Offshore Voluntary Disclosure: Client Records | International Tax Lawyer

One of the first things a client must get in order to pursue an offshore voluntary disclosure are all of the client records from his former accountant. Sometimes, however, the clients are having difficulty obtaining their documents from their accountants. In this article, I would like to briefly describe an accountant’s obligations with respect to the return of client records to their clients.

Return of Client Records: General Obligation to Return All Client Documents

Subsection 10.28(a) of Circular 230 requires an accountant to promptly return, upon a client’s request, any and all of the records of the client that are necessary for the client to comply with his federal tax obligations. Hence, a failure of an accountant to return all clients records to his or her client is a violation of the accountant’s IRS obligations.

Return of Client Records: Documents Included

31 CFR §10.28(b) defines the documents that an accountant must return to his client:

  1. All documents or written or electronic materials provided to the practitioner, or obtained by the practitioner in the course of the practitioner’s representation of the client, that preexisted the retention of the practitioner by the client;
  2. All materials that were prepared by the client or a third party (not including an employee or agent of the practitioner) at any time and provided to the practitioner with respect to the subject matter of the representation; and
  3. Any return, claim for refund, schedule, affidavit, appraisal or any other document prepared by the practitioner, or his or her employee or agent, that was presented to the client with respect to a prior representation if such document is necessary for the taxpayer to comply with his or her current federal tax obligations.

Return of Client Records: Documents Excluded

31 CFR §10.28(b) also expressly excludes from the definition of client records “any return, claim for refund, schedule, affidavit, appraisal or any other document prepared by the practitioner or the practitioner’s firm, employees or agents if the practitioner is withholding such document pending the client’s performance of its contractual obligation to pay fees with respect to such document”.

Hence, in most cases, it is important for a client to pay his outstanding fees to the accountant in order to make sure that he has all relevant documents. Later, if he wishes, the client may file a lawsuit against the accountant for negligence (if there are legal grounds for such a lawsuit) to recover the fees paid.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office to Help With the Voluntary Disclosure of Your Prior US Tax Noncompliance

If you have not disclosed your foreign income and/or foreign assets to the IRS in violation of your US tax obligations, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office as soon as possible for professional help.  We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers to bring their tax affairs into compliance with US tax laws, including through a voluntary disclosure such as SDOP (Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures)SFOP (Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures)DFSP (Delinquent FBAR Submission Procedures), DIIRSP (Delinquent International Information Return Submission Procedures), IRS VDP (IRS Voluntary Disclosure Practice) and Reasonable Cause disclosures. We can help you!

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Mistake as Reasonable Cause | Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Lawyer

This article is a continuation of a series of articles on the Reasonable Cause Exception as a defense against various IRS penalties. Today, we will be exploring whether a mistake made by a taxpayer satisfies the ordinary business care and prudence standard and can be considered a reasonable cause.

Mistake Alone Does Not Constitute Reasonable Cause

Generally, the IRS takes the view that a mistake alone is not sufficient to establish a reasonable cause defense to an imposition of an IRS penalty, because it is not considered to be a conduct that would qualify as ordinary business care and prudence – i.e. generally, situations when a taxpayer acted prudently, reasonably and in good faith (taking that degree of care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise) and still could not comply with the relevant tax requirement.  We remind the readers that the ordinary business care and prudence standard is at the heart of the Reasonable Cause Exception.

Mistake Can Help Establish Reasonable Cause

While a taxpayer’s mistake alone is insufficient to establish a reasonable cause, the Internal Revenue Manual (IRM) specifically foresees a possibility that a mistake can help assert a reasonable cause defense. IRM (12-11-2009) specifically states that the Reasonable Cause Exception may be established if mistake with “additional facts and circumstances support the determination that the taxpayer exercised ordinary business care and prudence but nevertheless was unable to comply within the prescribed time”.

In other words, if mistake, in combination with other facts and circumstances, established that a taxpayer’s behavior was consistent with the ordinary business care and prudence standard, the IRS may agree that the tax noncompliance was caused by a reasonable cause.

IRS Factors Supporting Mistake as a Reasonable Cause

IRM (12-11-2009) does not limit the number of factors that will be considered by the IRS in deciding whether there are sufficient facts and circumstances supporting mistake as a reasonable cause. However, it provides five specific factors to which the IRS will pay special attention:

1. When and how the taxpayer became aware of the mistake;

2. The extent to which the taxpayer corrected the error;

3. The relationship between the taxpayer and the subordinate (if the taxpayer delegated the duty);

4. If the taxpayer took timely steps to correct the failure after it was discovered;

5. The supporting documentation.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Legal Help with Establishing a Reasonable Cause Exception in Your Case

If the IRS imposed a penalty for your prior tax noncompliance, contact Sherayzen Law Office for the legal help. We will thoroughly review the facts of your case, determine available defense options, including the Reasonable Cause Exception defenses, implement the case strategy with which you feel comfortable, and negotiate the abatement or reduction of your IRS penalties.

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!