February 8, 2012: The IRS today issued proposed regulations for the next major phase of implementing the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). Enacted by Congress in 2010, the law targets non-compliance by U.S. taxpayers using foreign accounts.
The regulations lay out a step-by-step process for U.S. account identification, information reporting, and withholding requirements for foreign financial institutions (FFIs), other foreign entities, and U.S. withholding agents.
The proposed regulations implement FATCA’s obligations in stages to minimize burdens and costs consistent with achieving the statute’s compliance objectives. The rules and implementation schedule are also adjusted to allow time for resolving local law limitations to which some FFIs may be subject.
FATCA was enacted in 2010 by Congress as part of the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act. FATCA requires FFIs to report to the IRS information about financial accounts held by U.S. taxpayers, or by foreign entities in which U.S. taxpayers hold a substantial ownership interest.
In order to avoid being withheld upon under FATCA, a participating FFI will have to enter into an agreement with the IRS to:
- Identify U.S. accounts,
- Report certain information to the IRS regarding U.S. accounts,
- Verify its compliance with its obligations pursuant to the agreement, and
- Ensure that a 30-percent tax on certain payments of U.S. source income is withheld when paid to non-participating FFIs and account holders who are unwilling to provide the required information.
Registration will take place through an online system which will become available by Jan. 1, 2013. FFIs that do not register and enter into an agreement with the IRS will be subject to withholding on certain types of payments relating to U.S. investments.
The proposed regulations can be viewed by here.
With the government increasing its efforts to fight offshore tax evasion, taxpayers with foreign bank accounts are advised to consult with knowledgeable tax counsel. Former IRS Trial Attorneys of Holtz, Slavett & Drabkin are available to assist you with the issues related to offshore assets and foreign accounts. To arrange for a consultations, please contact us at (310) 550-6200.