The IRS Targets Taxpayers Hiding Assets in Offshore Bank Accounts

May 11, 2009   

Voluntary Disclosure Guidelines Give Taxpayers Until September 23rd to Reveal Offshore Assets

According to a statement on Offshore Income given by IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman, U.S. Taxpayers and entities that are currently hiding assets in offshore accounts have a limited voluntary disclosure period until September 23rd , of 2009 to reveal those accounts before the IRS takes the offensive. After the voluntary disclosure period, the IRS plans to aggressively pursue both civil and criminal penalties for taxpayers that fail to take advantage of the voluntary disclosure initiative. Furthermore, the IRS revealed that they are actively tracking entities and individuals attempting to clean up their act through “quiet disclosures,” the practice of Taxpayers declaring a prior increase of income through amended tax returns.

The IRS stated, “Those taxpayers making ‘quiet’ disclosures should be aware of the risk of being examined and potentially criminally prosecuted for all applicable years.”

It seems that the IRS has decided to take an aggressive position here. In a statement given by the IRS regarding the penalties for the 52,000 holders of undeclared UBS bank accounts, the IRS only mentioned a “reduction of penalties,” for those that took advantage of the voluntary disclosure practice.

Under the new IRS guidance, the quiet disclosure practice is no longer a safe measure to make amends to the IRS. President Obama recently mentioned the appointment of congressional authority to hire an additional 800 IRS agents assigned to track down and pursue illegal tax evasion and the use of undeclared offshore accounts. Though it is legal for Americans to have offshore accounts, the U.S. Treasury Department requires any account containing more than $10,000 to report the existence of the account, and taxes paid on the income as well.