Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures Lawyer: 2024 SDOP Advantages

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 criteriaUS 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.

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

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.

We Can Help You! Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

2024 Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures: Pros and Cons

As was the case in the year 2023, I expect that Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures will continue to be the flagship offshore voluntary disclosure option in 2024 for US taxpayers who reside in the United States. This is why noncompliant US taxpayers should understand well the main advantages and disadvantages of participating in the 2024 Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures.

2024 Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures: Background Information and Purpose

The IRS created the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures (usually abbreviated as “SDOP”) on June 18, 2014, though the Certification forms became available only a few months later. Since its introduction, Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures quickly eclipsed the then-existing IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (“OVDP”) and became the most popular offshore voluntary disclosure option for US taxpayers who reside in the United States. As we discuss the advantages of the 2024 SDOP, you will quickly understand the reason for this meteoric rise in popularity of the SDOP.

The main purpose of the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures is to encourage non-willful US taxpayers to voluntarily resolve their prior noncompliance with US international tax reporting requirements in exchange for a reduced penalty, simplified disclosure procedure and a shorter disclosure period. Pretty much any non-willful US international tax noncompliance can be resolved through SDOP: foreign income, FBAR, Form 8938, Form 5471, Form 8621, Form 926, et cetera.

2024 Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures: Main Advantages

In exchange for a voluntary disclosure of their prior tax noncompliance through SDOP, US taxpayers escape income tax penalties and pay only a one-time Miscellaneous Offshore Penalty with respect to their prior failures to file the required US international information returns. It is important to emphasize that the Miscellaneous Offshore Penalty replaces not only FBAR penalties, but also penalties for noncompliance with respect to other US international information returns, such as Forms 5471, 8865, 926, et cetera. Depending on the specific circumstances of a case, the Miscellaneous Offshore Penalty is usually below the combined potential penalties normally associated with failure to file these forms. In other words, noncompliant taxpayers can greatly reduce their IRS noncompliance penalties through their participation in the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures. This is one of the most important SDOP benefits.

Another advantage of the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures is the limited procedural scope of this voluntary disclosure option. What I mean by this is that the taxpayers should only submit the forms covered by the general statute of limitations unless they choose (i.e. not required, actually choose to do so) to do otherwise. The taxpayers only need to file three (sometime even less) amended US tax returns and six FBARs (sometimes seven and sometimes less than six). This limited disclosure stands in stark contrast with other major voluntary disclosure initiatives, such as 2014 OVDP (which required filings for the past eight years).

Moreover, despite the limited scope of the SDOP filings, taxpayers who utilize the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures are usually able to fully resolve their prior US international tax noncompliance issues even if these years are not included in the actual SDOP filings. This means that the participating taxpayers are able “wipe the slate clean” – i.e. to erase their prior US international tax noncompliance from the time when it began. I should warn, however, that this is not necessarily always the case; I have already encountered efforts from the IRS to open years for which amended tax returns were not submitted (there were specific circumstances, however, in all of these cases that resulted in this increased IRS interference).

The last major advantage of the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures is that this option only requires to establish non-willfulness rather than reasonable cause. Non-willfulness is a much easier legal standard to satisfy (be careful, this is NOT an “easy standard”, just an easier one) than reasonable cause.

2024 Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures: Main Disadvantages

Usually, participation in the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures is highly advantageous to noncompliance taxpayers. However, there are some disadvantages and shortcomings in this program. In this article, I will concentrate only on the three most important of them.

First, this voluntary disclosure option is open only to taxpayers who filed their US tax returns for prior years. This requirement is the exact opposite of the Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures (“SFOP”) which allows for the late filing of original returns.

The problem is that there is a large segment of taxpayers who were perfectly non-willful in their prior US international tax noncompliance, but they never filed their US tax returns either due to special life circumstances (such as death in the family, illness, unemployment, et cetera), they were negligent or they believed that they were not required to file them (especially in situations where all of their income comes from foreign sources). These taxpayers would be barred from participating in the SDOP.

Second, when they participate in the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures, the taxpayers have the burden of proof to establish their non-willfulness with respect to their inability to timely report their foreign income as well as file FBARs and other US international information returns. Outside of the SDOP, the IRS has the burden of proof to establish willfulness; if it cannot carry this burden, then the taxpayer is automatically considered non-willful.

The problem is that most cases have positive and negative facts at the same time. This means that a lot of taxpayers are actually in the “gray” area between willfulness and non-willfulness. In many of these cases, the burden of proof may play a critical role in determining whether a taxpayer is eligible to participate in the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures. By the way, this decision should be made only by an experienced international tax attorney who specializes in this area of law, such as Mr. Eugene Sherayzen of Sherayzen Law Office.

Finally, participation in the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures does not provide a definitive closure to its participants. Unlike OVDP (prior to its closure), SDOP does not offer a Closing Agreement without an audit; there may be a follow-up audit after the IRS processes your voluntary disclosure package This means that going through Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures may not be the end of your case; the IRS can actually audit you over the next three years. If this happens, the audit of your voluntary disclosure will focus not only on the correctness of your disclosure, but also on the truthfulness and correctness of your non-willfulness certification.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With 2024 Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures

If you have undisclosed foreign accounts or any other foreign assets, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help with your offshore voluntary disclosure. We have successfully helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the world with their offshore voluntary disclosures, including Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures. We can also help you!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!