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Tag Archive for Passive Foreign Investment Company

PFIC And Canadian Mutual Funds

Why are PFIC rules important for holders of Canadian mutual fund?

Many American citizens living or working in Canada have invested in Canadian mutual funds – likewise, many Canadians who subsequently moved to the United States retained their Canadian mutual funds holdings. They likely are unaware of the PFIC rules. Consequently many American taxpayers holding Canadian PFIC have not met their reporting obligations. Not only that  but PFIC investments are to be avoided since its taxation (with the exception of the QEF regime) is designed to be punitive. Read more

Foreign Mutual Funds: The Horror Story

Mutual funds are defined as “an investment vehicle that is made up of a pool of funds collected from many investors for the purpose of investing in securities such as stocks, bonds, money market instruments, and similar assets.”

The logic behind investing in mutual funds is that, instead of placing money directly into the Stock Market and losing due to incorrect speculation, the investment is handled by efficient fund managers. Risks are lowered due to the diversification of the portfolio according to an individual’s risk tolerance. That’s what mutual funds are for those who didn’t know.

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Dividends from Foreign Corporations Part 2 – “Controlled Foreign Corporations”

As detailed in my last blog posting, “qualified dividend income” is taxed at beneficial lower tax rates and can be received from both domestic (US) corporations and certain “qualified” foreign (non-US) corporations. A “qualified foreign corporation” excludes a so-called “Passive Foreign Investment Company” or, PFIC. Subject to this limitation, the term “qualified foreign corporation” means any foreign corporation that is incorporated in a possession of the United States or that is eligible for the benefits of a comprehensive US income tax treaty which the IRS has determined is satisfactory for qualified dividend purposes. In addition, a foreign corporation will be treated as a “qualified’ with respect to any dividend paid by the corporation on stock which is readily tradable on an established securities market in the United States. The Internal Revenue Code does not exclude a so-called “controlled foreign corporation” Read more

PFICs – A Fairytale Definition; Lives Happily Ever After

What is a PFIC?

A PFIC is a so-called “Passive Foreign Investment Company” which is defined to include any foreign (non-US) corporation if 75% or more of its gross income for the year consists of “passive income” (“income test”), or (2) at least 50% of the average fair market value of its assets during the year are assets that produce or are held for the production of passive income (“asset test”). Passive income generally includes dividends, interest, rents, royalties, most foreign currency and commodity gains, and capital gains from assets that produce such income. As pointed out in my earlier tax blog post just about all of the income of a foreign fund will usually qualify as passive and so, nearly all foreign funds will qualify as PFICs. Read more

IRS Gives Good News on Passive Foreign Investment Companies

Creeping up to the New Year, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) showed an uncharacteristic sign of holiday goodwill. On December 30, 2013 the IRS issued Temporary Treasury Regulations providing guidance with regard to so-called “passive foreign investment companies” (“PFIC”). The areas covered in the Regulations include guidance in determining ownership of a PFIC (specifically, attributing ownership of PFIC stock through partnerships, estates and trusts), the annual filing requirements for shareholders of PFICs and guidance on the exception to the requirement for certain shareholders of foreign corporations to file Form 5471, “Information Return of U.S. Persons with Respect to Certain Foreign Corporations.’

Broadly speaking, the US tax laws impose a special tax and interest charge on a US person that is a shareholder of a PFIC when the investor receives an “excess distribution” from the Read more

US Tax Disaster – Offshore Funds, Life Policies, Portfolio Bonds

growing taxWhat Every American Investor Must Know

Many American investors are confused by sales pitches of expat investment advisors who are unfamiliar with United States tax laws. While it is true that no tax may be payable in the fund’s jurisdiction (Isle of Man, Guernsey or the UAE, for instance), significant US taxes are payable by the American owner. Confusion abounds when Americans invest in foreign mutual funds, life policies, savings plans, portfolio bonds and similar fund arrangements as compared to when they invest in US-based funds.

Generally, with a US fund virtually all of the income and the gains are distributed annually to investors and reported directly on their US tax returns. The fund sends both the investor and the IRS a form 1099 detailing the shareholder’s income earned in the fund. Foreign investment vehicles are not subject to this kind of disclosure. The American investor must flounder along and determine the proper US tax treatment of his investment.

The US tax laws are clearly designed to deter US persons from investing in offshore funds, whether the investment is made directly or indirectly (e.g., through a BVI company, non-US trust etc.). They prevent the income or gains from escaping US taxation and, impose harsh sanctions on the US investor eliminating any possible tax deferral. Read more