STREAMIINED FILING COMPLIANCE PROCEDURES FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ADDRESS ONE CONCERN AND CREATE ANOTHER

The IRS occasionally posts updates to its Frequently Asked Questions for the Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures, both for taxpayers residing in and outside of the United States. The last update of the FAQs was made by IRS on July 18, 2016.The post highlights two question and answers that are notable for taxpayers seeking Streamlined penalty relief.

QUESTION 9 – I realized that I made a mistake in my submission to the Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures. How do I correct my mistake?

ANSWER: If you made a mistake in your submission to the Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures and your returns previously submitted are not under examination, you may correct the error by providing amended returns and/or an amended Form 14653. On the top of the certification form, write “amended” in red ink, and on the top of the first page of each corrected amended tax return write “Amended Streamlined Foreign Offshore” in red ink. Explain all facts and circumstances concerning the error in the original Streamlined submission. See SFO FAQ 6 for relevant information to provide.
Mail the amended submission to:

IRS
3651 S. IH 35
MS 6063 AUSC
Attn.: Streamlined Procedures
Austin, TX 78741

Example 1 (amended tax returns and amended Form 14653):
The taxpayer made an SFO submission on February 1, 2016, and she just realized she failed to address a foreign financial asset in the narrative statement of facts on Form 14653. Additionally, she failed to include income from that foreign financial asset on her Forms 1040 for the tax periods in her Streamlined submission, tax years 2012, 2013, and 2014. She must provide amended income tax returns for tax years 2012, 2013, and 2014, an amended Streamlined Certification on Form 14653, and payment for increases in tax and interest. The amended Form 14653 must include all facts and circumstances concerning the error in the original Streamlined submission. Additionally, if the taxpayer made a mistake in filing her FBARs with FinCEN, she must efile amended FBARs with FinCEN.

Example 2 (amended Form 14653 only):
The taxpayer made an SFO submission on February 1, 2016, and she just realized she failed to address a foreign financial asset in the narrative statement of facts on Form 14653. She fully reported all income from the foreign financial asset on her income tax returns in her original Streamlined submission. She must provide an amended Streamlined Certification on Form 14653 including all facts and circumstances concerning the error in the original Streamlined submission. Additionally, if the taxpayer made a mistake in filing her FBARs with FinCEN, she must efile amended FBARs with FinCEN.
Note: This question and answer also appear as FAQ 15 in FAQs for Persons Residing in the U.S.

QUESTION 10 – I am eligible for a Social Security Number (SSN) but do not have one at this time. May I make a submission to the Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures without an SSN? If I make a submission without an SSN, what are the consequences?

ANSWER: If you are eligible for an SSN but do not have one, you may not use the Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures. The terms of the Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures require a valid Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN). For U.S. citizens, resident aliens, and certain other individuals, the proper TIN is a valid SSN. If you make a submission to the Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures without a valid SSN, then the IRS may process your returns after assigning an IRSN. See IRM 3.13.5.70 and 3.13.5.71. But taxpayers that make submissions to the Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures without valid SSNs are not eligible for the favorable penalty provisions of the Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures. The IRS will process such returns subject to penalties applicable outside of the Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures.
Note: This answer also appears as Question 16 in FAQs for Persons Residing in the U.S.

RSS COMMENTS:
1. Obviously, it is far better to be careful the first time around and not omit income on the Streamlined amended returns, foreign accounts in the Form 14653 or important facts in the Non-willful Certification. But, if inadvertently an error is discovered following one’s Streamlined filling, all is not lost and FAQ 9 provides a procedure for corrections.

2. Regarding the inability to use Streamlined procedures absent a Social Security Number, the IRS position seems unnecessarily harsh for expats who may for many reasons not have obtained an SSN. IRS should be able to come up with a procedure for affected expats to submit Streamlined fillings for example with a temporary taxpayer ID number. The problem with the IRS posture is that it is difficult and time-consuming for an expatriate to obtain a Social Security Number. Not all countries have embassies or consulates that can assist and the process can take many months. In the meanwhile, an audit letter from IRS will make the expatriate ineligible for Streamlined penalty relief. This seems unfair, especially since expatriates frequently fall on the lower rungs of the tax-culpability ladder. Of course, if not negligent, they can obtain penalty relief under the reasonable cause exception rules; but, most would prefer the comfort and greater certainty in qualifying as non-willful, a more lenient standard than “reasonable cause, that the Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures offer.

Robert S. Steinberg, Esquire
www.steinbergtaxlaw.com

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