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San Jose tax lawyer for exit taxThose who live in the United States may choose to leave the country and live elsewhere, but if this will be a permanent change, they should be aware that they may face certain tax consequences. Expatriation occurs when a U.S. citizen chooses to relinquish their citizenship. Expatriation will also apply to a lawful permanent resident who holds a “Green Card” if their immigration status is revoked or abandoned or if they notify the IRS that they will be commencing residence in a country that has a tax treaty with the United States. Expatriates may be required to pay an exit tax, and they will want to understand how the tax laws will apply to their situation.

Who Is Subject to the Exit Tax?

The exit tax (also known as the expatriation tax) is a form of income tax that applies to the potential gains a person would earn by selling or disposing of the assets they own. While capital gains taxes typically apply to the profits a person earns when selling assets, a taxpayer may not actually realize these gains until years or decades after they leave the United States. Exit taxes ensure that the IRS can apply the proper taxes to the gains a person earned while they resided in the United States.

The exit tax will only apply if a taxpayer meets the qualifying criteria to be a “covered expatriate.” Three tests are used to determine whether a person is a covered expatriate:

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San Jose, CA tax compliance and audit attorney

U.S. citizens and residents are required to meet a variety of tax obligations, and in some cases, they may continue to owe taxes even if they no longer live in the United States. For those who have not met their requirements, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may be looking to collect expatriation taxes that are owed, and it may perform audits on individuals who are not in compliance with their tax obligations.

What Is the Expatriation Tax?

When moving to another country, adult citizens of the United States can relinquish their citizenship, and non-citizens may terminate their resident status in the United States. For those who expatriated after June 17, 2008, an expatriation tax will apply if they meet one of the following criteria:

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San Jose, CA tax attorney foreign foreign tax compliance

U.S. taxpayers are required to report all of the income they earn and pay applicable taxes, including income earned from foreign investments and offshore accounts. The requirements related to these types of accounts can often be complex. Taxpayers who are not compliant may be audited, and they could face penalties that include civil fines or criminal prosecution. 

Foreign tax compliance has become more difficult since the end of the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP). This program, which was discontinued in September 2018, allowed taxpayers to avoid penalties by disclosing their foreign assets and paying taxes due. Since the end of the OVDP, some taxpayers who had previously been compliant may be facing additional scrutiny and potential penalties from the IRS. The IRS’s Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures (SDOP) and Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures (SFOP) programs are still available for taxpayers able to make sworn nonwillfulness statements and file the required forms and make the required payment.

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San Jose tax compliance attorney for form 3520 and 3520-AThe more complex a person’s assets and debts, the more complex his or her tax return will typically be. Non-U.S. trusts and trusts involving gifts from people outside the United States require especially specific tax documentation. Taxpayers who fail to file the applicable tax documents or make errors on trust-related tax forms are subject to significant penalties imposed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Determining which tax forms are needed and accurately completing these forms is increasingly time-consuming and stressful for many taxpayers. Fortunately, a qualified tax attorney can help. If you are required to file tax Form 3520 or 3520-A this tax season, it is crucial that you complete this paperwork promptly and accurately.

Form 3520 and 3520-A Errors Can Cost You

When reporting transactions with non-U.S. trusts, ownership of non-U.S. trusts subject to Internal Revenue Codes 671 - 679, or receipt of gifts from non-U.S. persons or businesses, you may need to file Form 3520. If you are the trustee of a foreign grantor trust with a grantor in the United States, you will likely be required to file Form 3520-A. Form 3520 is due by April 15. However if the taxpayer lives and works outside the United States, the deadline is June 15. Form 3520-A must be filed by March 15. Time extensions may be granted for qualifying applicants who take the appropriate steps.

If you are required to submit Form 3520 and the form is incomplete, inaccurate, or is not filed before the deadline, you will be subject to a penalty. The initial penalty is typically the greater of $10,000 or 35 percent of the value of the property added to the trust, 35 percent of the distributions received by the U.S. beneficiary, or 5 percent of the value of the trust assets owned by the U.S. grantor. Taxpayers may be subject to additional penalties and other consequences if the noncompliance continues after the IRS notifies the taxpayer of the compliance issue.

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San Jose, CA small business tax attorney employee classificationCalifornia Assembly Bill 5, also called AB 5, has many business owners wondering how compliance with the new law will affect their business. The bill will significantly limit employers’ ability to classify workers as independent contractors. Many workers will now need to be classified as employees of the company, and they will be entitled to the associated benefits, such as workers’ compensation, minimum wage, overtime, rest breaks and meal periods, protection from anti-discrimination and retaliation laws, and reimbursement for business expenses incurred during the course of their job. Employers will also be required to pay payroll taxes on the workers classified as employees. AB 5 takes effect on January 1, 2020, so employers only have a short period of time to make any changes necessary to stay compliant with the new law.

AB 5 Makes the California Supreme Court Decision Regarding Worker Classification State Law

In 2018, the California Supreme Court announced its decision regarding Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles. The landmark decision established a test called the “ABC test” for determining whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee. Under the new rule, a worker can only be classified as an independent contractor if the hiring agency can establish each of the following criteria:

  • The worker is not under the direction and control of the hiring agency with regard to the performance of the work.
  • The worker performs duties that are outside the hiring agency’s typical course of business.
  • The worker is engaged in an independently established occupation, trade, or business of the same nature as the work he or she does for the hiring agency.

California employers are already subject to the rules established by the Supreme Court Decision. The purpose of AB 5 is to clarify exactly how the ruling should be implemented in practice and identify industries that are exempt from the new rules. Doctors, psychologists, dentists, veterinarians, insurance agents, lawyers, accountants, architects, stockbrokers, real estate agents, state-licensed engineers, and private investigators will not be forced to comply with the new worker classification law. Newspaper delivery companies must comply, but they will be given an extra year before being required to classify their paper carriers as employees.

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