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Tag Archive for FBARS

The Tax Non-Compliant American Abroad: What Are Your Choices? Part V

“High” Risk or “Low” Risk Classifications

The intensity of Internal Revenue Service review for “low” risk taxpayers will be low. For these taxpayers, the IRS will NOT assert any penalties nor will the agency pursue any follow-up actions. The skeletal information provided by IRS indicates that in order to be “low risk”, the taxpayer will have tax owing of $1500 or less for each year and his tax returns will be simple ones. To date, we do not know exactly what the IRS means by “simple” returns, but high levels of income or assets, or significant amounts of income from US-sources will render a return not “simple”. I believe that the taxpayer’s involvement in foreign entities (e.g., CFC, foreign partnership or trust) will do the same thing. Read more

The Tax Non-Compliant American Abroad: What Are Your Choices? Part IV

“Streamlined” Procedure

Perceiving the various problems with the aforementioned options, the Internal Revenue Service announced the “Streamlined Procedure” – a friendlier and less costly approach to bring non-compliant Americans living overseas back into the tax filing system.

Here are the major points:

• Taxpayers will be required to file only 3 years of back tax returns and 6 years of FBARs, and if IRS agrees that the taxpayer is eligible for the Streamlined Procedure, no penalties will be assessed for the late filings. Read more

The Tax Non-Compliant American Abroad: What Are Your Choices? Part III

“Quiet” or “Soft” Disclosure

The “quiet” six year approach, while less burdensome, can still be quite expensive. Under this approach, taxpayers basically take the position that they will not go into the offshore voluntary disclosure program and instead, they “quietly” file all the late tax returns paying amounts due and interest; many also file the late FBARs. They hope the IRS will not pull any of their returns for examination. With such a “quiet” disclosure, a taxpayer runs the risk of being audited and faces the potential for criminal prosecution.

Some taxpayers have attempted to follow the IRS guidance from its December 2011 “Fact Sheet” and submitted explanatory letters with their late filings hoping to abate penalties by Read more

The Tax Non-Compliant American Abroad: What Are Your Choices? Part II

Continued from Part I

Voluntary Disclosure Program

Each of the IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure programs has required the filing of 8 years’ of back tax returns and FBARs. In addition, volumes of supporting documentation are required. Choosing this option is very time-consuming and generally is very expensive, both in terms of professional fees and penalties. These programs, however, are a welcome relief for taxpayers who face a real likelihood of criminal penalty sanctions. More information on the most recent program, the 2012 OVDP, can be accessed here. Here is a broad overview of the OVDP terms: Read more

The Tax Non-Compliant American Abroad: What Are Your Choices? Part I

Before you know it, tax returns will be due. Many Americans living overseas have not filed tax returns or so-called FBARs for many years, even though they were required to do so. The Internal Revenue Service’s crackdown on tax evasion through the use of foreign accounts and entities has understandably frightened many of these Americans. Many did not knowingly avoid or evade US tax, nor did they intentionally disregard their tax filing duties. They simply did not understand the tax filing requirements when living and working abroad, or they obtained incorrect tax advice. In fact, in many instances, the typical client I assist owes little, or no tax after taking into account foreign tax credits and foreign earned income and housing exclusion amounts. The problem is that when a taxpayer has a duty to file tax returns, accompanying information returns or FBARs, but does not do so, he is Read more

At Last – Great News From The IRS For US Expat Tax Filers Who Are Late Or Non-Compliant

IRS Building in WashingtonThe IRS has declared filing three years back taxes is adequate for most US expat tax filers who are delinquent and there shall be no penalties for late FBARs (Foreign Bank Account Reports) from those who were unaware of the requirement to file.

This brings a clarity and welcome relief to many American expats who in the past may have been reluctant to file US income taxes because there was no assurance that they would not be further harassed (or assessed exorbitant penalties and fees) because they simply didn’t know – or they didn’t trust the potential outcome if they did attempt to come forward and become compliant with US tax laws…

As an online tax accounting firm which exclusively serves Americans living abroad, we had originally interpreted the three year rule as the best option for its clients and that opinion is now fully endorsed by the IRS itself. The IRS has clarified that, for Americans living overseas who are delinquent in filing their US income taxes, filing three years back taxes will bring the vast majority (those who owed less than $1500 per year) into full compliance with new IRS rules.  This is confirmed on the IRS website itself.Additionally, the IRS goes on to state that for those who need to file FBARs (Foreign Bank Account Reports), filing 6 years is sufficient and that that late filers who were not aware of the requirement will not be penalized for making quiet disclosures in this manner. Read more

Renewing Your United States Passport? BEWARE!

iStock_passportXSmallState Department Turns Over Your Social Security Number & Location To The IRS

Non-compliant United States taxpayers living abroad are getting nervous. If an informant seeking a hefty IRS reward or FATCA doesn’t rat them out first, then the State Department will. This can happen when the non-compliant taxpayer renews his or her US passport.

Traditionally, the functions of the US Treasury and the Department of State were completely separate. However, we are seeing a continued erosion of this distinction as troubling economic times continue. The US passport renewal form mandates that the applicant supply his Social Security Number (SSN) if he has one. 

This is authorized by Internal Revenue Code Section 6039E, enacted in 1986. The legislative history to that section makes clear that over 25 years ago Congress was aware that US persons residing overseas were not filing US tax returns even though required to do so. Congress intended to increase tax compliance of US citizens living outside the United States through its enactment of this tax provision. The IRS has continued to drag its feet in promulgating Treasury Regulations that can offer more guidance. Recently, the IRS has renewed its interest in the topic. In January of 2012, the IRS withdrew old proposed Regulations that had been issued in 1992 and issued new ones dated January 26, 2012. We are still waiting for these Regulations to be finalized over one year later! Read more

Beware, US Citizens Using their Other Passport to Open Foreign Bank Accounts

FATCA requires foreign banks to conduct due diligence to see if there are US persons with foreign bank accounts. The fact you did not give a foreign bank your US passport still does not mean they might not report your foreign bank, financial and other accounts to the US and IRS.

FATCA was enacted to expose those US citizens and green card holders who are trying various tricks such as dual passports, etc. to avoid reporting and paying taxes on their foreign financial accounts.

Under the FATCA law in order to stay in good graces of the IRS, the foreign banks must put into place procedures to weed out account holders who are Americans and US green card holders even though the passport they opened the account with said otherwise. These are the questions you need to ask yourself before you take the HUGH risk of not reporting those accounts on form TDF 90-22.1 (FBAR form).

Are there any US address associates with your account?
Are there any US phone numbers with your account?
Is your birthplace listed as somewhere in the US?
Have you made more than one wire in or out form the US?
Any other item that may make the bank suspicious you are a US person. Read more