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How Do I? Deal with the new foreign account compliance rules under the HIRE Act?


The recently enacted Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act of 2010 includes a comprehensive set of foreign account compliance measures that will impact taxpayers with accounts in foreign banks and other financial institutions. Generally, for payments made beginning in 2013, taxpayers with various types of financial accounts or other interests overseas will be subject to increased reporting and disclosure requirements on those accounts, or face the imposition of 30 percent withholding.

Foreign accounts

The HIRE Act imposes on U.S. taxpayers a 30 percent withholding tax on certain assets held in a foreign financial institution, unless that foreign financial institution agrees to comply with new heightened reporting and disclosure rules. Generally, for certain payments made after December 31, 2012, a withholding agent must deduct and withhold 30 percent of any “withholdable payment” made to certain foreign financial institutions that do not agree to comply with the new rules. Generally, a “withholdable payment” is any payment of interest (including interest on deposits with foreign branches of a U.S. commercial bank), dividends, rents, fixed or determinable annual or periodical gains, gross proceeds from the sale of property that produces interest and/or dividend income.

Note. Although the new withholding rules are generally effective for payments made after December 31, 2012, they will not apply to any obligation outstanding as of two years after the enactment of the HIRE Act, which was March 18, 2010. Additionally, publicly-traded corporations and exempt organizations are excluded from the heightened reporting and disclosure rules.

Financial institutions

To avoid the 30 percent withholding requirement, the foreign institution must agree to a number of disclosure and reporting requirements on U.S. financial assets and accounts held by the foreign financial institution. Under the HIRE Act, an “account” includes any depository or custodial account maintained by the foreign financial institution, including any equity or debt interest in the institution other than equity/debt interests traded on established securities markets.

Foreign financial institutions must agree to report the identity and taxpayer identification number (TIN) of any U.S. individual with an account held at the institution (or its affiliates), and to provide annually (1) the account balance, (2) gross receipts, and (3) gross withdrawals or payments from the account. Additionally, withholding agents will be required to report the name, address and TIN of any U.S. individual that is a substantial owner of a foreign corporation, foreign partnership, or foreign trust.

Account holders

Under the HIRE Act, certain individuals holding any interest in a specified foreign financial asset must attach to his or her tax return certain information about the asset. Specified foreign financial assets include any account maintained by a foreign financial institution, among other things. Account holders must provide account numbers, the name of the financial institution maintaining the account, and the maximum value of the asset during the year. Regarding stocks and securities, account holders must provide the name and address of the issuer and the maximum value of the asset during the year. The disclosure rules apply to individuals with offshore accounts and other foreign financial assets with values of $50,000 or more during the tax year.

The new law provides an exception from the reporting requirements for certain accounts held by individuals. The aggregate value of all accounts held by the taxpayer and maintained by the same foreign financial institution must not exceed $50,000 in order to be excluded from the new reporting and withholding rules.

If you have any questions about the new reporting and disclosure rules, please contact our office.