Published on: February 5, 2018 Last modified: January 24, 2021

Voluntary Disclosure Programs and Offshore Assets

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    The IRS may be expanding amnesty programs for taxpayers facing penalties due to reporting issues regarding their offshore accounts. This possibly is because the IRS views such programs as a success. The aim is to recover even more money owed.

    The aggressive efforts by the treasury department to locate undeclared offshore assets began in 2009. Eventually, it then offered a number of programs to allow taxpayers to make voluntary disclosures. In return, taxpayers would only have to face certain fixed penalties and receive assurances that they would not face criminal penalties.

    Voluntary disclosure programs may not be indefinite

    The Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Programs put in place in 2009 and 2011 are now closed. More recent programs implemented in 2012 and 2014 cover both taxpayers living in the U.S. and others living abroad. While said to be indefinite, it is possible that taxpayers may eventually no longer be able to take advantage of these programs.

    The IRS has been sending out “soft letters” to taxpayers not in compliance with offshore reporting requirements. The soft letters contain options for taxpayers to think about in coming into compliance with IRS demands.

    Some analysts speculate that the sending of such letters may indicate the IRS could close certain voluntary compliance programs soon. The IRS may be becoming impatient with alleged violators.

    What’s next?

    Despite cuts to IRS staffing, indictments for noncompliance with offshore reporting requirements continues to rise. And it appears the IRS may be seeking criminal penalties against those they consider violators. Because of the amount of information the IRS has at its disposal, the IRS also appears extremely ready to prosecute such individuals.

    Those not abiding by the requirements for offshore disclosure face severe consequences. The penalties include significant seizure of assets and even jail time.

    Michigan residents near to understand that federal authorities remain serious in their efforts to locate undisclosed offshore accounts. If you have questions regarding whether you are in compliance, it is a good idea to seek legal help right away.

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