If you are seriously delinquent on taxes your passport is safe for now. The IRS and State Department have yet to write regulations or begin enforcement. At the mid-year mark, proposed regulations are still not expected until mid-November.
United States law requires citizens and resident aliens (i.e. green card holders) to disclose all of their income regardless of where it was earned. This includes reporting foreign trusts and bank and security accounts held in other countries. Depending on the value of the foreign accounts various forms are required.
Two recent Los Angeles cases show the potential consequences of failing to report offshore accounts to the IRS.
Individual tax filing season gets a lot of media attention. Historically, TV stations have run footage of taxpayers rushing to the post office in order to file. Even with more and more people filing online, filing day - usually on or around April 15 - remains etched in the popular consciousness.
How far can federal authorities go in seeking to compel American taxpayers to produce records concerning their foreign accounts? To be sure, there is no definitive answer to that question. But as the U.S. government continues its recent efforts to enforce offshore account compliance, it is important to become informed about the basic principles involved.
California residents with offshore bank accounts may be interested to hear of the latest development in the Internal Revenue Service's pursuit of those who have engaged in tax evasion by neglecting to report assets held in foreign countries. Earlier this week, a federal appellate court reversed a lower court's decision and ruled that a man's failure to file required Reports of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts was willful, opening the door for increased penalties.
Three former employees of United Revenue Service, Inc., a company providing tax preparation services, have been indicted by the Internal Revenue Service and the Justice Department for allegedly aiding U.S. clients evade taxes through offshore bank accounts. United Revenue Service had a number of offices here in Southern California and it currently operates 12 branches across the country.
The IRS recently released an updated Form TD F 90-22.1, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts. The FBAR is the primary way for California residents to report offshore bank accounts. It is an important form to file accurately because a Californian may have reporting requirements if they have a financial interest or signature authority over a foreign account even if that account does not produce income.
We have covered the IRS' Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative in several of our previous posts. The OVDI allows California taxpayers with undisclosed offshore bank accounts to voluntarily report their undisclosed assets to the IRS in exchange for amnesty from any criminal tax evasion charges. The OVDI does impose some pretty hefty penalties on participants but these penalties are not as severe as those associated with the IRS finding an Orange County taxpayer's offshore bank account on its own.
The federal government's crackdown on Americans' undeclared offshore bank accounts is continuing apace. The Obama administration has made it a priority to track down uncollected revenue from any and all sources available, and the holding of untaxed and undeclared money in offshore accounts has been a prime target of the Internal Revenue Service, the Treasury Department and the Department of Justice.