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San Jose tax compliance lawyer for foreign corporationsThe U.S. tax code is very complex, and taxpayers are required to file a wide variety of forms correctly when completing their tax returns. This is especially true for those who own foreign assets or earn income from foreign sources. Failure to meet these requirements can result in tax audits, and taxpayers may face hefty penalties for their failure to comply with their tax requirements. 

The Large Business & International (LB&I) division of the Internal Revenue Service maintains a number of “campaigns” meant to address ongoing concerns about misreporting of assets and income and noncompliance with tax obligations. One notable campaign addresses “loose filing” of Form 5471, (Information Return of U.S. Persons with Respect to Certain Foreign Corporations).

Requirements for Filing Form 5471

Form 5471 is used to evaluate the extent of a taxpayer’s foreign assets while also tracking the profits earned by a foreign corporation and any changes in a company’s structure or ownership that may affect the taxes it pays. There are several categories of filers that are required to submit Form 5471, including shareholders of specified foreign corporations (SFCs) or controlled foreign corporations (CFCs), officers or directors of foreign corporations in which a U.S. person has at least 10% ownership stake, or a U.S. person who had control (more than 50% of stock or voting power) of a foreign corporation during the relevant tax accounting period.

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San Jose foreign asset tax attorneyThe federal government has long been concerned with assets and businesses based abroad but owned by United States citizens. The IRS regularly looks to address income that is purposefully generated outside the country to avoid taxation. As part of the efforts to ensure that foreign investments are taxed correctly, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which was passed last year, made sizable changes to taxation rules, such as the addition of regulations mandating that global intangible low-taxed income produced by controlled foreign corporations be included in a taxpayer’s taxable income.

What Is a Controlled Foreign Corporation?

A controlled foreign corporation (CFC) is an American corporation that operates in another country with U.S. shareholders who hold 50% or more of the control of that corporation. American shareholders, directors, or officers of one of these businesses must report their income from the foreign corporation and pay taxes on that income. 

New Laws Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

The TCJA provides that a U.S. taxpayer who possesses at least 10% of the value or voting rights in at least one CFC must now report global intangible low-taxed income from these CFCs as currently taxable income. This holds true even if there are no distributions to shareholders. 

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