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San Jose, CA offshore tax compliance attorneyU.S. taxpayers are required to report foreign financial accounts and other offshore assets and investments, and taxes may apply to income earned from foreign sources. In the past, the IRS allowed taxpayers who had not met these requirements to become compliant through the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP). This program is no longer available, and it has left some taxpayers unsure about how to report their foreign assets and pay any taxes owed while minimizing the potential penalties that may apply. 

One issue that the IRS has identified as an area of concern involves taxpayers who applied for pre-clearance with the OVDP but did not complete this program. Specifically, some taxpayers may have been denied access to the program, or they may have voluntarily withdrawn their requests. The IRS’s Large Business & International (LB&I) division will be investigating these taxpayers, and tax audits may be performed in cases involving continued noncompliance.

Options for Compliance With Foreign Tax Reporting Requirements

In some cases, taxpayers who were unable to become compliant through the OVDP may be eligible for the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures (SDOP) or Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures (SFOP) programs. A person will qualify for this program if he or she can show that his or her noncompliance was non-willful, meaning that the taxpayer did not know about or did not understand the requirements for reporting foreign assets and income. These taxpayers will be required to comply with tax return requirements for the past 3 years, Foreign Bank and Financial Account Reports (FBAR) requirements for the past 6 years, and other required information. They must provide information about the balances of unreported foreign accounts for the past 6 years, and they must pay all outstanding taxes and interest. In most cases, a 5% penalty will apply to the taxpayer’s highest aggregate foreign account value, although this penalty may be waived in certain cases.

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San Jose offshore tax attorney OVDPIf it has come to your attention that your tax filings may not be in compliance with U.S. tax laws and regulations, and you may be concerned you could face criminal liability, the IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) may provide a means to rectify your noncompliance status. 

About the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program

The OVDP applies to tax issues related to unreported offshore income or assets. The OVDP was created for taxpayers who are concerned the IRS will view their conduct as willful or fraudulent. Under the law, a taxpayer’s failure to report offshore financial assets and fully pay the taxes due related to such assets may lead to criminal charges. Allowing for voluntary disclosure once tax returns have been filed is a way a taxpayer may be able to avoid criminal prosecution.

In order to utilize the OVDP, certain requirements must be met and certain procedures must be followed. Several iterations of the OVDP have been in effect over the past few years. The IRS ended one disclosure program on September 28, 2018 and announced new rules that would affect disclosures made after that date.

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undisclosed foreign assets, offshore tax compliance, San Jose tax lawyer, offshore voluntary disclosure program, IRSRecently, we examined the options taxpayers have to achieve compliance when they have undisclosed foreign assets. One key method of compliance that the IRS has provided in recent years is the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP). The program allows taxpayers to report their offshore assets and become compliant while minimizing their civil penalties and avoiding criminal prosecution. However, the IRS recently announced that it will be ending the OVDP on September 28, 2018.

Changing Options for Offshore Tax Compliance

The OVDP was launched in 2009, and the current version of the program has been in effect since 2014. The IRS has reported that since the OVDP was implemented, more than 56,000 taxpayers have used the program to achieve compliance—$11.1 billion in taxes, penalties, and interest have been paid. However, the number of people participating in the program has declined from a high of 18,000 people in 2011 to 600 in 2017.

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