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Tag Archive for FBAR penalties

Record Penalties Sought In California In Latest Major FBAR Case

Helen Burggraf

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service is seeking what is said to be a record US$119.6m in penalties over what it has claimed in California district court documents were violations of the FBAR regulations, which require Americans to disclose their overseas financial accounts above a certain amount each year.

Foreign Bank Account Report penalties are famously high, which is why tax experts often stress to their clients the importance of complying, particularly as the penalties for “wilful” non-compliance are that much greater.

The case (U.S. vs Burga, No. 5:19-cv-03246-EJD), emerged in the U.S. media recently, where it was noted that court documents had claimed that Francis Burga and her late husband, Margelus Burga, had some 294 foreign bank accounts between 2004 and 2009, in Liechtenstein, the British Virgin Islands, Switzerland, Singapore, Japan, Panama, China and Vietnam, for which they had failed to file the requisite FBARs.
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Supreme Court Refuses To Review Million Dollar FBAR Penalty

Despite the taxpayer’s persistent challenges, the Supreme Court has refused to review a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision affirming a lower court’s decision in favor of the IRS, which assessed a giant $1.2 million penalty for failing to disclose financial interests in an overseas account.

The April 30th decision, which is now final, is noteworthy for two reasons. First, it shows the magnitude of penalty that can be reached, even with respect to an individual and a single foreign account and tax year (in this case, the relevant tax year was 2006). Second, it shows the type of taxpayer arguments that courts will likely reject when reviewing an FBAR penalty case.

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CPA Advice May Not Constitute Reasonable Cause

Taxpayers have been able to rely on advice from their accountants and CPAs to meet the complicated tax filing imposed by the U.S. Tax Code. But a case currently pending in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims suggests that CPA advice may not be enough to stop the IRS from assessing FBAR penalties for non-willful reporting violations.

A current case in the United States Court of Federal Claims, Jarnagin v United States, Docket No. 15-1534-T, shows what can happen when an unsuspecting taxpayer fails to file FBAR forms after providing all the requisite information regarding the foreign account to their accountant/CPA. Read more

IRS Issues Updated Guidance For FBAR Penalties

The IRS recently issued a memorandum entitled, “Interim Guidance for Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) Penalties.” As explicitly stated in the memorandum, its purpose is to improve the administration of the IRS’s FBAR compliance program. How so? By implementing new procedures. This guidance affects two specific IRMs: 4.26.16 and 4.26.17.

For those who thought that the IRS might have waited a couple months before making these procedures effective so as to allow tax practitioners sufficient time to get up to speed and to work out any “kinks,” that was wishful thinking. Far from enacting a “grace period,” these new procedures went into effect the very day they were published, which just so happened to be May 13, 2015. Thus, this guidance is effective immediately and Read more

Lowering The Bar For Willfulness For FBAR Penalties

The IRS has authority to assert FBAR civil penalties. Before delving into the FBAR abyss, this is a good time to debunk some FBAR myths. First, there is no such thing as an FBAR penalty within the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP). The FBAR penalty exists only outside of the OVDP framework. However, there is a penalty within the OVDP that is often considered to be the equivalent of the FBAR penalty. That penalty is commonly referred to as the offshore penalty. Generally, it is 27.5% of the highest aggregate balance of all foreign accounts during the disclosure period.

Second, contrary to popular belief, an FBAR violation doesn’t automatically mean that a penalty will be asserted. Examiners are expected to exercise discretion, taking into account the facts and circumstances of each case, in determining whether a penalty Read more

Lifting The Veil On The Civil FBAR Penalty

It should come as no surprise that the IRS has authority to assess FBAR civil penalties. However, what might come as a surprise is that an FBAR violation doesn’t automatically mean that a penalty will be asserted. Why not? Examiners are expected to exercise discretion, taking into account the facts and circumstances of each case, in determining whether penalties should be asserted. For example, the examiner may determine that the facts do not justify asserting a penalty. In that case, the examiner will issue an FBAR warning letter, Letter 3800.

According to IRM 4.26.16.4, the sole purpose of the FBAR penalty is to promote compliance with the FBAR reporting and recordkeeping requirements. In exercising their discretion, examiners should consider whether issuing a warning letter and securing delinquent Read more

Tailor Loses Shirt To FBAR Penalties

TaxConnections Picture - suit with a shirt and a tieA few weeks ago, Mohanbhai Ramchandani, pled guilty to violating the laws implementing the United States Treasury Department’s Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts Report (FBAR) as well as to filing false tax returns to conceal $3.2 million earned in his swanky New York City tailoring business. While the tailor could probably easily estimate a customer’s suit size, he had completely underestimated the tenacity of the Internal Revenue Service to “follow the money”… But, find it they did, in bank accounts located at the Bank of India, in Hong Kong and at accounts in Canada and India (some in his son’s name). Between 2007 and 2009, Ramchandani did not pay tax on the hidden $3.2 million he had stashed in the foreign bank accounts and, in violation of FBAR laws, he failed to report that he had those accounts. Ramchandani’s cheating resulted in a tax loss of US$ 736,002 for the 3-year period 2007, 2008 and 2009. When sentenced, Ramchandani faces up to five years in prison (let’s hope the tailor likes black stripes!). Also, he faces a penalty of $1.6 million for the FBAR violations, restitution to the Internal Revenue Service of $736,002.00 for unpaid taxes and probably oodles and oodles of interest!

Meanwhile… back at the ranch, eighty percent of the Treasury’s workforce has been furloughed.

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