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San Jose tax lawyer, Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program, OVDP,  undisclosed foreign assets, IRS requirementsU.S. taxpayers who own assets held in foreign countries are required to report the assets to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and pay taxes on income from the assets. For taxpayers who have not met their reporting requirements, the IRS has provided a variety of methods for compliance, including the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP). However, the IRS has announced that the OVDP will end September 28, 2018.

Offshore Tax Compliance Options

The current version of the OVDP, which was instituted in 2014, allows taxpayers with undisclosed foreign assets to become compliant with IRS requirements, thus minimizing the civil penalties they are required to pay and avoiding the possibility of criminal prosecution for tax evasion. This program is meant to allow those who have willfully failed to report foreign assets to achieve compliance and pay any taxes that are owed, as well as applicable penalties. 

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San Jose tax lawyer,  individual income tax, filing tax returns, estate taxes, deceased person taxesIt is often said that death and taxes are the only two things that people are certain to experience. However, one’s tax obligations do not end with one’s death. When someone dies, income taxes may still be owed on his or her estate. Moreover, estate taxes or inheritance taxes may also apply. In order to ensure that taxes are filed correctly, it is important to have a strong knowledge of tax law.

Filing Taxes for a Deceased Person

After a person dies, the administrator of his or her estate must file a tax return and report all income he or she earned prior to the date of his or her death. Typically, the administrator will file Form 1040, and he or she may also be required to file tax returns for any previous years in which the deceased person failed to file a return. If necessary, the estate administrator can obtain documents related to the deceased person’s income and taxes by filing IRS Form 4506-T (Request for Transcript of Tax Return).

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San Jose, CA tax lawyer, virtual currency taxes, cryptocurrencies, taxable property, cryptocurrency transactionsIn recent months, the news has been filled with discussion of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ripple, or Ethereum. As these virtual currencies increase in value, many people are looking to invest in them. However, even though digital currencies can be exchanged for goods or services, or paid to employees as income, they are not the same as legal tender. This has resulted in a great deal of confusion as to how virtual currencies are treated under the United States tax laws.

Cryptocurrencies, Property, and Capital Gains

“Convertible” virtual currencies that have an equivalent value in real currency and can be exchanged into U.S. dollars are taxable as property, similar to other capital assets such as stocks or bonds. In general, capital gains taxes apply when these currencies are bought or sold, including when they are converted into cash, when one type of currency is traded for another virtual currency, or when digital currency is exchanged for other property. Any gains or losses are based on the fair market value of the currency at the time it was acquired and at the time of its sale or trade. 

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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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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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