IRS FY 2012 Performance Results

The IRS released the statement describing its performance in the Fiscal Year 2012. The general results continued last year’s trend.

In the enforcement area, audits of individuals topped 1 million for the sixth year in a row, with a 1.03% coverage rate out of all tax returns filed. Audits in the upper income ranges remained substantially higher than other categories.

With respect to businesses, the IRS increased examinations across all categories of business returns by more than 12% in FY 2012, with the largest increases coming in audits of flow-through entities, which include partnerships and Subchapter S corporations. The examination rate exceeded 20% for the largest corporations.

IRS enforcement was highly profitable for the U.S. government, especially in the area of voluntary disclosures (such as 2009 OVDP, 2011 OVDI and 2012 OVDP). The IRS collected more than $50 billion in enforcement revenue in FY 2012, the third year in a row topping that figure. However, the 2012 numbers were lower than 2010 and 2011, which were unusual years with enforcement dollars helped by large numbers of offshore tax cases coming in. More than 38,000 disclosures of offshore accounts have been made to date through the IRS’ offshore voluntary disclosure programs. In addition, the economic slowdown contributed to lower enforcement figures, as most enforcement dollars collected resulted from audits of returns for years during the slowdown.

In terms of staffing, however, the IRS again suffered from the cuts to its budget by the Congress, despite extensive evidence that investment in IRS enforcement brings disproportionate amount of income to U.S. government. After a nearly flat budget in FY 2011, the IRS’ FY 2012 budget was reduced by $305 million. This reduction affected the level of staffing available to deliver service and enforcement programs. Overall full-time staffing has declined by more than 8% over the last two years, and staffing for key enforcement occupations fell nearly 6% in the past year.

One exception to the staffing problems has been identify theft. In FY 2012, the IRS more than doubled the number of staff dedicated to preventing refund fraud and assisting taxpayers victimized by identity theft, with more than 3,000 employees working in this area. As a result of these increased efforts, the IRS in FY 2012 was able to prevent the issuance of more than 3 million fraudulent refunds worth more than $20 billion, an increase from approximately 1.8 million refunds worth about $14 billion the previous year.

On the service side, the IRS saw continued strong growth in electronic filing by individuals, as the e-filing rate in FY 2012 exceeded 80% for the first time. Taxpayer interest in online interactions continued to increase as well, with web page visits on up nearly 17% to 372 million.

One of the most surprising trends has been the steady increase in criminal investigations and the growth in the conviction rate. The number of criminal investigations for tax and tax-related matters has gone up from the low of 1,269 investigation in 2009 to 1,846 in 2012 – a whopping 45% increase. During the same time, the conviction rate went up from 87.2% in 2009 to 93.0% in 2012. This means that the IRS is not only radically increasing the number of criminal investigations, but also it is more successful in its prosecution efforts.

Overall, 2012 appears to have been a successful year for the IRS, especially with respect to international tax enforcement.

IRS Provides Penalty Relief to Farmers and Fishermen

On January 18, 2013, the IRS announced that it will issue guidance in the near future to provide relief from the estimated tax penalty for farmers and fishermen unable to file and pay their 2012 taxes by the March 1 deadline due to the delayed start for filing tax returns.

The delay stems from this month’s enactment of the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA). The ATRA affected several tax forms that are often filed by farmers and fishermen, including the Form 4562, Depreciation and Amortization (Including Information on Listed Property). These forms will require extensive programming and testing of IRS systems, which will delay the IRS’s ability to accept and process these forms. The IRS is providing this relief because delays in the agency’s ability to accept and process these forms may affect the ability of many farmers and fishermen to file and pay their taxes by the March 1 deadline. The relief applies to all farmers and fishermen, not only those who must file late released forms.

Normally, farmers and fishermen who choose not to make quarterly estimated tax payments are not subject to a penalty if they file their returns and pay the full amount of tax due by March 1. Under the guidance to be issued, farmers or fishermen who miss the March 1 deadline will not be subject to the penalty if they file and pay by April 15, 2013. A taxpayer qualifies as a farmer or fisherman for tax-year 2012 if at least two-thirds of the taxpayer’s total gross income was from farming or fishing in either 2011 or 2012.

Farmers and fishermen requesting this penalty waiver must attach Form 2210-F to their tax return. The form can be submitted electronically or on paper. The taxpayer’s name and identifying number should be entered at the top of the form, the waiver box (Part I, Box A) should be checked, and the rest of the form should be left blank.

Last Estimated Tax Payments for the Tax Year 2011 are Due on January 17, 2012

Estimated tax payments for the fourth-quarter of 2011 are due on January 17, 2012. The estimated tax payments should be made using Form 1040-ES. Note, if the due date for an estimated tax payment falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the payment will be considered on time if it is made on the next business day.

This is the last chance to make the payment of estimated taxes for the tax year 2011.

IRS Begins Processing Tax Forms Affected by Late Tax Changes

Today, the IRS announced that it has started processing individual tax returns affected by legislation enacted in December. On Monday, IRS systems began to accept and process both e-file and paper tax returns claiming itemized deductions on Form 1040, Schedule A, as well as deductions for state and local sales tax, higher education tuition and fees and educator expenses.

Earlier, in 2010, the IRS announced it would delay processing of some tax returns in order to update processing systems to accommodate the late tax law changes. These tax law provisions were extended by the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010, which became law on December 17, 2010.

Due to the expected increase in tax return volumes being transmitted this week, the IRS cautioned a small number of taxpayers may experience a brief delay in receiving their e-file acknowledgment, which is normally provided within 24-48 hours.

Business taxpayers who use the 1040 series can file now as well. However, the February 14 start date does not apply to non-1040 business tax forms affected by the recent tax law changes. The IRS will announce a specific date in the near future when it can begin processing those impacted business tax forms.

Expatriation to Avoid U.S. Taxes

Although there is a general misconception that U.S. citizens can relinquish their citizenship in order to escape high U.S. taxes, most of the time this is not true. If you are contemplating such a move, it is essential to understand the basic rules relating to expatriation for purposes of tax avoidance, as the taxes and fines can be costly. Under IRS rules, U.S. citizens who renounce their citizenship, as well as long-term lawful permanent residents (also know as “green card” holders), can still be taxed on their worldwide income provided that statutory exceptions are not met.

Expatriation Tax Rules Explained

U.S. citizens and resident aliens generally must pay income taxes on worldwide income, regardless of where individuals live. Under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Sections 877 and 877A, U.S. citizens who renounce their citizenship within ten-years of earning U.S.-source income are still subject to U.S. taxes on such income if citizenship was relinquished for tax avoidance purposes.

In addition, pursuant to IRC Section 877(a)(1), nonresident aliens (generally defined to be individuals who are not citizens or residents of the U.S.) who, within a ten-year period immediately preceding the close of the taxable year, lost U.S, citizenship may also be subject to taxes on their U.S.-source income if the purpose of their expatriation was to avoid U.S. taxes. It is presumed that tax avoidance was the purpose if any of the following criteria are met:

1) the average annual net income tax (as defined in IRC section 38(c)(1)) of such individual for the period of 5 taxable years ending before the date of the loss of United States citizenship is greater than $124,000 (subject to adjustments)

2) the net worth of the individual as of such date is $2,000,000 or more, or

3) such individual fails to certify under penalty of perjury that he has met the relevant requirements of IRC for the 5 preceding taxable years or fails to submit such evidence of such compliance as the Secretary may require.

The tax provisions of IRC Section 877 also apply to long-term lawful permanent residents who cease to be taxed as U.S. residents. A long-term permanent resident is defined to be any individual (other than a citizen of the United States ) who is a lawful permanent resident of the United States in a least 8 taxable years during the 15-years ending with the taxable year in which an individual ceases to be a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. However, generally, an individual shall not be treated as a lawful permanent resident for any taxable year, if such individual is treated as a resident of a foreign country for the taxable year under an income tax treaty between the U.S. and the other country, and does not waive the benefits of such treaty.

Additionally, there are exceptions for certain individuals with dual citizenship, or who are minors.

Form 8854

Individuals will continue to be treated for tax purposes as U.S. citizens or residents until Form 8854 (expatriation notification form) and other required information is filed. There are different rules noted in the form depending upon the date of expatriation. In certain specified cases, Form 8854 must also be filed on an annual basis.

There is a potential $10,000 fine for failure to file the form, if required.


This is a general overview of the taxation rules relating to individuals who expatriate in order to avoid U.S. taxes. There are many other complex issues that may apply, depending upon the circumstances. Are you facing taxes or possible fines relating to expatriation issues? Sherayzen Law Office can assist you with these matters. Call us to set up a consultation with an experienced international tax attorney today!