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San Jose tax audit attorney for offshore complianceTaxpayers often make errors on their tax returns that are due to simple miscalculations or misidentification of assets and income. These mistakes rarely lead to criminal charges, and they can typically be rectified with help from a qualified tax lawyer. However, when a taxpayer or business makes a deliberate effort to avoid tax liability, this may constitute illegal tax evasion. Tax evasion is a serious crime punishable by up to 5 years’ incarceration and fines up to $250,000 for an individual or $500,000 for a corporation. In recent years, the Internal Revenue Service has dramatically increased enforcement of income compliance with regard to offshore accounts. The United States, however, is not the only country that is concerned about the increasingly common crime of offshore tax evasion. Recently, the U.S. was joined by several other countries in a “day of action” against offshore tax evasion schemes.

IRS Continues to Investigate Potential Facilitation of Tax Evasion

The Sixteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and a number of other laws dictate Americans’ tax obligations. In order to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, however, some individuals and businesses transfer assets outside the United States and into offshore tax shelters. Tax evasion is a massive problem that is estimated to have cost the U.S. federal government $458 billion per year from 2008 to 2010. Tax evasion schemes occur in developed countries around the world. 

In 2018, the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement was formed by leaders in the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Canada, and Australia to coordinate efforts to fight global tax evasion. The recent “day of action” occurred as part of an ongoing investigation into a financial institution in Central America that may be facilitating tax evasion and money laundering. The Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement have reason to believe that some taxpayers are anonymously hiding assets and laundering profits from criminal activities using this institution. Using interviews, subpoenas, search warrants, data analytics, and other intelligence, a great deal of information was uncovered about this institution and the activities taking place there. A number of civil and criminal actions are expected to result from the information gained during the investigation.

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San Jose tax lawyer, streamlined compliance, offshore tax evasion, taxpayers, offshore assetsIn a recent blog, we discussed how U.S. taxpayers can become compliant with the IRS’s requirements for reporting foreign financial assets through the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP). While the OVDP provides people with the ability to address outstanding offshore tax issues, it applies to people who have willfully failed to disclose foreign assets, and meeting its requirements can result in significant expenses but also can avoid significant penalties. For people whose failure to disclose offshore assets was non-willful, another option is available: streamlined compliance.

Eligibility for Streamlined Compliance

Streamlined compliance is available for individual U.S. taxpayers, and it consists of two programs: the Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures (for U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents who lived outside of the United States for at least 330 days in one of the three previous years) and the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures (for U.S. taxpayers who do not meet the non-residency requirement).

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San Jose offshore tax compliance lawyer, OVDP, offshore tax evasion, offshore assets, OVDP processUnder the Internal Revenue Code, taxpayers are required to include all income on their tax return, including interest accrued on funds held offshore.

Under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), taxpayers in the United States are required to report financial assets that are held in foreign countries to the IRS. Failure to report their income or these assets can result in both civil and criminal penalties for offshore tax evasion.

To help people and organizations who own offshore funds or assets become compliant, the IRS provides two resolutions: the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) and streamlined compliance. In this blog, we examine the requirements and procedures of the OVDP.

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