A lot of tax professionals and taxpayers fail to recognize the vital connection between a tax return filing deadline (like April 18, 2016) and the determination of the SDOP Voluntary Disclosure Period. In this article, I will explain what the SDOP Voluntary Disclosure Period and how it is related to tax return filing deadlines.
Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedure exists in its current format since June 18, 2014, when the IRS announced the most dramatic changes to its Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) since 2009 OVDP. In essence, SDOP is an alternative to OVDP and allows taxpayers to bring their tax affairs into full compliance with US tax laws in a simpler way with a lower penalty.
SDOP Voluntary Disclosure Period
One of the most important differences between SDOP and OVDP is the Voluntary Disclosure Period – i.e. how many tax years should the voluntary disclosure cover. While OVDP voluntary disclosure period covers the past eight years for FBARs and tax returns, SDOP voluntary disclosure period covers only six past years of FBARs and only three years of past tax returns.
Connection Between SDOP Voluntary Disclosure Period and the Tax Return Filing Deadline
There is an important connection between SDOP voluntary disclosure period and the Tax Return Filing Deadline. As it mentioned above, SDOP Voluntary Disclosure Period covers “past” three years of tax returns.
What does “past year” mean in this context? It means a year for which the U.S. tax return due date (or properly applied for extended due date) has passed. The connection between SDOP voluntary disclosure period and the tax return filing deadline now becomes clear.
Let’s illustrate it further with a hypothetical example. If SDOP is scheduled to be completed on April 1, 2016, the SDOP voluntary disclosure period will cover the most recent three years of U.S. tax returns for which the Tax Return filing Deadline has passed. As of April 1, 2016, the deadline for the 2015 tax return has not yet passed; this means that the SDOP voluntary disclosure period (for tax return purposes) will cover tax years 2012-2014.
If SDOP is scheduled to be completed on April 30, 2016 and the 2015 tax return was timely filed (if not and no extension was filed, the taxpayer will likely be disqualified from participating in SDOP), then the SDOP voluntary disclosure period will shift to the tax years 2013-2015.
What if SDOP is completed on April 30, 2016, and an extension was filed for the 2015 tax return? In this case, the SDOP voluntary disclosure period will remain limited to 2012-2014 tax years.
SDOP Voluntary Disclosure Period’s Relationship to Tax Filing Deadline Offers Planning Opportunities
This relationship between SDOP voluntary disclosure period and the tax filing deadline offers plenty of planning opportunities for SDOP disclosures which are completed around the tax filing deadline because it allows the taxpayer’s attorney (who is doing SDOP on behalf of his client) exercise a certain degree of control over which years will be included in the SDOP voluntary disclosure period.
For example, if a taxpayer has a large tax liability in the tax year 2012 if the return is amended and a small tax liability in the tax year 2015, then the taxpayer’s attorney will likely choose to prepare and file timely 2015 tax return. On the other hand, there are situations where the taxpayer would like to include tax year 2012 in the SDOP voluntary disclosure period (for example, if there is a large foreign capital loss), then the taxpayer’s attorney would opt for filing an extension for the 2015 tax return.
It is important to emphasize that a decision with respect to SDOP voluntary disclosure period should always rest with an international tax attorney who is handling the SDOP disclosure. There may be complex reasons for excluding and including years within SDOP voluntary disclosure period and only an experienced tax professional should make these decisions.
Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help with Your Voluntary Disclosure
Offshore Voluntary Disclosures with respect to unreported foreign income and foreign assets can be extraordinarily complex, especially in light of draconian IRS penalties that U.S. taxpayers often face. This is why these matters should always be handled by an experienced international tax attorney.
Sherayzen Law Office is one of the most experienced international tax laws firms, especially when it comes to offshore voluntary disclosures. We have helped clients around the world to participate in every major voluntary disclosure program, including 2009 OVDP, 2011 OVDI, 2012 OVDP, 2014 OVDP, Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures, Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures and other related voluntary disclosure options. Not only did we help our clients to go through these complex legal procedures and prepared all of their tax forms (including those related to foreign business ownership, trust ownership and PFICs), but we also saved our clients millions in potential penalties and tax liabilities!