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OVDP — IRS Commissioner Offers Hope For The Minnow



On June 3, 2014 the new IRS Commissioner, John A. Koskinen indicated there may be hope for the numerous US persons who “non-wilfully” did not properly report their offshore assets and financial accounts. The relevant text of his remarks, is reproduced below. The full report can be accessed here. Maybe there is hope for the sea of minnows! Let’s stay tuned. I will be curious to know whether the contemplated “modifications” to the OVDP will address recompense for those taxpayers who have completed OVDP and paid the penalties now viewed as inappropriate.

“Now, while the 2012 OVDP and its predecessors have operated successfully, we are currently considering making further program modifications to accomplish even more. We are considering whether our voluntary programs have been too focused on those willfully evading their tax obligations and are not accommodating enough to others who don’t necessarily need protection from criminal prosecution because their compliance failures have been of the non-willful variety. For example, we are well aware that there are many U.S. citizens who have resided abroad for many years, perhaps even the vast majority of their lives. We have been considering whether these individuals should have an opportunity to come into compliance that doesn’t involve the type of penalties that are appropriate for U.S.-resident taxpayers who were willfully hiding their investments overseas. We are also aware that there may be U.S.-resident taxpayers with unreported offshore accounts whose prior non-compliance clearly did not constitute willful tax evasion but who, to date, have not had a clear way of coming into compliance that doesn’t involve the threat of substantial penalties.

We are close to completing our deliberations on these respects and expect that we will soon put forward modifications to the programs currently in place. Our goal is to ensure we have struck the right balance between emphasis on aggressive enforcement and focus on the law-abiding instincts of most U.S. citizens who, given the proper chance, will voluntarily come into compliance and willingly remedy past mistakes. We believe that re-striking this balance between enforcement and voluntary compliance is particularly important at this point in time, given that we are nearing July 1, the effective date of FATCA. We expect we will have much more to say on these program enhancements in the very near future. So stay tuned.”

In accordance with Circular 230 Disclosure

Original Post By:  Virginia La Torre Jeker, J.D.

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Virginia La Torre Jeker J.D., has been a member of the New York Bar since 1984 and is also admitted to practice before the United States Tax Court. She has 30 years of experience specializing in US and international tax planning as well as international commercial transactions. She has been based in Dubai since 2001; prior to that time she worked in Hong Kong for 15 years as a US tax consultant for international law firms, major banks (including HSBC) international accounting firms (Deloitte) and trust companies. Early in her career she worked in New York with the top-tier international law firm, Willkie Farr & Gallagher.

Virginia is regularly asked to speak at numerous conferences and seminars for various institutes and commercial organizations; publishes a vast array of scholarly works in her area of expertise, been interviewed by CNN and is regularly quoted (or has her articles featured) in local and international publications. She was recently appointed to the Professional Tax Advisory Council, American Citizens Abroad, Geneva, Switzerland. She was a guest lecturer at the University of Hong Kong, LL.M Program (Law Department) and served as an adjunct Business Law professor at the American University of Dubai and at the American University of Sharjah where she also taught the legal / ethical aspects of internet law and internet based transactions.

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One thought on “OVDP — IRS Commissioner Offers Hope For The Minnow

  1. Avatar bubblebustin says:

    It looks as though the US is going to create a Streamlined specifically for non-residents where the determining factor for penalty abatement would be reasonable cause, not annual tax levels and evidence of sophisticated tax planning. Not a Streamlined that works entirely for everyone, but maybe one that works a little better for a few more people. The goal posts look like they’re being moved a little closer, but they’ll never be close enough for those who owe bankrupting levels of tax on a lifetime of savings. What about them?

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