IRS Penalties for Hiding Income Offshore
You may remember Mitt Romney’s refusal to make his complete tax returns public due to his offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands in January. Romney at least reported the income to the IRS, if not the American public. The OC Register reported this week that Lake Forest resident Louis Joseph Vadino is being investigated by the IRS for evading 12 years of taxes totaling nearly $4 million. He did this mainly by opening foreign bank accounts and creating companies outside of the U.S. to hold property titles, some of them hidden under the relatives’ names. He is scheduled to go to trial at the end of July.
The IRS has specially trained examiners and international partners that make sure U.S. citizens and residents accurately report income and pay the appropriate taxes on foreign entities. Failure to report foreign sources of income may be a criminal act. Worldwide income and foreign bank or investment accounts are required to be reported on your U.S. tax return. Filing rules for tax returns on income, estates, and gifts are generally identical whether you are living in the U.S. or abroad.
If you do attempt to evade taxes on income from foreign sources, you can be subject to additional taxes, IRS penalties, interest, fines, imprisonment, or deportation if you have a green card.
The Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative (OVDI) of 2012, an IRS initiative that was extended indefinitely after being in effect from 2009–2011, allows taxpayers who have hidden offshore accounts to become compliant and current with their taxes without criminal liability. While they can face a 27.5% IRS penalty, taxpayers in limited circumstances may qualify for a penalty of 5%. Offshore accounts or assets that did not surpass $75,000 in any calendar year will have a penalty of 12.5%. Taxpayers may choose to be examined by the IRS if they feel the penalties are disproportionate to their income. Unreported foreign gifts or bequests of $100,000 or more in one year can be penalized from 25%–35%, even if no taxes are due. Under the OVDI process, penalties are waived for this situation.
While the tax penalties under OVDI may seem high, the benefits of voluntarily reporting this income far outweigh the costs. The IRS tax penalties could be much higher if the offshore income is discovered by examiners, not to mention the criminal prosecution that can lead to time in jail.
If you need help with becoming compliant with the IRS, our experienced tax settlement professionals can help. We can also help you file your taxes. Please visit professionaltaxresolution.com for more information on our tax resolution services. You may also call us at (877) 889-6527 or email email@example.com to receive a free, no obligation consultation.