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What Must Foreign Trusts and Family Corporations Do About F.A.T.C.A.?

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After years of preparation and trepidation, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“F.A.T.C.A.”) will soon become effective. While F.A.T.C.A. was initially targeted to major commercial and investment banks aiding U.S. persons in avoiding paying tax on their income, F.A.T.C.A.’s effective scope is far broader, covering any foreign trust or family corporation. Starting on July 1, 2014, F.A.T.C.A. can impose a new 30% U.S. withholding tax on payments of interest, dividends and other amounts from the U.S. to any foreign person unless that person complies with F.A.T.C.A. regulations. If the foreign person is a foreign financial institution (“F.F.I.”), compliance is onerous. However, with the recent revisions to the regulations and careful planning, the foreign trust or family corporation may be considered a nonfinancial foreign entity (“N.F.F.E.”) and thus subject to far less burdensome requirements.

F.A.T.C.A. divides the world of non-U.S. investors into two categories: F.F.I.’s and N.F.F.E.’s. The crucial factor for any foreign person is to first determine its classification. As F.F.I. status results in a much greater burden for an entity and the deadlines for actions are fast approaching, obtaining N.F.F.E. status holds numerous advantages. For a typical foreign trust or family corporation that holds investments for its beneficiaries or shareholders, this determination had been clouded in uncertainty, until the I.R.S.’s recent issuance of temporary F.A.T.C.A. regulations.