Coming out of its Central Bank Committee meeting Wednesday, the Fed announced that it will end its QE-3 bond buying program. The QE program, in iterations of QE, QE-2 and the current QE-3 program, has been in effect since the early days of the recession in November 2008. At that time, who could have predicted that the Fed’s primary tool to get the economy back on track would continue for six years? Even though the Fed announced the cessation of its bond buying program, it also stated that it would keep interest rates low for a “considerable time.” The “considerable time” language has been the Fed’s key signal to the markets regarding its forward-looking strategy, and that guidance appeared as expected. So, notwithstanding that the Fed announced the end of QE-3, the stock markets remained relatively flat (Dow down 31 and NASDAQ down 15) given that they had priced the end of QE-3 into their analysis along with their bet on continued low interest rates, at least through Q-1, 2015.
With the announcement today of Q-3 GDP moving along at a 3.5% rate (analysts had predicted only 3% growth), oil prices falling and the labor market improving, albeit only in certain sectors, the back room concern about inflation may be coming out to the party. Inflation is a serious concern for the Fed, not wanting the economy to snap back too quickly with low interest rates. So, look for interest rate increases no later than Q-2, 2015.
On October 9 and October 10, the Internal Revenue Service issued new guidance and questions and answers for taxpayers regarding the Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures announced this summer. For a detailed explanation and link to this guidance please click here.
Taxpayers previously considering the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program should also consider whether they may be eligible for this Streamlined Program. The main question to ask is whether a taxpayer has acted willfully with repect to their non-filing of tax returns and fbars. “Willful” is defined as an intentional violation of a known legal duty. A taxpayer who has not acted willfully can potentially pay a penalty of 5% of the year end balance for the last six years of their offshore accounts as opposed to 27.5% in the offshore voluntary disclosure program. As such, careful analysis in conjunction with an educated professional is necessary in all situations.
Germany has been the primary growth engine in the EU over the last few years, while the economies of Spain, France, Portugal, Greece, and so on have continued to languish. Now, the just released economic forecast by the German government downgraded its earlier projections of 1.8% growth for 2014 to 1.2% – projections for 2015 hover around 1.3%.
Please join Norris McLaughlin & Marcus, P.A., Wiss & Company, LLP,and The Insurance & Investment Advisory Group, LLC (“IIAG“) on October 21, 2014 for a complimentary panel-style seminar on evolving tax trends. Designed for business owners, financial planners, accountants, human resource professionals, and others responsible for managing business operations, this program will offer practical information on the following topics: Use of IC-DISCS, Captive Insurance Companies, Cost Segregation Studies and other credits and deductions to maximize the value of your business.
Legal Issues With Formation & Tax Treatment - Melinda Fellner Bramwit, Esq., Partner, Norris McLaughlin & Marcus
Compliance and Accounting Issues – Christopher Colyer, CPA, MST, MBA, Tax Partner, Wiss & Company
Funding & Insurance Issues – Anthony M. Sardis, JD, LLM, IIAG
For more information and to register, click here
For New Jersey taxpayers with outstanding state liabilities for tax periods 2005 through 2013, the New Jersey Division of Taxation is offering a new program allowing these taxpayers to enter into a closing agreement with the state and resolve their outstanding taxes.
Eligible taxpayers include businesses and individuals. The state has not officially published on its website which taxes are eligible for amnesty, so it would be prudent for an affected taxpayer to contact the state to request a schedule of liabilities or engage a professional to do so.
Certain taxpayers will be receiving letters from the state automatically. The amnesty offered includes a waiver of penalties for most taxpayers as well as a waiver of recovery fees and some collection costs. For the Division’s release on this procedure, please click here, and contact a tax professional for assistance.
As stated in our previous post on June 19, 2014, there are several options available to the taxpayer in the United States and abroad to come forward and report US income and file the appropriate informational returns such as FBARs, Forms 3520 and others. For a taxpayer who decides to enter the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (“OVDP”), there is currently an asset-based penalty of 27.5% of the highest aggregate balance of the assets in the applicable eight-year period, as well as an income-based penalty imposed on the unreported income. The 27.5% rate becomes 50% in some circumstances where the taxpayer has holdings in certain enumerated foreign financial institutions, which are listed on the IRS page here. For some of these OVDP participants, their facts may dictate that they will want to “opt-out” of the OVDP program to undergo a regular IRS audit examining their returns and judging their overall level of willfulness (defined as an intentional violation of a known legal duty). In some circumstances, such an audit can produce a penalty lower than the OVDP rate. Taxpayers in this opt-out audit situation should know that they are not bound by the audit results; they maintain the same appeal rights in the OVDP audit as they would in a regular IRS audit. Of course, an affected taxpayer should discuss this option with a reliable professional first.
Foreign Investors in US Health Care Provider and Equipment Companies – Beware of the False Claims Act
“Since 2009, the United States Department of Justice has collected more than $2.3 Billion from healthcare professionals for violations of the False Claims Act.” The Medical Profession Beware: False Claims Act – A Danger You Can’t Ignore, Theodore Margolis, Esq. and Sandra Jarva Weiss, Esq., MD News Eastern Pennsylvania/NW New Jersey, 2014. The Act prohibits making any false Medicare reimbursement claims. Hospitals, doctors, medical associations, labs and equipment suppliers have often violated one of the Medicare reimbursement requirements inadvertently, thereby increasing the prospect of a False Claims Act violation. Potential damages in a successful claim by the Department of Justice can be between $5,000 and $10,000 per violation, plus three times the damages suffered by the government as a result of the false claim. If you are a foreign entity considering an investment in, or the acquisition of, a US healthcare provider or equipment supplier, make sure that you undertake a vigorous and comprehensive due diligence of your target. To read the full article, click here.
The MIDJersey Center for Economic Development hosted an International Business Opportunities conference on Wednesday, giving businesses and officials the opportunity to network with foreign delegations and share best practices and resources for U.S. businesses to export goods and services internationally.
The conference, at the Forsgate Country Club in Monroe Township, included consul generals from South Africa, Indonesia, Colombia, Israel and Canada, as well as some of the state’s top business leaders and government officials.
Are there any bounds to EU privacy protection? Google is fighting to find out. An EU court ruling earlier this year requires that Google remove personal information from its search results upon request. According to Google’s top lawyer, this “right to be forgotten” appears to have been created without providing for clear objective tests on what information is in the public interest and need not be removed. Google is now touring European cities and seeking online comment in an attempt to seek feedback on the EU rules.
Is there relief for Taxpayers who previously closed their offshore voluntary disclosure cases under the new streamlined procedure? Practitioners comment on the situation.
In an interesting article published in Taxanalysts – Tax Notes Today, “Practitioners Disagree on Fairness of Lack of OVDP Retroactivity” by Andrew Velarde, tax practitioners weigh in on the lack of access to the new streamlined procedures for taxpayers with closed cases from their previous offshore disclosure filings. In our previous blog post, “IRS Offshore Voluntary Compliance Programs Expanded and Modified,” we discussed the new streamlined procedures announced by the IRS on June 18, 2014. Generally, these new procedures afford eligible taxpayers the opportunity to pay a 5% asset based penalty (for residents) as opposed to the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program’s 27.5% penalty (assuming, of course, that the eligible taxpayer has met certain criteria and has signed a certification under penalties of perjury that the taxpayer did not act willfully in their non-filing).
Questions or concerns about how this potentially affects you? Consult with a tax professional on whether this is prudent for you.
To obtain a copy of “Practitioners Disagree on Fairness of Lack of OVDP Retroactivity” by Andrew Velarde, please contact Taxanalysts.