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San Jose foreign tax compliance lawyerU.S. taxpayers who own offshore accounts or other foreign assets may struggle to understand their requirements for reporting foreign investments to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and paying taxes on foreign income. In some cases, these matters have become even more confusing following recent changes to the programs the IRS has made available to taxpayers. In 2018, the IRS ended the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP), and recently, it also took down the Delinquent International Information Return Submission Procedures (DIISP) from its website. This has left many taxpayers concerned about their ability to become compliant with IRS requirements and avoid penalties related to reporting foreign assets and income.

What Is DIISP?

Previously, the DIISP allowed taxpayers to receive a waiver of the penalties that would normally apply to unreported foreign assets. Taxpayers could qualify for the DIISP if they did not have any unreported income, as long as they could show that they had reasonable cause for their non-compliance, such as death, serious illness, natural disasters, or ignorance of tax laws.

The IRS quietly ended the DIISP in November 2020 without providing any notice that these procedures would no longer be available. Without this option, taxpayers will be required to follow other procedures to become compliant, and they may be subject to tax penalties.

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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 Specifically, some taxpayers may have been denied access to the program, or they may have voluntarily withdrawn their requests.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 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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