Some still out in the cold with offshore financial accounts take comfort in the fact that their bank has not yet been indicted or named in any publicly announced IRS investigation. Well, here is some sobering news to shake confidence in not being found out. Bloomberg BNA’s International Tax Monitor reported on comments made by Assistant Attorney General Kathryn Keneally at the American Institute of CPA’s Fall Tax Division Meting. Ms. Keneally said the Department of Justice has and continues to receive a lot of information that is not made public. At the urging of the DOJ banks not under criminal investigation are coming forward to cooperate in an effort to avert charges. The DOJ isn’t announcing these disclosures. Thus, the DOJ may already have your name even though the bank holding your foreign account has not been publicly identified in any ongoing DOJ investigation.
Meanwhile big fish continue to get caught in the IRS ever-widening net. For example Billionaire H. Ty Warner of beanie baby fame recently plead guilty to evading taxes with a stash of Swiss bank accounts reported by BNA to have approached $107 million.
In total about 70 taxpayers and 30 accomplices, among them bankers, lawyers and advisors, have been charged.
Surprisingly, a March 2013 report of the U.S. Government Accountability office on Offshore Tax Evasion examined the results of the 2009 OVDP and found that:
- The average offshore account balance was $1.9 million.
- The average additional tax owed for the six-year period 2004 through 2009 was only $97,600, or about $16,300 per year, a relatively low figure.
- The average total tax penalties and interest paid by participants was about $433,800
With hindsight, the decision to go offshore and not report looks pretty unwise.
Now those who’ve made these poor judgments have an opportunity the make a clean sweep of all of their tax problems. By entering the 2012 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program, taxpayers still hiding offshore can avoid criminal charges, in most cases know with certainty the amount of tax, penalty and interest to be paid in cleaning up the offshore mess and do all of this without public shame, jail time or being branded a felon. They can, after coming clean also access funds they are now likely afraid to go near.
I strongly urge those still out in the cold to seek capable legal tax counsel about how to come into compliance with the least amount of pain.
© 2013 by Robert S. Steinberg, Esquire
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Contact Robert Steinberg at 305-253-2557.
For more information visit my website www.steinbergtaxlaw.com