2011 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative vs. Statute of Limitations

As I already described in an earlier article, the IRS instituted a new voluntary disclosure program, called 2011 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative (“OVDI”). One of the most problematic areas under OVDI is the length of the examination period.

Agreeing to assessment of taxes and penalties for all voluntary disclosure years is part of the resolution offered by the IRS for resolving offshore voluntary disclosures. The OVDI disclosure period is 2003 through 2010 – eight years in total.

This contrasts greatly with the general three-year statute of limitations for IRS examination. Therefore, a tax attorney should consider all options prior to engaging in OVDI in order to avoid subjecting his client to unnecessary penalties.

One of the major factors in electing quiet disclosure versus OVDI is considering whether one or more of the numerous exceptions to the general IRS statute of limitations may apply. For example, if the IRS can prove a substantial omission of gross income, the statute of limitations is likely to be expanded to six years. Moreover, if there was a failure to file certain information returns, such as Form 3520 or Form 5471, the statute of limitations will not have begun to run. If the IRS can prove fraud, there is no statute of limitations for assessing tax. In addition, the statute of limitations for asserting FBAR penalties is six years from the date of the violation, which would be the date that an unfiled FBAR was due to have been filed. See 31 U.S.C. § 5321(b)(1).

Obviously, other factors should be considered before the decision to engage into OVDI is made. The chief factor would of course be the likelihood of criminal prosecution if the taxpayer fails to make use of OVDI. Engaging in voluntary disclosure pursuant to OVDI virtually eliminates possibility of criminal prosecution.

These factors aside, though, close analysis of the IRS statute of limitations is one of the most important considerations of whether to engage in OVDI.

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Sherayzen Law Office can help. Our international tax firm has guided our clients throughout the United States through a voluntary disclosure process, making sure that the rights of our clients are protected and they pay only fair taxes and penalties.