OVDP changes to accommodate non-willful tax evasion
The OVDP (Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program) may face more modifications as IRS continues to focus on international tax compliance. The IRS Commissioner John Koskinen hinted on the upcoming modifications to the OVDP on June 3rd, 2014 before the IRS Council. His remarks give a ray of hope to U.S citizens and residents who have offshore bank accounts that have gone unreported. This may be because the OVDP has been previously centered on criminal prosecution and hefty penalties under Bank Secrecy Act. The modifications would consider the U.S. Citizens and residents who have resided in other countries for so long that their failure to comply with their tax obligations has not been intentional. The IRS looks to accommodate these tax payers by easing the penalty on them. This is aimed at encouraging them to report their offshore accounts and comply with their tax obligations.
OVD program focus on combating tax evasion
OVDP (Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program) was put in place to curb global tax evasion. It was to provide an opportunity to U.S. Citizens and permanent residents living overseas or those with offshore accounts to comply with their tax obligations voluntarily. This would involve disclosing offshore accounts and paying a monetary penalty thus avoiding criminal prosecution. The program has been successfully and as such seen various modifications since its inception. Despite this, there are still many tax payers who have not tapped into the OVDP program. They may have been willing to comply with their tax obligations may be if the penalties were minimal and reduced chances of criminal prosecution. For more on help with OVDP program, click here.
IRS modification to include willful tax payers in OVDP
IRS is determined to ensure maximum cooperation of its taxpayers abroad through yet another possible modification of OVDP. The OVDP program has without a doubt targeted all taxpayers with offshore bank accounts without considering if the taxpayers were willful or non-willful tax evaders. In his remarks, the IRS Commissioner John Koskinen notes that they are considering whether their voluntary programs have been too focused on those willfully evading their tax obligations and not being accommodating enough to others who don’t necessarily need protection from criminal prosecution because their compliance failures have been of the non-willful variety. According to the IRS commissioner, some of the U.S. citizens have resided abroad for many years, perhaps even the vast majority of their lives. This is the driving factor behind the forthcoming foreseen possible modifications by the IRS to the OVDP.
The IRS, through its Commissioner, hinted on the possibility of giving these tax payers, whose non-compliance does not constitute willful tax evasion, the opportunity to come into compliance without having to face the type of penalties relevant for those who willfully hid their investments overseas. These tax payers might not have had the opportunity of coming into compliance that doesn’t involve the threat of substantial penalties.