<![CDATA[MILLEN TAX & LEGAL GMBH - Blog]]>Fri, 09 Sep 2022 06:15:15 +0200Weebly<![CDATA[What is this New Nominee Reporting Obligation under the PTP Withholding Provisions of the Proposed QI Agreement?]]>Wed, 07 Sep 2022 09:24:41 GMThttp://millentaxandlegal.ch/blog/what-is-this-new-nominee-reporting-obligation-under-the-ptp-withholding-provisions-of-the-proposed-qi-agreementAmongst the unexpected and peculiar features of the proposed Qualified Intermediary (QI) Agreement–as expanded to cover withholding on payments from publicly-traded partnerships (PTPs)–the new nominee reporting requirement per §6031 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) stands apart.
 
Background to the Revamped Sections of the Proposed QI Agreement
In May 2022, the US Treasury Department released IRS Notice 2022-23, a proposed revision to the QI Agreement. Under the new draft sections, QIs may assume withholding and reporting obligations under §§ 1446(a) and 1446(f) of the US Treasury Regulations for payments connected to PTPs. The new provisions for PTP withholding are needed because a Non-US Person who sells an interest in a partnership that could earn income effectively connected with a US trade or business is subject to US federal income taxation per §864(c)(8) of the 2017 tax legislation. In parallel to this substantive rule, Congress added a new withholding dimension under §1446, imposing on a buyer of an interest subject to §864(c)(8) the obligation to withhold 10% of the amount realized.
 
For further elaboration on these concepts, please refer the MTL blogs on §§ 864(c)(8) and 1446(a) and (f), here.
 
The §1446(f) statutory provision, however, did not explain how that ought to work for PTPs, where the buyer and seller are typically invisible to one another. As such, the US Treasury Department promptly suspended the withholding regime for PTPs via IRS Notice 2018-02 and, via a series of subsequent notifications and the publication of the withholding regulations in late 2020, eventually, pushed the activation date to 1 January 2023. With the revamped QI Agreement, the PTP withholding regime is moving into the implementation phase. As stated in the preamble to Notice 2022-23, the objective of the new PTP sections to the QI Agreement is straightforward: To align the treatment of PTP payments with those of payments traditionally processed by non-US custodial institutions. However, rather than ensuring frictionless continuity from dividend withholding to PTP payment withholding, the proposed QI Agreement introduces a few novel aspects to the QI Regime.
 
Nominee Reporting Requirements under the Proposed QI Agreement for PTP Withholding
Some novel aspects of the proposed QI Agreement for PTP Withholding, such as the new official QI status of the “Disclosing QI” and strict demands for US Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TINs) from non-US Persons, may be disruptive of existing QI operations. Only one new feature, however, obliges parties to set up and maintain a fresh tax reporting mechanism: Nominee reporting.
 
Nominee reporting per §6031(c) of the IRC is not a new provision and it serves an essential role outside the QI Regime. Anytime a nominee holds a partnerships interest (of any partnership, not just a PTP), the nominee is charged with ensuring that the partnership has sufficient information on the beneficial owner to provide an accurate Schedule K-1 to the partner and analogous return to the IRS. Prior to this year’s draft QI Agreement, the §6031(c) concept of a “nominee” was commonly understood to refer to a Person holding the reportable partnership interest during the partnership’s tax year in its own name on behalf of the beneficial owner of the interest (see e.g. Treas. Regs. §1.6031(c)-1T). For this reason and because PTP and other partnership interests were previously held in non-QI accounts, nominee reporting did not concern the QI system. That has now changed.
 
Proposed Section 2.92 of the new draft QI Agreement adds a series of new definitions to accommodate the jargon of PTP withholding and partnership taxation, one of which is a definition of a “Nominee,” which explicitly includes Withholding QIs. Furthermore, proposed Section 8.07 widens the nominee reporting requirement to the other types of QI statuses, as follows–
  • Withholding QIs may EITHER prepare the nominee reporting information set forth in Treas. Regs. §1.6031(c)-1T(a) and deliver it to the PTP or its designated agent OR prepare the nominee reporting information set forth in Treas. Regs. §1.6031(c)-1T(h) and provide it to the PTP interest’s account holder (i.e. the beneficial owner partner or to the next intermediary in the payment chain).
  • Non-withholding QIs must fulfill identical nominee reporting duties as Withholding QIs (despite not being explicitly named in the definition of a “Nominee” in Section 2.92).
  • Disclosing QIs must deliver the information described above for §1.6031(c)-1T(a) to the PTP or its designated agent or to its own nominee (i.e. the intermediary immediately upstream from it in the payment chain), which must formally operate as either an agent of the PTP or of the QI.
 
While the mechanics of nominee reporting under IRC §6031 are markedly less cumbersome than some of the other reporting required of QIs, it constitutes an additional reporting function that must be set up, tested and maintained. First, the QI must be certain it can collect all mandatory information (notably, US TINs) before it opts for a strategy, which may depend upon interchanges of information with third parties, which tend to slow down or complicate tax reporting. Second, PTP interests may need to be shifted across custodial accounts in order to avert duplicative reports to the IRS. Third, if the QI decides to adopt the option under§ 1.6031(c)-1T(h) to intermediate the K-1s from the PTP to the beneficial owner partner, it will need a grasp of US partnership taxation concepts to provide a meaningful review of the information for which it is responsible. Finally, any defect with respect to nominee reporting is a material failure (Section 10.03(B)(1)) which, if left uncorrected, would lead to an event of default and the termination of the entity’s QI status.
 
While any of the above challenges around nominee reporting under IRC §6031 and the new PTP Withholding provisions of the proposed QI Agreement may be softened in the final version of the QI Agreement (the IRS expressly requested comments on Section 8.07 in the preamble), It is a necessary evil. Thus, nominee reporting will likely remain a new and unexpected obligation for most QIs to fulfil.
 
If you wish to discuss the above analysis or any other aspects of the QI Regime in greater detail, please contact us at paul@millentaxandlegal.ch to arrange a conversation.]]>
<![CDATA[Delay to the §871(m) Dividend Equivalent Withholding Regime]]>Thu, 25 Aug 2022 14:05:04 GMThttp://millentaxandlegal.ch/blog/delay-to-the-871m-dividend-equivalent-withholding-regimeOn 23 August, the IRS released Notice 2022-37, extending the current lite version of the §871(m) regime, which has been in effect since the issuance of Notice 2016-76 (and was further prolonged via Notices 2018-72 and 2020-2). Per the terms of the new Notice, the “§871(m) Lite” regime shall remain in effect for at least another two years.
 
The lite version of §871(m) relaxes the following key elements of the §871(m) regime, each of which was prolonged per the new Notice–
  • Only derivative instruments with a delta equal to one at the time of issuance will be in-scope for §871(m) withholding. This limitation to delta one products has multiple material consequences, such as–
    • The exclusion of virtually any product with an optionality dimension
    • A reduction in the overall volume of in-scope derivative instruments
    • The sidelining of the Substantial Equivalent Test for complex contracts (as their deltas by definition cannot be measured and thus cannot equal one)
  • The simplification of the “combination transaction” anti-abuse rule so that only products that are deliberately packaged together must be treated as a single derivative instrument under §871(m) Lite
  • The extension of a “good faith” defense for Withholding Agents and taxpayers in cases of non-compliance
  • The allowance for Qualified Derivatives Dealers (QDDs) qua QDDs to continue to receive actual dividend payments gross (i.e. not just synthetic ones), thereby allowing QDDs to continue to hedge their exposures as derivative issuers with physical equites, rather than only with equity derivative instruments
  • The relief for QDDs until 2025 to satisfy the full set of compliance duties prescribed by the Qualified Intermediary Agreement, such as periodic reviews and the determination of their so-called “net delta”
 
Undoubtedly, the extension is welcome news. Few affected parties were ready to revamp their withholding mechanisms and other system’s requirements by 1 January 2023 in time to fulfill their duties under a new §871(m) regime or under a reversion to the 2015 §871(m) Treasury Regulations. Thanks to Notice 2022-37, all affected parties will enjoy another full two-year period to implement any changes to the §871(m) regime. The problem now is not knowing what those changes are.
 
The latest §871(m) extension provided scant indication of how or when the IRS intends to revise the regime as set out in the 2015 §871(m) Treasury Regulations. We can reasonably draw two conclusions about the future of §871(m): It will neither remain in its Lite form nor revert to the regime described in the 2015 Treasury Regulations. If either of those outcomes were its permanent destiny, then presumably the IRS would have said so by now. Instead, we must wait and wonder what regime change will come.]]>
<![CDATA[Section 871(m): The Sleeping Giant Awakens?]]>Tue, 05 Apr 2022 11:59:02 GMThttp://millentaxandlegal.ch/blog/section-871m-the-sleeping-giant-awakens
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<![CDATA[The Corporate Transparency Act Starter FAQs – The Genesis of a National Beneficial Owner Registry]]>Wed, 09 Feb 2022 07:00:00 GMThttp://millentaxandlegal.ch/blog/the-corporate-transparency-act-starter-faqs-the-genesis-of-a-national-beneficial-owner-registryQ1. What is the Corporate Transparency Act?
A1. At the end of 2020, the US Congress enacted the Corporate Transparency Act, mandating that the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of the Department of the Treasury establish and operate a federal beneficial owner registry.
 
Q2. How does the Corporate Transparency Act function?
A2. The Corporate Transparency Act compels entities qualifying as “Reporting Companies” to disclose all US and non-US Person beneficial owners of the Reporting Company.
 
Q3. What counts as a Reporting Company pursuant to the Corporate Transparency Act?
A3. The Reporting Companies includes all US corporations, US limited liability companies (LLCs) and other similar enterprises that are created by the filing of a document with a secretary of state or similar state office.
For more on Reporting Companies please refer to:
Q4. Are any US entities not Reporting Companies under the Corporate Transparency Act?
A4. Yes, entities that do not need to register with or submit a form to a secretary of state or similar state office in order to be set up do not qualify as Reporting Companies. Examples vary by state, as each state sets its own requirements, but generally the omitted entities include simple partnerships and trusts.​
For more on trusts under the Corporate Transparency Act, please refer to:
Q5. So only a US entity can qualify as a Reporting Company per the Corporate Transparency Act?
A5. No, but a non-US entity will not qualify unless it actively registered to do business in a US State.
 
Q6. Who counts as a “Beneficial Owner” for purposes of the Corporate Transparency Act?
A6. The definition of Beneficial Owners refers to “any individual who, directly or indirectly, through any contract, arrangement, understanding, relationship, or otherwise—(i) exercises substantial control over the entity; or (ii) owns or controls not less than 25% of the ownership interests of the entity.”
 
Q7. What counts as substantial control under the Corporate Transparency Act?
A7. There is no definition of substantial control provided, but three of the indicators of substantial control specified are (1) service as a senior officer; (2) authority over the appointment or removal of any senior officer or dominant majority of the board of directors; and (3) direction, determination, or decision of, or substantial influence over, important matters of the Reporting Company.
 
Q8. Does indirect ownership by a Beneficial Owner refer to ownership stakes held through other entities?
A8. Yes, and there are no blockers.
 
Q9. Will the Reporting Company need to apply ownership aggregation rules in order to calculate ownership percentages?
A9. Yes, almost surely, but hopefully milder versions than the ones set out in the US tax code.
For more on Beneficial Owners please refer to:
Q10. Are the Beneficial Owners the only reportable parties under the Corporate Transparency Act?
A10. No, a Reporting Company must also disclose its Company Applicant, who is the person who signed or authorized the Reporting Company’s registration or application for establishment with the relevant secretary of state or similar state office.
 
Q11. What information needs to be disclosed under the Corporate Transparency Act?
A11. The Reporting Company must disclose the following “Beneficial Owner Information” (or “BOI”) for each of its natural persons qualifying as reportable–
  • Full legal name;
  • Date of birth;
  • Current residential or business street address; and
  • A unique identifying number from one of a set of approved documents and a copy of that document.
The Reporting Company must also disclose information on itself, as follows–
  • Full legal name;
  • A trade name or “doing business as” name, if any;
  • Current business street address;
  • The jurisdiction of formation; and
  • The TIN or EIN issued by the IRS.
 
Q12. Is the information reported under the Corporate Transparency Act confidential?
A12. The registry is non-public, but the information is not completely off-limits. The registry information will be made available to other federal agencies for purposes of law enforcement and, in limited circumstances, to other governments pursuant to a valid request
 
Q13. How many times must a Reporting Company disclose its Beneficial Owner?
A13. Just one time is mandatory, but the Reporting Company must update the disclosure within one year of a change in circumstance to the beneficial ownership information originally submitted.
                                                                                         
Q14. By when must a Reporting Company disclose its Beneficial Owners and Company Applicant?
A14. The Corporate Transparency Act’s mandatory disclosures must be made at the time of formation for Reporting Companies established on or after the effective date of the forthcoming final regulations. Reporting Companies already in existence at that time must submit the disclosure within two years from the effective date of the final regulations.​
For more on the reporting mechanics and confidentiality safeguards under the Corporate Transparency Act, please refer to:
Q15. Can any of this change before the Corporate Transparency Act comes into force?
A15. Yes, but it is most unlikely. On 7 December 2021, FinCEN released the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for FinCEN Rule 6403, setting forth the pending regulations for the Corporate Transparency Act after having digested the comments submitted from interested parties. The final regulations are expected in a few months and are unlikely to contain material revisions.
 
If you wish to learn more about the Corporate Transparency Act, please select one of the following topics–

    To arrange a conversation with us about the Corporate Transparency Act, ​please use the form below or email us.

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<![CDATA[The Corporate Transparency Act – The impact on trusts]]>Mon, 07 Feb 2022 06:45:10 GMThttp://millentaxandlegal.ch/blog/the-corporate-transparency-act-the-impact-on-trustsAs dissected in an earlier blog - The Corporate Transparency Act – Who must file, the term “Reporting Company” under the Corporate Transparency Act is defined to include: (1) a US corporation; (2) a US limited liability company (LLC) or (3) any other US entity that is created by the filing of a document with state authorities (plus any non-US entity that registers to do business in a US state). The third prong is subject to interpretation, but envisaged to include limited liability partnerships, limited liability limited partnerships, business trusts (a/k/a statutory trusts or Massachusetts trusts), and most limited partnerships. Critically for trustees and other fiduciaries, the definition seems to exclude most trusts because few such trusts must file a document with a secretary of state or similar office of a jurisdiction within the United States for their establishment.
 
On this basis, trustees will not need to disclose Beneficial Owner Information (or “BOI”) of any US trusts they administered unless the trust owns underlying companies that qualify as Reporting Companies, for example US LLCs. In that admittedly common circumstance, the trustee must review the Beneficial Owners of any Reporting Company it administers and disclose their Beneficial Owner Information. There is also a requirement to disclose the “Company Applicant”, generally referring to the person who signed the document registering the Reporting Company. The Corporate Transparency Act roughly aligns the definition of a Beneficial Owner for a Reporting Company with the one set out in the Financial Action Task Force’s 2012 recommendations (known as the “FATF Recommendations”). Accordingly, a Beneficial Owner is any natural person–
  • Owning–directly or indirectly–25% or more of the ownership interests (broadly, equity interests) in a relevant entity; or
  • Exercising “substantial control” over the entity, including via any contracts, arrangements, understandings, relationships, or otherwise (as reviewed in this previous blog - The Corporate Transparency Act – What information must you provide)
 
Crucially for trustees, any qualifying Beneficial Owner interests held through a trust are attributable as indirect holdings of the trust to one or more parties to the trust. Furthermore, throughout the NPRM, FinCEN appears inclined towards a maximalist approach that treats any Persons connected with the trust with the authority to demands distributions for themselves–as a mandatory beneficiary or as the sole discretionary beneficiary–or to mandate them for others–such as settlors, trustees or other parties vested with powers of appointment–as potential BOs (Prop. Reg. 31 CFR 1010.380(d)(3)(ii)(C)). But the scope of the term indirect beneficial ownership as applied to interests held through trusts is in not-yet fully settled.
 
As set out in the preamble to the NPRM, FinCEN is calling for comments in advance of the final regulations as to which parties to a trust will be indirectly attributed the holdings of the trust. The two familiar methods for assigning indirect ownership of trust assets are the IRS one and the FATF one. The IRS method ascribes tax ownership to settlors of grantor trusts and beneficiaries of non-grantor trust under a facts and circumstances test that is rife with subjectivity. FinCEN may prefer the blunter–but more easily administered–FATF method. Under FATF definitions (imported into the FATCA IGAs and CRS), certain parties are classified as Beneficial Owners (i.e. “Controlling Persons”) of the trust based on their title. As FinCEN is seeking a binary answer–reportable or not–and does not calculate a tax on a portion of the trust’s income, the FATF method is probably the more attractive one.
 
As such, it seems likely that trust companies may need to conduct a non-trivial amount of reporting on their clients, as well as on their own trustees and other personnel. Therefore, every US and non-US trust company administering US holdings for its clients, should prepare for such an outcome and assess the compliance resources necessary to satisfy the reporting for the LLCs and other Reporting Companies it administers.
 
That is not the end though. If a non-US trustee administers a structure that holds US assets (even where no component entity of that structures is itself US), clients may be reportable by Reporting Companies not administered by the trustee. Most prominently, such reporting will involve US private equity and real estate investments, which often involve US LLCs or LLPs. These holding structures often divide and allocate income streams for US income tax profiles. Due to these apportionments, a fund investor with a non-major share in the overall fund may in fact own controlling portions of certain US entities embedded within the structure. As a client service, trustees may opt to analyze these scenarios in advance and ready its clients for the consequences (for example, reportable parties may apply for a “FinCEN identifier” to maintain anonymity towards third-party Reporting Companies).
 
If you wish to learn more about the Corporate Transparency Act, please select one of the following topics–

    To arrange a conversation with us about the Corporate Transparency Act, ​please use the form below or email us.

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<![CDATA[The Corporate Transparency Act – What information must you provide]]>Mon, 07 Feb 2022 06:44:38 GMThttp://millentaxandlegal.ch/blog/the-corporate-transparency-act-what-information-must-you-provideAt the end of 2020, the US Congress enacted the Corporate Transparency Act, mandating that the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of the Department of the Treasury establish and operate a US Federal Beneficial Owner Registry. On 7 December 2021, FinCEN released the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for FinCEN Rule 6403, setting forth the pending regulations for the Corporate Transparency Act after having digested the comments submitted from interested parties. The proposed regulations in the NPRM address: (1) who must file; (2) when and how you must file; and (3) what information you must provide (including the scope of reportable Beneficial Owners). The following blog looks at point (3).

For an analysis of points (1) and (2), please refer to:
For an assessment of the impact of the Corporate Transparency Act on trusts, please refer to:  
What information must you provide (Prop. Reg. 31 CFR 1010.380(d))
 
The Corporate Transparency Act compels Reporting Companies to disclose all US and non-US Person Beneficial Owners of the Reporting Company. The definition of Beneficial Owners per the Corporate Transparency Act refers to “any individual who, directly or indirectly, through any contract, arrangement, understanding, relationship, or otherwise—(i) exercises substantial control over the entity; or (ii) owns or controls not less than 25% of the ownership interests of the entity.”
 
There is no definition of “substantial control” provided for purposes of the Corporate Transparency Act, but three indicators of substantial control specified are (1) service as a senior officer; (2) authority over the appointment or removal of any senior officer or dominant majority of the board of directors; and (3) direction, determination, or decision of, or substantial influence over, important matters of the Reporting Company. However, a fourth miscellaneous category seeks to captures anyone exercising any other form of “substantial control” over the Reporting Company. This control may be exercised directly or indirectly via proxies.
 
As for the ownership prong, in most cases of direct ownership the application of the threshold will demand little more expertise than grade school arithmetic. However, FinCEN is already safeguarding against the anticipated efforts to avert reporting through opaque structuring (“indirectly”) or financial chicanery (“through any contract, arrangement, understanding, relationship, or otherwise”).
 
Any equity interests in a Reporting Company (or interests treated as such, see below) that are held through another entity must be calculated as a percentage of ownership of the Reporting Company and attributed to the natural person(s) owning the other entity. This amount must be added to any other amounts owned directly or indirectly in the Reporting Company. Further, FinCEN intends to promulgate an aggregation requirement such that equity interests held by related or subordinate parties must be added to any other amounts owned directly or indirectly in the Reporting Company. The complexity of these aggregation rules is not yet settled. Finally, there are essentially no blocker companies to obscure or dilute Beneficial Ownership. Only if the Reporting Company is owned via a company exempt from reporting under the Corporate Transparency Act (e.g. utilities, banks, charities; see this blog - The Corporate Transparency Act – Who must file, for further elaboration) may the identity of the ultimate Beneficial Owner be withheld.
 
Furthermore, the use of capital or profit interests (including partnership interests), options, warrants, convertible debt instruments and any other type of contract right granting the holder control over a Reporting Company akin to equity-based control all count too. Thus, the concept of beneficial ownership for purposes of the Corporate Transparency Act is broad, tall, and deep. In theory, therefore, only the five specifically excepted parties–minor children, nominee agents, employees qualifying solely due to their employment, rights holders due to future inheritance and certain creditors–will escape disclosure of their “Beneficial Ownership Information.” In fact, the only parties from whom Beneficial Owners can conceal their identities under the Corporate Transparency Act are the Reporting Companies they ostensibly control. By means of a FinCEN Identifier, Beneficial Owners may be reported under an identifying number obtained from FinCEN. In this way, the Reporting Companies can fulfil their disclosure obligations without learning the identity of their Beneficial Owners.
 
In addition to its Beneficial Owners, a Reporting Company must also disclose its “Company Applicant” to FinCEN under the Corporate Transparency Act. The Company Applicant is the person who signed or authorized the Reporting Company’s registration or application for establishment with the relevant secretary of state or similar state office.
 
The Reporting Company must disclose the following Beneficial Ownership Information for each of its natural persons qualifying as a Beneficial Owner or Company Applicant–
  • Full legal name;
  • Date of birth;
  • Current residential or business street address; and
  • A unique identifying number from one of a set of approved documents and a copy of that document.
 
Furthermore, the Reporting Company must also disclose information on itself, as follows–
  • Full legal name;
  • A trade name or “doing business as” name, if any;
  • Current business street address;
  • The jurisdiction of formation; and
  • The TIN or EIN issued by the IRS.
 
The Reporting Company and Beneficial Ownership Information reported on the FINCEN registry is non-public, but not completely inaccessible to outside parties. While the confidentiality measures around Beneficial Ownership Information will be the core theme of a subsequent FinCEN NPRM, the statute itself contemplates the distribution of confidential information to other US government agencies, to banks in special circumstances and even to foreign government authorities. The topic of confidentiality safeguards will be the focus of a later blog, once the NPRM for the Corporate Transparency Act focused on that subject is issued.
 
If you wish to learn more about the Corporate Transparency Act, please select one of the following topics–

    To arrange a conversation with us about the Corporate Transparency Act, ​please use the form below or email us.

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<![CDATA[The Corporate Transparency Act – When and how must you file]]>Mon, 07 Feb 2022 06:44:05 GMThttp://millentaxandlegal.ch/blog/the-corporate-transparency-act-when-and-how-must-you-fileAt the end of 2020, the US Congress enacted the Corporate Transparency Act, mandating that the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of the Department of the Treasury establish and operate a US Federal Beneficial Owner Registry. On 7 December 2021, FinCEN released the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for FinCEN Rule 6403, setting forth the pending regulations for the Corporate Transparency Act after having digested the comments submitted from interested parties. The proposed regulations in the NPRM address: (1) who must file; (2) when and how you must file; and (3) what information you must provide (including the scope of reportable Beneficial Owners). The following blog looks at point (2) and the enforcement provisions.

For an analysis of points (1) and (3), please refer to:
For an assessment of the impact of the Corporate Transparency Act on trusts, please refer to this blog.
When and how must you file (Prop. Reg. 31 CFR 1010.380(a))
 
All non-exempt Reporting Companies–US or non-US–must file at least one Beneficial Owner disclosure (the “Initial Report”) under the Corporate Transparency Act. US Reporting Companies in existence (and non-US Reporting Companies already registered) as of the activation date of the final regulations will have one year from that date to file the Initial Report with FinCEN. US Reporting Companies set up (and non-US Reporting Companies first registered) on or after the activation date of the final regulations will be required to file their Initial Report with FinCEN within 14 calendar days of the date on which they are set up or registered, respectively.
 
Submission of the Initial Report is the most significant step–but not the final one–to compliance under the Corporate Transparency Act. Reporting Companies must monitor their Beneficial Owners for any relevant changes in circumstances, such as a change to the information reported in the Initial Report or the identities of the Reporting Company’s Beneficial Owners. In the case of such a relevant change in circumstance, the Reporting Company must submit an Updated Report within 30 days of the change.
 
Prior to the activation date, FinCEN will organize a reporting portal and issue instructions, prescribing the form and manner for disclosure under the Corporate Transparency Act. Whether each disclosure will be made under penalties of perjury is not yet certain. However, each person filing a report will have to certify that it is accurate and complete, so at a minimum FinCEN intends to hold accountable the individuals filing on behalf of the Reporting Companies too.
 
How is it enforced (Prop. Reg. 31 CFR 1010.380(g))
 
Penalties for non-compliance with the Corporate Transparency Act can accrue swiftly. Intentional non-compliance in all its forms–including the non-disclosure of required information, the disclosure of inaccurate information or documentary evidence and the failure to file an Initial Report or Updated Report by the applicable deadlines–is punishable by civil penalties of up to USD 500 for each day the non-compliance continues. Furthermore, criminal non-compliance may result in fines of up to USD 10,000 and imprisonment for up to two years, or both.
 
Of perhaps greater interest than the amounts of the penalties is the scope of their application. Not only are Reporting Companies themselves subject to these penalties, but evidently any Beneficial Owners who refuse to provide (or provide false or misleading) information are too. It is plain from this pressure on all parties to cooperate at the risk of penalty that FinCEN is determined that non-compliance with the Corporate Transparency Act not be seen as a cost of doing business.
 
If you wish to learn more about the Corporate Transparency Act, please select one of the following topics–

    To arrange a conversation with us about the Corporate Transparency Act, ​please use the form below or email us.

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<![CDATA[The Corporate Transparency Act – Who must file]]>Mon, 07 Feb 2022 06:43:09 GMThttp://millentaxandlegal.ch/blog/the-corporate-transparency-act-who-must-fileAt the end of 2020, the US Congress enacted the Corporate Transparency Act, mandating that the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of the Department of the Treasury establish and operate a US Federal Beneficial Owner Registry. On 7 December 2021, FinCEN released the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for FinCEN Rule 6403, setting forth the pending regulations for the Corporate Transparency Act after having digested the comments submitted from interested parties. The proposed regulations in the NPRM address: (1) who must file; (2) when and how you must file; and (3) what information you must provide (including the scope of reportable Beneficial Owners). The following blog looks at point (1).

For an analysis of points (2) and (3), please refer to:
For an assessment of the impact of the Corporate Transparency Act on trusts, please refer to:  
Who must file (Prop. Reg. 31 CFR 1010.380(c))
 
In order to grasp the scope of entities charged with a reporting duty under the Corporate Transparency Act, it warrants considering the purpose of it. It is not tax-driven. Instead, this is an anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing tool. Accordingly, there are no efforts to identify which entities are likeliest to be used for tax evasion or to limit the information collected to that of US taxpayers. As such, it seems that Congress and FinCEN favor maximum coverage and enforceability over subtlety and efficiency; the Corporate Transparency Act is a mallet, not a scalpel.
 
To that end, the term “Reporting Company” is defined to include: (1) a US corporation; (2) a US limited liability company (LLC) or (3) any other US entity that is created by the filing of a document with state authorities (plus any non-US entity that registers to do business in a US state). The third prong is subject to interpretation, but envisaged to include limited liability partnerships, limited liability limited partnerships, business trusts (a/k/a statutory trusts or Massachusetts trusts), and most limited partnerships.
 
This scope is broad and the exceptions to it are limited to publicly traded companies, government entities and financial institutions, utilities, and other regulated firms. It is, however, neither consistent–as state laws may vary as to which entities must register–nor comprehensive–as it omits some partnerships, most trusts and all non-US entities except the handful registered to do business in a US state. On the other hand, it will be straightforward for FinCEN to compare registrants under the Corporate Transparency Act with the companies registered with the secretaries of state to identify scofflaws. Thus, in sum, it seems to be child’s play to avoid being in scope for the Corporate Transparency Act, but extremely difficult to get away with ignoring it, if you are in-scope.
 
For Swiss and other non-US administrators of US entities qualifying as Reporting Companies, the definition will be straightforward to apply with little need for a demanding analysis. However, in other circumstances, the presence of or a connection to a Reporting Company may be unexpected. For example, in many situations, people–US and non-US–hold US real property via a US LLC. As these LLCs are invariably disregarded for income tax purposes, they play little daily role in the investment structure. Now, they will trigger a disclosure duty. Less clear-cut scenarios may emerge out of fund structures, especially for alternative investments like private equity. These holding structures are set up using LLCs and other US entities in order to divide and allocate income streams for US income tax purposes. Due to these apportionments, a fund investor with a non-major share in the overall fund may in fact own significant portions of certain US entities embedded within the structure. In sum, Swiss and other non-US Persons will need to dissect their holding structure in order to conclusively determine which, if any, of the US entities they own or manage will qualify as Reporting Companies per the Corporate Transparency Act.
 
If you wish to learn more about the Corporate Transparency Act, please select one of the following topics–

    To arrange a conversation with us about the Corporate Transparency Act, ​please use the form below or email us.

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<![CDATA[The US Corporate Transparency Act: The Dawn of a US Entity Beneficial Owner Registry]]>Tue, 20 Apr 2021 11:52:32 GMThttp://millentaxandlegal.ch/blog/the-us-corporate-transparency-act-the-dawn-of-a-us-entity-beneficial-owner-registry​Deep within the nearly fifteen-hundred pages of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act resides an unlikely creature: The Corporate Transparency Act (CTA).
 The CTA compels US corporations, Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) and other similar enterprises (the “Reporting Companies”) to register US and non-US Persons with substantial beneficial ownership stakes on a non-public registry administered by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of the Department of the Treasury. Enacted by the US Congress on 1 January 2021, the CTA is being hailed by some transparency advocates as a major advance in the fight against tax havens and, at the same time, being criticized by others as porous. In parallel, the defenders of financial confidentiality also offer mixed reviews, lamenting the criminal enforcement provisions, while tacitly accepting that a change was going to come. How could a seismic shift in the US federal treatment of business enterprises established under state law produce such a tepid reaction? For both sides, it could be worse.
 
The efforts to convince the US Congress to legislate beneficial ownership disclosure requirements is not of recent genesis. Since the country cracked apart global banking secrecy for US taxpayers through FATCA, the hypocrisy of the dual role played by the US–leading tax enforcer against others, leading tax haven for itself–became less and less tenable. The Global Forum on Transparency Exchange of Information for Tax Purpose’s peer review of the US legislative and regulatory system in 2018 cited the lack of beneficial owner disclosure requirements in the corporate law of key US states as a critical defect. Nonetheless, with the federal legislative process paralyzed by partisan politics, significant change on a controversial topic seemed remote.
 
Therefore, to some surprise, the provisions of the new CTA follow many of the recommendations on beneficial ownership disclosure contained in the Global Forum‘s peer review report. Amongst other features, the CTA roughly aligns the definition of beneficial owner for a Reporting Company with the one set out in the Financial Action Task Force’s 2012 recommendations (the “FATF Recommendations”). Accordingly, a Beneficial Owner is any natural person–
  • Owning–directly or indirectly–25% or more of the ownership interests (broadly, equity interests) in a relevant entity; or
  • Exercising “substantial control” over the entity,
including via any contracts, arrangements, understandings, relationships, or otherwise.
 
In the absence of any party exercising control by ownership, the Reporting Company is obligated to nominate at least one natural person who exercises “substantial control” over the Reporting Company, even if that person does so as an executive officer of the Reporting Company, rather than as an owner of any kind. In this manner, the definition of a Beneficial Owner under the CTA tracks the cascading approach for company and partnership ownership set forth in the FATF Recommendations and adopted as the standard for Beneficial Owner identification under the OECD‘s Common Reporting Standard (CRS) and Mandatory Disclosure Rules (MDRs), the EU’s DAC6 and other multinational regimes.
 
In line with the adherence to the general FATF standard, the exceptions for both Reporting Companies and the natural persons who otherwise qualify as Beneficial Owners do not seem excessive. The definition of a Reporting Company excludes–
  • Publicly-traded companies;
  • Banks and numerous other types of regulated financial entities;
  • Pooled investment funds operated by one of the above types of regulated financial entities;
  • Registered public accounting firms;
  • Non-profit companies;
  • Companies consisting of 20 or more US-based full-time employees, with USD 5M or more in gross receipt or sales reported on its most recent tax filing and physical office space in the US;
  • Shelf companies that were established over year ago, but have not yet engaged in any active business activities or transferred funds in excess of USD 1000 in total, own no assets and have no direct or indirect non-US Person owners; and
  • Subsidiaries owned or controlled by any one or more of the above exempted entities.
 
The definition of a Beneficial Owners excludes natural persons who otherwise qualify as Beneficial Owners if they are–
  • Minors (so long as the parent or guardian is registered in their place);
  • Nominees, custodians or other similar types of agents;
  • Employees whose rights of control derive strictly from their employment;
  • Persons whose interests in the Reporting Company derive strictly from their inheritance prospects; and
  • Creditors qua creditors.
 
In short, the CTA did not create an effective disclosure system only to riddle it with exemptions. Instead, the exceptions–as written–seem proportionate and reasonable.
 
When a Reporting Company is not on the exemption list, however, it must disclose the following for each of its natural persons qualifying as a Beneficial Owner–
  • Full legal name;
  • Date of birth;
  • Current residential or business street address; and
  • A unique identifying number or a FinCEN identifier issued in accordance with the CTA.
The same information must also be disclosed on the Reporting Company’s “Applicant”, defined as the individual who filed the application to establish the Reporting Company under State law.
 
The CTA‘s mandatory disclosures must be made at the time of formation for Reporting Companies established on or after the effective date of the forthcoming CTA regulations. Reporting Companies already in existence at the time must submit the disclosure within two years from the effective date of the regulations. Going forward, the information on the Reporting Company must be updated within one year of a change in circumstance to the beneficial ownership information originally submitted.
 
Much of the above squarely matches the wish list of the advocates for enhanced ownership disclosure, so why is the CTA not an unalloyed triumph for transparency? Because of what’s missing. First of all, the Senate deleted from the final bill a third prong for qualification as a Beneficial Owner, which had been approved by the House of Representatives. This prong added any natural persons who receive “substantial economic benefits” from the Reporting Company. While the language of this clause was justifiably criticized as vague and overbroad, it did have a performative role: To thwart the foreseeable efforts to circumvent the other two prongs. As evidenced by the need for certain CRS anti-avoidance measures in the MDRs and the EU‘s DAC6 Directive, holding structures are ripe for reconfiguration so that beneficial owners of the assets can escape treatment as reportable. The absence of the deleted substantial economic benefits‘ prong will cede space for artful non-compliance with the registration rules.
 
Secondly, certain types of entities are out of scope based solely on their corporate form, not how they are or could be used to conceal the identities of their beneficial owners. The CTA applies to entities that must undergo a registration process under state law in order to be established. Uniformly, corporations, LLCs, limited liability partnerships (LLPs) and many other less common forms will meet this standard, but, crucially, most trusts and general partnerships do not. As such, privacy enthusiasts can contemplate how to stack their holding structures with entities that can make and safeguard investments, but do not qualify as Reporting Companies under the CTA. Nevertheless, proponents of transparency express optimism that the accompanying regulations, which must be promulgated by the Treasury Department within the year, will enlarge the scope of reporting in order to cut off this foreseeable mode of avoidance.
 
Finally, the Act applies only to US companies and non-US companies that register to do business in the US. Thus, many non-US entities may continue to invest freely in US businesses, earn US-source income and hold US-based assets outside the effect of the CTA.
 
Despite these alluring exceptions, the CTA will displease non-US Persons who–having invested into the US in conformity with the legal and regulatory landscape at the time–are now subject to registration. The consequences of this unwanted disclosure may be minimal. The registry is non-public (except for banks fulfilling certain due diligence obligations with the consent of the Reporting Company) and the penalties for unauthorized disclosure are an adequate deterrence. However, the information is not off-limits to all outsiders. US federal agencies may access the information for national security purposes and state agencies may access it with a court order. Further, and of significant interest to non-US Persons, non-US governmental agencies may obtain access to the information in pursuit of certain investigations. Theoretically, this provision could be construed broadly enough for the US to share information collected under the CTA as part of its future duties of reciprocity under FATCA Model 1 IGAs. Currently, the most extreme gap between the information exchanged on US Persons by reciprocal Model 1 IGA jurisdictions and received in return on their own taxpayers is the exemption on entity account holder reporting for US Financial Institutions (US FIs). If mined, the information from the CTA registry could substantially close that gap on many entity account holders at US FIs, while helping the US deflect claims that it benefits from–but does not contribute to–the worldwide system of financial information exchange it helped establish.
 
If you wish to discuss the incoming CTA rules in further detail, please contact me at paul@millentaxandlegal.ch.
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<![CDATA[The Audits are Coming, the Audits are Coming, the Swiss CRS Audits are…Here]]>Fri, 18 Sep 2020 08:05:29 GMThttp://millentaxandlegal.ch/blog/the-audits-are-coming-the-audits-are-coming-the-swiss-crs-audits-arehereNo rest for the compliant. So soon as one task ends for Swiss Financial Institutions (FIs), a new one rises up in its place. This hydra-headed regime for account reporting began with FATCA classification and registration in 2014, followed by due diligence and first reporting in 2015 and 2016 and then the same cycle again for OECD CRS in 2017, 2018 and 2019. The current year will be unforgettable for so many reasons, one of which is the emergence of a fully-fledged FATCA and CRS enforcement regime. Elements of this regime are varied, ranging from the issuance of FATCA group administrative requests to the evolution of the OECD’s Model Mandatory Disclosure Rules (MDRs) into the EU’s DAC6 and beyond. Swiss FIs though will endure one more burden that arrives in earnest this year: Statutory CRS audits.
 
Many outstanding questions remain about the shape and scope of the statutory CRS audits in Switzerland, especially as applied to trust companies, single family offices and other specialized operations. In light of this uncertainty, the Swiss Federal Tax Administration (SFTA) and at least one major audit firm orchestrated some pilot programs for late 2018 and 2019 in order to explore these questions in advance of the full-throated audit process set to begin in fall 2020. I advised and consulted with several large Swiss FIs, including leading trust companies, undergoing such CRS test audits. Below please find some of the key lessons learned.
 
Written materials are essential
  • The initial acts for the audit will be conducted off-site. The SFTA audit team will request and review your written documents related to the CRS compliance of the Swiss FI, such as policies and procedures, training materials, IT updates and form templates.
  • The availability, accuracy and comprehensiveness of these written materials will help determine the course of the audit.
    • Any Swiss FI providing a complete set of policies and procedures, documenting the underlying interpretations with references to Swiss-specific regulations and evidencing an operational framework for CRS compliance, will set the audit on its own terms.
    • On the other hand, the auditors for a Swiss FI without comprehensive policies and procedures must fill in the gaps based on assumptions and undocumented assurances, meaning that even where the CRS strategy is compliant, its execution will remain in constant doubt.
  • MTL advice: Prepare or purchase a comprehensive, written CRS Compliance Program for Switzerland (if you don’t have one already); compare your written CRS Compliance Program with your unwritten policies and procedures; and ensure that the two are compatible and then put them together to demonstrate a CRS-compliant FI based on these policies and procedures.
 
The auditor is expert
  • So soon as the SFTA announced their plans for far-ranging CRS audits of all Swiss FIs, the questions emerged: Does the SFTA have the resources to audit the tens of thousands of Swiss FIs themselves? If not, whom will they hire (or allow the Swiss FIs to hire) to conduct all these audits? Can the SFTA train the auditors sufficiently in CRS? How will the SFTA auditors handle the different interpretations and applications of CRS for different industries (e.g. banks, trusts and fiduciaries, asset managers and insurers)?
  • While several of these concerns remain viable, the final one–the expertise of the auditors as relates to specialized financial fields–appears settled. The early paranoia was that the SFTA would send in teams of under-trained junior staff with generic checklists that would prove ineffective or even useless in contact with the idiosyncrasies of the real world. However, that is not the case. In my experience with Swiss CRS audits thus far, the auditors are knowledgeable of CRS in general and of its application to the specific circumstances of different financial industries.
    • The very good news is, therefore, that certain niche industries will not need to exhaust their energies explaining a) how things work in their business and b) why, therefore, a certain CRS provision must be interpreted slightly differently for them than it would be for banks or the like.
    • Conversely, however, the same niche industries can no longer mystify the auditor by claiming that a certain CRS interpretation is customary and necessary in the special context of their business.
  • MTL advice: Review your CRS compliance interpretations in order to ensure that they conform to the Swiss norms as set out in the assortment of Swiss guidance, including the law, the ordinance and the guidance notes. Ideally, you can identify any inconsistencies in advance and either justify or remedy them. If, however, the auditor spots a disconnect between the Swiss FI’s operations and Switzerland’s regulatory requirements, do not dismiss the disconnect as industry-based; the auditors will be familiar with any such industry customs for CRS and such brashness could undermine your credibility.
 
On-site data must be accessible
  • Following a review of the requested written manuals, the auditors will conduct an on-site inspection, seeking to confirm through sample testing that the Swiss FI’s policies, practices and processes are implemented as designed.
  • The on-site audit team will specify an array of pre-selected entities, designed to capture the range of different CRS classifications. The inspection consists primarily of a review of records and of sample accounts for these entities, including documentation that is not CRS-related (e.g. trust deeds, offering memoranda).
  • MTL advice 1: Make sure the information sought by the audit team is readily accessible or you will needlessly irritate them and/or squander time as you hastily compile the requested information upon demand.
  • MTL advice 2: Be ready to explain and perhaps justify any aggressive classifications you either assumed for yourself or accepted from your FI’s own account holders and controlling persons. While the SFTA auditors will examine documentation covering a full range of different CRS classifications, they will tend to focus their follow-up questions on the higher risk classifications, such as Active NFEs or non-reportable statuses, including certain FIs. Inexplicable inconsistencies in the use of these classifications would be damaging.
 
The interviews will test the compliance methodology
  • As part of the written materials provided to the SFTA audit team at the onset of the CRS Audit, Swiss FIs must supply details on the project‘s logistics and team personnel. These details inform the selection of interviewees during the on-site portion of the audit and the questions they face.
  • The interviews ought not be underestimated. The SFTA audit team will conduct multi-hour interviews that aim to test to test the knowledge of team members and confirm consistency across organization. For example, an interviewee might be asked to explain all the CRS-related steps undertaken in an account opening situation or in the preparation of a CRS report. Proper answers to these open-ended scenarios must be learned through repetition and should not be crammed into the interviewee’s head the night before the interview.
  • MTL advice: Carefully select the CRS compliance team personnel you identify to the SFTA and define every role with precision because each member of your CRS compliance team might be interrogated about any topic covered by their ostensible role. Do not inflate the number of team members by adding junior colleagues or aggrandizing their contributions as they will struggle to respond to the interviewer’s questions.
 
The Swiss CRS audits will be a long, arduous journey for the SFTA. Despite impressive efforts to train staff and assemble audit teams, the sheer number of Swiss FIs necessitate a multi-year process. Further, whether you are a one-client Treuhand or a global banking behemoth, no Swiss FI knows when its time will might come or how much notice it will have to prepare itself for the audit. So far, the SFTA has notified the audited FIs well in advance, but that may easily shift once the audit program starts rolling. As such, the final item of MTL advice in this blog is this: Get started promptly in order to control the tempo of the process, rather than wait for the call from the auditors and subject yourself to their timeline.
 
For further support on the subject of Switzerland’s CRS audits, please email: paul@millentaxandlegal.ch
 
For A CRS Compliance Program for Fiduciaries (Swiss Edition)–and other materials critical to your CRS and FATCA compliance needs–please visit the CRS & FATCA General Store. Please see below for further information about our Swiss CRS Compliance Program.
 
A CRS Compliance Program for Fiduciaries (Swiss Edition)
  • With the Federal Tax Authority launching its CRS-specific audits for Swiss Financial Institutions (FIs), many Swiss trustees, Single Family Offices and other fiduciaries will need to enhance and further document their compliance programs.
  • Pursuant to the requirements in the Swiss CRS legislation, CRS Guidance Notes and other sources of applicable guidance (all reviewed in the original German), this document sets out a CRS Compliance Program for fiduciaries connected to Swiss private wealth management structures. It is, however, readily adaptable to other jurisdictions and types of FIs.
Per Article 32 of Switzerland’s CRS Law, failure to comply with CRS obligations is an offence punishable by a fine of up to CHF 250,000.]]>
<![CDATA[Do the proposed §1061 regulations finally close the carried interest “loophole“?]]>Thu, 20 Aug 2020 13:30:56 GMThttp://millentaxandlegal.ch/blog/do-the-proposed-1061-regulations-finally-close-the-carried-interest-loophole
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<![CDATA[DAC6 Reporting Dates Delayed for a Further Three Months? IT depends...]]>Tue, 28 Jul 2020 08:26:59 GMThttp://millentaxandlegal.ch/blog/dac6-reporting-dates-delayed-for-a-further-three-months-it-dependsLast month, some EU Member States determined that a one-time deferral of the 2020 DAC6 reporting deadlines is preferable to the contingent measures and extendable delays proposed by the European Commission (EC). In response to the EC’s 8 May proposal to postpone the key 2020 reporting dates for three months with an option to extend the postponement for another three months, if necessitated by the novel coronavirus crisis, several EU Member States (e.g. Belgium, France, Holland, Luxembourg) streamlined the process, adopting a single, six-month delay from the onset.
 
Originally, the EU had scheduled 1 July 2020 as the pivotal date for 2020 DAC6 reporting: Reports for Reportable Cross-Border Arrangements (RCBAs) entered into on or after 1 July were due within 30 days of the trigger event, whereas those RCBAs initiated between 25 June 2018 and 30 June 2020 were due in bulk by 31 August 2020. These dates no longer apply, at least in some EU Member States. Pursuant to their announcements of last week, 2020 DAC6 reporting in those jurisdictions is pushed back by 6 months (or less, depending on the date of the specific trigger event). Accordingly, the new onset date is 1 January 2021 and the bulk report are due on or before 28 February 2021.

The outstanding question is whether the other EU Member States will follow the lead of Belgium, France, Holland and Luxembourg or adopt another set of mooted deadlines. Alternative packages of deadlines could include the original deadlines with 1 July 2020 as the pivot date or the 8 May EC proposal deadlines with 1 October 2020 as the pivot date. Ideally, however, the other EU Member States will adopt the full 6-month delay as it will preserve cohesion across the regime, avoiding uncertainty in the rules, delays in reporting and needless complications for RCBAs involving multiple EU jurisdictions. However, as we have already seen that Germany and Austria opted for their own shorter delays, the possibility of fragmentation cannot be excluded. 
 
By retaining the overall reporting structure, the EU ensures that all information intended to be reported still needs to be reported in spite of the shifting deadlines. However, as a core aim of DAC6 is to identify an “aggressive” tax-planning scheme before it spreads widely, the longer delay saps more force from the DAC6 regime. Nonetheless, as was made clear in the preamble to the EC’s delay proposal, the pandemic and consequent EU-wide lock-downs left few alternatives as the reporting preparations of the affected parties–essentially, financial intermediaries and the tax authorities–were severely impaired due to emergency work limitations and personnel re-allocations.
 
For those not yet versed in the incoming disclosure regime, now is the time to ready yourself for it. DAC6 specifies sets of characteristics indicative of aggressive tax planning–labelled “Hallmarks”–and compels the disclosure of any cross-border transactions or other activities evidencing these Hallmarks. DAC6 mandates that for any reportable arrangements, the EU intermediaries involved in the transaction–such as tax advisors, lawyers, accountants and fiduciaries–or the taxpayers affected by it (if no intermediary qualifies) must:
●      Disclose specified information
●      About the arrangement and the parties involved in it
●      To their local competent authority
●      Within 30 days
●      For exchange on an automatic basis with other EU member states]]>
<![CDATA[DAC6 Reporting Delayed for an Initial Three Months]]>Wed, 13 May 2020 09:47:02 GMThttp://millentaxandlegal.ch/blog/dac6-reporting-delayed-for-an-initial-three-monthsAs welcome as it was inevitable, on 8 May the European Commission (EC) proposed a postponement to the dates for report submissions under the Amendment to Directive 2011/16/EU on administrative cooperation in the field of taxation (known colloquially as “DAC6”), which is–in part–the EU version of the OECD’s Mandatory Disclosure Requirements (“MDRs”). Originally, the EU had scheduled 1 July 2020 as the pivotal date for DAC6: Reports for Reportable Cross-Border Arrangements (RCBAs) entered into on or after 1 July were due within 30 days of the trigger event, whereas those RCBAs initiated between 25 June 2018 and 30 June 2020 were due in bulk by 31 August 2020. While these dates no longer apply, the general reporting structure remains intact.
 
According to the notification issued on 11 May 2020, everything is pushed back by 3 months (or less, depending on the date of the specific trigger event), as set forth below:
  • RCBA trigger event: First step implemented between 25 June 2018 and 30 June 2020
  • Original due date: 31 August 2020
  • New due date: 30 November 2020

  • RCBA trigger event: Entered into/relevant services provided between 1 July 2020 and 30 September 2020
  • Original due date: 30 days from applicable trigger date
  • New due date: 31 October 2020

  • RCBA trigger event: Entered into/relevant services provided on or after 1 October 2020
  • Original due date: 30 days from applicable trigger date
  • New due date: 30 days from applicable trigger date

Additionally, the EC proposal sought authorization to postpone the DAC6 reporting deadlines further, if warranted by an on-going novel coronavirus outbreak or attendant lock-down measures. According to the proposal provisions, at the sole discretion of the EC, the deadline may be postponed again, but only one more time and for another three months.
 
By retaining the overall reporting structure, the EU ensures that all information intended to be reported still needs to be reported. However, as a core aim of DAC6 is to identify an “aggressive” tax-planning scheme before it spreads widely, the delay saps some force from the DAC6 regime. Nonetheless, as was made clear in the preamble to the proposed delay, the pandemic and consequent EU-wide lock-downs left few alternatives as the reporting preparations of the affected parties–essentially, financial intermediaries and the tax authorities–were severely impaired due to emergency work limitations and personnel re-allocations.
 
For those not yet versed in the incoming disclosure regime, now is the time to ready yourself for it. DAC6 specifies sets of characteristics indicative of aggressive tax planning–labelled “Hallmarks”–and compels the disclosure of any cross-border transactions or other activities evidencing these Hallmarks. DAC6 mandates that for any reportable arrangements, the EU intermediaries involved in the transaction–such as tax advisors, lawyers, accountants and fiduciaries–or the taxpayers affected by it (if no intermediary qualifies) must:
●      Disclose specified information
●      About the arrangement and the parties involved in it
●      To their local competent authority
●      Within 30 days
●      For exchange on an automatic basis with other EU member states
 
In light of the analytical and operational demands of DAC6 disclosures–including new, sweeping definitions, strict liability standards and rapid turn-around times–many affected parties are seeking outside support. In addition to offering consulting services through Millen Tax & Legal, I co-founded BlueBridge, a company dedicated strictly to DAC6 and MDR reporting services. We at BlueBridge offer three distinct services, each tailored to the willingness and capacity of our clients to become experts themselves in DAC6, as follows:
  1. The BlueBridge DAC6 Report Production Service: Designed for our clients with sufficient DAC6 analytical expertise, who are in need of reliable and punctual IT support.
  2. The BlueBridge DAC6 Reportability Analysis Service: Designed for our clients with basic DAC6 technical understanding, who are in need of deeper DAC6 analytical and operational support.
  3. The BlueBridge DAC6 Report Submission & Liability Relief Service: Designed for our clients with no spare time or capacity to learn DAC6, who are, thus, in need of complete relief from DAC6.
 
Please visit our website to learn more about how BlueBridge can lighten or fully assume your DAC6 disclosure compliance burden so that you can focus your team’s resources on core business matters with complete peace of mind.
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<![CDATA[What the EU's DAC6 means for Swiss & Liechtenstein fiduciaries]]>Fri, 01 Nov 2019 11:50:46 GMThttp://millentaxandlegal.ch/blog/lt-font-definitions-font-face-font-familycambria-math-panose-12-4-5-3-5-4-6-3-2-4-mso-font-charset0-mso-generic-font-familyroman-mso-font-pitchvariable-mso-font-signature-536870145-1107305727-0-0-415-0-font-face-fonWhile free from the most burdensome consequences of the incoming EU DAC6 intermediary disclosure rules, Swiss and Liechtenstein fiduciaries are not entirely untouched by them. As elaborated in the article I co-authored in Trusts & Trustees on the effects of the OECD Model Disclosure Rules (MDRs) and EU DAC6 on fiduciaries (available here), the broad scope and intrusiveness of the incoming reporting regimes will fundamentally alter the profession for many fiduciaries. Fortunately, for Swiss or Liechtenstein fiduciaries, the full impact is delayed – perhaps indefinitely, though likelier for no more than a few years. Nonetheless, even non-EU fiduciaries must assess the consequences to their current activities under the EU DAC6 protocol.
 
This blog analyzes the following DAC6 consequences for Swiss- or Liechtenstein-based fiduciaries, notably trustees and Treuhänder:
  • The direct (non-)consequences for fiduciaries with operations solely in Switzerland  or Liechtenstein;
  • The direct consequences for fiduciaries with operations in EU countries; and
  • The indirect consequences for fiduciaries with clients in EU countries.
In closing, the blog proposes options to impacted fiduciaries for coping with them.
 
DAC6 mandates that for certain transactions or scenarios relating generally to OECD CRS or BEPS action item 12, qualifying EU intermediaries must:
  • Disclose specified information
  • About the transaction and the parties involved in it
  • To their local competent authority
  • For subsequent exchange on an automatic basis
  • With other EU member states.
 
While different sets of characteristics determine which transactions or scenarios related to perceived abuses are reportable, core commonalities across the relevant characteristics are an objective standard (“reasonable to conclude”) and the absence of an intent element (“has the effect of”). By draining the standard of subjectivity and motive, the EU DAC6 revokes the Intermediaries’ discretion to distinguish between abusive and non-abusive activities. Furthermore, the scope of qualifying EU intermediaries – capturing anyone “who provides aid, assistance or advice” in connection with the reportable transaction – is vast. As a result, a few relief provisions notwithstanding, trustees and similar fiduciaries must consider the DAC6 reporting implications for almost all cross-border transactions where they play a role…. But only so long as the fiduciary has sufficient jurisdictional nexus with the EU.
 
In order to be subject to the full extent of the DAC6 disclosure rules, the potential Intermediary must be:
  1. Resident or managed in in an EU jurisdiction;
  2. Incorporated in, or established under the laws of, an EU jurisdiction;
  3. Providing the relevant services through a branch located in an EU jurisdiction; or
  4. Registered with a professional association related to legal, taxation, or consultancy services in an EU jurisdiction.
 
Few Swiss and Liechtenstein trustees will squarely satisfy any of the top three criteria due to their location in jurisdictions that have not yet enacted these laws. There is, however, a risk of implication through membership in a professional association in an EU jurisdiction. This jurisdictional hook is not yet defined though. It does not appear in the OECD MDRs and thus is not further developed in the commentary section of that document. Furthermore, the scope of associations “related to legal, taxation, or consultancy services” could be strictly limited to professional organizations for those specific industries or more broadly refer to any businesses with these services as conspicuous components. For certain Swiss or Liechtenstein trustees, the extent may be determinative. Under a broad interpretation, membership in an EU-based fiduciary association, like STEP UK, might compel them to test all their actions for reportability under DAC6, even in the absence of any other EU nexus.
 
Otherwise, most Swiss or Liechtenstein trustees will never fall under the DAC6 reporting requirements without a point of contact generated by their EU operations. For Swiss or Liechtenstein trustees and Treuhänder, typically, that point of contact will be a lower-tier company or partnership out of a jurisdiction like Luxembourg. However, the contact point could range from Cypriot, Maltese or Scottish trusts to Dutch Anstalts to Italian Fiduciaria to Maltese or Scottish partnerships to any other component of a private wealth management structure set up in an EU jurisdiction. If the Swiss or Liechtenstein trustee oversees such EU operations, it must scrutinize any cross-border transactions involving these EU operations for the DAC6 reporting implications. Such direct application of DAC6 is the most burdensome scenario Swiss or Liechtenstein trustees might face, but not the only one.
 
Even Swiss and Liechtenstein trustees with purely local or non-EU operations cannot completely escape the pull of the DAC6 disclosure rules because of the residual reporting responsibility for taxpayers. As explained above, DAC6 imposes its reporting obligations primarily on Intermediaries, rather than their clients. However, the clients – if EU resident themselves – may incur a residual reporting duty. This duty attaches to the EU client if the transaction is reportable, but there is no Intermediary obligated to report it. One clear example of such a scenario is where legal professional privilege prohibits the Intermediary from disclosing client information and thus relieves the Intermediary of a DAC6 reporting responsibility. There are others though, namely, where the Intermediaries are located in non-EU jurisdiction and lack any point of contact with the DAC6 regime. In such situations, any EU client(s) connected to the reportable transaction are themselves on the hook for reporting it.
 
An illustrative example may be useful.
  • Let’s assume the following initial set up:
    • A Swiss trustee administers a trust with an underlying company (UC), where both structures are set up under BVI law.
    • The trust is a trustee-documented trust for CRS purposes and the UC is a passive Non-financial Entity (NFE).
    • The sole beneficiary of the trust is an EU-resident individual.
    • The UC holds marketable securities with a Swiss bank.
  • In the above set-up, the Swiss bank conducts CRS reporting on the beneficiary as a Controlling Person of the bank account, reporting, inter alia, the total value of those marketable securities.
  • Next, let’s assume that the UC executes a transaction that clearly satisfies the DAC6 hallmark for a so-called CRS Avoidance Arrangement, such as converting the reportable securities into non-reportable derivative contracts or crypto holdings.
    • None of the possible Intermediaries in the above scenario – not the Swiss trustee, not the BVI corporate directors, not the Swiss banker – is subject to DAC6 and, thus, none has a DAC6 reporting duty.
    • However, the client is EU resident and DAC6 obliges EU-resident taxpayers to report on their own transactions if none of the relevant Intermediaries can.
  • Consequently, under the above scenario, the trust’s individual beneficiary incurs a DAC6 reporting obligation on this transaction.
 
As the above scenario will be common enough for many Swiss or Liechtenstein trustees to encounter, they must think through the implications. The first question must be whether  the fiduciary duty of the trustee towards the beneficiary imposes a legal obligation of some sort on the trustee? I think, very likely not. To my knowledge, no legal precedent compels a fiduciary to undertake such reporting on behalf of the client where the responsibility falls directly on the client, rather than on the client’s structure (though I am no expert on fiduciary law and its interpretations). Further, the regime itself envisions a method for clients to report without Intermediary support and provides no means for Intermediaries reporting outside of their own jurisdictions. As such, it seems that DAC6 neither mandates nor allows for the Swiss trustee to report on behalf of the EU beneficiary.
 
However, the inquiry for most Swiss and Liechtenstein fiduciaries will not end with the extent of their legal duties. While most clients may accept that bankers offer a narrow set of banking-related services and offer little beyond the terms and conditions of the account opening contract, they rightly expect fiduciaries to do more. In fact, a broad commitment to the client’s interests is a prime element of many trustee’s overall offering package. As such, if the local tax authority were to demand an explanation from our EU beneficiary for any neglect of his or her DAC6 residual reporting duty, the beneficiary will probably demand his or her own explanation from the Swiss trustee. While this vexation with the Swiss trustee is unlikely to turn into legal action, the client relationship may be irreparably harmed and the trustee’s reputation for client service correspondingly tarnished.
 
So, what is a conscientious fiduciary to do in this case? Several options spring to mind – none of which is optimal – and are set forth below in order of the fiduciary’s ascending burden:
  • The Swiss or Liechtenstein fiduciary could issue a generic notification to all clients explaining the basic risks and consequences of DAC6 reporting for EU clients.
    • Alone, this approach probably benefits the fiduciary more than the client as it offers a low-cost way to provide a client service without entangling the fiduciary in the DAC6 rules across multiple EU jurisdictions.
    • However, the client is left with scant guidance on when and how to comply and deprived of any plausible deniability that he or she had zero awareness of this reporting obligation.
  • The Swiss or Liechtenstein fiduciary could send out a specific notification to affected EU clients at the time of any reportable transaction, coupled with a brief technical analysis and the elaboration of key information around reporting.
    • This approach provides a more useful client service while still distancing the fiduciary from deep immersion in the details of the DAC6 rules across multiple EU jurisdictions.
    • Additionally, the Swiss or Liechtenstein fiduciary would be investing in the development of MDR expertise in advance of the disclosure regime coming to its home jurisdiction.
    • However, the client remains a bit at sea, especially individuals, who may be baffled by the technical reporting requirements, like XML schema, and, again, deprived of plausible deniability that he or she lacked awareness of this obligation.
  • In addition to the specific notification set forth above, the Swiss or Liechtenstein fiduciary could add a reporting preparation offer. This offer would entail the fiduciary preparing the reportable information and converting it into the correct XML format and perhaps even aiding in the registration of the client on his or her local reporting portal.
    • This approach seems to maximize client service and will help prepare the fiduciary for the expected introduction of the MDRs in Switzerland or Liechtenstein.
    • The negatives are evident too: The fiduciary must be ready to learn the specific technical and operational conditions in each client’s home jurisdiction or identify a reporting service to whom such expertise could be delegated.
    • Of course, the fiduciary cannot relieve the client of liability from any defective reports.
 
As Swiss and Liechtenstein fiduciaries contemplate their responses to the EU’s DAC6, they will need to assess their contact points to the disclosure regime, measure the scope of their involvement and determine which –  if any – of the above services they might wish to offer any clients who suffer the consequences of residual holding reporting.
 
For more information on this topic, please contact info@millentaxandlegal.ch]]>
<![CDATA[Swiss banks, Fund Managers and Investors: What the §1446(f) Proposed Regulations Demand of Each Party]]>Thu, 15 Aug 2019 12:40:03 GMThttp://millentaxandlegal.ch/blog/swiss-banks-fund-managers-and-investors-what-the-1446f-proposed-regulations-demand-of-each-partyThe §1446(f) Proposed Regulations for the withholding tax due on sales of designated partnership interests spreads the compliance burden across multiple Swiss market participants. Swiss banks, fund managers and investors all incur their own separate - but interrelated - duties under the new regulations released on 7 May. Satisfaction of these obligations necessitates a mixture of updated documentation, new withholding awareness and adjusted reporting processes. The following paragraphs examine the provisions and pitfalls for Swiss banks, fund managers and investors, respectively, due to the §1446(f) Proposed Regulations.
 
Background to IRC §1446(f) and the §1446(f) Proposed Regulations
Of the numerous substantive provisions contained in the 2017 tax bill, §864(c)(8) stands out by resolving a specific problem with a direct solution. The statutory provision overruled a US Tax Court decision from summer 2017 called Grecian Magnesite. The ruling had challenged the long-standing IRS interpretation that the sale or other disposition of an interest in a partnership that could earn effectively connected income (ECI) likewise qualifies as ECI. The new statutory provision codified the IRS interpretation: The proceeds from sales of such Specified Partnership interests are treated as effectively connected gain or loss and thus taxable by the IRS.
 
As such, the new provision essentially re-affirmed the substantive status quo. Except that Congress also added a new withholding dimension, imposing on any buyer of an interest subject to §864(c)(8) the obligation to withhold 10% of the gross proceeds paid to any non-US seller. The §1446(f) statutory provision, however, did not explain how that ought to work in practice, least of all for Publicly-traded Partnerships (PTPs), where the buyer and seller are typically invisible to one another. As such, the Treasury Department promptly suspended the withholding regime for PTPs. Shortly thereafter, via Notice 2018-29, the Treasury invoked a pre-existing set of regulations for withholding on US real property income to serve as a temporary bridge until Treasury could conjure an appropriate set of rules for withholding around PTPs, private equity funds and other myriad types of investments captured by the new provisions. The stop-gap rules will remain in effect until the Treasury Department publishes final regulations announcing their expiration dates (see the last section of this blogpost for further elaboration on the timeline for the §1446(f) regulations).
 
Previously, I addressed the preliminary and subsequent developments of §§ 864(c)(8) and 1446(f) in several blogs (available here) and at the Operational Taxes for Banks, Europe Conference in Zurich last November (available here).Prior to last month’s release of the Proposed Regulations, however, material doubts remained as to the final rules, their impact on various affected parties and their manner of implementation. As set out below, with several crucial exceptions, those doubts are now settled.
 
Swiss Banks (see generally, Prop. Regs. §1.1446(f)-4)
Swiss banks will need to renovate their withholding and reporting mechanisms in order to encompass the withholding and reporting required by qualifying brokers on the sale or other disposition of in-scope PTPs by non-US Person investors. A common aim for bank associations in submitting comments to the IRS on 1446(f) was to fold the new PTP withholding regime into the existing Qualified Intermediary (QI) regime. To a large extent, they were successful as the overall structure, documentation and reporting Forms and deposit procedures are lifted from the QI regime.
 
However, they were not completely successful in achieving this common aim and so, major operational and legal issues will arise. The need to withhold on unpredictable sales proceeds, rather than on stable periodic income flows, will complicate the identification of withholdable payments for banks custodying PTPs. Also, and more dramatically for Swiss banks, the Form 1042-S reporting will oblige them to list sellers on a named, individuated basis - rather than on a pooled and anonymized basis - which will collide with Switzerland’s bank confidentiality laws. Several industry groups (e.g. SIFMA, the Swiss Bankers Association) submitted comment letters to the IRS explaining the fallibility of the approach as set forth in the Proposed Regulations. It is scant exaggeration to assert that the on-going viability of the PTP market in Switzerland depends on the malleability of these provisions.
 
Swiss Investors (see generally, Prop. Regs. §§ 1.1446(f)-1, -2)
Swiss investors will face a double-edged sword that cuts at them coming and going. When they buy a Specified Partnership interest, the obligation to withhold and report on the gross amount of sales proceeds applies. When the Swiss investors sell the same or any other Specified Partnership interest, they will need to understand the exceptions to withholding and/or the mechanics of claiming a credit for the amount withheld under 1446(f). The foremost goal for affected Swiss investors is to ensure that they are not taxed needlessly or twice under the regime. The outstanding challenge will be to calculate the correct amount of tax due per the §864(c)(8) regulations and then to navigate the multiple forms and operational pitfalls in their path to preventing inappropriate withholding and/or claiming appropriate tax credits.
 
Swiss Fund Managers (see generally, Prop. Regs. §§ 1.1446(f)-2, -3)
Swiss fund managers will have limited foreground duties. They need to prepare for back-stop withholding in case the buyer neglects the primary duty and to conduct primary withholding duty in the limited circumstance that a distribution from the fund is treated as sales proceeds. On the other hand, their background duties will be considerable.
 
The other parties mentioned above will request certain information from their fund managers and that information must be provided in the timeframe and format mandated by the IRS. Accordingly, fund managers must become fluent in a variety of official IRS Forms and unofficial notifications, statements and certifications and their correct usages. By my count, the Proposed Regulations reference 7 new or amended IRS Forms and 7 new notifications, statements or certifications, each with its own delineated purpose.
 
More strategically, Swiss fund managers will need to consider how and how much of the burdens imposed on the others, notably their investors, they wish to assume on their behalf.  In order to preserve the market for in-scope fund offerings, fund managers may need to disencumber their clients and counterparties at their own expense.
 
Finally, to the extent Swiss fund managers operate over-the-top blocker corporations on behalf of their clients in Cayman, Luxembourg or elsewhere, these will qualify as non-US Persons for purposes of §1446(f) and be subject to the range of compliance duties set forth in the Swiss Investors’ section above.
 
Timeline and Action Items
One more aspect of the §1446(f) Proposed Regulations that has drawn scrutiny from commentators is the implementation schedule. As set out above, Swiss banks and fund managers must adjust or invent processes and procedures in order to cope with novel developments under §1446(f). However, rather than grant these financial institutions ample implementation leeway, the §1446(f) Proposed Regulations declare that the new rules will come into effect only 60 days following publication of the Final Regulations in the Federal Register. With the comment period window already shut, affected parties ought to anticipate Final Regulations – and the subsequent activation of this compliance regime in full - in the near term.
 
This aggressive timeline compels affected parties to initiate their compliance plans in advance of the publication of the Final Regulations. In so doing, they ought to consider the following concrete steps towards readiness:
  • Examine operations to identify and isolate Specified Partnership interests subject to the §1446(f) withholding regime;
  • Determine whether – and under what conditions – the business case justifies remaining in the market, an action item of especial relevance to banks holding PTPs;
  • Institute contingency plans in case the conditions for remaining in the market are unmet, such as the prospect of forced divestment;
  • Review and revise terms and conditions, prospectuses, offering memoranda and so forth in order to reflect §1446(f) withholding risks;
  • Familiarize the compliance team with the new and revised IRS Forms – some of which are already available in draft format – and the parameters for valid notifications, statements and certifications; and
  • Be prepared to press forward swiftly in case the IRS retains the onerous 60-day activation timeline in the Final Regulations.
 
If you wish to discuss this topic in further detail please contact us at: info@millentaxandlegal.ch]]>