FBAR Criminal Enforcement: Liechtenstein and Israel

The voluntary disclosure programs provided the IRS with an enormous amount of information regarding countries, banks and individuals involved in US taxpayers’ non-compliance with U.S. tax laws. With so much information, it was reasonable to expect that the IRS would not be satisfied with solely prosecuting Swiss banks. Year 2012 confirmed these expectations; building up on FATCA and the information provided in voluntary disclosures, the IRS made aggressive moves far beyond Switzerland, initiating negotiations about and, in many cases, concluding bilateral FATCA treaties with over 50 different countries. Among these enforcement efforts, two countries stand out as most likely candidates for future prosecutions – Liechtenstein and Israel.

Banks in Liechtenstein and Israel Are Targets in U.S. Probes

In May of 2012, the IRS issued a request to Liechtensteinische Landesbank AG (LLB) to disclose information regarding accounts of at least $500,000 owned by U.S. taxpayers. The request covers all years 2004 through present time. The bank already sent out the letters to its U.S. clients describing their intention to comply with the request. It should be noted that Liechtenstein has been under tremendous pressure not only from the United States, but also France and Germany to wind down its secrecy laws.

At the same time, the IRS became very concerned about the money flow between Switzerland and Israel. It appeared that some taxpayers decided to exit Switzerland in light of the USB and Wegelin case and moved all of their accounts to Israel. The IRS caught up with this trend and decided to pursue these taxpayers in Israel.

The focus is on three Israeli banks – Bank Leumi Le-Israel, Bank Hapoalim and Mizrahi-Tefahot Bank. It appears that these banks are cooperating even ahead of the 2013 deadline and U.S. taxpayers with undisclosed accounts in these banks are well-advised to assume that their accounts will be disclosed to the IRS sooner rather than later (especially given the close relationship between Israel and the United States).

Voluntary Disclosure for Non-Compliant U.S. Taxpayers in Liechtenstein and Israel

It appears that U.S. taxpayers with undisclosed accounts in Liechtenstein and Israel are in a race against time and they are losing to the IRS. Therefore, at this point, it is absolutely essential for these taxpayers to consider their voluntary disclosure options as soon as possible. Otherwise, they run a tremendous risk of being discovered by the IRS and subject to severe criminal and civil penalties.

2012 OVDP voluntary disclosure, Reasonable Cause (Modified) voluntary disclosure and FAQ #17 and #18 (absence of additional U.S. tax liability) disclosure are options that may be open to such taxpayers. All of these options must be thoroughly analyzed by an international tax attorney who is familiar with these issues.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Help With Voluntary Disclosure of Foreign Accounts and Foreign Income

If you have any undisclosed foreign accounts and/or foreign income, contact Sherayzen Law Office now. Our experienced international tax firm will thoroughly review your case, advise you on the available voluntary disclosure options, prepare your voluntary disclosure documentation (including tax returns and offshore information returns such as Forms 5471, 8865, 926, 3520, FBARs and others), guide you throughout the voluntary disclosure process and vigorously represent your interests during your negotiations with the IRS.