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Streamline Disclosures- The Art of the Non-Willful Certification.

Offshore disclosure to IRS.

The key to making an offshore disclosure to the IRS using either the Domestic or Foreign Filing Compliance procedures requires a thorough and painstaking analysis of the facts involving an individual’s failure to;

  • OVDP Lawyerreport his or her foreign financial accounts.
  • report income from foreign sources.
  • make the necessary disclosures.
  • report foreign financial assets consistent with FATCA.

Details in a Non-Willful Certification can spell the difference between closure and a subsequent examination by the IRS which leads to assessment of multiple Civil FBAR Non-Willful Penalties over a number of years, or even worse, the assessment of the Willful Civil FBAR Penalty.

Components of offshore disclosure.

The starting point for any case is gathering all facts, including whether the tax return was self-prepared or prepared by a paid preparer, the length of time the foreign financial accounts have been open and the Taxpayer’s status in the United States.  It is also necessary to determine whether Schedule B was included with the Taxpayer’s original returns, and if so, whether the Taxpayers checked “no” in response to Question 7(a) and 7 (b) concerning the existence of Foreign Financial Accounts and the acknowledgement of an obligation to file an FBAR.

In addition, detailing the origin of the funds in the Foreign Financial Accounts and whether those funds represent after tax dollars as well as the initial purpose for opening the Foreign Financial Accounts. Closely tied to this inquiry is whether the Foreign Financial Accounts are legacy accounts, which were in existence prior to an Individual’s arrival in the United States.

Since Streamlined Filing Procedures are less costly to a Taxpayer than participating in the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (both in terms of penalties and legal cost), there is a tendency by those considering an offshore disclosure to default to the Streamlined Filing Procedures, without first considering all of the facts.  This can have catastrophic consequences especially in light of the recent IRS announcement that OVDP will be closed on September 18, 2018. The IRS has also intimated that it may also scrap the Streamlined Filing Procedures. This means that those who have failed to come forward can expect turbulence in the future.


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