnes on August 12, 2015


The purpose of the IRS interim guidance is to implement procedures to improve the administration of the Service’s FBAR compliance program.

When asserting an FBAR penalty, the burden is on the IRS to show that an FBAR violation occurred Irs_logoand, for willful violations, that the violation was in fact willful. The FBAR penalty provision of Title 31 establishes only maximum penalty amounts, leaving the IRS to determine the appropriate FBAR penalty amount based on the facts and circumstances of each case.

Read the May 13, 2015 IRS FBAR Guidance

Prof Jack Townsend, on his federal tax crimes blog, discusses the recent Moore v United States (W.D. WA 2015) in which the Court “admonishes the IRS and imposes a cost for misleading the taxpayer” about a FBAR assessment.

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OECD Releases 3 New Reports to Combat Offshore Tax Evasion

Posted by William Byrnes on August 8, 2015


The OECD today releases three new reports to help jurisdictions and financial institutionsOECDimplement the global Standard for automatic exchange of financial account information.

  • Common Reporting Standard Implementation Handbook (the CRS Handbook): this first edition provides practical guidance to assist government officials and financial institutions in the implementation of the Standard. It sets out the necessary steps for implementation and will help financial institutions and governments implement the Standard more efficiently by promoting the consistent use of optional provisions, identifying areas for alignment with FATCA and addressing the operational and transitional challenges resulting from the staggered implementation of the Standard. It also contains answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) received from business and governments, with a view to furthering the effective implementation of the Standard. The Handbook is intended to be a “living” document and will be updated on a regular basis.

  • Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Programmes: this second edition contains a wealth of practical experience from 47 countries in relation to their voluntary disclosure programmes. The guidance on the design and implementation of such programmes has been updated, particularly taking into account the views of private client advisers. The limited time left until the automatic exchange of information under the Standard becomes a reality will in many instances be the last window of opportunity for non-compliant taxpayers to voluntarily disclose. This is therefore a crucial moment to update the publication and reflects OECD policy of encouraging countries to examine voluntary compliance strategies that enable non-compliant taxpayers to come forward.

The Standard calls on jurisdictions to obtain information from their financial institutions and automatically exchange that information with other jurisdictions on an annual basis. Over 90 jurisdictions have committed to implement the Standard, with the first exchanges starting in 2017/2018, subject to the completion of necessary legislative procedures.

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Four More Go Down But One Receives Get Out Of Jail for Free Card

Posted by William Byrnes on August 6, 2015


A couple days ago Bank EKI Genossenschaft (Bank EKI) entered into a non prosecution agreement Justice logowith the US Department of Justice, admitting it assisted US taxpayer with tax evasion.  Privatbank Reichmuth & Co., Banque Cantonale du Jura SA and Banca Intermobiliare di Investimenti e Gestioni (Suisse) SA then today announced their non-prosecution agreements. One bank will pay no penalty, while the other three will pay penalties $400,000, $2.6 million, and $970,000 respectively, and turn over client records.

The banks started with 201 clients among them in 2008, but one bank closed its non-compliant accounts and thus has been received a “get out of jail” free.

read about each bank’s nefarious activities and resolution thereof on International Financial Law Prof Blog

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Global Forum releases new compliance ratings on tax transparency

Posted by William Byrnes on August 6, 2015


The Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes published new peer review reports today for 12 countries or jurisdictions, moving further OECDahead with its goal to implement global standards on transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes.

Phase 1 reports on AlbaniaBurkina FasoCameroonDominican Republic,LesothoPakistan and Uganda assessed their legal and regulatory frameworks for transparency and exchange of information on request. These countries were assessed to have legal frameworks in place to enable them to move to the next stage of the review process, which will assess exchange of information practices.

The Global Forum also reviewed exchange of information practices through Phase 2 peer review reports in Lithuania and Sint Maarten. Both were given a rating for compliance with the individual elements of the international standard and an overall rating with Lithuania receiving an overall rating of “Compliant” and Sint Maarten an overall rating of “Partially Compliant.”

Jurisdictions continue to request supplementary reviews that assess steps taken to address recommendations of the Global Forum to address gaps in their legal frameworks and exchange of information practices identified in previous reviews. This included the Marshall Islands, which had been blocked from moving to Phase 2 of its review process due to significant gaps in its legal framework. A supplementary review concluded that key changes to its legislation now enable the Marshall Islands to move to Phase 2.

Austria, which was rated “Partially Compliant” in July 2013, has since implemented a number of recommendations by the Global Forum, leading to an upgrade of its overall rating to “Largely Compliant” in its supplementary report. The supplementary report of the British Virgin Islands, which assesses progress made since its Phase 2 report in July 2013 also concluded that based on significant improvements having been made, its overall rating be upgraded from “Non-Compliant” to “Largely Compliant.”

The Global Forum is the world’s largest international tax group, with 127 members on an equal footing. The Forum has now completed 198 peer reviews and assignedcompliance ratings to 80 jurisdictions that have undergone Phase 2 reviews. Of these, 21 jurisdictions are rated “Compliant”, 46 are rated “Largely Compliant”, 10 are rated “Partially Compliant” and 3 jurisdictions are “Non-Compliant.” A further 11 jurisdictions are blocked from moving to a Phase 2 review due to insufficiencies in their legal and regulatory framework.

The Global Forum continues to ensure that the benefits of participation in the new tax transparent and cooperative environment are available to all. It has conducted a number of training seminars to help jurisdictions prepare for peer reviews, sensitize tax auditors in the use of the exchange of information infrastructure and equip governments to implement automatic exchange of information. Around 200 tax experts participated in seminars in Colombia, Cameroon, Ghana and Kenya. The Global Forum will also support a new pilot project on Automatic Exchange of Information announced jointly by Ghana and the UK on the sidelines of the 3rd Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa.

Global Forum members will meet at their annual plenary meeting on 29-30 October 2015 in Bridgetown, Barbados.

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Treasury Acknowledges More Favorable FATCA IGA Terms for BVI

Posted by William Byrnes on August 5, 2015


Based on the BVI IGA for FATCA, the United States considers the language in italics to be “more favorable Treasury-Dept.-Seal-of-the-IRSterms” in Annex I, except in those cases where the Agreement already includes such language: (excerpted below in relevant part) –

Annex I: G. Alternative Procedures for New Accounts Opened Prior to Entry Into Force of this Agreement. …

2. Alternative Procedures. 

a) Within one year after the date of entry into force of this Agreement, Reporting British Virgin Islands Financial Institutions must:

(i) with respect to a New Individual Account described in subparagraph G(1) of this section, request the self-certification specified in section III of this Annex I and confirm the reasonableness of such self-certification consistent with the procedures described in section III of this Annex I, and

(ii) with respect to a New Entity Account described in subparagraph G(1) of this section, perform the due diligence procedures specified in section V of this Annex I and request information as necessary to document the account, including any self-certification, required by section V of this Annex I. 

c) By the date that is one year after the date of entry into force of this Agreement, Reporting British Virgin Islands Financial Institutions must close any New Account described in subparagraph G(1) of this section for which it was unable to collect the required self-certification or other documentation pursuant to the procedures described in subparagraph G(2)(a) of this section.

In addition, by the date that is one year after the date of entry into force of this Agreement, Reporting British Virgin Islands Financial Institutions must: (i) with respect to such closed accounts that prior to such closure were New Individual Accounts (without regard to whether such accounts were High Value Accounts), perform the due diligence procedures specified in paragraph D of section II of this Annex I, or (ii) with respect to such closed accounts that prior to such closure were New Entity Accounts, perform the due diligence procedures specified in section IV of this Annex I. 

 Treasury’s Notices of More Favorable Terms:

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UAE Published Detailed FATCA Guidance

Posted by William Byrnes on August 5, 2015


The UAE published 173 pages of detailed FATCA guidance and implementation of the IGA with the
USA for its financial services industry.  Download FATCA UAE Guidance Notes

The FATCA Guidance initially provides a general introduction to the Foreign Account Tax Compliance UAE MOFAct and its application to entities regulated by the Central Bank, the Insurance Authority, the Securities and Commodities Authority, the Dubai International Financial Centre and Unregulated Entities.

 What is FATCA and how will it be applied in the United Arab Emirates?

 How will FATCA affect banking entities, insurance companies, financial services companies and asset managers?

 How will FATCA affect Unregulated Entities?

 What if an entity or account holder does not comply with the UAE IGA?

 Purpose and outline of these Guidance Notes.

CH 1 – General Introduction

CH 2 – Guidance Notes for Banking Sector 

CH 3 – Guidance Notes for Insurance Sector 

CH 4 – Guidance Notes for Financial Services Sector 

 

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Congress Matches FBAR Filing to Tax Return Dates, Allows Extension, Penalty Abatement

Posted by William Byrnes on August 5, 2015


BNA Reports – Practitioners are praising the new deadline for reporting foreign bank accounts tucked into newly signed legislation (Pub. L. No. 114-041) to extend the Highway Trust Fund.

The measure ensures that the due date for the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts Irs_logo(FBAR), formerly June 30, is now the same as the U.S. tax filing deadline of April 15—a change that practitioners said would help taxpayers who frequently didn’t know the deadlines were different.

Taxpayers can also now ask for the same six-month extension for FBARs that they can get for their tax returns—permitting them to file by Oct. 15. That option didn’t exist before.

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Attacking BEPS through the Profit Split Method

Posted by William Byrnes on August 5, 2015


Prof. Jeffery Kadet‘s explains – Why Expansion of the Profit Split Method is Required to Combat BEPS…

Recognizing the reality that multinational corporations are centrally managed and not groups ofJeffrey-M-Kadet-244x300entities that operate independently of one another, the OECD base erosion and profit-shifting project is considering expanded use of the profit-split method.

This article provides background on why expanded use of the profit-split method is sorely needed. In particular, resource-constrained tax authorities in many countries are unable to administer or intelligently analyze and contest transfer pricing results presented by multinational groups. Most importantly, this article suggests a simplified profit-split approach using set concrete and objective allocation keys for commonly used business models that should be welcomed by multinational groups and tax authorities alike.

Read Prof Jeffery Kadet’s full analysis on SSRN http://ssrn.com/abstract=2593548

Posted in BEPS, OECD, Transfer Pricing | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

OFAC compliance v. FATCA compliance?  Can a SDN FFI Obtain a GIIN?

Posted by William Byrnes on August 4, 2015


The entity I represent is on the Office of Foreign Asset Control’s Specially Designated Nationals list.  Is the entity eligible to register and receive a GIIN?

Answer to be found International Financial Law Prof Blog

 

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UK Income From Its Offshore Disclosure Facilities | Kluwer International Tax Blog

Posted by William Byrnes on August 3, 2015


UK Income From Its Offshore Disclosure Facilities | Kluwer International Tax Blog.

In 2011, HMRC forecast that it would receive “billions” from the Swiss Disclosure Facility.  In 2012, HMRC stated that this number would be five billion sterling, and another three billion sterling from the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility (LDF).  This implies that at least a couple hundred thousand United Kingdom tax residents are non tax compliant through not disclosing income and income-producing assets overseas, in offshore countries.  

So what have the results been?  What are the future results likely to be?  Read Byrnes and Perryman at UK Income From Its Offshore Disclosure Facilities | Kluwer International Tax Blog.

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EU Asset Management Careers and Compliance Expenditures Report   

Posted by William Byrnes on August 3, 2015


see it on International Financial Law Prof Blog.

 

 

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