Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act

New Irish Software to Combat Offshore Tax Evasion | Tax Lawyer News

The Irish Revenue is expanding its tax enforcement capabilities through new Irish software. This new Irish software will provide the Irish Revenue with a unique type of a multilateral analysis of a taxpayer in order to combat offshore tax evasion. This is definitely a new development in international tax enforcement and it is the one likely to be followed by other nations, including the United States.

New Irish Software Allows a Brand-New Versatile Analysis of a Taxpayer’s Life

The unique feature of the new Irish software is its multilateral analysis of a taxpayer. First of all, the software will match the data provided by taxpayer (or by other national institutions) with the data collected from other jurisdictions under the automatic information exchange agreements. So far, this is similar to the IRS FATCA software.

However, the new Irish software goes further: it will analyze the taxpayer’s social media accounts, statements, pictures and so on to see if the taxpayer’s posts about his lifestyle match the information provided by the taxpayer to the Irish Revenue. It appears that there are other features of the software which are not even disclosed to the public that also go beyond the traditional analysis of tax and financial documents.

In other words, the new software will do the data analysis that will allow the Irish Revenue to build a complete profile of Irish taxpayers and their activities. This is a very bold and creative approach to tax enforcement, but, as discussed below, it is completely within the logic of the recent trends in international tax enforcement.

The New Irish Software Comes After the Closure of the Irish Voluntary Disclosure Program

The new Irish software is being introduced by the Irish Revenue just about six months after the closure of the Irish voluntary disclosure program. The Irish Revenue received 2,734 disclosures with a declared value of almost 84 million before the program’s deadline for offshore disclosures on May 4, 2017.

Since the voluntary disclosure program is closed, the noncompliant taxpayers who will be identified by the new Irish software are likely to face substantially higher penalties.

Lessons to be Drawn from the New Irish Software With Respect to Future US Tax Enforcement

This latest development in Irish tax enforcement is indicative of the trend of using comprehensive data analytics through smarter, more aggressive software with elements of Artificial Intelligence to identify noncompliant taxpayers. This is the trend that will undoubtedly influence US tax enforcement. In fact, the IRS already has an advanced tax software to analyze FATCA data (which, right now, is filled with errors and not very effective). Moreover, the IRS has also stated that it will develop its own AI software to identify US international tax noncompliance.

Furthermore, it seems that there is a worldwide trend toward harsher international tax enforcement in lieu of continuation of the existing voluntary disclosure programs. The fact that the Irish Revenue unveiled new software after the closure of the voluntary disclosure program is also not an accident, but a planned course of events.

We can already observe the same trend here in the United States. The IRS is stepping up FBAR audits while the DOJ (US Department of Justice) is dramatically increasing its FBAR-related litigation. Additionally, the IRS has recently announced its intentions to seriously modify and even close its own voluntary disclosure programs.

The combination of all of these trends means that noncompliant US taxpayers are at an extremely high risk of detection at the time when most of their voluntary disclosure options are being closed or significantly modified. This is why this is the critically-important time for these taxpayers to explore their voluntary disclosure options while they are still available. Failure to do so now may lead to extremely unfavorable tax consequences, including the imposition of substantially higher IRS penalties.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help with Your Offshore Voluntary Disclosure

If you have undisclosed foreign assets (including foreign bank and financial accounts) or foreign income, please contact Sherayzen Law Office as soon as possible. Our international tax law firm has successfully helped hundred of US taxpayers with their offshore voluntary disclosures. We can help You!

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South Korean Citizen FBAR Guilty Plea| FATCA Lawyer

On October 27, 2017, the IRS and the DOJ announced that Mr. Hyung Kwon Kim, a South Korean citizen and a Legal Permanent Resident of the United States, pleaded guilty to failure to file correct FBARs.

Alleged Facts of the Case Which Led the South Korean Citizen to the FBAR Guilty Plea

Mr. Kim is a South Korean citizen who became a US permanent resident in 1998. At that time, he traveled to Switzerland to identify financial institutions at which he could open accounts for the purpose of receiving transfers of funds from another person in Hong Kong. Over the next few years, Mr. Kim opened accounts at several banks, including Credit Suisse, UBS, Bank Leu, Clariden Leu, and Bank Hofmann. By 2004, the aggregate value of Mr. Kim’s accounts exceeded $28,000,000.

Mr. Kim engaged in activities to conceal the funds from the IRS. In order to accomplish this, he also enlisted the help of several bankers, including Dr. Edgar H. Paltzer (who was convicted in 2013 for conspiring to defraud the United States). Dr. Paltzer and other bankers assisted Mr. Kim in opening of sham entities organized in Liechtenstein, Panama and the British Virgin Islands as well as bank accounts in the name of these entities.

Mr. Kim also utilized other means to conceal funds from the US, including directing his bankers to issue checks in the millions of dollars payable to third parties in the United States. This is exactly how the South Korean citizen purchased his personal residence in Greenwich, Connecticut.

In 2005, Mr. Kim created a nominee entity to hold title for the purchase of another home on Stage Harbor in Chatham, Massachusetts, for nearly $5 million. Here, Dr. Paltzer and Mr. Kim engaged in a purchase in such a manner as to create the appearance that Mr. Kim was renting a property from a fictitious owner.

Furthermore, between 2000 and 2008, Mr. Kim took multiple trips to Zurich and withdrew more than $600,000 in cash during these visits. He also brought his offshore assets back to the United States by purchasing millions of dollars’ worth of jewelry and loose gems. In 2008, for example, Mr. Kim purchased an 8.6 carat ruby ring from a jeweler in Greenwich, Connecticut, which he financed by causing Bank Leu to issue three checks totaling $2.2 million to the jeweler.

After the UBS case i n2008, Mr. Kim’s banker at Clariden Leu informed Mr. Kim that due to ongoing investigations in the United States he had to either disclose the accounts to the US government, spend the funds or move the funds to another institution. Mr. Kim chose to move the funds into nominee accounts at another bank.

In 2011, the South Korean citizen engaged in the ultimate strategy of concealment by liquidating the accounts by, among other things, withdrawing tens of thousands of dollars in cash and purchasing three loose diamonds for about $1.7 million from a Greenwich jeweler. Finally, as part of his guilty plea, Mr. Kim also admitted that he filed false income tax returns for 1999 through 2010, on which he failed to report income from the assets held in the foreign financial accounts that he owned and controlled in Switzerland.

FBAR Criminal Penalties and Other Penalties that the South Korean Citizen Faces

As part of his plea agreement, Mr. Kim will pay a civil penalty of over $14,000,000 dollars to the United States Treasury for failing to file, and filing false FBARs. Separately, Mr. Kim faces the sentencing scheduled for January 26, 2018 before the US District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III. The South Korean Citizen faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison. He also faces a period of supervised release, restitution, and monetary penalties, in addition to the FBAR penalty.

Czech Bank Accounts: Lawyer Finds Compliance Problems With FBAR and FATCA

For years, Czech Republic has held a position within the top fifteen countries among our firm’s voluntary disclosure clients. At the end of May and early June of 2017, our firm’s owner, international tax attorney Eugene Sherayzen, made a trip to the Czech Republic to find out why there are so many clients with unreported Czech Bank accounts.

Ceska Narodni Banka

Ceska Narodni Banka

General Lack of Awareness of FBAR and FATCA With Respect to Czech Bank Accounts

While Mr. Sherayzen found Prague an astonishingly beautiful city, his investigation of FBAR and FATCA awareness confirmed what he already supposed for years – there are important gaps in awareness of these US tax compliance requirements. The results of his investigation also showed that while there were some signs of improvement in FATCA awareness, FBAR was still generally an unknown form.

While Mr. Sherayzen’s investigation was not done using any scientific method and his targeted sample cannot be considered as a properly representative survey, its results are nonetheless alarming.

They are particularly important for Czech citizens who are also US citizens or US permanent residents residing in the United States, especially if they opened their Czech bank accounts with Czech passports prior to moving to the United States. Mr. Sherayzen’s investigation identified this group of individuals as particularly vulnerable to failing to comply with US tax requirements, including FBAR.

Czech Bankers Often Do Not Inform Their Clients of FBAR and FATCA Obligations With Respect to Czech Bank Accounts

Additionally, Mr. Sherayzen found a general lack of awareness of the obligation of foreign bankers to inform their clients about FATCA and, especially, FBARs. Of the five banks chosen, Mr. Sherayzen was unsatisfied with level of FATCA preparedness of the Czech bankers. These results further supported Mr. Sherayzen’s original supposition that the Czech bankers’ lack of proper education about US tax requirements exacerbated and, in many instances, were directly responsible for his clients’ unawareness of their FBAR and FATCA obligations.

These results are too recent at this point and need further analysis and confirmation in the future. Yet, it is clear that all US persons with Czech bank accounts need to urgently re-evaluate their current US tax compliance, especially if it is based on advice from Czech bankers.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Help With US Tax Compliance Concerning Czech Bank Accounts

If you have undisclosed Czech bank accounts or any other foreign assets, contact Sherayzen Law Office as soon as possible. Failure to do it before the IRS initiates an investigation may result in imposition of draconian FBAR penalties.

We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the world to bring their tax affairs into fully compliance with US laws. We can help You!

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Specified Foreign Financial Assets | Form 8938 International Tax Lawyers

Specified Foreign Financial Assets is one of the most important terms in contemporary US international tax law. In this article, I will explore what these Specified Foreign Financial Assets are and why they play such an important role in modern US international tax compliance.

Specified Foreign Financial Assets and FATCA

In order to understand the significance of the Specified Foreign Financial Assets, we must turn to one of the most important US tax laws called Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act or FATCA.

FATCA was signed into law in 2010 and it immediately became the most important development in international taxation since at least 1970s, if not all the way to the end of the Second World War. There are three parts of FATCA that made it such a revolutionary development in international tax law. The first part of FATCA requires all foreign financial institutions (FFIs) to report to the IRS, directly or indirectly, Specified Foreign Financial Assets (be careful, this concept can be modified by a FATCA implementation treaty to include and exclude various foreign assets) owned by US persons. In essence, it meant that the world financial community would now serve as an IRS informer, providing the third-party reporting of financial assets owned by US persons.

In order to enforce this “obligation”, the second part of FATCA imposed a 30% penalty on the gross amount of a transaction whenever the transaction is related to an institution that is not compliant with FATCA. Such a huge penalty was meant to force all FFIs to become FATCA-compliant and, to a large extent, this goal has been attained.

With the third-party reporting secured by the first two parts of FATCA, the third part of FATCA imposed a new reporting requirement, Form 8938, on certain categories of US taxpayers who would fall within the categories of Specified Individuals and (starting 2016) Specified Domestic Entities. FATCA Form 8938 forced these Specified Persons to directly report their Specified Foreign Financial Assets with their US tax returns.

Specified Foreign Financial Assets: General Definition

In general, Specified Foreign Financial Assets include: foreign financial accounts and assets that are held for investment and not held in an account maintained by a financial institution. The concept of “assets held for investment and not held in an account” covers stocks or securities issued by anyone who is not a US person, any interest in a foreign entity, any financial instrument or contract that has an issuer or counterparty that is other than a US person, stock issued by a foreign corporation, an interest in a foreign trust or foreign estate and a capital or profits interest in a foreign partnership.

In other words, definition of the Specified Foreign Financial Assets is so broad that it applies to virtually any financial instrument or security one can imagine as long as one of the counterparties and/or issuers is a foreign person. It also includes pretty much any ownership interest in a foreign business entity as well as a beneficiary interest in a foreign trust. Therefore, it is always prudent to contact an international tax attorney to confirm whether your particular investment is covered by the definition of the Specified Foreign Financial Assets.

Specified Foreign Financial Assets: Additional Non-Exclusive Lists of Assets

Additionally, the instructions to Form 8938 specifically state that Specified Foreign Financial Assets encompass an interest rate swap, currency swap, basis swap, interest rate cap, interest rate floor, commodity swap, equity swap, equity index swap, credit default swap, or similar agreement with a foreign counterparty. Specified Foreign Financial Assets also include a note, bond, debenture, or other form of indebtedness issued by a foreign person. Finally, options and other derivative instructions with a foreign counterparty or issuer are also included in the definition of Specified Foreign Financial Assets.

Specified Foreign Financial Assets: Influence of FATCA Implementation Treaties

Despite the broad general definition of Specified Foreign Financial Assets and despite the “laundry” list of assets specifically identified above, one should always look at a specific FATCA implementation treaty in order to verify whether an asset is considered to fall within the definition of Specified Foreign Financial Assets. In particular, one must have extra care with foreign retirement accounts. During the negotiation of FATCA Implementation Treaties, countries often insisted that particular types of retirement accounts should be excluded from FATCA reporting (the United Kingdom was particularly successful in this respect).

A word of caution: even if an asset is excluded from FATCA reporting, it does not automatically mean that it would also be excluded from FBAR reporting. It is possible to have a financial asset reportable exclusively on FBAR, but not Form 8938.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help with Reporting of Specified Foreign Financial Assets on Form 8938

If you have any of the Specified Foreign Financial Assets listed above, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help. In addition to annual tax compliance, our firm can help you with the offshore voluntary disclosure with respect to any delinquent Forms 8938 which you have not timely filed in any of the prior years.

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