On December 19, 2014, a federal jury sitting in Los Angeles convicted two California tax return preparers of one count of conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and two counts of willfully failing to file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) with respect to secret Israeli Offshore Accounts.
Israeli Offshore Accounts: Facts of the Case
According to the second superseding indictment and evidence introduced at trial, David Kalai and Nadav Kalai were principals of United Revenue Service Inc. (URS), a tax preparation business with 12 offices located throughout the United States. David Kalai worked primarily at URS’s former headquarters in Newport Beach, California, and later at URS’s location in Costa Mesa, California. Nadav Kalai, who is David Kalai’s son, worked out of URS’s headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland, as well as the URS locations in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa. David Almog was the branch manager of the New York office of URS and supervised tax return preparers for URS’s East Coast locations.
The second superseding indictment and the evidence introduced at trial established that the co-conspirators prepared false individual income tax returns that did not disclose the clients’ secret Israeli Offshore Accounts nor reported any income earned from these Israeli Offshore Accounts. In order to conceal the clients’ ownership and control of Israeli Offshore Accounts and to conceal the clients’ income from the IRS, the co-conspirators incorporated offshore companies in Belize and elsewhere and helped clients open secret Israeli Offshore Accounts at the Luxembourg locations of two Israeli banks, Bank A and Bank B. Bank A is a large financial institution headquartered in Tel -Aviv, Israel, with branches worldwide. Bank B is a mid-size financial institution, also headquartered in Tel Aviv, with a presence on four continents.
As further proven at trial, the co-conspirators incorporated offshore companies in Belize and elsewhere to act as named account holders on the secret Israeli Offshore Accounts. The co-conspirators then facilitated the transfer of client funds to the secret Israeli Offshore Accounts and prepared and filed tax returns that falsely reported the money sent offshore as a false investment loss or a false business expense. The co-conspirators also failed to disclose the existence of, and the clients’ financial interest in and authority over, the secret Israeli Offshore Accounts and caused the clients to fail to file FBARs with the U.S. Treasury.
The evidence at trial established that David Kalai and Nadav Kalai each failed to file FBARs for calendar years 2008 and 2009 concerning secret Israeli Offshore Accounts. The bank account for Bank A in Luxembourg was held in the name of a nominee corporation in Belize and held over $300,000.
“The Kalais created sham foreign corporate entities and used banks in Luxembourg and Israel as havens for hiding their U.S. clients’ money from the U.S. government,” said Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Wszalek. “Today’s guilty verdict sends a clear message that those professionals who facilitate tax evasion through the use of offshore bank accounts will be held accountable for their criminal conduct. The Tax Division will continue its vigorous tax enforcement efforts in prosecuting return preparers, bankers, and other facilitators who assist clients in concealing assets offshore.”
“As the defendants in this case have learned, hiding income and assets offshore is not tax planning; it’s tax fraud,” said Chief Richard Weber IRS-Criminal Investigation. “There is no secret formula that can eliminate an individual’s tax obligations. Today’s verdict reinforces our commitment to every American taxpayer that we will identify and prosecute those who implement off-shore tax schemes designed to evade the payment of taxes.”
Sentencing of the defendants is scheduled for March 16, 2015.
Israeli Offshore Accounts: Obligation to Report Foreign Accounts and Income Including Israeli Offshore Accounts
U.S. citizens, resident aliens and legal permanent residents have an obligation to report to the IRS on Schedule B of the U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, Form 1040, whether they had a financial interest in, or signature authority over, a financial account in a foreign country in a particular year by checking “yes” or “no” in the appropriate box and identifying the country where the account is maintained. They further have an obligation to report all income earned from the foreign financial account on the tax returns. Separately, U.S. citizens, resident aliens and legal permanent residents with a foreign financial interest in, or signatory authority over, a foreign financial account worth more than $10,000 in a particular year must also file an FBAR with the U.S. Treasury disclosing such an account by June 30th of the following year.
Israeli Offshore Accounts: Lessons from the Kalai Case
The Kalai case is pretty much in line with other similar cases where the IRS was able to obtain criminal conviction for failing to file FBARs to disclose foreign accounts, including secret Israeli Offshore Accounts.
The highly negative factors include: evidence of sophisticated planning to conceal the identify of the secret Israeli Offshore Accounts owners; evidence of international concealment of funds (by reporting them as a business loss) that formed the balances of the secret Israeli Offshore Accounts; evidence of intentional failure to report income from the secret Israeli Offshore Accounts; and the education level of Kalai as tax preparers.
What is critically important for US taxpayers with undisclosed secret Israeli Offshore Accounts to remember is that, if they engaged tax preparers to avoid disclosing their Israeli Offshore Accounts or foreign financial accounts in any other country, they are at an even higher risk of exposure. The reason is because these tax preparers are likely to have engaged in similar pattern of criminal behavior with respect to their other clients; when these other clients do their voluntary disclosure, they are very likely to exposure their tax preparers as well.
This is why it is critically important for US taxpayers with undisclosed secret Israeli Offshore Accounts or foreign financial accounts in any other country to explore their voluntary disclosure options as soon possible and before they are precluded by an IRS investigation.
Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Help with Your Undisclosed Foreign Accounts
If you have undisclosed foreign financial accounts and any other foreign assets, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional legal and tax help. We will thoroughly analyze your current penalty exposure, identify the offshore voluntary disclosure options available to you, prepare all legal documents and tax forms (including amended tax returns) needed in your case, rigorously defend your interests in front of the IRS, and guide you through the entire voluntary disclosure process.