Other Publications



Insights Vol. 3 No. 4: F.A.T.C.A. 24/7

This month, Galia Antebi and Philip R. Hirschfeld discuss (i) the growing list of countries with which the I.R.S. will exchange F.A.T.C.A. information, (ii) the litigation in Canada attempting to block F.A.T.C.A. exchanges with U.S., (iii) recent developments in acceptably encryption for F.A.T.C.A. exchanges, (iv) additional competent authority agreements, and (iv) an updated list of I.G.A. partner countries.

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Insights Vol. 3 No. 3: F.A.T.C.A. 24/7

This month, Galia Antebi and Philip R. Hirschfeld discuss (i) changes to F.A.T.C.A. regulations designed to ease burdens on F.F.I.’s; (ii) continued I.R.S. interest in public comments; (iii) finalization of domestic entity reporting regulations under Code §6038D; (iv) an exemption from F.A.T.C.A. for a Swiss attorney’s confidential client escrow accounts; (v) competent authority agreements that have been reached with Brazil, Colombia, and Italy; and (vi) an updated list of I.G.A. partner countries.

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Insights Vol. 3 No. 2: F.A.T.C.A. 24/7

This month, Insights looks at the I.G.A. experience in Mexico; updated Form W-8BEN-E and instructions; an announcement on forthcoming regulations that will ease burdens on F.F.I.’s; new I.G.A. competent authority arrangements signed with Norway, Barbados, Romania, Spain, Italy, and Costa Rica; a new I.G.A. with St. Lucia; and the most recent list of I.G.A. partner countries.

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Insights Vol. 3 No. 1: F.A.T.C.A. 24/7

This month, recent developments in F.A.T.C.A. include the D.O.J.’s Swiss bank deferred prosecution program; new instructions for Form 8966, F.A.T.C.A. Report; six new YouTube videos regarding the Online Registration System; extension of time to file F.A.T.C.A. Reports; upgrade to F.F.I. lists, the current I.G.A. partner countries, and more.

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Insights Vol. 2 No. 10: F.A.T.C.A. 24/7

Recent developments in the F.A.T.C.A. practice include upgrades to the online registration system, a flurry of competent authority arrangements signed with other countries, F.A.T.C.A. guidance issued by the Turks and Caicos Islands, new authorizing statutes in Russia and Georgia, an implementing memorandum in Germany, an I.G.A. with Angola, updated F.A.Q.’s, and a list of Model 1 and Model 2 I.G.A. partner countries.

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The Transparent World: Exchange of Information Has Begun & Pacts to Assist Implementation Have Been Signed

Despite efforts to repeal F.A.T.C.A. in the U.S. and opposition from abroad, it appears that F.A.T.C.A. is here to stay. Galia Antebi and Philip R. Hirschfeld address the recent September 30 milestone and the advent of exchanges of financial account information with tax administrations of I.G.A. partner jurisdictions.

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Insights Vol. 2 No. 8: F.A.T.C.A. 24/7

This month, Philip R. Hirschfeld and Galia Antebi report on Republican-led efforts to curtail F.A.T.C.A., new F.A.Q.’s released by the U.S. and Mauritius, publication of the St. Kitts and Nevis I.G.A., updated foreign account reporting procedures, and much more.

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Insights Vol. 2 No. 7: F.A.T.C.A. 24/7

July and August were busy months for F.A.T.C.A. developments. We explain the highlights:  The I.R.S. notified countries with early I.G.A.’s that more favorable provisions are available, but the notice may escalate the on-boarding controversy with Canada and the U.K.  The Common Reporting Standard (C.R.S.) is moving forward – either with or without U.S. participation – and global F.I.’s must adjust reporting systems.  Iceland and the United Arab Emirates publish F.A.T.C.A. guidance.  Belarus ratified the I.G.A. with the U.S. Italy published an implementation decree for exchange of information. Turkey and Slovakia signed Model 1 I.G.A.‘s. Mauritius and Luxembourg extend local F.A.T.C.A. reporting deadlines.

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Insights Vol. 2 No. 6: F.A.T.C.A. 24/7

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On July 1, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“F.A.T.C.A.”) celebrated the first anniversary of its implementation. F.A.T.C.A. was created to improve international tax compliance and combat offshore tax evasion. Notwithstanding dire predictions about its impact on the financial community when F.A.T.C.A. was first enacted in 2010, the sky has not yet fallen as of its first anniversary.

Insights Vol. 2 No. 5: F.A.T.C.A. 24/7

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The Internal Revenue Service (“I.R.S.”) provided guidance to taxpayers who do not receive notification of the status of their reports once they have uploaded the data into the electronic system used to transmit information regarding overseas bank accounts to the I.R.S. under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“F.A.T.C.A.”). There has been growing concern among taxpayers as to what to do if they successfully upload a F.A.T.C.A. report into the International Data Exchange Service (“I.D.E.S.”) but do not get an International Compliance Management Model (“I.C.M.M.”) notification letting them know the status of the report.

The I.R.S. added a new Item D9 to its F.A.T.C.A. I.D.E.S. Frequently Asked Questions and Answers relating to data transmission. The I.R.S. has also stated that a similar question and answer was added to the F.A.Q.’s on the I.C.M.M., the I.R.S. system that ingests, validates, stores, and manages F.A.T.C.A. information once it is received.

Insights Vol. 2 No. 4: F.A.T.C.A. 24/7

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Based on the answer to Question 10 under the “General Compliance” heading of the I.R.S.’s F.A.T.C.A. Frequently Asked Questions And Answers webpage, the I.R.S. requires that financial institutions in I.G.A. countries refuse to open new individual accounts if they cannot obtain a Form W-8BEN or a self-certification from the account holder. Conversely, the governments of both the U.K. and Canada have taken the position that under their I.G.A.’s, resident F.F.I.’s can open new individual accounts without self-certifications as long as the accounts are treated as reportable accounts.

In a letter to the Treasury Department released on March 27, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (“S.I.F.M.A.”) pointed to this potential disagreement as having inconsistent guidance coming out of the U.S. and other I.G.A. countries. Such inconsistency may hurt American banks with foreign operations. These banks will be placed at a disadvantage if they follow U.S. authority while their competition is allowed to follow less restrictive rules. S.I.F.M.A. does not take a position as to who is right in the disagreement, but expressed their concern about this dispute and the lack of any information on this and similar disputes over the meaning of important I.G.A. terms that will need to be resolved in the future.


F.A.T.C.A. reports are to be submitted to the International Data Exchange Service (“I.D.E.S.”), which is a secure managed file transfer system that only accepts encrypted transmissions. The I.R.S. announced on March 2 that the I.D.E.S. gateway had been opened for countries and financial institutions to begin transmitting data.

The I.R.S. posted on a service called GitHub a new example showing F.F.I.’s how to create “data packets” of taxpayer account information to transmit using the I.D.E.S. The example also shows how to decrypt a notification.

GitHub is an open source repository hosting service that allows users to collaborate and share code and content. The I.R.S. has made it clear that they do not endorse any commercial product.

Insights Vol. 2 No. 3: F.A.T.C.A. 24/7

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Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets, requires the disclosure of certain foreign financial assets owned by U.S. citizens, resident alien individuals, and nonresidents who elect to be treated as resident alien individuals for U.S. tax purproses. (E.g., a nonresident alien having a U.S. citizen spouse may elect be treated as a U.S. resident for purpose of filing a joint income tax return.) Form 8938 is attached to the individual’s income tax return for the applicable year (starting with tax year 2011) and must be filed by the due date for said return, including extensions.

Updates to the 2014 instuctions for the Form 8938 reporting requirements were announced on March 10, 2015 and incorporate final Treasury Regulations under Internal Revenue Code (the “Code”) §6038D, adopted in December 2014. The final regulations are effective for taxable years beginning after December 19, 2011. The update contains additional information not included in the updated instructions for Form 8938. Taxpayers and their tax return preparers must review these recent changes to the form’s instructions to make sure it does not affect their filing obligations.

Dual Resident Taxpayers

A dual resident taxpayer, within the meaning of these regulations, is an individual who is considered a resident of the U.S. under the Code and applicable regulations because he or she meets the “Green Card Test” or the “Substantial Presence Test” and is also a resident of a treaty country (pursuant to the internal tax laws of that country). The updated instructions apply to dual resident taxpayers who determine their income tax liability for all or a portion of the taxable year as if they were nonresident aliens (pursuant to a provision of an income tax treaty that provides for resolution of conflicting claims of residence by the U.S. and its treaty partner).

Insights Vol. 1 No. 11: F.A.T.C.A. 24/7

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Bitcoin and other virtual currency accounts held in foreign exchanges may be treated as a foreign financial account and thus be subject to F.B.A.R. reporting. Eventually, it is even possible that the foreign exchanges themselves may be considered foreign financial institutions (“F.F.I.’s”) that have to report the accounts to the I.R.S. under F.A.T.C.A.

This view follows caselaw where a court found that online accounts held for the purpose of foreign online gambling had to be reported on an F.B.A.R.

Currently, the I.R.S. treats virtual currency as property. However, some claim that it is only a short hop to apply the court's ruling in the online gambling case to digital currency accounts.

Speaking at the fall meeting of the American Bar Association Section of Taxation, a senior I.R.S. official said the I.R.S. doesn't have a stance yet on whether the currency is subject to F.B.A.R. or F.A.T.C.A. reporting, even though the agency is well aware of the issue.


On November 17, the I.R.S. published a corrected amendment under which F.F.I.’s can treat all accounts that were opened before the date on which the F.F.I. signed an agreement with the I.R.S. to participate in F.A.T.C.A. (an “F.F.I. Agreement”) as pre-existing accounts for 2014 reporting purposes. Before this announcement was made, only accounts opened on or before June 30, 2014 were treated as preexisting accounts.

Insights Vol. 1 No. 10: F.A.T.C.A. 24/7

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While Mexico, the largest Central American nation, signed an I.G.A. in April of 2014, other Central American nations are also deciding to join the F.A.T.C.A. bandwagon. Panama, which has the greatest number of U.S. residents in Central America along with Costa Rica, are leading an effort to have Central America move towards compliance by the September 2015 deadline. In May 2014, Panama reached an agreement in substance to adopt an I.G.A., and has been treated as if an I.G.A. has been in effect since then. Costa Rica had already signed a Model 1 I.G.A. in December 2013.

Though Guatemala has not yet signed an I.G.A., many local financial institutions have registered for direct exchange with the I.R.S. under the Treasury Regulations. It was reported that nearly 100 foreign financial institutions (“F.F.I.’s”), including 18 banks, ten stock brokerages, and 28 insurance firms have registered with the I.R.S. to start sharing information by March 31, 2015, as required under the Regulations with respect to F.F.I.’s in non-I.G.A. jurisdictions. Edgar Morales, operation subdirector at banking trade group Asociación Bancaria de Guatemala, said that unlike Panama or Costa Rica, where aggregating these lists of U.S. resident account holders “will be much harder,” the process in Guatemala hasn’t been so complex because “there aren’t that many people who qualify under F.A.T.C.A. here.” Guatemala has a robust banking secrecy law that forbids banks from sharing customer data with other government institutions, and therefore banks that register with the I.R.S. have to obtain privacy waivers from customers to be able to reveal their information under F.A.T.C.A.