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3 Main Streamlined Domestic Compliance Disadvantages | SDOP Lawyer

In a previous article, I described the three main advantages of doing an offshore voluntary disclosure through Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures (“Streamlined Domestic Compliance”). Today, I would like to discuss three main Streamlined Domestic Compliance disadvantages.

Streamlined Domestic Compliance Disadvantages: Audit Risks

The first main disadvantage of Streamlined Domestic Compliance is the potential IRS audit within three years after the voluntary disclosure is completed. The audit is likely to include everything: FBARs, amended tax returns, Miscellaneous Offshore Penalty calculation and, most importantly, the determination of non-willfulness.

The potential IRS audit stands in a shark contrast to the IRS flagship Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (“OVDP”) which closed in September of 2018. At the end of a voluntary disclosure through OVDP, the taxpayer and the IRS sign the Closing Agreement, which (absent fraud or material mis-statements) effectively closes prior tax noncompliance issues forever.

The audit risks may be particularly important to taxpayers who are in the process of obtaining their US citizenship or US permanent residence.

Streamlined Domestic Compliance Disadvantages: Penalty Base Not Limited to Income Noncompliance

One of the main Streamlined Domestic Compliance disadvantages is the fact that the calculation of the penalty base (i.e. what assets are subject to the 5% penalty) includes assets that never produced any foreign income. Moreover, the penalty base includes a foreign asset even if the foreign income from this asset was timely disclosed on the taxpayer’s original tax return, but the asset itself was not reported on FBAR or any other international information return.

In other words, a taxpayer who participates in the Streamlined Domestic Compliance should be prepared to pay a 5% penalty even on assets that are compliant with the US income tax laws.

Again, this is contrary to the rules of the OVDP. In the OVDP, only assets that are tied to income tax noncompliance are included in the penalty base.

Streamlined Domestic Compliance Disadvantages: Danger of Superficial Analysis

Finally, the danger of superficial analysis concerning non-willfulness constitutes the third main disadvantage of the Streamlined Domestic Compliance. In reality, there are two dangers which should be placed at the opposite ends of the voluntary disclosure continuum.

The first danger is the natural bias in the self-assessment of non-willfulness. Oftentimes, a taxpayer may exaggerate the facts in his favor while selectively ignoring the facts that may establish willful noncompliance. This is very natural. It is difficult to find a person who will state outright that he was willful in his prior tax noncompliance.

Usually, this problem can be (and should be) fixed by retaining an international tax attorney to do an independent assessment of the taxpayer’s non-willfulness.

At the opposite end is the danger of concentrating on non-willfulness and ignoring the possibility of doing a Reasonable Cause disclosure. In most cases, this is not a problem because Streamlined Domestic Compliance would be a superior choice despite the 5% penalty. This, however, is not true in all cases and real opportunities are often lost by failure to explore this route.

I should state that the biggest problem that I found in my practice is the fact that some taxpayers do not consult an international tax attorney on this issue. Instead, they try to do everything themselves even though they have no specialized knowledge in this field. I strongly discourage this practice.

I believe that the involvement of an international tax attorney is essential to doing a proper offshore voluntary disclosure.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help with Your Offshore Voluntary Disclosure

Choosing the correct offshore voluntary disclosure path is the most important decision for a taxpayer who wishes to remedy his past noncompliance with US tax laws. Every voluntary disclosure option has its advantages and disadvantages. All essential factors must be considered.

The failure to do proper legal analysis may have highly negative legal and tax consequences. It may even put a taxpayer in a position worse than what he was prior to his attempt to do a voluntary disclosure.

This is why you need the professional help of Sherayzen Law Office. Our experienced legal team has helped hundreds of US taxpayers to do their offshore voluntary disclosures properly. We Can Help You! Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

Streamlined Domestic Disclosure: Main Advantages | SDOP Attorney

At this point, Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures (“Streamlined Domestic Disclosure”) is undoubtedly the most popular offshore voluntary disclosure option. Let’s explore three main reasons for this preference of Streamlined Domestic Disclosure among US taxpayers.

Streamlined Domestic Disclosure: Background Information and General Requirements

The IRS created the Streamlined Domestic Disclosure as an offshore voluntary disclosure option on June 18, 2014. The IRS specifically the designed Streamlined Domestic Disclosure to address the critique of many practitioners and taxpayers that the 2012 OVDP did not adequately deal with US taxpayers who non-willfully violated their US tax obligations (for example, in cases where the taxpayers simply did not know about the existence of FBAR or Form 8938).

Any taxpayer can participate in the Streamlined Domestic Disclosure as long as he satisfies all three parts of the eligibility criteria: US tax residency, absence of IRS examination or investigation and non-willfulness.

If a taxpayer satisfies the eligibility criteria, he then must comply with all of the required submissions. The key requirement here is the certification under the penalty of perjury that the taxpayer’s prior tax noncompliance was non-willful. This requirement is the heart of the Streamlined Domestic Disclosure and must be approached with special care.

The other requirements include filing of amended tax returns for the past three years (with all of the necessary information returns), filing FBARs for the past six years, payment of tax due with interest and payment of Miscellaneous Offshore Penalty. Other requirements may also apply depending on the specific situation of a taxpayer.

Streamlined Domestic Disclosure Offers a Number of Advantages to Noncompliant US Taxpayers

While the list of the requirements above may seem like a lot of work, in reality, Streamlined Domestic Disclosure definitely offers a number of advantages compared to other offshore voluntary disclosure options. I will discuss in this article only the main three advantages.

Keep in mind that the Streamlined Domestic Disclosure may not always be advantages to taxpayers. There are plenty of situations where other offshore voluntary disclosure options may be superior to Streamlined Domestic Disclosure.

I also wish to emphasize that the analysis of advantages or disadvantages of a particular voluntary disclosure option is highly fact-specific. I strongly recommend that you contact Sherayzen Law Office for a detailed analysis of your voluntary disclosure options before you even attempt to proceed with your offshore voluntary disclosure.

Advantages of Streamlined Domestic Disclosure: Flexible Risk Management

One of the greatest advantages (though, the one rarely discussed on the Internet) of the Streamlined Domestic Disclosure is the opportunity this option offers to manage the voluntary disclosure risks. We can be even more precise – to manage the risk-reward ratio.

There is no doubt that the now closed OVDP (the 2014 IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program) may have been the safest option available in the great majority of cases, but its “rewards” in terms of penalty rate, calculation of Penalty Base and other factors are generally (though, not always) inferior to those of the Streamlined Domestic Disclosure. Noisy Disclosures stand at the opposite end of the spectrum compared to the OVDP.

Streamlined Domestic Disclosure, however, occupies the middle ground. You only have to establish non-willfulness, not reasonable cause. This is a much lower standard. Moreover, this standard is applied to all international information returns, not just FBARs. At the same time, the penalty rate (see below) is generally far more advantageous than that of the OVDP.

Advantages of Streamlined Domestic Disclosure: Relatively Low Penalty Rate

One of the most cited advantages of the Streamlined Domestic Disclosure is the low penalty rate of 5%. Compared to the OVDP penalty rate of 27.5% or FBAR non-willful penalties outside of a voluntary disclosure program, this can be a very advantageous option. This is not always the case, but it is true in most non-willful cases.

Advantages of Streamlined Domestic Disclosure: Shortened Voluntary Disclosure Period

Another great advantage of Streamlined Domestic Disclosure is the smaller number of years covered by the voluntary disclosure period. Unlike the OVDP voluntary disclosure period (which covers eight years of FBARs and tax returns), this voluntary disclosure option only encompasses the years which are covered by a regular statute of limitations.

In other words, it only includes the past six years of FBARs (occasionally seven) and past three years of tax returns. Obviously, this is a lot more convenient than OVDP.

A voluntary disclosure that involves an expatriation will require an increased number of amended tax returns.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help with Streamlined Domestic Disclosure

Despite having a much simpler procedure, Streamlined Domestic Disclosure may still be quite complex and require professional attention. There are a number of pitfalls that may seriously undermine the advantages of a Streamlined Domestic Disclosure. Sometime, unrepresented taxpayers may also make mistakes that will result in a disastrous result during a subsequent IRS audit.

This is why you need the professional help from Sherayzen Law Office. Our experienced legal team has helped hundreds of US taxpayers with their Streamlined Domestic Disclosures, and We Can Help You! Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!