Friday, December 30, 2011

Final Form 8938- Statement of Foreign Financial Assets Released

US Taxpayers residing in Mexico including US Citizens, US Permanent Residents, and US Expatriates  may have to file Form 8938 with their US Income tax returns for 2012 to report their foreign financial assets.  The estimated time to complete this form is 1 to 3 hours.

Several commentators have estimated that over a Million US Citizens are living in Mexico and less than 1/2 of those individuals are filing their required US tax returns and assets located in Mexico.  The IRS now has several offices located in the United States with the sole function is to located individuals who are obligated to file US income tax returns and have not been fulfilling that obligation.  The IRS in the past year  has begun to audit expatriate taxpayers income returns and compare the information on those returns with information they have obtained from undisclosed Mexican sources.

Every taxpayer with assets located outside the US should review the instructions to this form to determine if they must file it. Read the Instructions to Form 8938 here.   Failure to file the Form 8938 when required can result in severe monetary penalties and criminal prosecution.

View the 2012 tax  year Form 8938  here.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

IRS Issues Explanation of When it will not charge Penalites for filing FBARs (TDF 90-22.1 forms) Late

FBAR filing requirement
As a United States citizen, you may be required to report your interest in certain foreign financial accounts on Form TD F 90-22.1, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).  For information about FBAR reporting requirements, including reporting exceptions, seeForm TD F 90-22.1 and the IRS FBAR Frequently Asked Questions.

 How to file an FBAR
For information about how and where to file an FBAR, see Form TD F 90-22.1 and the IRS FBAR Frequently Asked Questions.
If you learn you were required to file FBARs for earlier years, you should file the delinquent FBARs and attach a statement explaining why they are filed late.  You do not need to file FBARs that were due more than six years ago, since the statute of limitations for assessing FBAR penalties is six years from the due date of the FBAR.  As discussed below, no penalty will be asserted if IRS determines that the late filings were due to reasonable cause.  Keep copies, for your record, of what you send.

  Possible penalties for failure to file FBAR
If you fail to file an FBAR, in the absence of reasonable cause, you may be subject to either a willful or non-willful civil penalty.  Generally, the civil penalty for willfully failing to file an FBAR can be up to the greater of $100,000 or 50 percent of the total balance of the foreign account at the time of the violation.  See 31 U.S.C. § 5321(a)(5).  Note that this penalty is applicable only in cases in which there is willful intent to avoid filing.  Non-willful violations that the IRS determines are not due to reasonable cause are subject to a penalty of up to $10,000 per violation.  There is no penalty in the case of a violation that IRS determines was due to reasonable cause.  For more information about the FBAR penalty, see Form TD F 90-22.1.  For information about the reasonable cause exception to the FBAR penalty, see IRM 4.26.16, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).
Example 3:  Same facts as Example 1, except that the highest balance in Taxpayer’s checking account exceeded $10,000 and, after reading recent press and thus learning of his FBAR filing obligations, Taxpayer filed an accurate, though late, FBAR.  The FBAR was accompanied by a written statement explaining why Taxpayer believed the failure to file the FBAR was due to reasonable cause.  The IRS will determine whether the violation was due to reasonable cause based on all the facts and circumstances.  Taxpayer’s explanation for why he failed to timely file an FBAR appears reasonable in view of the facts and circumstances of the case.  Since the IRS determined that the FBAR violation was due to reasonable cause, no FBAR penalty will be asserted.
Factors that might weigh in favor of a determination that an FBAR violation was due to reasonable cause include reliance upon the advice of a professional tax advisor who was informed of the existence of the foreign financial account, that the unreported account was established for a legitimate purpose and there were no indications of efforts taken to intentionally conceal the reporting of income or assets, and that there was no tax deficiency (or there was a tax deficiency but the amount was de minimis) related to the unreported foreign account.  There may be factors in addition to those listed that weigh in favor of a determination that a violation was due to reasonable cause.  No single factor is determinative.
Factors that might weigh against a determination that an FBAR violation was due to reasonable cause include whether the taxpayer’s background and education indicate that he should have known of the FBAR reporting requirements, whether there was a tax deficiency related to the unreported foreign account, and whether the taxpayer failed to disclose the existence of the account to the person preparing his tax return.  As with factors that might weigh in favor of a determination that an FBAR violation was due to reasonable cause, there may be other factors that weigh against a determination that a violation was due to reasonable cause.  No single factor is determinative.
Current IRS procedures state that an examiner may determine that the facts and circumstances of a particular case do not justify asserting a penalty and that instead an examiner should issue a warning letter.  See IRM 4.26.16, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).  The IRS has established penalty mitigation guidelines, but examiners may determine that a penalty is not appropriate or that a lesser (or greater) penalty amount than the guidelines would otherwise provide is appropriate.  Examiners are instructed to consider whether compliance objectives would be achieved by issuance of a warning letter; whether the person who committed the violation had been previously issued a warning letter or has been assessed the FBAR penalty; the nature of the violation and the amounts involved; and the cooperation of the taxpayer during the examination.
Example 4:  Taxpayer is a United States citizen who lives and works in Country B as a computer programmer.  Taxpayer has checking and savings accounts with a bank that is located in the city where he lives.  The aggregate balance of the checking and savings accounts is $50,000 during the tax year.  Taxpayer complied with Country B’s tax laws and properly reported all his income on Country B tax returns.  Taxpayer failed to file federal income tax returns and failed to file FBARs to report his financial interest in the checking and savings accounts.  After reading recent press and thus learning of his federal income tax return and FBAR reporting obligations, Taxpayer filed delinquent FBARs, reporting both foreign accounts, and attached statements to the FBARs explaining that he was previously unaware of his obligation to report the accounts on an FBAR.  Taxpayer also filed federal income tax returns properly reporting all income and no tax was due.  The IRS will determine whether the FBAR violation was due to reasonable cause based on all the facts and circumstances.  Taxpayer had a legitimate purpose for maintaining the foreign accounts, there were no indications of efforts taken to intentionally conceal the reporting of income or assets, and no tax was due.  Taxpayer’s explanation for why he failed to timely file an FBAR appears reasonable in view of the facts and circumstances of the case.  Since the IRS determined that the FBAR violation was due to reasonable cause, no FBAR penalty will be asserted.

 New reporting requirement for foreign financial assets
A new law requires U.S. taxpayers who have an interest in certain specified foreign financial assets with an aggregate value exceeding $50,000 to report those assets to the IRS.  This reporting will be required beginning in 2012.  Taxpayers who are required to report must submit Form 8938 with their tax return.  See Notice 2011-55  for additional information about this reporting requirement under IRC section 6038D.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mexican Bankers May Give IRS Information on American's Financial Assets in Mexico

Read below the Reuters story explaining how the IRS is getting foreign bankers to disclose the details of all of their American depositors.  This process is likely to be followed in Mexico which has the world's second largest number of American taxpayers living, working and owning property there.  Past cases reveal that the IRS will pay substantial whistle blower finders fees to foreign bankers and financial professionals to reveal all data on their American clients. It will only get tougher in the future in Mexico to hide both financial assets and Mexican real estate and business interests.  READ ARTICLE HERE

What the article does not state, is the very probable possibility that this Banker is being paid huge whistle blower fees for revealing all of the information on his ex bank clients.  Those finders fees are large enough to allow the recipients to retire in luxury for the rest of their lives. Turning Americans with assets abroad into the IRS is extremely profitable.  See IRS Form 211 for the form used to turn in Taxpayers in exchange for handsome finders fees.

The IRS has special forms for reporting Mexican corporations, Mexican Fideicomiso Property Ownership, Mexican Bank Account and other Mexican Financial Assets which must be filed with your US tax return. Failure to file those forms  or filing them late can result in penalties of $10,000 or more and possible criminal prosecution. The "good old days" of not disclosing your income or property in Mexico and disappearing fast.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Best Mexican Corporate Forms for US Tax Purposes

Which Type of Mexican Corporation to use?
There are two types of Mexican corporations as listed below. When, as a US Taxpayer, you chose a type for your Mexican business or real estate, the US Tax Consequences can differ and have significant affect on your US taxes. Below we discuss the US income tax consequences of each type of corporation.

1. Sociedad Anonima (S. A.) and Sociedad Anonima De Capital Variable (S. A. De C. v.) are
negotiable stock corporations of two or more persons whose liabilities for acts of the corporation
are limited to their capital contribution.

This type of corporation will always be taxed as a foreign corporation.  The corporation will pay taxes in Mexico on its income and if it pays out dividends to you the owner, you will have to pay taxes again on those dividends on your US tax return.  Therefore its income  is subject to double taxation.  You as shareholder do not get to deduct is losses on your US income tax return or claim any foreign tax credits the taxes the corporation pays in Mexico to offset any of its income distributed to you.

If the corporation sells its business or assets, it will pay tax on that gain on its Mexican corporate tax return and when those funds are distributed to you, you will have to report that distribution as income on your US return and cannot claim any tax credits for taxes paid against that income in Mexico unless you make a Section 962 election which will allow you to claim the foreign tax credit, but will subject that income to taxes at the US corporation tax rates (which can be higher than your individual US income tax rate). Form 5471 may have to be filed for this entity depending your ownership percentage.

2. Sociedad De Responsabilidad Limitada (S. De R. L.) and the Sociedad De Responsabilidad
Limitada De Capital Variable (S. De R.L. De C.V.) are nonnegotiable stock limited liability
corporations of two or more persons whose liabilities for acts of the corporation are limited
to their capital contribution.

The tax consequences of this type of Mexican corporation are the same as stated above unless you make an election (which is only permitted for this type of corporation) to treat it for US tax purposes as a a disregarded entity(if you are the only shareholder) or a flow through partnership.  This election must be timely made with the IRS. Only a  S. De. R. L. can make this election.  Mexican attorneys have stated that it is possible to convert to this type of corporation if you erroneously incorporated as a S.A. de C.V.

After the election is filed this type of Mexican corporation is treated for US tax purposes very similar to a  US partnership or LLC.  All income or losses of the Mexican corporation flow through to your US income tax return and are taxed on it. Any Mexican income taxes paid by the entity can be claimed as foreign tax credits against the US tax on the income that you are taxed on.  If it has capital gains, those capital gains will be taxed on your US return the same as US capital gains.  The clear possibility of double taxation is avoided when this election is made.

The S. De R.L. often works out best if the corporation owns Mexican real estate that will generate losses while rented out and capital gains when sold.  It also works out well when an Mexican operating business will generate losses its  early years and  later when profits are made the owner expects to pull them all out from the corporation for his personal use.

The income or loss after the election is filed is included on your personal return if you are the sole shareholder or if there are several US shareholders, the income is reported by filing form 8865. We know Mexican tax law and how to best structure your Mexican business or real estate ownership to achieve he optimum US income tax benefits. 


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mexican Citizens and other nonresidents with Assets in the US are Subject to US estate taxes

Mexican Citizens and other nonresidents with certain assets located in the United States will cause their estates to have to file US Estate Tax returns on the value of their assets (with some exceptions) located in the USA. The tax is based on the Fair Market Value of their Assets and can be up to 35%. Nonresidents only get an exemption from this tax equal to the first $60,000 value of their US estate. The balance  of the estate's assets are subject to the estate tax.  Real estate which was owned by a deceased nonresident is subject to this tax.  The estate can only deduct the mortgage balance due from the fair market value if the estate agrees to report to the IRS the value an details of the decedents worldwide assets including those in Mexico.

Due to the large chunk this estate tax can take out of a nonresident's estate, it is best to do some advance planning to attempt to reduce it.  Email us if you want help. Read more about the nonresident  estate tax here

Friday, October 7, 2011


The following letter from an IRS Technical Reviewer  was Published by Tax Analysts(R) concerning the issue of whether or not a Mexican Fideicomiso must file Forms 3520 and 3520A.

UIL: 6048.00-00
Release Date: 6/24/2011
Date: November 17, 2010
Refer Reply To: GENIN-141622-10 – CC:INTL:B01:* * *
Dear * * *:
This is in response to your request for general information regarding the infor-mation reporting obligations with respect to Mexican fideicomisos that own certain Mexican residential real property on behalf of U.S. persons who are not also Mexican citizens.
Under section 6048(a) and (c) of the Code,1 a U.S. person who makes a transfer to or receives a distribution from a foreign trust generally is required to report certain information on Form 3520, Annual Return to Report Transactions with Foreign Trusts and Receipt of Certain Foreign Gifts. Under section 6048(b) of the Code, a U.S. person who is treated as the owner of a foreign trust under the grantor trust rules (sections 671 through 679 of the Code) is required to complete Part II of Form 3520 and to ensure that the foreign trust files Form 3520-A, Annual Information Return of Foreign Trust with U.S. Owner. Section 6677 of the Code imposes significant penalties (up to 100 percent of the gross reportable amount) for failure to comply with section 6048.
The rules for determining whether an entity is classified as a trust for U.S. federal income tax purposes are found in section 301.7701-4 of the Procedure and Administration Regulations. The rules for determining whether an entity that is classified as a trust is a foreign trust are found in section 7701(a)(31)(B) of the Code and section 301.7701-7 of the Procedure and Administration Regulations. Any U.S. person who transfers property to or has an interest in a Mexican fideicomiso that is classified as a foreign trust must comply with section 6048.
            This letter provides general information only and does not constitute a ruling. See Rev. Proc. 2010-1, section 2.04, 2010-1 I.R.B. 7. If you would like a definitive determination as to whether a particular fideicomiso is classified as a foreign trust for U.S. federal income tax purposes, you must request a private letter ruling pursuant to the procedures set forth in section 7 of Rev. Proc. 2010-1.

We hope this information has been helpful to you. If you have any questions, please contact * * *, Identification Number * * *, at * * * (not a toll-free call).
Sincerely, M Grace Fleeman - Senior Technical Reviewer, Branch 1 (International)

We’re not telling you that your particular fideicomiso is a trust and we’re not telling you your particular fideicomiso is NOT a trust.  All we are saying is that if it IS a trust you have to file Form 3520.  In other words, if you wish to be safe you should file form 3520, 3520a because the IRS refuses to state Fideicomisos are not foreign trusts.  That refusal is a clear  message to taxpayers. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011


WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service continues to make strong progress in combating international tax evasion, with new details announced today showing the recently completed offshore program pushed the total number of voluntary disclosures up to 30,000 since 2009. In all, 12,000 new applications came in from the 2011 offshore program that closed last week.
The IRS also announced today it has collected $2.2 billion so far from people who participated in the 2009 program, reflecting closures of about 80 percent of the cases from the initial offshore program. On top of that, the IRS has collected an additional $500 million in taxes and interest as down payments for the 2011 program — a figure that will increase because it doesn’t yet include penalties.
“By any measure, we are in the middle of an unprecedented period for our global international tax enforcement efforts,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “We have pierced international bank secrecy laws, and we are making a serious dent in offshore tax evasion.”
Global tax enforcement is a top priority at the IRS, and Shulman noted progress on multiple fronts, including ground-breaking international tax agreements and increased cooperation with other governments. In addition, the IRS and Justice Department have increased efforts involving criminal investigation of international tax evasion.
The combination of efforts helped support the 2011 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative (OVDI), which ended on Sept. 9. The 2011 effort followed the strong response to the 2009 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) that ended on Oct. 15, 2009. The programs gave U.S.taxpayers with undisclosed assets or income offshore a second chance to get compliant with the U.S. tax system, pay their fair share and avoid potential criminal charges.
The 2009 program led to about 15,000 voluntary disclosures and another 3,000 applicants who came in after the deadline, but were allowed to participate in the 2011 initiative. Beyond that, the 2011 program has generated an additional 12,000 voluntary disclosures, with some additional applications still being counted. All together from these efforts, taxpayers came forward and made 30,000 voluntary disclosures.
“My goal all along was to get people back into the U.S. tax system,” Shulman said. “Not only are we bringing people back into the U.S. tax system, we are bringing revenue into the U.S. Treasury and turning the tide against offshore tax evasion.”
In new figures announced today from the 2009 offshore program, the IRS has $2.2 billion in hand from taxes, interest and penalties representing about 80 percent of the 2009 cases that have closed. These cases come from every corner of the world, with bank accounts covering 140 countries.
The IRS is starting to work through the 2011 applications. The $500 million in payments so far from the 2011 program brings the total collected through the offshore programs to $2.7 billion.
“This dollar figure will grow in the months ahead,” Shulman said. “But just as importantly, we have changed the risk calculus. Americans now understand that if they try to hide assets overseas, the chances of being caught continue to increase.”
The financial impact can be seen in a variety of other areas beyond the 2009 and 2011 programs.
  • Criminal prosecutions. People hiding assets offshore have received jail sentences running for months or years, and they have been ordered to pay hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars.
  • UBS. UBS AG, Switzerland's largest bank, agreed in 2009 to pay $780 million in fines, penalties, interest and restitution as part of a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. government.
The two disclosure programs provided the IRS with a wealth of information on various banks and advisors assisting people with offshore tax evasion, and the IRS will use this information to continue its international enforcement efforts.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

2011 Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (Form 2555)

For 2011, the foreign earned income exclusion for wages earned while working  and living abroad will be $92,900.  That is a $1,400 increase from that allowed for 2010.  If both spouses work abroad, each can exclude their earned income from US taxes up to that amount.  One spouse cannot use the other spouses unused portion of that exclusion.

You can also claim a deduction for foreign rental expenses, utilities and maintenance above a certain amount up to a maximum amount which varies per the country you in which you are living and working.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Everything You Want to Know About 2011 IRS Voluntary Disclosure Program

The deadline for entering the IRS 2011 Voluntary Offshore Disclosure Program has been extended until September 9, 2011.  The procedures for entering the program are complex and must be followed carefully. You can also prior to the previous mentioned date obtain an additional 90 day extension of time to file all of your past tax returns including the special foreign reporting forms such as 5471, 8865, 5472, 3520 and TDF 90-22.1 (FBAR).

You can read all of the details and latest developments concerning the Voluntary Offshore Disclosure Program at our sister blog: .  You can read more about the special forms required at our website at

Remember, if you have failed to file required forms 3520 and 3520A for your Mexican Fideicomiso that means you have until 9/9/11 to file all past forms (if the real property has not produced revenue) without penalty under FAQ 18 in the rule to the program.

You also have until that date to file all past forms for your Mexican Corporation (form 5471) if  you have reported all taxable income from that corporation on your personal tax return without risk of penalty.

Friday, July 8, 2011

California's Voluntary Compliance Initiative 2 - For Non Reported Foreign Income

California's Voluntary Compliance Initiative 2 will run from August 1, 2011 through October 31, 2011. It provides (for those who file amended returns and participate) for reduced penalties and can avoid criminal action by California for those who have participated in abusive tax avoidance transactions or offshore financial arrangements.

What is an offshore financial arrangement? 
An offshore financial arrangement (OFA) is any transaction designed to avoid or evade California income or  franchise tax through the use of: (a) offshore payment cards, including credit, debit, or charge cards issued  by banks in foreign jurisdictions, or (b) foreign banks, financial institutions, corporations, partnerships, trusts, or other entity.  This would include interest, dividends, capital gains, rental income, etc. that were not reported on your California tax return solely because those items were located or occurred in a offshore countries.

What is an abusive tax avoidance transaction?
Abusive tax avoidance transaction (ATAT) means a:  
• Tax shelter as defined under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 6662(d)(2)(C)
• Reportable transaction as defined under IRC Section 6707A(c)(1) that is not adequately disclosed in
accordance with IRC Section 6664(d)(2)(A),
• Listed transaction as defined under IRC Section 6707A(c)(2),
• Gross misstatement within the meaning of IRC Section 6404(g)(2)(D), or
• Transaction to which the noneconomic substance transaction (NEST) penalty applies under Revenue and
Taxation Code (RTC) Section 19774.

Read More Here.  Let us help you amend your current and past returns and enter the program while there is still time to take advantage of its benefits.  

Thursday, July 7, 2011

IRS Voluntary Offshore Disclosure Program Ends 8/31/11- After That Date Things will get really Bad!

The IRS 2011 Voluntary Offshore Disclosure Program ends on 8/31/11. Any entry into the program must be made by that date.  If you have not been filing your tax return, reporting your Mexican Bank Accounts and Financial Accounts, reporting your Mexican Corporation, Partnership or Fideicomiso this may be the last chance to eliminate or reduce potentially huge penalties, and avoid criminal prosecution.

The IRS has stated any taxpayer who does not come forward by the date, and who is later discovered or attempts to make up for past forms which have not been filed will be subject to the maximum possible penalties and possible criminal prosecution.

The IRS knows that in 2008 only about 100,000 US tax returns were filed by Gringos living in Mexico, but there are over One Million US Citizens living in Mexico.  With these statistics in mind,  there is little doubt that Mexico will become a big target for the IRS in the very near future.  The statue of limitations never runs out on future IRS action if you have not filed a return for any particular year or if you fail to file certain foreign information returns such as those for Mexican Corporations, Fideicomisos, Mexican Financial accounts, etc.

In serious situations such as this, Attorney-client privilege which we can offer our clients is often indispensable.

Read more at our website at

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Election to Treat Mexican Corporation as a Flow Through For US Taxation if Usually a Good Idea

If you own a business or real property in Mexico in a Mexican Corporation, you should consider making an election for your US tax return to treat that entity as a flow through entity.  Best to do this when it is originally formed, but that can be done at a later date also, though the benefits will not be as great.

Your election has no effect on the taxation in Mexico, but does create benefits in many instances with your US tax return.  The Mexican corporations that end in S.R.L, are the only eligible entity to make this election. If your Mexican corporation ends in S.A. de CV, the election cannot be made unless you work with your Mexican accountant and attorney to revise its type of entity classification under Mexican law.

The benefits of electing the flow through treatment is as follows:

  • You can deduct any yearly losses on your US tax return.
  • Though your share of the Corporations yearly earnings flow through to be be taxed on your personal tax return, you can claim foreign tax credits for all income taxes paid in Mexico on that income which will offset your US tax on the same income dollar for dollar.
  • If your corporation has a capital gain, that capital gain will flow through and be taxed to you on your personal return as a capital gain at the lower US tax rates (this is particularly good for corporations that investment in Mexican real estate and ultimately sell it).
  • You avoid the onerous US Foreign Corporation Subpart F income rules which cause many types of income in a regular Foreign Corporation to be taxed to you whether you receive that income or not and to be taxed at ordinary income rates on your personal tax return.  These rules usually prevent individuals from claiming foreign tax credits against that income for taxes paid in by the Mexican corporation on that income.
  • Assures in most situations capital gains treatment on your US tax return should you sell your stock in the corporation rather than that gain being taxed as ordinary income under the Subpart F rules which is often the situation.
Please contact us if you have Mexican corporation  and wish to make this election which again if often very advantageous to US shareholders on with respect to their personal taxes in the USA. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

2011 IRS Voluntary Offshore Disclosure Program Penalty Framework

IRS's Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement has issued a Memorandum carrying the penalty framework to be applied to voluntary disclosure requests containing offshore issues, i.e., the 2011 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative (2011 OVDI). The memo reveals that the penalty framework will be available to anyone that makes a voluntary disclosure after the first disclosure initiative ended in 2009 (the 2009 OVDI). It also opens up the possibility of a refund for those who paid the penalty under the original voluntary disclosure but would have paid less if the new disclosure initiative had applied to them.  

Penalty framework of 2011 Program. The new memo from IRS's Deputy Commissioner for Services explains how IRS personnel should execute agreements to resolve tax liabilities related to offshore issues of taxpayers who make voluntary disclosure requests under the second settlement offer. It applies to all offshore voluntary disclosures received after the close of the 2009 OVDI.
      Observation: When the first settlement offer was extended to Oct. 15, 2009, IRS made a point of saying that there would be no further extensions and reiterated that taxpayers who did not voluntarily disclose their hidden accounts by the new deadline faced much harsher civil penalties, where applicable, and possible criminal prosecution (see Federal Taxes Weekly Alert 09/24/2009).
For taxpayers that make voluntary disclosure requests, and fully cooperate with IRS both civilly and criminally, the agreements are to take the following shape:
·       All taxes and interest due for 2003—2010 are to be assessed. However, for accounts opened or received within this period, all taxes and interest due starting with the year the account opened or was received are to be assessed. The taxpayer also must file or amend all returns, including information returns and Form TOF 90-22.1, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, commonly known as an FBAR.
·       An accuracy-related penalty must be assessed on all years (no reasonable cause exception may be applied), and failure-to-file and failure-to-pay penalties also must be assessed, where applicable.
·       Instead of all other penalties that may apply, including FBAR and information return penalties, an offshore penalty is to be assessed equal to 25% (or 12.5% or 5% if required conditions are met) of the amount in foreign financial accounts/entities and the value of foreign assets acquired with untaxed funds or producing untaxed income in the year with the highest aggregate account/asset value.
The 25% penalty is reduced to 12.5% if the taxpayer's highest aggregate account balance (including the fair market value of assets in undisclosed offshore entities and the fair market value of any foreign assets that were either acquired with improperly untaxed funds or produced improperly untaxed income) in each of the years covered by the 2011 OVDI is less than $75,000.
The 25% penalty is reduced to 5% if the taxpayer: (a) did not open or cause the account to be opened (unless a new account had to be opened upon the death of the owner of the account); (b) exercised minimal, infrequent contact with the account (e.g., to request the account balance); (c) didn't, except for a withdrawal closing the account and transferring the funds to a U.S. account, withdraw more than $1,000 from the account in any year covered by the voluntary disclosure; and (d) can establish that all applicable U.S. taxes have been paid on funds deposited to the account (only account earnings have escaped U.S. tax). For funds deposited before Jan. 1, '91, if no information is available to establish whether such funds were appropriately taxed, it will be presumed that they were. The penalty is also reduced to 5% for taxpayers who are foreign residents and who were unaware that they were U.S. citizens.
The new memo says examiners and their managers have no authority to negotiate different offshore penalty percentages for 2011 OVDI cases.

Refund in the works for some? The new memo says that taxpayers who participated in the 2009 OVDI (whose cases have been resolved and closed with a Form 906 closing agreement) who believe the facts of their case qualify them for the 5% or 12.5% reduced penalty criteria of the 2011 OVDI, but who paid a higher penalty amount under the original settlement agreement, should inform IRS. Upon receipt of this information, the case must be assigned to an examiner to review and make a determination. If a 2009 OVDI case is still open and the facts meet the criteria for the reduced 5% or 12.5% penalty of the 2011 OVDI, the examiner is to assert the reduced penalty as appropriate.

The memo says more guidance will be forthcoming regarding applications of the 2011 OVDI rules to 2009 OVDI cases.

The Memorandum can be viewed on the IRS website at

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Form 3520A due on 3/15/11 For Your IRS Reporting Requirement for Fideicomisos

Report your Fideicomiso to Uncle Sam
Form 3520A is due on 3/15/11 to comply with IRS requirements for reporting your Fideicomiso. That form can be extended until 9/15/11 if you file form 7004 by that due date. The related Form 3520 is due on the extended due date of your personal tax return.

If you have a US Corporation or LLC, those returns are due on 3/15/11 also for the 2010 tax year unless you file for an extension. There are now stiff penalties for not filing these returns on a timely basis based on the number of months it is filed late and the number of shareholders or members of the entity.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


by Linda Jones Neil

Those who have rental properties in Mexico can now rest easy. SAT, Mexico’s Uncle Sam, has provided a straightforward and relatively simple way to declare and pay taxes on rental income for those foreigners who have long wished to be in compliance but did not know the way to do so.

As of February 2010, SAT eliminated the requirement for a taxpayer identification number (RFC) which had previously been obtained only through extreme efforts,

Now the foreign taxpayer has two options: One to obtain the taxpayer identification number (RFC), file monthly declarations whether there is income or not, and enjoy a deduction of expenses. This is Option One.

Option Two provides for the taxpayer to make a declaration when income is received, pay a flat tax and obtain a receipt to take to the tax authorities in his/her tax residence, for credit or deduction of taxes in the home country.

On any rental the owner, or his/her property managers, are responsible for collecting the IVA tax (the added value tax) which is 11% on the Baja Peninsula and the Yucatan peninsula and 16% elsewhere. Owner or property manager must also collect the state hospitality tax which is 2 to 4% of the rental amount. These taxes must be delivered to the federal and local governments, as applicable.

It is important for the foreign person with rental property in Mexico to make arrangements for payment of these taxes since penalties can be high in Mexico for non-payment and, additionally, these same tax payments and expenses can be deducted or credited against income in taxpayer’s home country.

The next part of the equation for the US taxpayer has been deciding how to declare this income and enjoy the deductions in their US returns.

Don Nelson, Attorney and Certified Public Accountant located in California reports the following regarding tax treatment for U.S. taxpayers:

  • If the Mexican rental property owned in an individuals name or through a Fideicomiso, all rental income and expenses are reported on Schedule E of the form 1040.
  • Allowable rental expenses are the same as for a US property.
  • Management fees, interest, property taxes, utilities, repairs, maintenance, association dues, insurance…ALL are deductible!
  • Depreciation on a Mexican property is 40 years straight line
  • Taxpayer can take a Foreign Tax Credit against the US income tax paid on the net rental income for income taxes paid in Mexico on that income.
  • IVA (added value tax) collected from the renter must be included in rental income, but then deducted out so no double taxation.
  • The special Vacation Home rules applicable to US rental property occupied part time by the owner is also apply to Mexican rental property.
  • IN A SALE OF THE PROPERTY, net gain is taxed in the US at the applicable lower capital gains rates and Mexican ISR paid is a credit against that US tax on that profit.

For further information on the Rental Payment Program for Mexican properties, please contact: Lic. Quirino Parra:

For further information on the payment of US taxes when Mexican income is involved, please contact attorney and CPA Don D. Nelson: . His website is at

Author Linda Neil is the founder of The Settlement Company. It is the first escrow company in Mexico, and is dedicated to counseling buyers and sellers, processing the trusts and title transfers of Mexican real estate for foreign buyers and sellers for properties located ANYWHERE in Mexico and, now, for payment of taxes on rental income for foreigners with properties in Mexico.. Ms. Neil is also licensed as a Real Estate Broker in California, is an Accredited Buyer Representative through NAR, and has over thirty five years of hands on experience in all aspects of Mexican real estate. She holds membership in AMPI, NAR and FIABCI and PROFECO Certificate 00063/96.

copyright 2011, Consultores Phoenix, S.C., reproduction prohibited without permission.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

IRS Today Announces New Voluntary Offshore Disclosure Program for 2011 for Undisclosed Foreign Assets and Financial Accounts

The IRS TODAY announced a New 2011 Voluntary Offshore Disclosure Program which will be available through August 31, 2011. It gives taxpayers who are hiding assets abroad, or not disclosing those assets on their tax returns as required by tax law , or those who failed to  file the required forms disclosing their assets abroad asecond chance to come out of the closet. The new program will give participants  reduced penalties from those they would have paid if they did not enter the program. The new program's penalties however are in many circumstances higher than those charged participants in the 2009 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program which ended 10/15/09.  Over 15,000 taxpayers participated in the original program and over 3,000 taxpayers have  since that time have filed to  disclose foreign bank accounts which had not previously been disclosed to the IRS.

Many informal estimates indicate that there are a large number of US Citizens not disclosing their bank accounts, real estate and corporation ownership in Mexico. This program offers the opportunity to reduce your potential criminal and civil penalties if you have not been reporting these assets as required by the Federal Tax Laws.

Read more about the program here.  Our firm counseled and represented many  clients concerning the previous Disclosure program. Please contact us if you need assistance of an Attorney CPA with this New program.You can discuss your situation and we can help you develop a strategy with the protection provided by the confidentiality of Attorney-Client Privilege. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Fast US Tax Facts for Americans Living and Working in Mexico By Don D. Nelson, Attorney, C.P.A.

Fast US Tax Facts for Americans Living and Working in Mexico
By Don D. Nelson, Attorney, C.P.A.

If you are a US Citizen you must file a US tax return every year unless your income is less than $ 9,700 (for 2010 and lower for earlier years) or have self employment-independent contractor net income of more than $ 400 US per year. You are taxable on your world wide income regardless of whether you filed a tax return in Mexico.

· As an US expatriate living in Mexico on 4/18/11, your 2010 tax return is automatically extended until 6/15 but any taxes due must be paid by 4/18 to avoid penalties. The return can be further extended until 10/15/10 if the proper extension is filed.

· For 2010 if you are a qualified expatriate you get a foreign earned income exclusion (earnings from wages or self employment) of $91,500, but this exclusion is only available if you file a tax return.

· If your spouse works and lives abroad, and is qualified, she can also get at $91,500 foreign earned income exclusion.

· You get credits against your US income tax obligation for taxes paid to foreign country but you must file a return to claim these credits.

· If you own 10% or more of a Mexican corporation or hold an interest in Mexican property through a Fideicomiso you must file special IRS forms each year or incur substantial penalties which can be greater including criminal prosecution if the IRS discovers you have failed to file these forms.

· Your net self employment income in Mexico is subject to US self employment tax of 15.3% (social security) which cannot be reduced or eliminated by the foreign earned income exclusion.

· Forming the correct type of Mexican corporation and making the property US tax elections with respect to that corporation can save you a significant amount of US income taxes.

· If at any time during the tax year your combined highest balances in your Mexican bank and financial accounts (when added together) ever equal or exceed $10,000US you must file a FBAR form with the IRS by June 30th for the prior calendar year or incur a penalty of $10,000 or more including criminal prosecution. This form does not go in with your personal income tax return and is filed separately at a separate address.

· We understand the Mexican income tax laws and can coordinate your US taxes with those you pay in Mexico to help you achieve the optimum tax strategy.

· In the past several years the IRS has hired more than 2,200 new employees to audit, investigate and discover Americans living abroad who have failed to file all necessary tax forms.

· Often due to foreign tax credits and the the foreign earned income exclusion expats living in Mexico and file all past year unfiled tax returns and end up owing no or very little US taxes.

· Beginning in 2011 a new law is in effect which requires all US Citizens report on a new form filed with their tax returns all of their world wide financial assets if in total the value of those assets are $50,000 or more.

· Income from certain types of foreign corporations are immediately taxable on the US shareholder's personal income tax return.

· If you own investments in a foreign corporation or own foreign mutual fund shares you may be required to file the IRS forms for owning part of a Passive Foreign Investment Company (PFIC) or incur additional, taxes and penalties for your failure to do so. A PFIC is any foreign corporation that has more than 75% of its gross income from passive income or 50 percent or more of its assets produce or will produce passive income.

· The IRS is now matching up your US passport with your US tax records and now knows if you have not been filing all required US tax returns while you are living in Mexico.

· Download your 2010 US tax return questionnaire drafted expressly for Americans living in Mexico at or at

Don D. Nelson, US Attorney, CPA
US Phone: (949) 481-4094, US Fax: (949) 218-6483
Skype: dondnelson

We have been preparing tax returns and assisting clients in Mexico with their US/Mexican tax planning for over 20 years.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


By Don D. Nelson, Attorney at Law, C.P.A.
If you own your Mexican real estate through a Fideicomiso you have a yearly U.S. Tax filing obligation with the IRS.  There are  two informational forms which must be filed each year by  Fideicomisos which have been deemed to be foreign trusts.   These filing requirements are set forth below:
    Form 3520A is due on March 15th following the end of each calendar year. The due date of this form can be extended for six months if the extension is filed before the due date..  None of the Banks in Mexico who act as trustee will file this form for your as required by US tax law.  Therefore, you must file it yourself since it is you the IRS will penalize if it is not filed. There is a penalty of 5% of the value of the assets in the trust for failing to file this form. This penalty can be waived for resonable cause. The form contains information on the Fideicomiso, its beneficiary(ies), its income and expenses, and the value of its assets, etc.
    Form 3520 is due on the extended due date of your personal tax return. However it is filed separately from your personal return. Failure to file this form can result in a penalty equal to 35% of the value of the Mexican real estate  transferred to  the Fideicomiso. This penalty is currently waived if you provide the IRS with a reasonable late filing excuse.  This form mostly duplicates the same information contained in the form 3520A the addition of other informational items.

    The Fideicomiso must secure a US Federal ID number from the IRS.  The ownership of all US owners must be reported.

    If you the property you own in your Fideicomiso has been your primary personal residence for 2 out of the past 5 years, and you filed jointly with your spouse, the first $500,000US  ( $250,000US if you are singled) can be exempt on your US tax return.  You can claim a foreign tax credit for taxes paid on your sales gain in Mexico against your US tax on any gain on the sale in excess of the exemption amount.

    If the property in your Fideicomiso is a rental, you must report the income and expenses on of the rental on your US tax return.  You must  depreciate the value of the improvements and structure on the property over a 40 year period.  Keep in mind that you must also file and pay income and IVA taxes on your rental income in Mexico or risk problems with the Hacienda.

In the past year several attorneys have written articles analyzing the IRS foreign trust filing requirements and have expressed their opinion that a Fideicomiso is not a foreign trust and should not have to file Form 3520 and 3520A. That is good theory, but does not reflect the position of the IRS.  Unfortunately the  Fideicomiso document is worded  as a foreign trust, holds title to the property in your behalf, and is administered by the Mexican Bank trustee. The IRS has never issued any pronouncement in  writing  that exempts Fideicomisos from filing the forms. Representatives of the IRS have indicated that it does not  have any plan to exempt Fideicomisos from filng these forms. Therefore, if you chose not to file you are at risk of  being assessed the high penalties for nonfiling as set forth previously.
If you own your Mexican real estate through a Mexican corporation you are required to file Form 5471 each year with your US income tax return. This form reports various information on the shareholders, income and expenses, and assets and liabilities of the corporation and the property it holds.  Failure to file this form on filing it late can result in a $10,000 per year penalty.  If you have a reasonable excuse for late filing that penalty is currently usually waived, though this policy may change in the future.

Don D. Nelson is a U.S. Attorney and C.P.A.  who has been assisting US Citizens who live, work or own property in Mexico with their US tax  return filing requirements  and tax planning for over 20 years.  He is a recognized US international and expatriate tax expert.  In the past six years he has assisted a large number of Americans file their Fideicomiso US Tax Forms and has been  to date very successful in helping all of them avoid any penalties for filing past years or filing late.

No  need to visit his office. All services and return preparation is provided to clients by phone, email, fax and the internet. Contact him if you need assistance filing the required Fideicomiso US Tax forms.  Most accoutants and tax preparers do not understand these forms or know they exist. Since the forms are not filed with your personal tax return, they can be prepared and filed separately from that return.  Our if you wish, we can prepare all of your US and state income tax forms.

 Visit Don' websites at &  Email:   US Phone (949)481-4092.

For the lastest developments and news concerning US and Mexican taxes visit his blog at