Since 2014, Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures (“SDOP”) has probably been the most popular offshore voluntary disclosure option, and I predict that it will remain so in the year 2024. In this article, I would like to explore main four 2024 SDOP advantages which US taxpayers should take into account while considering an offshore voluntary disclosure this year.
2024 SDOP Advantages: 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 SDOP as long as he satisfies all six parts of this option’s eligibility criteria: US tax residency, not eligible for Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures (“SFOP”), original US tax returns filed for the past three years, foreign income and information return (such as FBAR or Form 8938) violations, 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.
2024 SDOP 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 Offshore Procedures definitely offers a number of advantages compared to other offshore voluntary disclosure options. I will discuss in this article only the main four advantages.
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.
2024 SDOP Advantages: Easier Risk Management
One of the greatest advantages (though, the one rarely discussed on the Internet) of the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures is the opportunity this option offers to manage the voluntary disclosure risks. We can be even more precise – to manage the risk-reward ratio.
The 2024 SDOP is a disclosure option that offers a definitive transparent calculation of risks and rewards. While the risks associated with non-willfulness are not always easy to determine, the rest of the SDOP framework, such as penalty rate, calculation of Penalty Base and other factors are generally (though, not always) much clearer than in riskier disclosure options such Noisy Disclosure, Delinquent International Information Return Submission Procedures (“DIIRSP”) and Reasonable Cause disclosures.
2024 SDOP Advantages: Legal Standard
Closely related to the risk management factor discussed above is another SDOP advantage of a lower legal standard of proof — non-willfulness. While proving non-willfulness can be a complicated and difficult process, it is still much easier than satisfying the reasonable cause standard.
The reasonable cause standard is immensely more difficult and tougher to meet for a taxpayer. Yet it is the statutory standard for penalty removal for pretty much every US international tax form outside of a voluntary disclosure. Reasonable cause is also the standard for even some other voluntary disclosure programs (for example, DIIRSP). Of course, IRS VDP does not require proving even non-willfulness, but its penalty system is a lot harsher than that of the SDOP.
2024 SDOP Advantages: Relatively Low Penalty Rate
One of the most cited advantages of the 2024 SDOP is the low penalty rate of 5%. This is usually a huge advantage over the very high IRS Voluntary Disclosure Practice (“VDP”) penalty rates or various penalties outside of a voluntary disclosure program (including in many cases FBAR non-willful penalties). This is not always the case, but it is true in most non-willful cases.
2024 SDOP Advantages: Shortened Voluntary Disclosure Period
Finally, another great advantage of Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures is the smaller number of years covered by the voluntary disclosure period. Unlike the old OVDP voluntary disclosure period (which used to cover eight years of FBARs and tax returns) and the current VDP voluntary disclosure period of up to six years, SDOP’s voluntary disclosure period 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 VDP. It should be noted that 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
Even with all of its advantages, Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures may still be a very complex process that requires professional attention. There are a number of pitfalls that may seriously undermine the advantages of a Streamlined Domestic Disclosure. Sometimes, unrepresented taxpayers may also make mistakes that may have a disastrous result during a subsequent IRS audit.
This is why you need the professional help of Sherayzen Law Office. Our experienced legal team has helped hundreds of US taxpayers resolve their prior noncompliance with US international tax laws, including by using Streamlined Domestic Offsshore Procedures.
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