In September 2015, French President Francois Hollande promised households a 1 billion-euro ($1.1 billion) tax cut next year. Why such benevolence? Hollande’s government was attempting to make up for the glut of gross domestic product (GDP) that was taken by his government in taxes in 2014.
Finance Minister Michel Sapin said “we’re doing it because it’s both fair and necessary.” Both France and Belgium collected the equivalent of 47.9 percent of gross domestic product in 2014. France’s finance ministry estimated that taxation and social charges have fallen from 44.9 percent of GDP in 2014 to 44.5 percent this year.
In late August, the European Commission ruled that Ireland must collect $14.5 billion in back taxes from Apple. The antitrust regulator for the European Union claimed that Ireland had given Apple an extremely favorable tax arrangement for over ten years allowing the tech giant to pay a tax of less than 1 percent. The EU further claimed that Apple had two companies in Ireland with a head office that existed only on paper, but received all of Apple’s European profits. The ruling fuels the debate about multinational corporate existence and tax responsibility worldwide.
Some U.S. taxpayers may be required by I.R.C. § 6038 to file Form 5471 (Information Return of U.S. Persons With Respect to Certain Foreign Corporations) with their tax returns. To adhere to the reporting requirements of § 6038, as well as § 6046, Form 5471 is required to be filed by certain U.S. persons who are officers, directors, or shareholders in certain foreign corporations.
A person required to file Form 5471 who fails to file the form, or files a late or incomplete form, is not only subject to substantial monetary penalties, but the statute of limitations on assessment for the taxpayer’s entire return remains open until three years after the required information is submitted to the IRS.