Undisclosed Offshore Accounts are being hunted down with FBAR (Foreign Bank Account Reporting) information requests of U.S. Taxpayers suspected of hiding assets in the wake of the UBS AG fallout and IRS Offshore Settlement Initiative.
What is in store for undisclosed account holders?
In 2009, the IRS and U.S. Department of Justice commenced a highly publicized investigation into Swiss bank UBS AG and U.S. account holders who essentially hid their assets from the U.S. Government. However, the investigation did not conclude with UBS. To entice taxpayers to come clean and disclose their foreign assets in exchange for lesser penalties, the IRS instituted the Offshore Settlement Initiative Voluntary Disclosure Program (the Initiative). Although the deadline to participate in the Offshore Settlement Initiative is long gone, it is clear that offshore tax evasion will continue to be a top IRS enforcement priority. Now, what can U.S. taxpayers with undisclosed offshore accounts who did not make the October 15, 2009 Offshore Settlement Initiative deadline expect coming up?
The IRS will be ramping up their Information Document Requests or IDRs targeting offshore bank accounts.Taxpayers may receive a Form 6564, Information Document Request, to obtain necessary books, papers, and other information relevant to the IRS examiner inquiry into the truthfulness of a tax return. The Information Document Request is a proper and structured process for the IRS to request and get information from taxpayers, including information regarding offshore bank accounts. Although not as formal as a subpoena, an IDR carries with it consequences for failure to comply and can lead to further inquiry and possible sanction.
The IRS will focus Information Document Requests on U.S. taxpayers with offshore assets and accounts that failed to disclose these interests to the U.S. government on their Form 1040, U.S. Individual Tax Returns, and file a corresponding Form TD F 90-22.1, Foreign Bank Account Reporting FBAR. If IRS agents discover that a taxpayer has not reported an interest in an offshore account or income accruing on such accounts during the course of an audit, the IRS may impose steep penalties including the greater of $100,000 or 50% of the offshore account balance for willful failure to file an FBAR for each account. These penalties, compounded with interest and fraud penalties, can essentially wipe out the taxpayers foreign assets. Additionally, taxpayers could be subject to criminal prosecution and jail time for tax evasion.
The issues surrounding these IDRs are extremely delicate and should be approached with considerable caution. Taxpayers who have been sent an Information Document Request by the IRS are best served by getting in touch with a tax attorney who is experienced at resolving disputes with the IRS quickly. An attorney can direct the taxpayer how best to answer an Information Document Request and will be able to talk with his attorney the most appropriate course of action. Otherwise the Internal Revenue Service can seek formidable fines and possible criminal prosecution against those U.S. Taxpayers believed to be hiding assets in undisclosed offshore accounts.
Pastors can have tax problems just like everyone else. A high moral character and desire to comply with the tax code embodied by the Internal Revenue Service is no guarantee that you wont run afoul of the IRS, though. Its entirely possible to knowingly violate tax laws and be considered a criminal. There is also a distinct possibility of unwittingly violating tax codes and ending up being considered a criminal as well.
The types of problems pastors typically experience with the IRS are of the second variety. Without intending to violate the law, pastors occasionally find themselves in trouble.
Pastors are under a special set of IRS regulations that allow for specified deductions. The tax code changes regularly, and the amount and types of deductions allowed one year can be different the following year. Pastors without experience in personally handling their own tax filing responsibilities should consult professional tax accountants to make sure theyre following the rules.
Occasionally pastors fall into the trap of avoiding taxes due to a process commonly known to the public as shortcutting. A pastor with a low income qualifies for all sorts of tax privileges, but detailed and correct tax filing must be made in order to take advantage of them. Its tempting to shortcut the process by skipping the filing requirements if the benefits seemingly arent worth the headaches to receive them. Failing to file a return or otherwise violating the filing requirements results in a black eye for clergymen and possible penalties as well.
Another common IRS problem experienced by pastors is the dreaded audit. Those giving a substantial amount of their income to qualified charities or other recipients are often red flagged by the IRS in a legitimate attempt to discover tax dodgers trying to reduce taxable income through giving. Pastors that are notified of an audit would do well to have a professional tax accountant go into the audit with them. Even pastors arent immune to IRS problems. Obtaining the services of tax professionals may be expensive, but its worth the cost if it helps avoid run-ins with the Internal Revenue Service.
Principally, a tax levy occurs when the IRS seizes your property as settlement for the debt that you owe. The law states that the IRS is not required to take action in a court in order to be approved for their decision. Likewise, the IRS can take any possessions as settlement for your debt. This means that property, such as a home, car, or anything of actual worth can be used as a settlement for your debt.
The IRS can also sell your property in order to acquire money as settlement for your debt. An additional option is that the IRS can subtract money from your earnings and wages to get their payment. Whether you are getting money from a loan or have taken out life insurance, the IRS can direct these elements and use them as a technique to get back the money that you owe for taxes.
It should be noted that this does not mean that the IRS is seeking people that can levy for access to resources. Many levies only occur when the individual has gone out of their way to get around making necessary payments or other components that have developed over time. For instance, the IRS will provide you with a form that explains that you need to make a payment towards your taxes. If you overlook this contact, they will get in touch with you again in the future. If you continue to pay no attention to them or refuse to pay the tax, you will receive a notice about their plan to levy and a hearing will happen in the next 30 days. Throughout this time, if you do not take action, it is guaranteed that you will be levied.
In nearly all cases, the IRS will wish to work with you instead of getting a hold of you about the tax levy. Individuals who are avoiding making their payments or have refused to pay the IRS have a large chance of experiencing a levy. There are other situations where you may get a levy letter but no action is actually taken against you. In example, if you are given a notice but you have paid your necessary tax payments, it’s less probable that you are going to be given a levy. Similarly, if there has been an error in determining that a levy is necessary, it might also not happen.
While the American citizens are loaded with IRS tax debt and going through a recession, the IRS may appear as the enemy. With the economy down, still the IRS is knocking door to door to collect the money that is owed to them. The IRS is not the enemy because they ask a person to pay their back taxes. So there are two ways to view this issue. With one side claiming the money and the other side are motivated to collect IRS tax debt they are owed.
The IRS clearly states that, “The intention of the IRS is to collect the proper amount of tax revenue as inexpensive as possible to the public and in a manner that warrants the highest level of confidence in our integrity, efficiency and fairness”. So the organization is not as bad as they appear. To prove it, they have introduced a offer in compromise program as a tax settlement option for the people who consider themselves unable of paying off their back taxes in full.
If one is able to qualify for this option, he will be allowed to make an offer to Uncle Sam, which one will either pay a lump sum or come to a payment agreement for less than the full balance that is previously owed. If the offer is approved one will have to follow some firm protocols. It must be agreed to filing and paying taxes on time for the next 5 years; otherwise, of course, there will always be the chance that IRS will terminate the agreement.
To get the most out of the offer, it is very important to exercise the assistance of a professional tax relief attorney. One can leave IRS tax problem at their front door and they will handle tax settlement. If one wants to try handling it alone, keep in mind that it will be a huge strain. Having the required paper work is not going to be enough. Some tricky calculations have to be made to finalize the amount for the tax settlement. Even if the calculation is known, there are some procedures that should have skilled handling. First of all, making an offer does not mean the offer will be accepted, because the Government has been demonstrating real conservative attitude to accept any offer; there is only a sixteen percent approval rate. One could be waiting months on the IRS’ decision. Uncle Sam can even take up to two years to make a decision on the offer. So being persistent in the right areas is a must to keep the process running strong.
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