Lawful Permanent Residents

Part II: Who is a “long-term” lawful permanent resident (“LPR”) and why does it matter?

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A post in August 2014 explained the basic rule of who is a  “long-term resident” as that technical term is defined for tax purposes in IRC Section 877 (e)(2).  There is much confusion about how the tax law defines a “lawful permanent resident” (“LPR”) versus Chart - USCs Who Renounce Compared to LPRs who Abandonhow immigration law defines what is almost the same concept.  The statutes are different and have definitions in two separate federal codes (Title 26, the federal tax provisions and Title 8, the immigration law provisions).

See   –

Who is a “long-term” lawful permanent resident (“LPR”) and why does it matter?

Posted on August 19, 2014

This follow-up comment is to highlight some key concepts about why it matters if you become a “long-term” resident as that term is defined in the tax law.

  • A LPR can reside for substantially shorter periods in the U.S. (shorter than the apparent 7 or 8 years identified in the statute), and still be a “long-term resident” per IRC Section 877 (e)(2) depending upon the facts of any particicular case.Table 4  Country of Brith of LPRs 2012

 

  • There are far more LPRs who abandon their status (formally) than U.S.  citizens who formally take the oath of renunciation.  See the table above reflecting those who have formally renounced U.S. citizenship versus those who have formally abandoned their LPR status.

 

  • Plenty of LPRs informally abandon their LPR status for immigration purposes by moving and living permanently outside the U.S.

 

 

  • There are plenty of timing issues for LPRs surrounding how and when they have “abandoned” their LPR status for purposes of IRC Section 877 (e)(2).  See –

Timing Issues for Lawful Permanent Residents (“LPR”) Who Never “Formally Abandoned” Their Green Card, Posted on August 15, 2015

 

 

 

Lawful Permanent Residents – Tax Law vs. Immigration Law – University of San Diego School of Law – Procopio International Tax Institute

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The 12th annual international tax conference was held on campus on October 20 & 21st, 2016:  The University of San Diego School of Law – Procopio International Tax Institute.

This specific course was addressed by tax and immigration law experts and views from a federal immigration court judge, as follows:

Course 3B: U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents – Tax Law vs. Immigration Law
Residentes legales permanentes de los Estados UnidosLey fiscal vs. Ley de inmigración

Speakers:  irs-form-8833

The Honorable Rico J. Bartolomei assistant chief immigration judge of the federal immigration courts

Patrick W. Martin, Esq., Partner – Procopio
Jan Joseph Bejar, Esq., Founder – Immigration Law Clinic

 

The speakers addressed numerous issues, including the immigration consequences of filing IRS Form 8833, Treaty-Based Return Position Disclosure Under Section 6114 or 7701(b),  and the specific impact of IRC Section 7701(b)(6) that provides in relevant part as follows:irs-form-1040nr-p1

  • An individual shall cease to be treated as a lawful permanent resident of the United States if such individual commences to be treated as a resident of a foreign country under the provisions of a tax treaty between the United States and the foreign country, does not waive the benefits of such treaty applicable to residents of the foreign country, and notifies the Secretary of the commencement of such treatment. [emphasis added]

 

Act of Abandonment for Immigration Law Purposes?

Some of the key points made by the immigration law experts, including the immigration judge were:

  • Permanent resident card is not a tourist visa.
  • DHS will make a finding of abandonment following a single trip outside the U.S. of more than one year.

irs-form-1040nr-p5

  • Rebuttable presumption of abandonment following a single trip outside the U.S. of six months to one year.

 

  • Residency may be deemed abandoned following multiple trips abroad, even if no single trip exceeds six months.

–Factors include the noncitizen’s family ties, employment, property holdings, and business affiliations in the U.S. and in the foreign country

–Filing a U.S. income tax return as a tax nonresident alien raises a rebuttable presumption of abandonment.I-407 New LPR Abandonment Form P1 Complete

 

See prior posts regarding how and when lawful permanent residents can be deemed to have expatriated:

IT AIN’T FAIR: First (1) taxing me as a U.S. citizen and then (2) taxing me on my relinquishment or renunciation of U.S. citizenship or LPR abandoment and further (3) taxing my children on their inheritance from me!@!@!, Oct. 25, 2015

Unplanned Expatriation: Lawful Permanent Residents’ Deportation Risks for Filing U.S. Federal False Tax Returns, Sept. 28, 2015

Timing Issues for Lawful Permanent Residents (“LPR”) Who Never “Formally Abandoned” Their Green Card, August 15, 2015

Will U.S. Tax Law Regarding “Covered Expatriates” get Modified with Recent Government Push in International?

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It is rare to have the President of the United States hold press conferences specifically dealing with international tax policy and tax enforcement.  Nevertheless, this is what happened last week when President Obama announced his administration’s recent efforts in the field of international tax, anti-corruption and financial transparency.

His remarks can be watched here:  President Obama’s Efforts on Financial Transparency and Anti-Corruption: What You Need to Know

Also, the White House is putting forward a series of initiatives in this area:

Fact Sheet: Obama Administration Announces Steps to Strengthen Financial Transparency, and Combat Money Laundering, Corruption, and Tax Evasion

To date, none of the specific initiatives address current “tax expatriation law” under IRC Sections 877, 877A, et. seq.

IRS Creates “International Practice Units” for their IRS Revenue Agents in International Tax Matters

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The U.S. international tax law has become increasingly complex.  I am confident when I say that very few individuals in the world (including IRS revenue agents) understand the complexities of Title 26 and Title 31 as they apply to IRS Form 1040 p1international matters such as gifts of foreign property, gifts involving U.S. intangible property, gifts to or inheritances from foreign estates with U.S citizens (USCs) or Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) beneficiaries, foreign partnerships with USCs, transfers of property to foreign trusts by USCs or LPRs residing outside the U.S., transfers of property to foreign corporations, etc.

Most USCs and LPRs who live in the U.S. certainly know and understand the basics of IRS Form 1040.

However, the type and scope of international transactions contemplated by the law can be significant and are rarely understood in any depth, even by many tax professionals.  I have seen cases during my career of sophisticated individuals ranging from Nobel prize winners to U.S. Ambassadors, who had not a clue about the application of U.S. federal tax law to their lives.   See, the Nov. 2, 2015 post, Why Most U.S. Citizens Residing Overseas Haven’t a Clue about the Labyrinth of U.S. Taxation and Bank and Financial Reporting of Worldwide Income and Assets

The lack of knowledge of these complex laws within the IRS, and the LB&I (Large Business and International group) which specializes in international matters has led to IRS “International Practice Units”.  These are designed to allow IRS revenue agents who are not necessarily specialists in the international tax area to review transactions and be prepared to assess taxes and penalties against USCs and LPRs in the international context.  The preamble says in part ” . . . Practice Units provide IRS staff with explanations of general international tax concepts as well as information about a specific type of transaction.  . . ”

There are currently 63 different IRS “International Practice Units” all with dates from the last 12 months.  Several of them focus heavily on information return filings which carry stiff penalties, even if no U.S. income taxes are owing.  For  instance see, Monetary Penalties for Failure to Timely File a Substantially Complete Form 5471 –Category 4 & 5 IRS Form 5471 - page 1Filers.

Another interesting IRS International Practice Unit is titled – Basic Offshore Structures Used to Conceal U.S. Person’s Beneficial Ownership of Foreign Financial Accounts and Other Assets.

These IRS materials give a good perspective from where the IRS views the world; including the introduction to this particular IRS International Practice Unit where it states: “This Practice Unit focuses on a U.S. Person’s proactive steps to “conceal” their ownership of foreign financial    accounts, entities and other assets for the purposes of tax avoidance or evasion, even though, there may be some situations where there are legitimate personal or business purposes for establishing such arrangements. This unit falls under the outbound face of the matrix and thus, will focus on U.S Persons living in the United States . . . Most U.S. taxpayers using an offshore entity or structure of entities to hold foreign accounts are simply hiding the accounts from the Internal Revenue Service and other creditors . . .”   [emphasis added]

This is a breathtaking statement from the IRS internal training manuals that “Most U.S. taxpayers using an offshore entity or structure of entities to hold foreign accounts are simply hiding the accounts from the Internal Revenue Service and IRS Form 3520-A p 1other creditors . . .”?

The vast majority of the USCs or LPRs who I see who renounce or abandon their citizenship or LPR status, are living outside the United States and in most cases have spent almost all (if not all) of their lives outside the U.S.

Does the IRS mean that a family living in Switzerland that have dual national family members are “. . . .simply hiding the accounts from the Internal Revenue Service . . . ” if they are using, for instance, a Liechtenstein Stiftung to hold their family assets as part of an estate plan recommended to them by their Swiss legal and tax advisers?

Does the statement that this IRS International Practice Unit focuses on ” . . . U.S Persons living in the United States . . . ” give USCs and LPRs residing outside the U.S. relief from the IRS perspective of USCs simply hiding assets from the Internal Revenue Service?  Will IRS revenue agents be sophisticated enough to distinguish between these two different groups; U.S. resident versus non-resident USCs and LPRs?  Will the law be applied differently with respect to these resident versus non-resident U.S. taxpayers?

What role will these IRS “International Practice Units”  play in forming perceptions and molding ideas of IRS revenue agents who have had little to no life experience in international affairs, multi-national families, global finance and international business operations?

More observations to come from specific IRS “International Practice Units.

U.S citizens (USCs) and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs): Caution When Making Gifts. US Tax Court Recently Ruled a 1972 Gift by Sumner Redstone Still Open to IRS Challenge

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The statute of limitations is one of the most important considerations for any individual when considering what tax consequences the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) might argue they have for years past.  This can occur many years into the future as explained further below.  Statute of Limitations General Rules

Former USCs and LPRs can be in a particularly precarious position, as was recently demonstrated by a U.S. Tax Court case for a gift that was made decades ago in 1972.  See, Redstone vs. Commissioner (TCM 2015-237).  Although this U.S. Tax Court case involving Sumner Redstone had nothing to do with renunciation of citizenship, it shows how the IRS can reach back many years and even decades in assessing taxes it claims are owing.  The newly (in year 2010) added IRC Section 6501(c)(8) makes this highly likely under current revised law.

Former USCs and any U.S. beneficiaries of theirs (e.g., U.S. resident children or grandchildren who might receive gifts or bequests from the former USCs) should be cognizant of the statute of limitations.  See a prior post from 2014, When the U.S. Tax Law has no Statute of Limitations against the IRS; i.e., for the U.S. citizen and LPR residing outside the U.S.

As this prior post noted, there are at least three basic scenarios when there is no statute of limitations for federal tax matters are as follows:

1.  The former USC or LPR does not file a U.S. income tax return, when they had a requirement to so file.  IRC Section 6501(c)(3).  See a post from 2014, When do I meet the gross income thresholds that require me to file a U.S. income tax return?Europe Map

2.  There is fraud on the part of the taxpayer (e.g., the taxpayer intentionally does not report income).  IRC Sections 6501(c)(1), (c)(2).

3.  The USC or LPR fails to report certain foreign transactions, including inadvertently neglecting to report.   IRC Section 6501(c)(8).  This rule was only recently adopted as part of the “HIRE Act” which also created FATCA.  The types of transactions set above in the table provides a brief summary of when transactions can give rise to an “open” statute of limitations period.   In other words, as many years and decades can pass (see Redstone 1972 gift transaction) before the IRS ever has to make a proposed assessment of taxes and penalties.   These include numerous ownership or economic interests in foreign (non-U.S.) companies, partnerships, foreign trusts, foreign investment accounts, among others.

This is indeed one of those areas where the IRS can argue a “gotcha moment”; simply because the former USC or LPR was not aware of the extremely complex rules of reporting assets (normally in their own country of residence outside the U.S.).   The consequences to these families can go on indefinitely, per  post from September 2015, Finally – Proposed Regulations for “Covered Gifts” and “Covered Bequests” Issued by Treasury Last Week (Be Careful What You Ask For!)

For a more in depth review of the international (non-U.S.) transactions that give rise to this reporting, see IRS Forms 3520, 3520-A, 5471, 8865, 5472, 8938, 8858, 926 among others.

Foreign Government Receives a “FATCA Christmas Gift” from IRS: 1 Gigabyte of U.S. Financial Information

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The last post discussed how the director of the Mexican tax administration was critical of the U.S. federal government for not providing FATCA information on U.S. financial accounts.  See, Foreign Government Criticizes U.S. Government for SAT aristotilesNOT Providing FATCA IGA Information on Their Taxpayers with U.S. Accounts, dated December 14, 2015.

The automatic exchange of bank and financial information is driven by the U.S. Treasury driven Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA).

As a follow-up, the Mexican newspaper Reforma reported on the 17th of December that the U.S. just provided Mexico’s treasury with a gigabyte of Mexican taxpayer information regarding U.S. financial and bank accounts.  See, Entrega EU un gigabyte a Hacienda, dated Dec 17, 2015.

This news comes on the heals of the earlier criticism by the Commissioner of the Mexican IRS (SAT – Servicio de Chart of Trends - US Citizenship Renunications Qtr 3 - 2015Administración Tributaria (SAT)), Mr. Aristóteles Núñez Sánchez.  The Reforma article quotes Óscar Molina Chié (who is in charge of the large taxpayers division at SAT) generously regarding how and what information was provided by the U.S. federal government.

Finally, the article emphasized that Mexico has sent the IRS information regarding Mexican bank accounts of U.S. citizens.

The question is how much Mexican bank and financial information has actually been provided by SAT of the hundreds of thousands (if not more than 1 million) dual national taxpayers, who are citizens of both Mexico and the U.S.?   See, Where the IRS will likely look overseas: USCs are Millions Yet U.S. Tax Returns are Just a Few Hundred Thousand, dated January 28, 2015.

Revocation or Denial of U.S. Passport: More on new section 7345 (Title 26/IRC) and USCs with “Seriously Delinquent Tax Debt”

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New Section 7345 completely modifies how U.S. citizens (“USCs”) living and traveling around the world have to now consider very seriously actions taken by the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”).  It is the IRS which now holds the power under this new law that requires the U.S. Department of State (“DOS”) to revoke or deny to issue a U.S. passport in the first place.

US Citizens Who Renounced - Chart Qtr 3 - 2015

New Section 7345(e) provides in relevant part as follows:  “upon receiving a certification described in section 7345 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 from the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of State shall not issue a passport to any individual who has a seriously delinquent tax debt described in such section. . . ” [emphasis added].

This new law mandates (not at the discretion of the DOS) that various U.S. passports be denied at the direction of the IRS.  Once the IRS issues the certification of “seriously delinquent tax debt.”

All it takes, is for the IRS to claim tax or penalties are owing of at least US$50,000 through an assessment (plus start a lien or levy action).

Of course, US$50,000 sounds like a large sum for many modest USCs, until an individual understands that there are a host of international reporting requirements for taxpayers.  Specifically, the IRS can impose a US$10,000 penalty for each violation of failing to complete and file various IRS information forms; EVEN IF NO income IRS Form 8938 Specified Foreign Financial Assets - Highlighted Markertaxes are owing.  See IRS website – FAQs 5 and 8 regarding civil penalties (see also How is the offshore voluntary disclosure program really working? Not well for USCs and LPRs living overseas).

For a summary of these forms and filing requirements, see a prior post, Oct. 17, 2015, Part II: C’est la vie Ms. Lucienne D’Hotelle! Tax Timing Problems for Former U.S. Citizens is Nothing New – the IRS and the Courts Have Decided Similar Issues in the Past (Pre IRC Section 877A(g)(4))

Indeed, our office has seen and assisted numerous taxpayers around the world where the IRS has assessed tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands and in some cases in excess of US$1M (in proposed assessments) against an individual for failure to simply file information reporting forms.  See, for instance, a prior post on Nov. 2, 2015, Why Most U.S. Citizens Residing Overseas Haven’t a Clue about the Labyrinth of U.S. Taxation and Bank and Financial Reporting of Worldwide Income and Assets

Also, we have seen several IRS assessments of income tax (not just penalties) against individuals of hundreds of thousands of dollars which are not supported by the law.  For instance, it is not uncommon for the IRS to issue a “substitute for return” alleging income taxes owing.  See, How the IRS Can file a “Substitute for Return” for those USCs and LPRs Residing Overseas,  posted Nov. 8, 2015.  We have a number of those cases pending, where the IRS has taken erroneous information and made such assessments against USCs residing and working outside the U.S. for much if not most of their professional lives.US Passport

New Section 7345 requires that USCs, wherever they might reside, take great care in knowing about any actions the IRS might be taking against them; as to tax and penalty assessments, whether or not they are supported under the law.

One basic method of learning more about the activities of the IRS is to make a transcript request directly to the IRS regarding the status of a USC’s federal tax status according to IRS records.  See, IRM, Part 21. Customer Account Services . . . Section 3. Transcripts.

It is also possible for the USC to obtain additional tax information from the IRS through a Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) request.