Important Info If You Have Swiss Or Other Offshore Accounts

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US citizens with offshore accounts received yet another reminder this week about the need to become compliant and to consider entering the IRS’ voluntary disclosure program. As YWN reported on Sunday, the former head of Julius Baer’s Cayman Island office provided WikiLeaks with two CDs containing information of more than 2000 individuals who engaged in tax evasion through offshore accounts, including 40 politicians and other “pillars of society.” Julian Assanage, the infamous founder of WikiLeaks, pledged to have the information on those CDs available to the public within two weeks. Any US individual who believes that he or she may be implicated by the content of the CDs should consider coming forward to the IRS immediately.

As I described in a prior YWN article a US citizen who willfully fails to report an offshore bank account (whether the account is held directly or through an entity such as a trust or corporation) may be liable for committing two crimes; filing a false tax return and failing to file a foreign bank account report, or “FBAR.” In addition, crippling civil penalties (as high as over 300% of the account value) may be imposed. A taxpayer with a previously undisclosed foreign bank account may achieve immunity from criminal prosecution and be eligible for reduced penalties by properly entering the IRS voluntary disclosure program.

To be eligible for the voluntary disclosure program, however, the taxpayer must come clean to the IRS before the IRS obtains information about the taxpayer’s foreign account from another source. The IRS will almost certainly take the view that it is deemed to have received the Julius Baer information on the CDs as soon as Mr. Assanage makes such information available to the public.  Thus, with Assanage’s pledge to disclose the information he received to the public within the next two weeks, US taxpayers whose information may be on those CDs have no time to lose; they should attempt to make a voluntary disclosure as soon as possible.

Joe Septimus is a lawyer with Kostelanetz & Fink, LLP, and can be reached at [email protected], or (212) 808 8100.

(Joseph Septimus – YWN)


8 COMMENTS

  1. From: http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=216678,00.html
    IRS’s civil-penalty framework for undisclosed offshore accounts expired October 15, 2009. Eligible taxpayers can still mitigate the risk of criminal prosecution by making voluntary disclosures under the IRS’s existing program.

    Those ready to disclose their accounts should contact the Criminal Investigation field office for the state where they live.

    Taxpayers who want more information about IRS’s Voluntary Disclosure Practice can click here: Internal Revenue Manual (IRM) 9.5.11.9 ( http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=104361,00.html )

  2. #2,

    The Sixteenth Amendment to the US Constitution reads,

    “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration. ”

    I personally know a Jew who didn’t pay his personal income tax. His reward was that he got to learn in the Otisville prison kollel.

  3. Let’s see if Obama can be Man enough and pre-pardon all people who are implicated via WikiLeak. If the Goverment will use WikiLeak for their own benefit, then they are being a bunch of hypocrates. By anouncing beforehand that they will completely disregard WikiLeak, they will be giving a strong message, and will give less reason for WikiLeak to do their sabotoge.

  4. Mr. Septimus,

    can you please clarify your this sentence “whether the account is held directly or through an entity such as a trust or corporation”.

    Does that mean only as a beneficiary or even as trustee?