It is important for trustees of foreign trusts not to miss US tax filing deadlines or, if unable to file by the due date, to submit a request for an extension to file. Careful attention should be paid to where and how to submit the request, as procedures are not necessarily the same for all returns. This article sets out the various requirements that must be met by trustees of foreign trusts.
Trusts classified as foreign for US tax purposes, whether established under the law of a US state or of an offshore jurisdiction, must review whether they have any US tax or information reporting filings to make in 2019 with regard to income earned and distributions made in 2018. This article provides trust officers and family advisers with a summary checklist.
Trusts remain a flexible succession planning tool for families wishing to pass wealth to future generations in a responsible manner and can include philanthropic goals. The wealth-creating settlor wants to establish such a trust in a jurisdiction with well-established trust laws, a stable business environment, responsive and efficient trust officers and clearly stated comprehensive annual fees. When comparing jurisdictions, the United States should be included.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently released an updated Form W-8BEN-E and Form W-8IMY. Non-US entities should use these new forms when requested to certify their status under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. Among other things, the new forms clarify confusion over which global intermediary identification number should be reported for the trustee of a trustee-documented trust.
All over the world, financial institutions are collecting information on and reporting individuals associated with a family's succession planning trust structure. The family's interests are best served when the family office and professional advisers take a proactive approach to complying with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act and the Common Reporting Standard as they apply to each entity within the family trust structure.
The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act does not require reporting of US protectors who are not otherwise beneficiaries or settlors of the trust. In contrast, under the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) Implementation Handbook, protectors will now be reported to their country of tax residence. It is unfortunate that the CRS requires disclosure of trust protectors who contributed no money to the trust, have no beneficial interest in the trust and have no effective control over the trust.
The leaked Panama Papers highlighted the ways in which offshore companies and structures can be used to cloak the identity of beneficial owners, some of whom have used such entities to avoid paying tax in their country of tax residence. The Internal Revenue Service and US financial institutions will now begin gathering information to identify beneficial owners of certain entities in response to the heightened awareness of abuse resulting from the papers' disclosure.
Even though a trust may be established under US state law and have a US trust company serving as trustee, this does not mean that it is a US domestic trust for income tax purposes. If non-US persons make substantial decisions for the trust, the US-based trust will be classified as a foreign trust under US tax law and, if it has accounts with financial institutions, it must provide certification of its status for Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act purposes.
The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) is in full swing. Just as international families and their advisers are getting used to myriad requests for FATCA Form W-8 certification forms, more than 90 other countries have indicated that they wish to address tax evasion through a global exchange of financial information by implementing the Common Reporting Standard which, like FATCA, will affect non-US trusts and their trustees.
The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) requires entity account holders to document their status for US withholding tax purposes and for FATCA due diligence purposes. In the case of a non-US entity account holder that has made a 'check-the-box election' to be disregarded for US income tax purposes, advisers should consider the instructions to the W-8 forms and provide documentation for the disregarded entity's beneficial owner.
The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) was enacted to prevent abuse of the US voluntary tax compliance system and to address the use of offshore accounts to facilitate tax evasion. The Internal Revenue Service hopes that FATCA will strengthen the integrity of the US voluntary tax compliance system by requiring foreign financial institutions, beginning in 2015, to identify and report information regarding their US account holders.
In order for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to gather information on the foreign financial assets of US persons, more than 145,000 financial institutions have registered through the IRS Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) registration system. FATCA requires these financial institutions to report information on their US account holders beginning in 2015 for reporting year 2014.
For a foreign trust with a foreign professional trust company as trustee, compliance with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) is relatively straightforward. However, a private trust company that is not in the business of providing trustee services for compensation should assess its options with regard to how it complies with FATCA.
When the United States and the offshore jurisdictions negotiated intergovernmental agreements in order to implement the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), they added a category of deemed-compliant foreign financial institution that is not in the final FATCA regulations: the trustee-documented trust. Financial institutions have now begun asking trustees of trustee-documented trusts to provide a FATCA certificate for the trust.
Including: Gift tax; Estate tax; Generation-skipping transfer tax; Income tax; Income tax residency and transfer tax domicile; Anti-avoidance rules; US citizens and green card holders living abroad; Expatriation; Taxation of trusts; Increased reporting obligations; Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.
Withholding is soon scheduled to begin on certain payments of US source income to non-US entities that are not compliant with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). International families and their trustee companies are advised to familiarise themselves with the revised compliance deadlines and review succession planning structures to determine where FATCA withholding could take place and then take the necessary steps to prevent it.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently posted to its website updated model intergovernmental agreements which it is using to implement the 2010 Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. Changes to the model agreements highlight the IRS's current thinking as implementation moves forward.
It is time for advisers to international families to assess the classifications of the family office, trust company, trusts and holding companies within the family's succession planning structures under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act and any relevant intergovernmental agreements, regardless of whether such entities currently have US owners, beneficiaries or investments.
The new Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act includes several provisions that change the rules applicable to foreign trusts and their beneficiaries, causing the use of trust property to be treated as a deemed distribution. In broadening the grantor trust rules and requiring US individuals to disclose "any interest in a foreign entity", the act signals increased scrutiny of foreign trusts, even when no tax obligation exists.
The Treasury Department recently released proposed regulations expanding those US persons who must file annual foreign bank account reports. Meanwhile, Congress has enacted provisions that require US individuals to file a statement disclosing foreign financial assets with their income tax return and US shareholders of passive foreign investment companies to file an annual information return.