Tag Archives: Canadian tax

When International Cross Border Management Consulting Fees Can Send You to Prison

International cross border management consulting fees deducted on a U.S. tax return are traced by the IRS.    This expense can place you in jail if you can not prove why the fee was paid.  

The IRS is hunting for  management fees or consulting fees paid to or from  a foreign business.   The United States is the only country that puts you in jail for ignoring the economic substance of a transaction. 

Mr. Albert S.N. Hee was sentenced to 46 months in prison.  He was a successful businessman in Hawaii.    To get money out of his U.S. corporation, he paid his wife and children about $750,000.  He deducted the expense on his corporate tax return claiming that they were providing services to his business.

When the IRS found out the truth, he was arrested on various criminal charges.  The easiest one for the IRS to prove was filing a false tax return.  All the IRS has to prove is the Mr. Hee placed an item on his return (the expense) that was not true.  The IRS does not need to prove that taxes were avoided.

Take Mike as an example.  He is Canadian and lives in Vancouver.  He has invested in a U.S. business.  He has provided the startup money to an e-commerce business and owns 25% of the business (operating as a limited liability company).  Mike does not want the complexity (and therefore accounting fees) of filing a U.S and state tax return.

Mike is taking his share of the profits as a management fee. He spends time getting an update report from the other owners but he is not managing the business. 

He is paying Canadian taxes on the income but no American taxes.   The criminals are the LLC, its managing members, and Mike.   Often the IRS will add the criminal charge of “conspiracy to defraud” and mail fraud. 

What should have Mike have done?

For a Canadian, an American LLC is not the best choice.  Since Mike is not involved with management, a limited partnership is a good option.  Under the Canadian-United States Tax Treaty, Canada will offset his Canadian income taxes by the U.S. income tax.

The limited partnership will make the estimated tax payments for Mike.  Mike will get one or two-page report (call a Form K-1) from the partnership telling Mike the amount of his taxable income and the amount of estimated taxes.  Mike will file a U.S. and state income tax returns.

Yes, it is a hassle.  But other international businesses see this a part of the cost of being an international business.  Usually the CPA fees for the returns are less than $5,000.  By the way, the fees are a tax deduction. 

Judges are harsh on non-U.S. citizens saying to the defendant that they came to America to make money.  Unlike citizens who have no choice but to pay taxes, the nonresident alien came here by their own choosing.

If you need help in organizing your international business transactions, the email me, Brian Dooley, CPA, MBT at [email protected]

International Business Income Amazing Tax Savings

The amazing tax savings of international business income has been used by firm such a Google, Amazon, Ford and other big businesses for a century.

So, my question is why small business is missing out on the tax savings?  Surely, some must have international business income.

What are the tax savings of international business income?

No U.S and no state income taxes for a start.  And there is more in the form of compounding growth.   Privately owned businesses do not have access to capital (money) from the public.  Money is from banks (yuk) or  from after tax profits.

The faster a business grows, the more money it needs to cover increase payroll, more rent and the cost of additional inventory.   Bank debt is risky because a few slow paying customers can cause you to go into default.

After tax profit is greater when the tax is smaller.  International business income can be taxed at zero; however, the usual tax rate is about 17%.

Ian has a business in the United States and in Canada.   They both make $100,000 a year.   With a 15% Canadian tax, the Canadian business has $85,000 after tax to purchase more inventory.

Back in the United States, with a combined U.S. and state tax rate of 40%, the business has only $60,000 to purchase more inventory.

The Canadian business sales more inventory because it has more inventory.  The profits keep compounding faster in Canada.

The Zero percent tax rate applies to international business income from  ecommerce businesses that sale intangibles (such as travel services, music, cloud storage, e-books, entertainment and information).

These business’s hub is their computer server.  The source rules (on this link) provide that many (not all) e-commerce income is foreign source when the computer server is located outside of the United States. 

E-commerce tax planning is new only because ecommerce is new. 

International business income from intangibles has unique tax laws.  With property planning,  the international business income can be foreign source income.   I want to emphasize proper planning.

Planning needs to start when you start the business.  When  a firm like Google plans  a new product, they have also  completed the tax plan.   While small businesses start the business and bungle along until year end.  Then they discover they owe lots and lots of tax.

If you want to learn more, then please check out this blog on the topic.