Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program

Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Seminar | MSBA, February 22 2022

On February 22, 2022, Mr. Eugene Sherayzen, an international tax attorney and founder of Sherayzen Law Office, Ltd., presented at a seminar “IRS Voluntary Disclosure Options for U.S. Owners of a Foreign Business” (the “Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Seminar”). The Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Seminar was sponsored by the International Business Law Section of the Minnesota State Bar Association. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, the seminar was conducted online.

Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Seminar: Focus on Business Lawyers’ Needs

The seminar’s structure was shaped by its audience’s needs. Since Mr. Sherayzen presented to a group of mostly international business lawyers, he adopted a relatively broad approach in his presentation in attempt to cover a large number of topics rather than discuss a few points in depth. The idea behind the seminar was to provide international business lawyers with analytical tools to understand if there was problem with a client’s US international tax compliance that would require a utilization of an offshore voluntary disclosure option.

Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Seminar: Three Main Parts

Mr. Sherayzen divided the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure seminar into three parts. In the first and smallest part, he discussed the link between Offshore Voluntary Disclosures and international business law. The second part focused on US international tax reporting requirements. Finally, in the third part, the international tax attorney provided a broad overview of the existing offshore voluntary disclosure options.

Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Seminar: Link between Offshore Voluntary Disclosures and International Business Law

In the first part of the seminar, Mr. Sherayzen discussed the potential relevance of the IRS offshore voluntary disclosure options and US international tax law in general to the audience’s international business law practice. The international tax attorney even described three main scenarios where international business lawyers will need to have awareness of: US international tax reporting requirements and IRS offshore voluntary disclosure options for US owners of a foreign business. At that point, Mr. Sherayzen gave an example from his own practice illustrating his main points.

Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Seminar: Overview of US International Tax Reporting Requirements for US Owners of a Foreign Business

In the next part of the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure seminar, Mr. Sherayzen provided a broad overview of two major categories of US international tax reporting requirements for individual US taxpayers: US international information returns and income tax recognition.

The international tax attorney first focused on international information returns. After defining the term “information return”, Mr. Sherayzen stated that the type of an information return one needs to file should correspond to the type of a foreign entity for which the return is filed. Then, he described three types of entities that may exist under US international tax law: corporations, partnerships and disregarded entities. Mr. Sherayzen proceeded with a discussion of the most common information returns associated with each of them.

Moreover, the attorney explained that FinCEN Form 114 or FBAR is the main form for reporting of foreign bank and financial accounts in a business context. He also warned the audience against a potential tax trap associated with FBAR reporting for foreign business entities.

Then, Mr. Sherayzen proceeded with an explanation of three major categories of income recognition: distributions, passthrough income and US anti-deferral tax regimes. The latter received the most attention due to their complexity. Three anti-deferral tax regimes were covered: PFICs, Subpart F rules and GILTI.

Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Seminar: Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Options

Mr. Sherayzen began this last major part of his presentation with a definition of the term “offshore voluntary disclosure”. Then, he focused on explaining two critical factors in choosing a voluntary disclosure option: (a) willfulness vs. non-willfulness; and (b) reasonable cause.

After defining these highly-important terms, the attorney laid out all major offshore voluntary disclosure options available to US owners of a foreign business. The presentation covered: IRS Voluntary Disclosure Practice, Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures, Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures, Delinquent FBAR Submission Procedures, Delinquent International Information Return Submission Procedures and Reasonable Cause (Noisy) Disclosure.

Mr. Sherayzen also discussed the concept of quiet disclosure and why it presented potentially huge risks to noncompliant taxpayers. He emphasized that the IRS stated in the past that it would specifically target this type of a disclosure.

Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Seminar: Conclusion

The international tax attorney concluded the seminar with a concise due diligence plan of action for business lawyers. He emphasized that, upon discovery of potential US international tax noncompliance, business lawyers should not attempt to fix it themselves. Rather, he argued, they need to contact an international tax attorney for professional help.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help

If you are a US owner of a foreign business and you have not properly complied with your US international tax reporting requirements, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help. We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the globe to bring their US tax affairs into full compliance with US international tax law, and we can help you!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

Austin Streamlined Disclosure Lawyer | International Tax Attorney

Austin is a fast-growing city which attracts a large number of immigrants with assets in foreign countries. These assets may also generate foreign income which their owners must disclose on their US tax returns. Unfortunately many of these new residents of Austin have not correctly reported their foreign assets and foreign income to the IRS. Once they realize it, they have to grapple with a fact that their noncompliance may have exposed them to large IRS penalties. Since the majority of these persons are non-willful in their prior noncompliance, they naturally seek help from an Austin streamlined disclosure lawyer to participate in Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures (SDOP) or Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures (SFOP), but they do not fully know what the term “Austin streamlined disclosure lawyer” truly means.

In this essay, I will explore the definition of an Austin streamlined disclosure lawyer and explain why out-of-state lawyers and law firms, such as Sherayzen Law Office, should be included in the definition of this term.

Austin Streamlined Disclosure Lawyer: International Tax Attorney

From the outset, It is important to understand that all voluntary disclosures, including the Streamlined options, form part of US international tax law, because these options deal with US international tax compliance concerning foreign assets and foreign income. The knowledge that SDOP and SFOP are part of US international tax law makes you better understand what kind of a lawyer you are looking for when you search for a Austin streamlined disclosure lawyer. In reality, when you are seeking help with the SDOP and SFOP filings, you are searching for an international tax attorney.

Austin Streamlined Disclosure Lawyer: Specialty in Offshore Voluntary Disclosures

As I stated above, SDOP and SFOP form part of a very specific sub-area of offshore voluntary disclosures. This means that not every international tax attorney would be able to conduct the necessary legal analysis required to successfully complete an offshore voluntary disclosure, including Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures and Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures. Only a lawyer who has developed expertise in a very narrow sub-field of offshore voluntary disclosures within US international tax law will be fit for this job.

This means that you are looking for an international tax attorney who specializes in offshore voluntary disclosure and who is familiar with the various offshore voluntary disclosure options. Offshore voluntary disclosure options include: SDOP (Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures), SFOP (Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures), DFSP (Delinquent FBAR Submission Procedures), DIIRSP (Delinquent International Information Return Submission Procedures), IRS VDP (IRS Voluntary Disclosure Practice) and Reasonable Cause disclosures. Each of these options has it pros and cons, which may have tremendous legal and tax (and, in certain cases, even immigration) implications for your case.

Austin Streamlined Disclosure Lawyer: Geographical Location Does Not Matter

While the expertise and experience in offshore voluntary disclosures are highly important in choosing your international tax lawyer, the geographical location (i.e. the city where the lawyer lives and works) does not matter. I already hinted at why this is the case above: offshore voluntary disclosure options were all created by the IRS and form part of US international (i.e. federal) law. In other words, the local law has no relation whatsoever to the SDOP and SFOP.

This means that you are not limited to Austin when you are looking for a lawyer who can help you with your streamlined disclosure. Any international tax lawyer who specializes in this field may be able to help you, irrespective of whether this lawyer resides in Austin or Minnesota.

Moreover, the development of modern means of communications has pretty much eliminated any communication advantages that a lawyer in Austin might have had in the past over the out-of-state lawyers. This is especially true in our today’s world where the pandemic greatly reduced the number of face-to-face meetings.

Sherayzen Law Office May Be Your Austin Streamlined Disclosure Lawyer

Sherayzen Law Office, Ltd. is a highly-experienced international tax law firm that specializes in all types of offshore voluntary disclosures, including SDOP, SFOP, DFSP, DIIRSP, VDP and Reasonable Cause disclosures. Our professional tax team, led by attorney Eugene Sherayzen, has successfully helped our US clients around the globe, including in Austin, with the preparation and filing of their Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures disclosure. We can help you!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

2022 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Options | US International Tax Lawyers

While the year 2021 has ended, numerous taxpayers continue to be substantially noncompliant with various US international tax laws. Hence, it is important for US taxpayers with undisclosed foreign assets to consider their 2022 offshore voluntary disclosure options. In this essay, I would like to provide an overview of these 2022 offshore voluntary disclosure options.

2022 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Options: What is Offshore Voluntary Disclosure

The term “offshore voluntary disclosure” refers to a series of legal processes established by the IRS to allow noncompliant US taxpayers to voluntarily come forward and disclose their prior US international tax noncompliance in exchange for more lenient IRS treatment. This leniency can express itself in various ways: avoidance of criminal prosecution, lower and even zero penalties, a shorter voluntary disclosure period, ability to make certain retroactive tax elections, et cetera.

In general, the benefits of a voluntary disclosure usually far outweigh the consequences of a disclosure during a potential IRS audit. There are exceptions, but they are usually limited to mishandled cases where either an improper voluntary disclosure path was chosen or the process of the disclosure was mishandled by the taxpayer (usually) or his tax attorneys. This is why it is important that you chose the right international tax attorney to help you with your offshore voluntary disclosure.

Let’s review the main 2022 offshore voluntary disclosure options and briefly describe them.

2022 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Options: Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures

While Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures (“SFOP”) was created already in 2012, it exists in its current form since June of 2014. It is a true tax amnesty program, because its participants do not pay IRS penalties of any kind, even on income tax due. The participants only need to pay the extra tax due on the amended tax returns plus interest on the tax.

Moreover, SFOP preserves SDOP’s non-invasive and limited scope of voluntary disclosure (see below). For example, you only need to amend the tax returns for the past three years and file FBARs for the past six years.

SFOP, however, is available to a limited number of US taxpayers who are able to satisfy its eligibility requirements, particularly those related to non-willfulness certification and physical presence outside of the United States. You should contact Sherayzen Law Office to help you determine whether you meet the eligibility requirements of SFOP.

2022 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Options: Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures

Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures (“SDOP”) is currently the flagship voluntary disclosure option for US taxpayers who reside in the United States. While not as generous as SFOP, SDOP is still a very good voluntary disclosure option for non-willful taxpayers: it is simple, limited (in terms of the voluntary disclosure period for which tax returns and FBARs must be filed) and mild (in terms of its penalty structure). There are some drawbacks to SDOP, such as the potential imposition of the Miscellaneous Offshore Penalty on income-tax compliant foreign accounts, but the benefits offered by this option outweigh its deficiencies for most taxpayers.

The reason why the IRS is so generous lies in the fact that this voluntary disclosure option is open only to taxpayers who can certify under the penalty of perjury that they were non-willful with respect to their prior income tax noncompliance, FBAR noncompliance and noncompliance with any other US international information tax return (such as Form 3520, 5471, 8938 et cetera). It will be up to your international tax lawyer to make the determination on whether you are able to make this certification.

Moreover, a taxpayer cannot file a delinquent Form 1040 under the SDOP. SDOP only accepts amended tax returns (i.e Forms 1040X), not original late tax returns.

2022 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Options: Delinquent FBAR Submission Procedures

Delinquent FBAR Submission Procedures (“DFSP”) is another voluntary disclosure option that fully eliminates IRS penalties. This is not a new option; in fact, in one form or another, officially or unofficially, it has always existed within the IRS procedures. Prior to 2019, it was even written into the OVDP (IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program) as FAQ#17 (though in a modified version).

While DFSP is highly beneficial to noncompliant US taxpayers, it is available to even fewer number of taxpayers than those who are eligible for SDOP and SFOP. This is the case due to two factors. First, DFSP has a very narrow scope – it applies only to FBARs. Second, DFSP has extremely strict eligibility requirements; even de minimis income tax noncompliance may deprive a taxpayer of the ability to use this option if it is sufficient to require an amendment of a tax return. In other words, DFSP only applies where SDOP, SFOP and VDP (see below) are irrelevant due to absence of unreported income.

2022 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Options: Delinquent International Information Return Submission Procedures

Delinquent International Information Return Submission Procedures (“DIIRSP”) has a similar history to DFSP. In fact, it was “codified” into OVDP rules as FAQ#18. Similarly to DFSP, DIIRSP also offers the possibility of escaping IRS Penalties. DIIRSP has a broader scope than DFSP and applies to international information returns other than FBAR, such as Form 8938, 3520, 5471, 8865, 926, et cetera.

Since it turned into an independent voluntary disclosure option in 2014, DIIRSP’s eligibility requirements became much harsher. US taxpayers are now required to provide a reasonable cause explanation in order to escape IRS penalties under this option. On the other hand, the fact that there may be unreported income associated with international information returns is not an impediment by itself to participation in DIIRSP.

2022 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Options: IRS Voluntary Disclosure Practice

The traditional IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure practice has existed for a very long time. However, it faded into complete obscurity once the IRS opened its first major OVDP option in 2009. The closure of the 2014 OVDP in September of 2018 has brought this option back to life.

On November 20, 2018, the IRS has completely revamped this traditional voluntary disclosure option, modified its procedural structure and imposed a new tough (but relatively clear) penalty structure. This new version of the traditional voluntary disclosure is now officially called IRS Voluntary Disclosure Practice (“VDP”).

The chief advantage of VDP is that it is specifically designed to help taxpayers who willfully violated their US tax obligations to come forward to avoid criminal prosecution and lower their civil willful penalties. In other words, VDP is now the main voluntary disclosure option for willful taxpayers.

2022 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Options: Reasonable Cause Disclosure

Since 2014, the popularity of Reasonable Cause disclosure (also known as “Noisy Disclosure”) has declined substantially due to the introduction of SDOP and SFOP. Nevertheless, Reasonable Cause disclosure continues to be a highly important voluntary disclosure alternative to official IRS voluntary disclosure options. It is now primarily used when SDOP and SFOP are not available for technical reasons (i.e. some of their eligibility requirements are not met).

Reasonable Cause disclosure is based on the actual statutory language; it is not part of any official IRS program. Special care must be taken in using this option, because this is a high-risk, high-reward option. If a taxpayer is able to satisfy this high burden of proof, then, he will be able to avoid all IRS penalties. If the IRS audits the Reasonable Cause disclosure and disagrees, this taxpayer may face significant IRS penalties and, potentially, years of IRS litigation.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Analysis of Your 2022 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Options

If you have undisclosed foreign assets, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help as soon as possible. We have successfully helped hundreds of US taxpayers from over 70 countries with their voluntary disclosures of foreign assets to the IRS, and we can help you!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

Oregon Streamlined Disclosure Lawyer | International Tax Attorney

Oregon is a lovely state which hosts a number of immigrants from many different countries (especially in Portland, but also Salem and Eugene). Many of these new US taxpayers own assets in foreign countries and receive income generated by these assets. Unfortunately a number of these taxpayers are not in compliance with their US international tax obligations and want to participate in Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures (SDOP) or Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures (SFOP). These individuals often look for an Oregon streamlined disclosure lawyer for professional help, but they do not understand what this term really means. In this essay, I would like to explain the definition of Oregon streamlined disclosure lawyer and outline who belongs to this category of lawyers.

Oregon Streamlined Disclosure Lawyer: International Tax Attorney

From the outset, It is important to understand that all voluntary disclosures, including the Streamlined options, form part of US international tax law, because these options deal with US international tax compliance concerning foreign assets and foreign income. The knowledge that SDOP and SFOP are part of US international tax law makes you better understand what kind of lawyer you are looking for when you search for an Oregon streamlined disclosure lawyer. In reality, when you are seeking help with the SDOP and SFOP filings, you are searching for an international tax attorney.

Oregon Streamlined Disclosure Lawyer: Specialty in Offshore Voluntary Disclosures

As I stated above, SDOP and SFOP form part of a very specific sub-area of offshore voluntary disclosures. This means that not every international tax attorney would be able to conduct the necessary legal analysis required to successfully complete an offshore voluntary disclosure, including Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures and Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures. Only a lawyer who has developed expertise in a very narrow sub-field of offshore voluntary disclosures within US international tax law will be fit for this job.

This means that you are looking for an international tax attorney who specializes in offshore voluntary disclosures and who is familiar with the various offshore voluntary disclosure options. Offshore voluntary disclosure options include: SDOP (Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures), SFOP (Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures), DFSP (Delinquent FBAR Submission Procedures), DIIRSP (Delinquent International Information Return Submission Procedures), IRS VDP (IRS Voluntary Disclosure Practice) and Reasonable Cause disclosures. Each of these options has it pros and cons, which may have tremendous legal and tax (and, in certain cases, even immigration) implications for your case.

Oregon Streamlined Disclosure Lawyer: Geographical Location Does Not Matter

While the expertise and experience in offshore voluntary disclosures is highly important in choosing your international tax lawyer, the geographical location (i.e. the city where the lawyer lives and works) does not matter. I already hinted at why this is the case above: offshore voluntary disclosure options were all created by the IRS and form part of US international (i.e. federal) law. In other words, the local law has no relation whatsoever to the SDOP and SFOP.

This means that you are not limited to Oregon when you are looking for a lawyer who can help you with your streamlined disclosure. Any international tax lawyer who specializes in this field may be able to help you, irrespective of whether this lawyer resides in Oregon or Minnesota.

Moreover, the development of modern means of communications has pretty much eliminated any communication advantages that a lawyer in Oregon might have had in the past over the out-of-state lawyers. This is especially true in today’s world where the pandemic greatly reduced the number of face-to-face meetings.

Sherayzen Law Office May Be Your Oregon Streamlined Disclosure Lawyer

Sherayzen Law Office, Ltd. is a highly-experienced international tax law firm that specializes in all types of offshore voluntary disclosures, including SDOP, SFOP, DFSP, DIIRSP, VDP and Reasonable Cause disclosures. Our professional tax team, led by attorney Eugene Sherayzen, has successfully helped our US clients around the globe, including in Oregon, with the preparation and filing of their Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures disclosure. We can help you!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

2022 Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures | International Tax Lawyer

Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures has been the best voluntary disclosure option for eligible US taxpayers with undisclosed foreign assets and foreign income, and I predict that it will remain so in the year 2022. Let’s discuss in more detail the unique advantages of the 2022 Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures.

2022 Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures: Background Information and Purpose

The IRS created the current Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures (usually abbreviated as “SFOP”) on June 18, 2014, though the Certification forms became available only a few months later. Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures quickly became the most popular option for US taxpayers who reside overseas, because it is the only voluntary disclosure option that can truly be called an “amnesty program”.

Why did the IRS create Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures and offered such favorable terms? The problem is that the enforcement of international tax compliance for taxpayers who reside overseas is highly complex and very expensive. Where such noncompliance is willful, the penalty framework and deterrence considerations make it worthwhile for the IRS to engage in these expenses (although, even in these cases, the IRS offered a special voluntary disclosure option). With respect to non-willful taxpayers, however, this logic does not work well.

Hence, the IRS (correctly, in my opinion) decided that it would be in the best interests of the United States to allow noncompliant US taxpayers overseas voluntarily came forward and resolve their prior tax noncompliance. In order to achieve this goal, the IRS decided to offer such a sweet deal to these taxpayers that it would make no sense for these taxpayers to remain noncompliant. Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures is precisely this “sweet deal” meant to encourage non-willful US taxpayers who reside overseas to voluntarily resolve their prior noncompliance with US international tax reporting requirements.

2022 Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures: the “Sweet Deal”

Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures offers four great advantages to eligible participants. First and most important, it is a true tax amnesty program, because there are no penalties for prior noncompliance. There are no income tax penalties; the taxpayers only need to pay the extra tax owed plus interest. There is also no Offshore Penalty for prior noncompliance with respect to FBAR and other US information tax returns. It is definitely the best deal a taxpayer can ever get when it comes to offshore voluntary disclosure programs.

Second, Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures offers a simplified (not simple, though) offshore voluntary disclosure procedure which covers a relatively short disclosure period. Unlike the OVDP (Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program), SFOP only demands the taxpayers to file tax forms within the general statute of limitations for tax returns (i.e. past three years) and a regular statute of limitations for FBARs (i.e. past six years).

Third, Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures allows its participants to resolve their prior non-willful noncompliance with respect to unreported foreign income as well as pretty much any US international information return (FBAR, Form 8938, Form 5471, Form 8621, Form 926, et cetera).

Finally, the last major advantage of the Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures is that this option only requires to establish non-willfulness rather than a reasonable cause. Non-willfulness is a much easier legal standard to satisfy (be careful, this is NOT an “easy standard”, just an easier one) than reasonable cause.

2022 Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures: Main Disadvantages

Usually, participation in the Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures is highly advantageous to noncompliant taxpayers. However, there are some disadvantages and shortcomings in this program. In this article, I will briefly discuss three of the most important of them.

First of all, Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures is available only to taxpayers who satisfied the program’s foreign residency requirements. Even if you resided outside of the United States during most of each year and you are a bona fide tax resident of a foreign country, you still may not satisfy the strict residency requirements of SFOP.

Second, there is an issue of a shifting burden of proof. When they participate in the Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures, taxpayers have the burden of proof to establish their non-willfulness with respect to their inability to timely report their foreign income as well as file FBARs and other US international information returns. Outside of the SFOP, the IRS has the burden of proof to establish willfulness; if it cannot carry this burden, then the taxpayer is automatically considered non-willful.

The problem is that most cases have positive and negative facts at the same time. This means that a lot of taxpayers are actually in the “gray” area between willfulness and non-willfulness. In many of these cases, the burden of proof may play a critical role in determining whether a taxpayer is eligible to participate in the Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures.

Finally, participation in the Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures does not provide a definitive closure to its participants. Unlike OVDP, SFOP does not offer a Closing Agreement without an audit; there may be a follow-up audit after the IRS processes your voluntary disclosure package. This means that going through Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures may not be the end of your case; the IRS can actually audit you over the next three years. If this happens, the audit of your voluntary disclosure will focus not only on the correctness of your disclosure, but also on the truthfulness and correctness of your non-willfulness certification.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With 2022 Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures

If you have undisclosed foreign accounts or any other foreign assets, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help with your offshore voluntary disclosure. We have successfully helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the world with their offshore voluntary disclosures, including Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures. We can also help you!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!