Today, September 4, 2018, t he Internal Revenue Service, IRS, provided a notice that Americans have until September 28, 2018, just over 3 weeks, to apply for the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP).
I know there are may Americans that have not come forward under one of the many alternatives, which gets fewer and fewer alternative as time moves on. OVDP’s initial launch in 2009 and over 56,000 Americans have used the various terms of the program to comply voluntarily with U.S. tax laws. These individuals with undisclosed offshore accounts have paid a total of $11.1 billion in back taxes, interest and penalties.
The IRS’s end of the OVDP reflects advances in third-party reporting and increased awareness of U.S. individuals of their offshore tax and reporting obligations. This third-party reporting are banks both within and outside the US as well as foreign governments exchanging massive data on your foreign bank accounts, bilaterally, overnight on a daily basis…truly there is no place to hide if you have not reported these bank accounts and any interest on your US tax returns and FBAR reports.
Historically, but recently, March 2018 the IRS decided the OVDP would end on September 28, 2018. The IRS will continue to hold individuals with undisclosed offshore accounts accountable after the program closes.
The number of individual disclosures under the OVDP peaked in 2011, when about 18,000 people came forward. The number steadily declined through the years, falling to only 600 disclosures in 2017. Since the above announcement, the IRS has not received any public comments addressing a continued need for the OVDP.
On the Criminal side, the IRS will maintain a pathway for individuals who may have committed criminal acts to voluntarily disclose their past actions and come into compliance with the tax system. Updated procedures will be announced soon.
Please note the IRS continues to seek offshore tax avoidance and evasion using whistleblower leads, civil examination and criminal prosecution. Since 2009, 1,545 individuals have been indicted related to international activities through the work of IRS Criminal Investigation. We do represent clients who are facing ongoing criminal tax litigation, examination and document summons and subpoena requests from the IRS.
There is a totally separate fast-track IRS program for individuals who are bona fide unaware of their filing obligations which to date has had approximately 65,000 individuals take advantage of this offering. Remember, this information that is made available to the IRS in any of the above programs is immediately transmitted to any country that the individual is living within as well as any jurisdiction where the bank accounts are located as well as any State of the United States; so be prepared for litigation from many sides of other governmental agencies. We are experienced in these matters, your information is confidential under attorney/client privilege and we can advise you on what to expect as you consider your best options for moving forward.
Give us a call and we will be happy to discuss your particular concerns.
Michael B. Nelson, Esq.