Cyprus Tax Department announces that nil reporting will not be required for FATCA

On 15 July 2015, the Cyprus Tax Department announced that Reporting Financial Institutions in Cyprus will not be required to submit nil returns for FATCA purposes (Link).  Therefore, Reporting Financial Institutions in Cyprus would be required to file a FATCA report to the Tax Department only in cases where they have reportable accounts to be reported.

Ministry of Finance in the UAE releases FATCA guidance notes and registration form

On the heels of the signing of the IGA with the United States (Link) on 17 June, the Ministry of Finance of the United Arab Emirates has release FATCA UAE Guidance Notes (Link) as well as a FATCA Registration Form for Unregulated Entities’ access to the Ministry of Finance FATCA Reporting portal (Link).  This information, as well as the FATCA IGA, can be found on the UAE Ministry of Finance website under the “Rules and policies” section (Link).

IDES Technical Global IT Forum

On 14 July 2015, the Internal Revenue Service released a statement inviting host country tax authorities (HCTAs), financial institutions, and related industry organizations to the Global IT Forum sessions.  These sessions will provide technical updates about the International Data Exchange Service (IDES) with subject matter experts available to answer technical questions about IDES.  The session does not address other IT or FATCA-related policy questions.

For information on attending the session or to submit an IDES technical question, visit the Global IT Forum website (Link).

U.S. law will significantly increase certain penalties related to information reporting

The Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015 (Link) was recently signed into law in the United States, providing substantial increases in penalties for failure to timely file information returns (e.g., Forms 1099 series, Form 1042-S, among others) with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and failure to furnish payee statements under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Sections 6721 and 6722. These penalties have remained unchanged since they were last increased in 2010. The increased penalties apply to information returns and payee statements required to be filed or furnished after 31 December 2015. Changes to the penalty structure are summarized in the following table. Lower penalties apply for filers with annual gross receipts of less than $5 million:

penalties 2

Legislation enacted in 2010 implemented provisions to adjust the penalty for inflation every five years. Prior to the increase in 2010, the information reporting penalties had not been changed since 1989.

Observation: The combined maximum penalties for failure to file and failure to furnish are being increased significantly from $3 million to $6 million. Due to the increased penalty amounts, taxpayers who may have in the past opted to pay these penalties may now want to take steps to have these penalties abated and perform the necessary reporting going forward. When requesting a penalty abatement, taxpayers must establish that the failures were due to reasonable cause and not willful neglect (e.g., they must demonstrate a history of tax compliance, good faith efforts to immediately rectify noncompliance, etc.).

In the last 10 years there have been many changes and additions to the information reporting requirements. These changes have included additional requirements pursuant to the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act and Merchant Card Reporting under IRC Section 6050W, among others. The increased penalties are yet another indication of the government’s focus on information reporting. It has been well publicized that the IRS budget has been significantly decreased over the past five years. The budget reduction requires the IRS to rely on more efficient methods to maintain taxpayer compliance. Third-party information reporting has been proven over the years to significantly improve taxpayer compliance. IRS studies have shown that, where there is third-party information reporting, taxpayer’s compliance is well over 90%.

Link to PwC Tax Insights

Inland Revenue Department of Malta extends FATCA reporting deadline and offers additional guidance

On 2 July 2015, the Inland Revenue Department (“IRD”) of Malta announced that the deadline for FATCA reporting has been extended to 31 July 2015 (Link).  Maltese Financial Institutions are reminded that they are required to submit their reports, including nil reports, by this date. In addition, the Commissioner for Revenue published an updated version of the FATCA Guidelines (Link).

The IRD has recently published the updated Guidelines for the implementation of the FATCA Agreement and the FATCA regulations in Malta. This update was triggered by the need to have further clarification on the interpretation of the FATCA Agreement in the context of particular entities, business activities or financial accounts.

Initial observations of the amendedments with the most impact are highlighted briefly below:

  • An update to the definition of “Holding Companies” and “Treasury Centres”;
  • Clarification on the correct classification of trusts under the FATCA agreement (with reference to the Investment Entity and the Custodial Institution definitions);
  • An update to the definition of Custodial Institution;
  • Further explanation and clarification of what constitutes an Investment Entity and how particular Maltese companies may be classified as Passive non-financial foreign entities (NFFEs) subject to certain conditions;
  • Clarification on nominee arrangements in relation to the concept of “Related Entity”;
  • An update to the definition of Controlling Persons in the context of FATCA – this is of particular interest to those entities that have been classified as Passive NFFEs;
  • Further updates on aggregation rules applicable and certain aspects of FATCA due diligence; and,
  • Further guidance on the practicalities of FATCA Reporting in Malta.

Link to PwC Alert

HMRC releases information on notification requirements for reporting UK institutions

On 8 July 2015, HM Revenue & Customers in the UK released a notification to  for “Financial institutions, tax advisers and other professionals that may be aware of, or have given advice in respect of, an offshore account (Link).  The general description of the measure is cited as follows:

  • The UK will begin to receive information on offshore accounts in 2017 and at the same time will begin to share information with other tax authorities on accounts held in the UK. This will allow HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and other tax authorities to check that the right amount of tax is being paid on money held abroad.
  • HMRC will open a time-limited disclosure facility in early 2016 to allow non-compliant taxpayers to correct their tax affairs under certain terms before HMRC start to receive data under the Common Reporting Standard. This new facility will be on tougher terms than the previous offshore disclosure facilities HMRC have operated.
  • If non-compliant taxpayers continue to conceal their tax affairs, HMRC will enforce tough penalties for offshore evasion through the existing offshore penalty regime, new civil penalties for tax evaders and the new simple criminal offence for failing to declare taxable offshore income and gains.
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