IRS Form 14654 is probably the most important part of the taxpayer’s voluntary disclosure under the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures (“SDOP”). In this article, I would like to explore the various parts of IRS Form 14654 and explain why this form is so important.
Please, note that IRS Form 14654 was just revised in January of 2015.
SDOP and IRS Form 14654
In June of 2014, the IRS announced the creation of a brand-new voluntary disclosure option for the taxpayers who reside in the United States – SDOP. As part of the disclosure package under SDOP, the IRS required U.S. taxpayers to submit a Certification of Non-Willfulness with respect to the taxpayers’ failure to timely disclose their foreign income and assets. At the end of August of 2014, this Certification became the new IRS Form 14654.
Purpose of IRS Form 14654
IRS Form 14654 constitutes an essential part of SDOP because this is the form used by the taxpayer to certify his non-willfulness with respect to his failure to timely and accurately report his foreign income and assets. Moreover, IRS Form 14654 also functions as a convenient summary of the calculation of the income tax liability as well as the SDOP Title 26 Miscellaneous Offshore Penalty (“Miscellaneous Offshore Penalty”). Finally, IRS Form 14654 allows the taxpayer to make a statement in support of his non-willfulness.
In order to accomplish these multiple tasks, IRS Form 14654 incorporates three different parts: income tax summary, Miscellaneous Offshore Penalty calculation, and the Certification with Explanation of Non-Willfulness.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these three parts of IRS Form 14654.
IRS Form 14654: Income Tax Summary
The very first part of the Certification is with respect to income tax liability. There is a pre-set language in IRS Form 14654 that requires the taxpayer to certify that: he is providing amended tax returns for each of the three most recent years, he filed the original tax returns previously, and he properly calculated his additional tax due with statutory interest on IRS Form 14654.
There is already a self-calculating table in the form that allows the taxpayer to quickly summarize his additional income tax liability with statutory interest per each covered year and the total amount due (which should be included on the checks written to the IRS).
IRS Form 14654: Miscellaneous Offshore Penalty Base
The second part of the certification is concerned with the taxpayer’s calculation of the Miscellaneous Offshore Penalty, or more precisely its penalty base. IRS Form 14654 provides a set of self-calculating tables to be completed by the taxpayer for all of the foreign accounts and other assets subject to the Miscellaneous Offshore Penalty. Each table requires the taxpayer to disclose the financial institution with address and description of the asset, the account number (where applicable), when the account was opened or asset acquired, and the end-of-year balance/asset value in U.S. dollars.
If additional space is needed, my experience has been that it would be best to attach to IRS Form 14654 a detailed statement disclosing all of this information. Note, the attachment should contain the taxpayer’s name, TIN and original signature.
In addition to the Miscellaneous Offshore Penalty’s penalty base calculation, IRS Form 14654 already contains the language which states that the taxpayer already filed his FBARs for the past six years and he met all of the eligibility requirements for SDOP.
IRS Form 14654: Calculation of Payments Due
The next part of the certification requires the taxpayer to summarize all of the payments due – the calculation of the Miscellaneous offshore Penalty, the total due and the total interest due. At the end of this section, the taxpayer should add all of these payments together to equal to the “Total Payment” due.
IRS Form 14654: “Comprehensive Certification” and Explanation of Non-Willfulness
Following the completion of the payment calculations section, IRS Form 14654 turns to the most important part of a SDOP case – the certification of non-willfulness with respect to income, tax payments and information returns.
The actual language for the certification of non-willfulness is already provided by the IRS on IRS Form 14654; this is a standard text that the taxpayer must agree to if he wishes to do a SDOP disclosure (i.e. this language cannot be modified). It is very important for international tax lawyers to discuss this language with their clients to make sure that they understand what they are agreeing to.
In addition to providing the standard certification text, IRS Form 14654 requires the taxpayer to provide a statement of facts and specific reasons for the original failure to report all income, pay all tax and submit all required information returns, including FBARs.
Please, note that the January of 2015 revision of IRS Form 14654 specifically allows the taxpayer to provide the explanation not only on the form itself, but also on a separate signed attachment (this clarified a previous confusion over the statement must be provided on the form only). Moreover, the new revision specifically states that the failure to provide a narrative statement of facts will result in the certification being deemed incomplete and the taxpayer will not qualify for the SDOP penalty relief.
The explanation of non-willfulness is undoubtedly the most important part of IRS Form 14654, because here the taxpayer has a unique opportunity to establish his legal case for non-willfulness. If this explanation is not deemed satisfactory to the IRS, the taxpayer may face willful FBAR penalties, civil fraud penalties and potentially even criminal penalties (see note below on the certification under the penalty of perjury).
In fact, the explanation of non-willfulness is so crucial to the taxpayer’s SDOP case, that I strongly recommend that the taxpayer refrains from completing the Streamlined certification himself or letting his accountant to do it. This is the job only for the taxpayer’s international tax attorney.
IRS Form 14654: Signature under the Penalties of Perjury
The last part of certification requires the taxpayer to sign the Form under the penalties of perjury. By signing IRS Form 14654, the taxpayer is certifying (1) that he is eligible for the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures; (2) that all required FBARs have now been filed; (3) that the failure to report all income, pay all tax, and submit all required information returns, including FBARs, resulted from non-willful conduct; and (4) that the miscellaneous offshore penalty amount is accurate.
Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Help with IRS Form 14654 and Your Voluntary Disclosure Under the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures
If you wish to do the voluntary disclosure of your foreign accounts under the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help. Despite the fact that SDOP only appeared last June and IRS Form 14654 was created at the end of August of 2014, our international tax law firm has already completed SDOP disclosures for a number of our clients, and we can also help you.
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