Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Provisions In New Tax Law related to foreign trusts & Mexican Fideicomisos

Clarifications with respect to foreign trusts. Under present law, a U.S. person is treated as the owner of the property transferred to a foreign trust if the trust has a U.S. beneficiary. Under current Treasury regulations, a foreign trust is treated as having a U.S. beneficiary if any current, future or contingent beneficiary of the trust is a U.S. person. Notwithstanding this requirement, some taxpayers have taken positions that are contrary to this regulation. In order to enhance compliance with this regulation, the Act codifies this regulation into the statute. This provision is effective on Mar. 18, 2010. The Act also clarifies that a foreign trust will be treated as having a U.S. beneficiary if (1) any person has discretion to determine the beneficiaries of the trust unless the terms of the trust specifically identify the class of beneficiaries and none of those beneficiaries are U.S. persons or (2) any written oral or other agreement could result in a beneficiary of the trust being a U.S. person. As a final clarification, the Act clarifies that the use of any trust property will be treated as a payment from the trust in the amount of the fair market value of such use.

Presumption with respect to transfers to foreign trusts. For transfers of property after Mar. 18, 2010, the Act provides that if a U.S. person directly or indirectly transfers property to a foreign trust (other than a trust established for deferred compensation or a charitable trust) IRS may treat the trust as having a U.S. beneficiary unless such person can demonstrate to the satisfaction of IRS that under the terms of the trust, (1) no part of the trust may be paid or accumulated during the year for the benefit of a U.S. person, (2) that if the trust were terminated during the year, no part of the trust could be paid to a U.S. person (3) and that such person provides any additional information as IRS may require with respect to such transfer.

Minimum penalty with respect to failure to report on certain foreign trusts. Under pre-Act law, a taxpayer that fails to file an information return with respect to certain transactions involving foreign trusts (e.g., the creation of a foreign trust, the transfer of money or property to a foreign trust, or the death of a U.S. owner of a foreign trust) is subject to a penalty of 35% of the amount required to be disclosed on such return. If IRS uncovers the existence of an undisclosed foreign trust but is unable to determine the amount required to be disclose on such return, it is unable to impose a penalty. The Act strengthens this penalty by imposing a minimum penalty of $10,000 on any such failure to file. This provision applies to notices and returns required to be filed after Dec. 31, 2009. Notwithstanding this minimum penalty, in no event may the penalties imposed on taxpayers for failing to file an information return with respect to a foreign trust exceed the amount required to be disclosed on the return. 

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