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Tag Archive for Form 3520A

Treasury Exempts Applicable “Tax-Favored Foreign Trusts” From The Form 3520… And Therefore Form 3520A Requirement

Form 3520 And Form 3520A

Introduction – A small step for forms, one giant leap for “formkind”

It’s true. Many Americans abroad will no longer have to file Form 3520 and Form 3520A to report their lives abroad! Early indications appear that many Americans will (assume their retirement vehicle does qualify as a trust) be required to report on Form 3520. This new initiative from Treasury a positive step in the right direction.

I have long thought that Treasury could solve many of the problems experienced by Americans abroad. Here is a wonderful example of Treasury taking the initiative to clarify the obvious:

Americans abroad do NOT use non-U.S. pension plans and non-U.S. tax-advantaged investing accounts to evade U.S. taxes. Hence, there is NO reason for the Form 3520 reporting requirement. This is an example of the tax compliance industry sitting down with Treasury, explaining a problem and getting a resolution. I suggest (and hope) that the same can be done for PFIC (Form 8621), Small Business Corporations (Form 5471) and other penalty-laden forms.

Yes, this announcement from Treasury in the form of RP 20-17 is a great achievement. Although it certainly doesn’t solve all the problems, it’s:

A small step for forms, one giant leap for “formkind”

The background to this problem – It starts in 1996 (same year as the beginning of the Exit Tax)…

Since 1996 Internal Revenue Code 6048 has required extensive reporting of almost any interaction with a foreign trust. Treasury has required that the reporting take place on Forms 3520 and 3520A. The forms are complex and subject to the draconian penalty regime described in Internal Revenue Code Section 6677. In order for an entity to be a foreign trust, it must be a trust. A “trust” for IRS purposes is defined by the Treasury Regulations as:

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Treasury Should Be Proactive In Mitigating Prospective Foreign Trust And Other Form Problems

JOHN RICHARDSON On Foreign Trusts

What are the requirements for an arrangement to qualify as a “trust” under the Internal Revenue Code?

1. Definitions are found in Internal Revenue Code 7701.

2. Treasury Reg. 301.7701-4(a) defines a trust as for Internal Revenue Code purposes as:

“an arrangement created either by will or inter vivos declaration whereby trustees take title to property for the purpose of protecting and conserving it for the beneficiaries under the ordinary rules applied in chancery or probate courts . . . . Generally speaking, an arrangement will be treated as a trust under the Internal Revenue Code if it can be shown that the purpose of the arrangement is to vest in trustees responsibility for the protection and conservation of property for beneficiaries who cannot share in the discharge of this responsibility and, therefore, are not associates in a joint enterprise for the conduct of business for profit”

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Be Form Warned And Form Armed: The Easiest Way To Receive A Form 3520A Penalty Would Be To File A Form 3520

John Richardson

There is evidence from both tax practitioners and from individuals that Americans abroad are suffering from a “Form 3520A” penalty epidemic. Some of the best discussion of both the scope and technicalities of this problem may be found at Tax Connections. See particularly the posts herehere and here. (Mr. Carter’s original post was also reproduced at American Expat Finance.) The posts have attracted commentary from a number of tax professionals. The IRS Taxpayer Advocate has been invited to intervene.

“Tax Compliant” Americans Abroad are just a penalty waiting to happen!

Americans abroad are potentially required a very large number of IRS forms. My point is simple. It’s the “possible” requirement to file International Information Returns that makes Americans abroad so vulnerable to the IRS penalty regime. As I commented at Tax Connections:

The only reason that the Form 3520A penalty was imposed was because a Form 3520 was filed!

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