Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act

IRS Wins Another Case Against Secret Belize Bank Accounts | FATCA Lawyers

On March 23, 2017, the IRS scored another major victory against using Belize bank accounts to hide income. On that day, Mr. Casey Padula pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit tax and bank fraud, including using Belize bank accounts to conceal almost $2.5 million.

Facts Concerning Using Belize Bank Accounts to Commit Tax Fraud

According to documents filed with the court, Mr. Padula was the sole shareholder of Demandblox Inc. (Demandblox), a marketing and information technology business. Mr. Padula conspired with others to move funds from Demandblox to his Belize bank accounts, disguising the transfer of funds as business expenses in Demandblox’s corporate records. At the same time, Mr. Padula created two offshore companies in Belize: Intellectual Property Partners Inc. (IPPI) and Latin American Labor Outsourcing Inc. (LALO). He opened and controlled bank accounts in the names of these entities at Heritage International Bank & Trust Limited (Heritage Bank), a financial institution located in Belize.

From 2012 through 2013, Demandblox “paid” to the bank accounts at Heritage Bank approximately $2,490,688. The transfers were recorded as intellectual property rights or royalty fees on Demandblox’s corporate books and deducted as business expenses on the company’s 2012 and 2013 corporate tax returns, causing a tax loss of more than $728,000. In reality, Mr. Padula used the funds to pay for personal expenses and purchase significant personal assets.

Furthermore, Mr. Padula also conspired with investment advisors Mr. Joshua VanDyk and Mr. Eric St-Cyr at Clover Asset Management (CAM), a Cayman Islands investment firm, to open and fund an investment account that he would control, but that would not be in his name. Heritage Bank had an account at CAM in its name and its clients could get a subaccount through Heritage Bank at CAM, which would not be in the client’s name but rather would be a numbered account. Mr. Padula transferred $1,000,080 from the IPPI bank account at Heritage Bank in Belize to CAM to fund his numbered account.

Facts Concerning Bank Fraud

In addition to committing tax fraud, Mr. Padula also conspired with others to commit bank fraud.

Mr. Padula had a mortgage on his Port Charlotte, Florida home of approximately $1.5 million with Bank of America (BoA). In 2012, he sent a letter to the bank stating that he could no longer repay his loan. At the same time, Mr. Padula provided Mr. Robert Robinson, III, who acted as a nominee buyer, with more than $625,000 from his IPPI bank account in Belize to fund a short sale of Mr. Padula’s home. Mr. Padula and Mr. Robinson signed a contract, which falsely represented that the property was sold through an “arms-length transaction,” and agreed that Padula would not be permitted to remain in the property after the sale.

In fact, Mr. Padula never moved from his home. Moreover, less than two months after the closing, Mr. Robinson conveyed it back to Mr. Padula by transferring ownership to one of Mr. Padula’s Belizean entities for $1. Mr. Robinson also pleaded guilty on March 23, 2017, to signing a false Form HUD-1 in connection with his role in the scheme.

Potential Penalties Concerning Using Belize Bank Accounts to Commit Tax Fraud

Mr. Padula faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison, a term of supervised release and monetary penalties. As part of his plea agreement, Mr. Padula agreed to pay restitution to the IRS and to BoA in the amount of $728,609. Mr. Robinson faces a statutory maximum sentence of one year in prison, a term of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties.

Lessons of the Padula Case

The Padula Case is a classic illustration of facts that often lead to a criminal prosecution by the IRS. First, he was shifting US-source income to Belize bank accounts by creating an artificial loss between the entities that he controlled.

Second, Mr. Padula employed a sophisticated offshore corporate structure to actively attempt to conceal his ownership of his Belize bank accounts. While the guilty plea does not specifically state how the IRS first found out about Mr. Padula’s structure, it appears to me that it occurred in connection with the IRS criminal cases against Mr. VanDyk and Mr. St-Cyr.

Finally, Mr. Padula utilized Belize, a tax haven, to commit tax fraud. This is always a factor for the IRS with respect to deciding whether to commence a criminal investigation.

Additionally, the Padula Case is another confirmation there are no safe havens anymore. Especially since the implementation of FATCA, the IRS has now the capacity to trace the transfer of funds, identify the tax violations and present sufficient evidence to prosecute a criminal case.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With the Voluntary Disclosure of Your Belize Bank Accounts

If you have undisclosed Belize bank accounts or undisclosed offshore assets in any other foreign country, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office to explore your voluntary disclosure options as soon as possible. If the IRS commences an investigation against you, this very fact may result in the closure of all voluntary disclosure paths currently available to you.

Sherayzen Law Office has accumulated tremendous experience in helping its clients with their Offshore Voluntary Disclosures, including Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures, Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures and Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP). We can help you!

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US Bank Accounts Disclosed to Israel | FATCA Tax Lawyers Florida

Many persons have assumed that FATCA is a one-way street where only the United States is able to obtain tax information with respect to foreign accounts controlled by its citizens while the information about US bank accounts is never exchanged with other FATCA signatories. While, to some (or even to a large) degree this may be true due to the fact that US financial institutions do not generally collect certain information about nonresident aliens with financial accounts in the United States, there are exceptions.

Disclosure of US Bank Accounts held by US Tax Residents Under FATCA

One of such exceptions are US taxpayers who are also citizens or tax residents of another country. Generally, the information about US bank accounts owned by US tax residents is collected by US financial institutions and shared with the IRS. Then, the IRS may share this information with other countries, including Israel.

This is a fairly important exception, because it affects millions of US citizens who reside overseas, including those who reside in Israel.

2017 Disclosures of Owners of US Bank Accounts to Israel

The most recent example of such a disclosure occurred on February 28, 2017, when the Israeli Tax Authority (“ITA”) announced that it received a second batch of information from the IRS with respect to about 30,000 US bank accounts held by Israeli citizens in the year 2014. All of this information was provided pursuant to US-Israel FATCA Agreement.

Earlier this year, in January, the US transferred the first batch of financial information under FATCA to Israel. At that time, the IRS provided information about 35,000 Israelis who had bank accounts in the United States in 2015.

Disclosure of US Bank Accounts and Other Information Will Lead to Audits of Israeli Tax Returns

The ITA also stated that the IRS will continue to supply the ITA with FATCA information regarding US Bank Accounts in the future. Israel also expects to commence the exchange of information under CRS (OECD’s Common Reporting Standard) by September of 2018.

All of the information that the ITA collects under FATCA and CRS will be used to compare with the information reported by Israelis on their Israeli tax returns. In fact, the ITA created a special tax force dedicated to screening and comparing the data. Hence, one should expect an increase in tax audits and imposition of tax penalties in Israel.

US Bank Accounts

Swiss Bank Program Data Will Be Shared with Israel, Not Just US Bank Accounts

There is one important point that should be emphasized with respect to the future IRS disclosures to Israel. Not only will the IRS share with the ITA the information regarding US bank accounts held by Israelis, but it will also supply the data about Israeli-held Swiss bank accounts that the IRS obtained through the Swiss Bank Program. The ITA already declared that it expects to receive data regarding thousands of the Swiss bank accounts held by Israelis.

This development is something that Sherayzen Law Office has frequently warned about in the past. We have repeatedly stated our concerns that the information that a foreign country obtains regarding US-held accounts through FATCA or CRS will eventually be shared with the IRS through one of the tax information exchange agreements.

The recent ITA declaration is just another confirmation of the correctness of our prediction – only it works here to benefit the ITA, not the IRS. We should expect more confirmations in the future that benefit the IRS directly with respect to detection of noncompliant US taxpayers who might have escaped the direct detection through FATCA.

Nine Swiss AEOI Agreements in Force Since January 1 2017 | FATCA Lawyer

Switzerland has recently become one of the most active countries with respect to expanding its network of automatic exchange of information agreements (Swiss AEOI Agreements). In fact, since January 1, 2017, nine Swiss AEOI Agreements entered into force.

Nine Swiss AEOI Agreements

All of the Swiss AEOI Agreements were signed via exchange of notes in late 2016 and entered into force from January 1, 2017. All of the Swiss AEOI Agreements were signed based on the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters (Protocol 10) in accordance with OECD CRS (common reporting standard). OECD CRS is the OECD version of FATCA.

Let’s list out the countries with which Swiss AEOI Agreements were signed in late 2016. They can be divided into two groups: the October Group and the December group.

The October Group includes Guernsey, Iceland, Isle of Man, Jersey, Norway and South Korea. All of the agreements were signed via an exchange of notes dated October 26, 2016 and October 28 (Iceland), November 1 (Jersey), November 10 (Guernsey), November 16 (South Korea), December 5 (Isle of Man) and December 13 (Norway).

The December Group includes Japan-Switzerland agreement signed via exchange of notes on December 8, 2016; Australia-Switzerland agreement that was signed via an exchange of notes dated December 8, 2016, and December 14, 2016; and Canada-Switzerland AEOI that was signed via an exchange of notes dated December 9, 2016, and December 22, 2016.

Indirect Impact of Swiss AEOI Agreements on US Taxpayers

This expansion of the information exchange network through Swiss AEOI Agreements poses an additional danger of the IRS detection of tax noncompliance by US taxpayers.

Why? The answer is simple – each of the countries that signed Swiss AEOI Agreements must also comply with its FATCA obligations with respect to US taxpayers. As the information exchange traffic increases through Swiss AEOI Agreements, there is a higher probability that FATCA-related information may be accidentally uncovered and transmitted to one of the Parties to the Swiss AEOI Agreements. Then, this Party may turn over this information to the IRS through FATCA reporting or an automatic exchange of information agreement with the IRS (present or future).

Therefore, US taxpayers with undisclosed foreign accounts in Australia, Canada, Guernsey, Iceland, the Isle of Man, Japan, Jersey, Norway, South Korea and Switzerland are at an increased risk of the IRS detection and should immediately consult with an experienced international tax law firm with respect to their voluntary disclosure options.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With Offshore Voluntary Disclosures Concerning Foreign Assets and Foreign Income

If you have undisclosed foreign assets or foreign income, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office as soon as possible. Sherayzen Law Office is a highly experienced international tax law firm that has helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the world to bring their tax affairs into full compliance with US tax laws, while reducing their noncompliance penalties and even lowering their tax liabilities (by utilizing missed opportunities for tax optimization in the years covered by voluntary disclosure). We can help You!

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Argentinian Tax Information Exchange Agreement Signed | FATCA Lawyer

On December 23, 2016, Argentina and the United States signed a Tax Informational Exchange Agreement (“Argentinian Tax Information Exchange Agreement” or “Argentinian TIEA”) in Buenos Aires. Let’s explore the main points of the Argentinian Tax Information Exchange Agreement.

Argentinian Tax Information Exchange Agreement: Information to Be Exchanged

The information to be exchanged under the Argentinian Tax Information Exchange Agreement is described in its very first article. Article 1 states that the parties will provide information to each other that is “foreseeably relevant to the administration and enforcement of the domestic laws of the Contracting Parties concerning taxes covered by this Agreement”.

Article 1 then specifies that such information includes everything “foreseeably relevant to the determination, assessment and collection of such taxes, the recovery and enforcement of tax claims, or the investigation or prosecution of tax matters”.

Argentinian Tax Information Exchange Agreement: Taxes

What are these “taxes” mentioned in Article 1? Article 3 of the Argentinian TIEA explains that the focus is on information related to US federal taxes and all national taxes administered by the Federal Administration of Public Revenue. Obviously, the Argentinian TIEA will apply to any identical or substantially similar taxes that are imposed after the Agreement is signed in addition to, or in place of, the existing taxes. Both parties, Argentina and the United States, agreed to notify each other of any significant changes that have been made in their taxation laws or other laws that relate to the application of the Argentinian TIEA.

Argentinian Tax Information Exchange Agreement: Automatic Exchange, Spontaneous Exchange and Exchange Upon Request

The Argentinian Tax Information Exchange Agreement prescribes three modes of exchange of information. First, Article 6 of the Argentinian TIEA provides for automatic exchange of certain information.

Second, Article 7 allows Argentina and the United States to spontaneously transmit to each other’s respective tax authorities any relevant information that has come to the attention of the either Party’s tax authorities. For example, if Argentinian tax authorities obtain information that points to US tax noncompliance of a dual citizen of Argentina and the United States, Argentina can provide this information to the IRS.

Finally, Article 5 allows Argentina and the United States to request relevant information from each other. There is an interesting clause in Article 5 that removes potential limitations on the exchange of information upon request: “such information shall be exchanged without regard to whether the requested Party needs such information for its own tax purposes or whether the conduct being investigated would constitute a crime under the laws of the requested Party if such conduct occurred in the requested Party.”

Article 5 of the Argentinian Tax Information Exchange Agreement is remarkable in another aspect. It states that, if the information possessed by the “requested Party (i.e. the country that received the request from another country) is insufficient to enable it to comply with the request for information, the requested Party needs to engage in information gathering measures in order to provide the other Party will the requested information. The requested Party needs to do these investigations even if it does not regularly collect this information or need it.

Under Article 5(3), the requested Party, if specially requested so by the applicant Party, has to provide the information in the form of depositions of witnesses and authenticated copies of original records.

Argentinian Tax Information Exchange Agreement: Foreign Bank and Beneficial Ownership Information in Focus

Article 5(4) also clarifies what is at the heart of the exchange of information upon request. First, information “held by banks, other financial institutions, and any person acting in an agency or fiduciary capacity including nominees and trustees.”

Second, the beneficial ownership information of “companies, partnerships, trusts, foundations, “Anstalten” and other persons”. This information should also include all persons in the ownership chain. In the case of trust, “information on settlors, trustees and beneficiaries”. In the case of foundations, “information on founders, members of the foundation council and beneficiaries”. Publicly-traded companies and public collective investment funds are excluded (unless the information can be obtained without giving rise to “disproportionate difficulties” to the requested Party).

Argentinian Tax Information Exchange Agreement: Tax Examinations Abroad

Article 8 of the Argentinian Tax Information Exchange Agreement grants each Party the right to conduct tax examinations abroad. Obviously, the written consent of the persons to be interviewed has to be secured first. However, once both Parties agree to the examination, “all decisions with respect to the conduct of the tax examination shall be made by the Party conducting the examination.”

Argentinian Tax Information Exchange Agreement: Entry Into Force

According to Article 14, the Argentinian Tax Information Exchange Agreement shall enter into force “one month from the date of receipt of Argentina’s written notification to the United States that Argentina has completed its necessary internal procedures for entry into force of this Agreement.”

Once the Argentinian TIEA is in force, its provisions will apply for requests “made on or after the date of entry into force, concerning information for taxes relating to taxable periods beginning on or after January 1 of the calendar year next following the year in which this Agreement enters into force or, where there is no taxable period, for all charges to tax arising on or after January 1 of the calendar year next following the year in which this Agreement enters into force.”

Argentinian Tax Information Exchange Agreement: Impact on US Taxpayers

The Argentinian Tax Information Exchange Agreement will have a profound impact on US taxpayers with undisclosed Argentinian income and Argentinian assets. First, the combination of three different disclosure modes – automatic, spontaneous and upon request – greatly increases the risk of the IRS detection of undisclosed Argentinian assets and unreported Argentinian income. The spontaneous exchange of information may be especially dangerous because it increases the probability of indirect (and unpredictable) detection. For example, if information about US tax noncompliance is obtain through an audit of an Argentinian tax return, such information may be turned over to the IRS.

Second, the Argentinian Tax Information Exchange Agreement allows the IRS to obtain witness depositions and other evidence against noncompliant US taxpayers at a relatively low cost. Furthermore, the Argentinian TIEA grants the IRS the ability to conduct examinations in Argentina, greatly enhancing the IRS reach in that country. In other words, the chances of successful imposition of civil penalties and even criminal prosecution by the IRS of noncompliant US taxpayers is substantially increased by the Argentinian TIEA.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office if You Have Undisclosed Foreign Assets and Foreign Income in Argentina

If you have undisclosed Argentinian assets and income, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office as soon as possible. Once the IRS detects your noncompliance or even just commences an investigation to verify whether you were not tax compliant, then you may lose all of your voluntary disclosure options.

Sherayzen Law Office is an international tax law firm that specializes in offshore voluntary disclosures of undisclosed foreign assets and foreign income. We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers to bring their US tax affairs into full compliance with US tax laws while reducing their penalties and, in many cases, even their tax liabilities. We Can Help You!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

Israeli-Swiss AEOI Declaration Signed | FATCA Lawyer New York

On November 27, 2016, Israel and Switzerland signed a joint declaration committing to implement the automatic exchange of financial account information (AEOI). The joint declaration (the Israeli-Swiss AEOI Declaration) was signed by Moshe Asher, director of the Israel Tax Authority, and Joerg Gasser, Swiss state secretary for international financial matters, on behalf of their respective governments.

Israeli-Swiss AEOI Declaration Will Follow CRS

The Israeli-Swiss AEOI Declaration states that AEOI will be based on the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters of 25 January 1988, as amended by the Protocol of 27 May 2010, and subject to the signing of the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement on the Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information (MCAA). The information subject to exchange will be collected according to the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) adopted by OECD.

The MCAA is based on the international standard for the exchange of information developed by the OECD. The OECD first introduced the standard in February of 2014; the standard was later approved in November of 2015 by the G-20 leaders during their summit in Brisbane, Australia.

Israeli-Swiss AEOI Declaration Sets Forth the Implementation Time Frame

The Israeli and Swiss governments committed to start collecting the CRS-required data in 2018. The actual transmission of data will commence in 2019 and continue onwards.

Israeli-Swiss AEOI Declaration Foresees Voluntary Disclosure Coordination

The Israeli-Swiss AEOI Declaration commits both countries to inform each other about their respective voluntary disclosure programs (i.e. the voluntary disclosures by their citizens of their financial assets). The stated aim is to provide a smooth transition to the AEOI.

Implications of Israeli-Swiss AEOI Declaration for US Taxpayers

The signing of the Israeli-Swiss AEOI Declaration further increases the already high probability of the IRS detection of noncompliant US taxpayers with undisclosed offshore assets in these countries. As financial institutions review their client data, there is an increased probability that they may encounter that some of their taxpayers are US taxpayers whose information needs to be reported to the IRS under FATCA.

Furthermore, under the Israeli-Swiss AEOI Declaration, both countries agree to cooperate with respect to their voluntary disclosure programs. Under these circumstances, it is possible that more information than usual will be revealed during these voluntary disclosures and exchanged between the countries; some of that information may be disclosed to the IRS.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Help With the IRS Voluntary Disclosure of Your Undisclosed Foreign Assets and Foreign Income

If you are a US tax resident with undisclosed assets in Israel and/or Switzerland, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office for help with your IRS voluntary disclosure of these assets as soon as possible. In today’s FATCA-dominated world, the probability that the information regarding your undisclosed assets will be detected by the IRS has increased exponentially. The additional information exchange agreements, such as the recent Israeli-Swiss AEOI Declaration, only make this probability higher. At this point, a US tax resident with undisclosed assets in Israel and Switzerland is running an unacceptably high risk of IRS detection that may result in the imposition of high IRS penalties, including criminal penalties.

Sherayzen Law Office is a leading international tax firm in the area of IRS voluntary disclosure of offshore assets and income. We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers with assets around the globe to bring their tax affairs into full compliance with US tax laws, and we can help you!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!