The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) currently offers non-compliant US taxpayers several different relief programs to report foreign assets and/or income to become compliant with US rules related to the disclosure of offshore income. See here for a link to the different options. The two main programs are the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) and the Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures (SFCP). The IRS launched the OVDP in 2012 to enable a taxpayer with undisclosed foreign income or assets to settle most potential penalties he may be liable for through a lump sum payment of 27.5 percent of the highest aggregate value of the taxpayer’s undisclosed foreign assets for the voluntary disclosure period, which is the previous eight years. The OVDP replaced prior offshore voluntary disclosure programs and initiatives from 2009 and 2011. OVDP has a number of filing and payment requirements, including paying eight years’ worth of accuracy-based penalties. The IRS updated and revised the OVDP in 2014.
More than 100,000 Taxpayers Become Compliant with Reporting and Tax Requirements, Paying more than $10.3 billion in Taxes, Interest and Penalties
On October 21, 2016, the Internal Revenue Service announced the most current data on the success of its Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) and Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures (SFCP) programs. For our prior coverage on the OVDP and SFCP programs please see Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Update and Release of “Panama Papers” May Encourage New Wave of OVDP Submissions.
OVDP program has existed in several iterations off and on since 2009, and the SFCP was made available to non-willful taxpayers in 2014. The programs encourage taxpayers with undisclosed income from foreign financial accounts and assets to become compliant and current with their tax returns and information reporting obligations. The program allows taxpayers to voluntarily disclose foreign financial accounts and assets and pay lower penalties now, rather than risk detection and face more severe penalties and possible criminal prosecution later.
The programs have been successful by all accounts. As of October 21, 2016, 55,800 taxpayers have made disclosures under the OVDP program and have paid more than $9.9 billion in taxes, interest and penalties since 2009. Another 48,000 taxpayers have made disclosures under the SFCP program correcting non-willful omissions and have paid $450 million in taxes, interest and penalties.
Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Update
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) currently offers non-compliant US taxpayers several different relief programs in which to report foreign assets and/or income and become compliant with US rules related to the disclosure of foreign assets. One option is the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP). Another is the Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures (SFCP). SFCP is further bifurcated into two sub-programs—one for US residents (Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures or “SDOP”) and one for non-US residents (Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures or “SFOP”). Each program has its own set of tailored procedures and eligibility requirements.
The critical differences between OVDP and SFCP are: (1) the non-willfulness requirement; (2) the look-back period; and (3) the amounts of penalties the US taxpayer must pay. Specifically, OVDP does not require the US taxpayer to certify that his or her failure to disclose foreign assets was non-willful. On the other hand, SFCP requires the US taxpayer to certify that his or her failure to disclose foreign assets was non-willful and to also include a narrative explaining such non-willful conduct. The incentive to demonstrate non-willfulness can be significant. In general, US taxpayers who enroll in OVDP must pay a 27.5 percent penalty (and in some cases a 50 percent penalty) of the highest aggregate value of undisclosed foreign assets for the OVDP disclosure period (eight years). However, US taxpayers who enter SDOP must only pay a five percent penalty of undisclosed foreign assets during the disclosure period (three years), and US taxpayers who enter SFOP pay no penalty. (more…)
IRS Requires “Whole Story” from Taxpayers Seeking to Qualify under Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently modified the non-willfulness certification form that individual taxpayers must submit to enroll in the streamlined filing compliance procedures (SFCP). One requirement under the SFCP is that that the taxpayer certify that his or her failure to disclose foreign assets was not due to willful conduct. Before the recent change, the IRS only provided minimal direction, which caused it to receive non-willfulness narratives that did not provide adequate information. This resulted in certifications that were either questioned or rejected.
On February 16, 2016, the IRS revised the certification forms to include more robust direction and instructed the taxpayer to draft his or her non-willfulness narrative to include the whole story including favorable and unfavorable facts. A more detailed analysis of the recent changes can be found here.