We previously discussed this in our post Offshore Compliance Programs Generate $8 Billion and IRS Urges People to Take Advantage of Voluntary Disclosure Programs... You Think? However, the figures have risen sharply since the IRS' last progress report in January this year, when it announced that the OVDP schemes had attracted 54,000 disclosures and USD7 billion in tax.
It is believed that most of the additional 30,000 taxpayers who have volunteered since then, have been attracted by the 'streamlined' program launched in June 2014 for 'non-wilful' taxpayers. This program originated from the IRS' recognition that there were large numbers of American taxpayers expatriates living outside the United States, whose non-compliance with the offshore reporting rules was entirely unintentional and who could be drawn into compliance by offering them immunity from any penalties.
This strategy has been aided by the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA),which requires foreign banks to report to the IRS accounts held by US taxpayers, which is provided additional incentive for the taxpayers to come clean.
US taxpayers can also not enter the program where the IRS has already received information regarding their bank account from their offshore bank.
With FATCA coming into force, the Swiss bank amnesty program under which Swiss banks can avoid US prosecutions if they pay appropriate penalties and cooperate with the investigations of the US Department of Justice, the number of US taxpayers barred from voluntary disclosure is increasing all the time.
For these US taxpayers to enter the program they must now face having to pay penalties of 50 % of their undeclared foreign assets, instead of the 27.5% offered by the OVDP.
The streamlined procedures, initiated in 2012, were developed to accommodate a wider group of U.S. taxpayers who have unreported foreign financial accounts but whose circumstances substantially differed from those taxpayers for whom the OVDP requirements were designed. More than 30,000 taxpayers have used streamlined procedures to come back into compliance with U.S. tax laws. Two-thirds of these have used the procedures since the IRS expanded the eligibility criteria in June 2014.
Separately, based on information obtained from investigations and under the terms of settlements with foreign financial institutions, the IRS has conducted thousands of offshore-related civil audits that have produced tens of millions of dollars. The IRS has also pursued criminal charges leading to billions of dollars in criminal fines and restitution.
The IRS remains committed to stopping offshore tax evasion wherever it occurs. Even though the IRS has faced several years of budget reductions, the agency continues to pursue cases in all parts of the world.
Read more at: Tax Times blog