The IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program – 4 Things You Need to Know About It

It has a simple stated goal – to require U.S. taxpayers to disclose information about all of the foreign money they have sitting in foreign accounts. However, the IRS offshore voluntary disclosure program has turned out to be a little more complicated than that.

If you have more than $10,000 stored in banks outside the U.S., there are 4 things you need to know about this offshore voluntary disclosure program – before it’s too late:

1. You can wind up behind bars

In this situation, the word “voluntary” is kind of a misnomer. Either you’re going to tell the IRS all about your offshore account activity, or else they’re going to find out about it on their own. And, if it’s the latter, you could be in some serious hot water. A doctor in New Jersey was sentenced to 8 months in jail for skirting the IRS offshore voluntary disclosure rules.

2. You might have to pay huge penalties

Even if you don’t wind up in jail, you could still have a big punishment to worry about, if you violate the rules of the IRS offshore voluntary disclosure program – in the form of big fines. The IRS cannot charge more than $500,000 in financial penalties for violators, but that’s still a huge chunk of change! And, even if you’re fined the maximum amount, it doesn’t prevent you from facing other penalties – like civil judgments, which have no cap on them.

3. The Department of Justice is involved

When you’re dealing with the IRS offshore voluntary disclosure program, you’re not just dealing with the IRS. The Justice Department also plays a role. In fact, the Justice Department has been going after Swiss banks and pressuring them to provide information about their U.S. account holders. So, if you’re counting on your Swiss bank to keep your information confidential, think again!

4. You can’t handle issues on your own

An IRS tax lawyer can help you in two ways – before you get into trouble or after you’re already facing some issues. If you have questions about the IRS offshore voluntary disclosure program, a qualified tax lawyer can answer them, so that you’re in full compliance with all of the rules and regulations.

If you think you might have violated some of the rules already, you need to contact an IRS tax lawyer immediately. Trying to work things out on your own is not a good idea. Instead, a good lawyer can help you clean up the mess and, hopefully, help you avoid some of the hefty fines and jail sentences.

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