Category Archives: PFIC

The worldwide trend of attacking the use of corporations as a way to reduce or defer taxation for individuals

Introduction – The war against corporations and the shareholders of those corporations

Corporations as entities that are separate from their shareholder/owners

As every law students knows, a corporation is a legal entity that is separate from its owner. As a legal entity that is separate from its owner, a corporation is capable of holding assets, carrying on a business and investing in a way that results in separation of the shareholder(s) from the business itself. It is a mistake to infer that the corporation’s status as a separate legal entity means that the corporation’s income will not be taxed to its shareholders.

Corporations as legal instruments of tax deferral

When corporate tax rates are lower than individual tax rates, there is incentive for individuals to earn and invest through corporations rather than to earn and invest as individuals. In other words, in certain circumstances, corporations can be used to pay less taxes.

Corporations as instruments of tax evasion

In many jurisdictions is it possible to create a Corporation and NOT disclose the identities of the beneficial owners. Because of this circumstance:

1. Corporations (as was made clear in the “Panama Papers Story”) can be used to hide income and assets for either legitimate or illegitimate reasons; and

2. Corporations can be used to avoid the attribution of income earned by the corporation to the shareholders.

Corporations and the rise of @TaxHavenUSA
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The biggest cost of being a “dual Canada/U.S. tax filer” is the “lost opportunity” available to pure Canadians

The reality of being a “DUAL” Canada U.S. tax filer is that you are a “DUEL” tax filer

“It’s not the taxes they take from you. It’s that the U.S. tax system leaves you with few opportunities for financial planning”.

I was recently asked “what exactly are the issues facing “Canada U.S. dual tax filers?” This is my attempt to condense this topic into a short answer. There are a number of “obvious issues facing U.S. citizens living in Canada.” There are a number of issues that are less obvious. Here goes …

There are (at least) five obvious issues facing “dual Canada U.S. tax filers in Canada”.

At the very least the issues include:
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Are “non-U.S. mutual funds” foreign corporations AKA #PFIC? Does your tax preparer know for sure?

I have written many posts that include a discussion of PFICs. This post has been motivated by a post by Karen Alpert at “Fix The Tax Treaty” (well it can’t really be fixed). The post focuses on the use of “non-U.S. mutual funds” in retirement planning. The post is written from the perspective that “non-U.S. mutual funds” ARE PFICs.

If you don’t know what a PFIC is be happy, be happy! A bit of knowledge (especially if you know things that aren’t true) can be a dangerous thing. Although most “tax professionals” treat non-U.S. mutual funds as PFICs, there is little explanation or analysis of WHY or HOW a “non-U.S. mutual fund” is a PFIC. In other words, most “tax professionals” know that “non-U.S. mutual funds” are PFICs. But, they don’t do a good job of explaining why. This post is based on a series of comments on Karen’s post that are consolidated as tweets in this Storify post.

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How the logic of the quantifiers: “All”, “Some”, and “Not All” apply to Canadian mutual funds

What is a PFIC?

The acronym “PFIC” stands for “Passive Foreign Investment Corporation”. For your reading pleasure, I refer you to:

S. 1297 of the Internal Revenue Code which defines what a PFIC is; and

S. 1291 of the Internal Revenue Code which describes the “default taxation” of a PFIC.

Assuming that all Canadian mutual funds are PFICs, the results are horrific. I have written about this problem in two separate submissions to the U.S  Senate Finance Committee.

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