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Were you Misled About the Streamlined Filing Procedures?

Were you Misled About the Streamlined Filing Procedures?

Were you Misled About the Streamlined Filing Procedures?

Were you Misled About the Streamlined Filing Procedures?

At Golding & Golding, we are one of the only IRS tax and law firms worldwide that specializes exclusively in offshore voluntary disclosure.

Ever since the introduction of the “stand alone” streamlined procedures back in 2014, many clients have chosen the streamlined path instead of traditional voluntary disclosure.

We have handled more than 1000 streamlined offshore and voluntary discourse cases.

Streamlined Program Cases are Complex

Since the requirements for the streamlined program are generally less onerous than traditional voluntary disclosure, it seems like every attorney with a few years of attorney experience and a handful of streamlined cases under their belt is suddenly an “expert.”

Recent Case of Bad Streamlined Offshore Lawyering

The origin of this post was the result of a recent case referral.

We were referred a case from an individual who first used a small law firm that sent the client to a pre-selected, outside CPA.

The attorney did not attend the CPA meetings and the client inadvertently communicated legal information during a “casual conversation” to the CPA.

The client is now being audited — and is at serious risk.

Common Streamlined Offshore Cases Golding & Golding has been Retained to Fix

Since we are called upon to resolve many of these cases, when the first attorney firm oversells and underperforms — we want to try to help nip this in the bud.

Here are five (5) common mistakes we see happen to good people like you:

Using an Attorney who Hires an Outside Accountant to Prepare your Tax Returns

Inexperienced attorneys will farm your tax returns out to an accountant, under a “Kovel Agreement.”

Kovel is rarely used by experienced counsel in streamlined offshore cases.  In nearly all cases, experienced counsel will be dually-licensed as an Attorney/EA or Attorney/CPA — and the matter will be handled entirely in house by the lead attorney and his or her team. This does not extend the attorney-client privilege to tax return preparation; rather, it serves to protect the attorney-client privilege.

*Kovel Agreements in Streamlined Cases are reserved for the extremely rare case of a multi-jurisdictional, foreign accounting issues involving tens of millions of dollars and complex foreign/U.S. reconciliation issues.

Devaluing the Importance of Advanced Tax & Law Credentials 

Experienced attorneys in Offshore Disclosure will generally have three (3) main qualifications (in addition to many years of experience as a practicing attorney):

  • Board Certified Tax Law Specialist (45 tax law continuing education units every reporting period)
  • Master’s of Tax Law (LL.M.)
  • Dually-licensed as an Attorney/EA or Attorney/CPA (EA’s have a 72-unit continuing tax education requirement each cycle)

These credentials are considered “pre-requisites” for the effective practice of offshore disclosure law.

Using Words such as “Criminal” or “Jail” during the Consultation

This is a form of fear-mongering. Making a streamlined disclosure has no direct criminal aspect to it. Even a traditional Voluntary Disclosure (VDP) is civil in nature. If a person was criminally investigated by the IRS, they would retain a criminal attorney — but this is rare.

To date we have never had (nor do we know of any other experienced offshore disclosure lawyers who have had) a client criminally investigated in the midst of an offshore disclosure.

Handling Your Cases in an Assembly-Line Fashion 

Some attorneys will quote you a specific amount of time to handle your case. This is an absurd way to practice streamlined offshore disclosure law, especially since many of the complex issues are hidden deep within the analysis.

If an attorney quotes you 5-10 hours to complete a streamlined filing submission – it is destined to fail — whether now or in the future if it is audited at a later date.  And, since most cases fall under the 6-year statute, the statute of limitations has not even expired for even the earliest of stand-alone streamlined cases.

*The stand-alone Streamlined Procedures were not introduced until mid-2014.

**If the IRS believes there is civil fraud, there is no statute of limitations.

Embellishing Prior IRS Experience and/or Streamlined and Offshore Disclosure

It is important that you hire a firm that specializes exclusively in this area of law, and has handled several hundred submissions. That way, the attorney teams knows what to look for, and how to best approach your case. When an attorney does not have this experience, they will embellish their streamlined disclosure experience — putting you at risk.

For example, they may claim to have worked at the IRS, only to find that they did not work at the IRS as an attorney. And, if they did work at the IRS as an attorney, it was not in the offshore disclosure department

You can learn more about the different roles IRS personnel play in your case.

Stay Alert!

Understand that there is a lot of bad information out there. By making a streamline submission you are certifying information under penalty of perjury to the IRS.

It is not something to be taken lightly, and not something to trust to an inexperienced attorney.

How to Hire Experienced Streamlined Counsel?

How to Hire Experienced Streamlined Counsel?

How to Hire Experienced Streamlined Counsel?

Generally, experienced attorneys in this field will have the following credentials/experience:

  • Board Certified Tax Law Specialist credential
  • Master’s of Tax Law (LL.M.)
  • Dually Licensed as an EA (Enrolled Agent) or CPA
  • 20-years experience as a practicing attorney
  • Extensive litigation, high-stakes audit and trial experience

Interested in Learning More about Golding & Golding?

No matter where in the world you reside, our international tax team can get you IRS offshore compliant. 

Golding & Golding specializes in Streamlined Filing Procedures. Contact our firm today for assistance with getting compliant.

IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Specialist

IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Specialist

Golding & Golding: Our international tax lawyers practice exclusively in the area of IRS Offshore & Voluntary Disclosure. We represent clients in 70+ different countries. Managing Partner Sean M. Golding is a Board-Certified Tax Law Specialist Attorney (a designation earned by < 1% of attorneys nationwide.). He leads a full-service offshore disclosure & tax law firm. Sean and his team have represented thousands of clients nationwide & worldwide in all aspects of IRS offshore & voluntary disclosure and compliance during his 20-year career as an Attorney.

Sean holds a Master's in Tax Law from one of the top Tax LL.M. programs in the country at the University of Denver. He has also earned the prestigious IRS Enrolled Agent credential. Mr. Golding's articles have been referenced in such publications as the Washington Post, Forbes, Nolo, and various Law Journals nationwide.
IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Specialist