Tax Evasion under QI agreements
On Feb. 28 2014, Thomas Sawyer, senior counsel on international tax matters with the DOJ’s Tax Division, clarified that banks who have helped clients hide assets from the US government aren’t immune from penalty simply because they have complied with a qualified intermediary (“QI”) agreement.
Sawyer addressed the misconception of some banks that may have decided not to come forward under the mistaken belief that their QI agreements will protect them from enforcement. “If you’re hearing that advice, you should be put on notice that that’s wrong,” Sawyer said. Another misconception is that all banks have to do is pay a fine and they can simply move forward, he said.
An official from the IRS also said that the IRS has attaches in multiple countries to assist with investigations, and is looking at whether taxpayers who renounce their citizenship may be doing so for tax evasion purposes. Since the enactment of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”), the government has seen an increase in these renunciations. It is very clear that the U.S. Government is committed to combating tax evasion. Foreign Financial Institutions holding U.S. Citizens bank accounts have to either comply with IRS under FATCA or face penalties or to the worst case, close the bank accounts.
Sooner or later, the government will catch up with non-compliant banks and non-compliant U.S. Citizens in foreign countries. There is no option to tax evasion.