Recently, there have been signs that the IRS is pondering the future of its flagship Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (2014 IRS OVDP): does this means that there is a potential for the 2014 IRS OVDP to end soon?
TIGTA Report and 2014 IRS OVDP
The latest warning signal came on June 2, 2016. On that date, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) issued a report with six recommendations with respect to the current IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (2014 IRS OVDP). The report contained the following enigmatic language: “Although the IRS agreed with the potential value of establishing one mailing address for taxpayer correspondence, this recommendation has been put on hold until a decision is made about the future status of the OVDP.” (Italics added) Furthermore, on page 15 of the report, the IRS again emphasizes the non-permanent nature of the 2014 IRS OVDP and refuses to commit additional resources to one of TIGTA’s recommendations.
2014 IRS OVDP Future is Uncertain
The language contained in TIGTA report should definitely be treated seriously. At the very least, we now have an official, though indirect confirmation that the IRS is thinking about modifying the 2014 IRS OVDP and potentially, the Streamlined Compliance procedures.
Is there a potential for the IRS to cancel the entire 2014 IRS OVDP? It is definitely possible; the IRS has always insisted that 2014 IRS OVDP exists simply as a voluntary IRS initiative that can be terminated at any point. Furthermore, there are signs of significant administrative issues with respect to the 2014 IRS OVDP with significant delays in case resolutions. The IRS budget constrains may simply no longer permit the IRS to sustain 2014 IRS OVDP, despite the funds that this program has brought to the U.S. Treasury.
It is also probable that the success of the Streamlined Compliance procedures, FATCA and the Swiss Bank Program may now allow the IRS to focus on prosecuting willful taxpayers, making the 2014 IRS OVDP superfluous. Of course, this would mean that non-compliant willful U.S. taxpayers would not have any official voluntary disclosure program that would accept them. Drawing on the experience of prior periods of time between the voluntary disclosure programs, most likely, the absence of an OVDP is likely to force such taxpayers to either try to bury deeper their tax noncompliance or, if they wish to come forward, to negotiate with the IRS directly through the traditional voluntary disclosure program. If the latter if the case, such a taxpayer will be negotiating with the IRS without any guarantees of a reduced penalty.
Another likely possibility is a significant modification of the terms of the 2014 IRS OVDP (which, itself is just a modification of the official 2012 OVDP). The change in terms could affect anything from penalty rates to procedural changes. For example, it is possible that, under the new program, the default penalty rate would rise to 50% from the current 27.5% and the high penalty rate would go above the current 50%.
U.S. Taxpayers with Undisclosed Foreign Accounts Should Consider 2014 IRS OVDP As Soon As Possible
The TIGTA Report and the great uncertainty surrounding the future of the current 2014 IRS OVDP program directly affect U.S. taxpayers with undisclosed foreign accounts. If 2014 IRS OVDP is significantly altered or even disappears entirely, U.S. taxpayers will lose one of the main voluntary disclosure venues and the only one opened to taxpayers who willfully violated U.S. tax laws.
This is why U.S. taxpayers with undeclared foreign accounts should consider their voluntary disclosure options, including participation in the 2014 IRS OVDP, as soon as possible. In order to properly initiate their voluntary disclosure process, these taxpayers should retain the services of an experienced international tax attorney.
Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Experienced and Professional Legal Help
If you have undeclared foreign accounts, please contact Sherayzen Law Office as soon as possible. Our experienced legal team of tax professionals will thoroughly analyze your case, determine your available offshore voluntary disclosure options, create your voluntary disclosure plan and implement it (including the preparation of all tax forms and legal documents).