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About IRS Amnesty

Make Certain You Understand How IRS Amnesty Works

Before you apply to participate in an IRS amnesty program you need to make certain that you understand how these programs work and the specific terms and conditions of participation. While taxpayers participating in the IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) may be able to avoid the most severe civil and criminal penalties, there are many caveats associated with IRS amnesty programs. Taxpayers with undisclosed offshore accounts who are considering applying to the OVDP should carefully discuss their case with experienced tax counsel. A seasoned tax attorney can thoroughly evaluate your situation to determine whether an IRS amnesty program represents the best course of action to bring your foreign or offshore accounts into compliance with U.S. laws and regulations.

The tax attorneys at Thorn Law Group are experienced in advising and counseling clients through all phases of IRS tax amnesty programs. We are former Internal Revenue Service lawyers who have helped hundreds of clients throughout the U.S. and around the world come into legal compliance by participating in the IRS offshore voluntary disclosure program. Our lawyers draw on their in-depth understanding of foreign banking operations to thoroughly review our clients’ financial records and banking statements. We understand how voluntary disclosure programs operate and work independently with our clients to determine whether the OVDP, or another option, offers the best form of tax relief.

A Skilled Tax Attorney Can Explain Amnesty Program Requirements

When you are considering making a voluntary disclosure of an undeclared offshore account, you should seek the advice of a skilled tax law attorney. Voluntary disclosure is a complex process and applicants must meet the program’s strict eligibility rules and requirements. Moreover, after a taxpayer is accepted into an amnesty program, the taxpayer must fully cooperate with the IRS and comply with all of the program’s terms and conditions.

If you have an undisclosed offshore account you need to be aware that once the IRS opens an investigation of a taxpayer, the taxpayer is no longer eligible to participate in the OVDP. This means if you delay in reporting your past undisclosed offshore accounts, you run the risk of an intrusive government investigation which can result in large financial penalties and potential criminal prosecution. Additionally, should it become public that the IRS or the Department of Justice has launched an investigation of the bank where your undisclosed foreign accounts are held, the offshore penalty will increase from 27.5 percent to 50 percent.  

Streamlined Program vs. Full 2014 OVDP Participation

In June 2014, the IRS announced important revisions to the OVDP. One key change involved expanding the eligibility criteria for participation in the streamlined filing compliance process. The streamlined program serves as an alternative to the full OVDP for certain qualified taxpayers seeking to voluntarily come into compliance with their offshore account reporting requirements. While the streamlined program offers a simplified filing process and a lower penalty than the full OVDP, our firm cautions that this program may not be the best option for all taxpayers. In order to participate in the streamlined process, a taxpayer must certify under penalty of perjury that the failure to report an offshore account or asset was not willful in nature. While you may believe that your actions were unintentional and “non-willful,” the IRS may take a different view and reject your participation in the streamlined program. Should this occur, you can be subject to the harshest fines and penalties, including possible criminal prosecution.

While the streamlined program may appear to be an attractive alternative to full OVDP participation, you should speak with an experienced IRS voluntary disclosure attorney before taking any action. The legal team at Thorn Law Group will carefully assess your situation in order to determine whether the full OVDP or the streamlined program is appropriate for you. Consultations with our tax law team are always confidential. Kevin E. Thorn, Managing Partner of Thorn Law Group, can be reached through our online contact form or at the following numbers:

Washington D.C. Office:
(202) 349-4033

New Jersey Office: 
(201) 842-7696

Boston Office:
(617) 692-2989


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