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Last Chance For Taxpayers: Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program Will End September 28, 2018

On March 13, 2018, the Internal Revenue Service (the "Service") announced its plan to close its 2014 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) effective Sept. 28, 2018. The Service indicated that its announcement was intended to provide notice to taxpayers early enough to allow them to take advantage of the program before the closing date. 

The current OVDP began in 2014 and is a modified version of prior programs offered in 2012, 2011, and 2009. These programs have generally allowed United States taxpayers to voluntarily resolve past non-compliance related to foreign financial assets, including non-compliance related to foreign information returns.

Since the first OVDP in 2009, more than 56,000 taxpayers have used one of the programs. Those taxpayers remitted approximately $11.1 billion in unpaid taxes, interest and penalties.

Criminal Indictments: Numerous And Likely To Continue

While the number of disclosures under the OVDP has decreased in recent years, the Service has experienced advances in third-party reporting and both civil and criminal actions have increased awareness of U.S. taxpayers regarding offshore tax and reporting obligations.

Since the OVDP began in 2009, the Service's Criminal Investigation Division has indicted more than 1,500 taxpayers related to international activities, including 671 taxpayer indictments for international criminal tax violations.

The Service's announcement reaffirms its commitment to offshore enforcement and states: “[t]he IRS remains actively engaged in ferreting out the identities of those with undisclosed foreign accounts with the use of information resources and increased data analytics . . . Stopping offshore tax noncompliance remains a top priority of the IRS.”

Taxpayer Options Remain

The current OVDP remains an option until September 28, 2018. This allows sufficient time for taxpayers to take quick action if the OVDP is a viable option. In addition, the Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures, which constitute a separate program for taxpayers with specific fact-situations related to international non-compliance matters, reportedly will remain in effect. There are strict and specific requirements for both the soon-to-close OVDP, and the Streamlined Program. Taxpayers with unreported foreign financial accounts and similar issues now face a very real deadline that may significantly limit their future options.

© 2020 Varnum LLPNational Law Review, Volume VIII, Number 74


About this Author

Eric M. Nemeth, Tax Planning Attorney, Varnum, Financial Controversy Lawyer

Eric is a partner and leads the tax team. He concentrates on tax and financial controversy (IRS and various States) from examinations appellate conferences, criminal investigations, witness representation and civil and criminal tax litigation. He works with government regulatory and general tax matters. He has served as Senior Trial Attorney for the District Counsel of the Internal Revenue Service and as Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Department of Justice. He is a frequent speaker on tax enforcement and has served as an expert witness and binding arbitrator....

Wayne D. Roberts, Corporate tax attorney, Varnum

Wayne is a member of Varnum’s Tax Team. His practice includes all aspects of federal and state tax planning and tax litigation. He represents both closely-held and Fortune 100 companies in tax disputes with the IRS, the Michigan Department of Treasury, and revenue departments in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Tennessee, New York, California and numerous other state and local taxing jurisdictions.