This article explores a certain relationship between tax returns and an IRS FBAR Audit. In particular, the critical question that I seek to answer in this writing is when the IRS is able to use US tax returns as evidence to support and/or commence an IRS FBAR Audit.
IRS FBAR Audit and the IRS Examination of US tax Returns
In discussing the relationship between the US tax returns and IRS FBAR Audit, the focus is on the information uncovered by the IRS during the examination of US tax returns that may be used to commence or advance an IRS FBAR Audit. It is possible, however, for the IRS to use a taxpayer’s tax returns in other contexts, not just examinations, to further an IRS FBAR Audit.
In a previous article, I already discussed the enormous amount of useful information that US tax returns contain and that can be used by the IRS to commence an IRS FBAR Audit. In addition to the obvious Schedule B, the tax returns contain foreign income documents, tax fraud evidence, patterns of noncompliance and other useful evidence that can be used in an IRS FBAR Audit.
This means that, in a lot of cases, there is a direct relationship between tax returns and the subsequent IRS FBAR Audits.
Tax Return Confidentiality Under IRC §6103(a) Prevents Automatic Disclosure for the IRS FBAR Audit Purposes
Despite their utility, there is one problem with the ability of the IRS to use tax return information in an IRS FBAR audit – US tax return information is confidential and protected from disclosure under IRC (Internal Revenue Code) §6103(a). This protection extends to the disclosure of tax returns and tax return information within the IRS, especially for use in investigating a Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”) violation. Why are we discussing the BSA? The reason is simple – BSA is the legislation that created FBAR.
In other words, the tax return information (which is collected under U.S.C. (United States Code) Title 26 cannot be automatically shared within the IRS for the purposes of Title 31 FBAR violation. Rather, the IRS has to find a legal justification for the disclosure of this information. The usual proper statutory basis for this justification can be found in IRC §6103(h).
IRC §6103(h) and Authorization to Share Tax Return Information for the IRS FBAR Audit Purposes
The exploration of §6103(a) exceptions under §6103(h) leads us into a complicated world of tax analysis. I will try to simplify this analysis while reducing as much as possible the risk of leaving out important details.
In general, under IRC §6103(h), disclosure of returns and return information is authorized without written request to officers and employees of the Treasury Department as long as these officers’ and employees’ official duties require such disclosure for tax administration purposes. “Tax administration” is a term of art in this context – it is a fairly broad term that covers the administration, management and supervision of the Internal Revenue Code and “related statutes”, including assessment, collection and enforcement under the IRC and these “related statutes.” See §6103(b)(4).
The key question then is whether BSA is a “related statute”. If it is, then the IRS employees can use tax return and return information to commence an IRS FBAR Audit.
IRS FBAR Audit: Is BSA a “Related Statute”?
From the outset, it is important to emphasize that the IRS does not treat BSA as a “per se” related statute, because BSA reports are required a variety of purposes, not just tax compliance. For example, FBARs can be used for such government purposes as counter-terrorism, money-laundering investigations and law enforcement in general.
Therefore, the IRS will deem the BSA as a related statute only if there is a good-faith determination that a BSA violation was committed in furtherance of a Title 26 violation or if such violation was part of a patter of conduct that violated Title 26. See IRM 18.104.22.168.3 (07-24-2012). In lay terms, the FBAR violation has to be related to a tax violation in order for the IRS to be able to utilize the taxpayer’s tax returns and tax return information in an IRS FBAR Audit.
Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut straightforward answer to when the FBAR is related to a tax violation. Rather, this determination should be made based on the facts and circumstance of each case.
IRS FBAR Audit vs. DOJ Criminal Investigation: IRC §6103(i)
It is important to emphasize that the “related-statute” limitation applies only to IRS examiners in a civil IRS FBAR Audit. If, however, a taxpayer is the subject of a criminal Department of Justice (“DOJ”) grand jury investigation, then the DOJ prosecutors are not subject to §6103(h). Instead they can use §6103(i) to access the taxpayer’s tax returns and tax return information.
Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help with an IRS FBAR Audit
If you are subject to an IRS FBAR Audit, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office as soon as possible for professional help. Without proper representation, an IRS FBAR Audit can lead to disastrous consequences to the taxpayer’s financial life due to imposition of the draconian FBAR Penalties.
Our experienced and highly-knowledgeable legal team, headed by Mr. Eugene Sherayzen, can help you! Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!