On August 8, 2016, the IRS updated the “frequently asked questions” (FAQs) on the FATCA IDES Technical FAQs section at IRS.gov.

IDES stands for the “International Data Exchange Services” system that allows the IRS to exchange taxpayer information with foreign tax authorities. While the FAQs are focused primarily on technical issues, such as data preparation, testing and security, several of the revisions provide guidance on substantive FATCA reporting issues.

New Q:A18 clarifies that reports made by “Direct Reporting Non-Financial Foreign Entities” (NFFE) located in Model One IGA jurisdictions are to be made directly to the IRS rather than through their Host Country Tax Authority (HCTA). Generally when using IDES, files uploaded by a foreign financial institution (FFI) in a “M1O2” jurisdiction will be routed to the HCTA. The FAQ provides that “when a Direct Reporting NFFE applies for its Global Intermediary Identification Number(GIIN) through the FATCA Online Registration portal it must specify its jurisdiction as ‘Other’ if it is located in a M1O2 jurisdiction.” The GIIN assigned as a result of this registration option then instructs IDES to route transmissions directly to the IRS.

M1O2 stands for “Model 1, Option 2” which enables FFIs located in jurisdictions with Model 1 IGAs to report directly through IDES rather than to their HCTA, if such procedure is permitted by their HCTA.

The IRS also updated Q:C20, which deals with “nil” FATCA reports (i.e., FATCA reports in which no US accounts are reported). The revised FAQ confirms that generally, only Direct Reporting Non-Financial Foreign Entities and Sponsoring Entities’ reporting on behalf of a Sponsored Direct Reporting NFFEs are required to submit a nil report. Nil reports are optional for all other filers. The FAQ clarifies that while nil reporting may not be required by the IRS, it may be required by the local jurisdiction under that jurisdiction’s FATCA legislation, and reminds taxpayers to consult with local tax administration before filing FATCA reports.

The IRS continues to periodically update both the technical and substantive FATCA FAQs on its website to provide guidance to affected entities as compliance issues arise.