IRS Releases 2016 Offshore Voluntary Compliance Statistics
On October 21, 2016 the IRS released the latest statistics on Taxpayers who have made disclosures under the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) or by using the Streamline Procedures.
According to the News Release, a total of 55,800 taxpayers have come into compliance since 2009, resulting in the collection of approximately $9.9 billion in taxes, interest and penalties.
An additional 48,000 Taxpayers have made disclosures using the Streamlined Procedures, paying $450 million in taxes, interest and penalties.
In its News Release, the IRS implies that IRS detection is inevitable for those who fail to come forward.
The foregoing is based upon Taxpayer information received by the IRS through a number of initiatives including:
(i) inter-governmental agreements (IGA’s) executed between the U.S. and its international partners under FATCA providing for the exchange of Taxpayer financial information;
(ii) Taxpayer information provided by institutions participating in the Swiss Bank Program;
(iii) criminal prosecution of Foreign Financial Institutions, institution relationship managers, bank officers, attorneys and other facilitators;
(iv) information gathered in response to the issuance of a John Doe Summons;
(v) Taxpayer information obtained from IRS “Whistleblowers;” and
(vi) Taxpayer information gathered through IRS participation in various international task forces.
For those who elect to proceed under the Streamline Procedures, the bar to establish “non-willfulness” has been raised. The IRS will no longer accept Taxpayer applications under the Streamlined Procedures unless the Taxpayer provides a “narrative statement of facts,” pays the tax due, and submits the required information returns.
This statement must clarify why the particular party failed to disclose offshore assets. Accordingly, a request for relief that fails to contain a detailed explanation, in all likelihood, will result in a denial of relief. Similarly, a statement that the Taxpayer was unaware of the filing and reporting requirements will not meet the threshold for non-willfulness.
Finally, taxpayers, who self prepared their returns and who answered “no” to questions 7a and 7b on Schedule B pertaining to the existence of an interest in or signatory authority over a foreign financial account, will find it difficult, if not impossible, to establish “non-willfulness.”
© Anthony N. Verni, Attorney At Law, Certified Public Accountant 10/23/2016