Attorney Fees for OVDP Representation (2018) – Ask The Right Questions
Attorney Fees for OVDP Representation: When it comes to making a decision about hiring representation in IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure matters, it is important to understand your different options.
OVDP is still a very common option, and the only option for an individual who was willful. If an Attorney tells you OVDP is not common, it is because they have no experience in OVDP, do not understand the nature of OVDP, and are scared to represent you in OVDP, in case you want to opt-out.
It means they take everyone “Streamlined,” because they do not know any better — putting your money and freedom at risk!
Even if a person believes they are non-willful, OVDP can be a preferred option for people who:
- Want to avoid a future IRS audit on international tax related issues
- Are non-compliant in multiple countries and foreign jurisdictions
- May claim the Mark-To-Market Election (PFIC MTM)
- Make an FAQ 55 Argument
- Not Chance the IRS disagreeing with their Certification of Non-Willfulness; and/or
You May be Disqualified From Going Streamlined
Streamlined may be a great option for some, but not for all.
If you were willful, you do not qualify for the Streamlined Program. Nevertheless, there are attorneys who still want to make a quick buck off you. They think everyone should always go streamlined, because…they do not have the experience to know any better. They do not realize that if a person was willful, even for a short-period of time, they absolutely cannot go Streamlined.
These attorneys are selfish. They have no regard for your safety and/or your compliance, and are just out to make a quick buck. Instead of taking you OVDP (and opting-out) they risk your freedom by selling you into the Streamlined Program.
Our Clients Have Asked Us, to Warn You!
Since we receive about 10 to 15% of our business from clients who first went to another less expensive and less qualified OVDP lawyer first, that baited them with artificially low fees — and other disclosure nonsense — we have found that there are five main issues to consider when determining how to select your OVDP Tax Lawyer. Our clients have told us over and over again, that they wish they had known these issues prior to retaining their initial attorney.
The Attorney Has No Advanced Degrees or Certifications
International tax law, and especially offshore voluntary disclosure is very complex. There are many components to an offshore disclosure, including the tax aspect, the accounting aspect, the legal aspect, and the potential audit or litigation aspect.
If an attorney is an experienced attorney practicing in this field, it is almost a prerequisite to have both an advanced degree such as an LL.M and either a CPA designation or EA designation.
It takes this type of background to be able to properly vet out your case. If they do not have this experience, then who is properly evaluating your case? Sure, they may tell you your case seems easy — but that is because they do not know any better. It’s just not worth the risk.
The Attorney Does Not Have Enough Experience
Do you really want your OVDP Attorney trying to learn OVDP Law…on your dime?
So here’s the question: Do you want to eat at a restaurant, with no patrons…so that the Kitchen Staff can focus exclusively on making your meal? Hmmm, if my family and I went to a restaurant with no other customers sitting in it, we would be a bit concerned about the quality of the food. If it was good, wouldn’t everyone want to eat there?
It takes more than handling a few routine Streamlined Disclosure cases to truly understand the complexities and intricacies of IRS Offshore Disclosure.
Many times these Attorneys will either throw a willful person into streamlined (to make a quick buck) or take a completely non-willful person — who does not otherwise need OVDP to take a tax position or PFIC MTM Election — and scare them into OVDP, by telling them if they do not enter OVDP, they will end up in prison.
They Handle Many Different Areas of Tax Law
Do you go to a general doctor for a specific sports injury to your knee? Of course not, you go to a Sports Doctor, and better yet, a Sports Knee Doctor to fix your knee.
Offshore Disclosure is a speciality area of law. It is one of the few areas of tax law that combines Accounting, Tax, Legal and Audit Strategy defense preparation, from the moment a client is retained. The Attorney must have all the requisite experience, along with the laser-focus to know the pitfalls, landmines, and other common concerns, that a part-time OVDP Lawyer would not be able to spot.
These general firms essentially throw everything into the marketplace to see what sticks. They charge very small amounts of money, because they do very little work on your case — and put you in harm’s way.
The Attorney Fees are Artificially Deflated
In order to properly complete an OVDP or Streamlined Application, it takes time. And time, cost money. Yes, you can go to a junior attorney and pay a significantly reduced fee, or a very senior attorney with no real interest in your case — but you typically get what you pay for.
In these types of situations, the client normally comes to us after having paid an artificially low fee to an inexperienced attorney, and realizes the following:
- The attorney picked the cheapest CPA they could find to handle the tax returns;
- The CPA did not seem to understand the tax laws of the particular country; and
- The Attorney has “no idea” about how the tax returns were prepared.
The Attorney Used to Work for the IRS…
This is another one of those sales pitches that you have to be cautious of. I have a buddy that used to work for a dentist while he was in law school…but that doesn’t mean he’s qualified to perform a root canal.
In other words, did the individual work as an attorney for the IRS, and if did they, did they work as an attorney in the offshore disclosure department?
While there are pros and cons to hiring an attorney who has worked for the IRS (we have never worked for the IRS, and never will), it is important to understand what their role was at the IRS.
The Attorney Has No Litigation Experience
While we are not fans of litigating unless necessary, our Attorneys have litigated highly complex cases. We have successfully avoided criminal prosecution for clients in Tax, Business and Corporate matters. Mr. Golding has represented clients facing many years behind bars, and has never had a client convicted of a single crime, and on many occasions facilitated all charges being dropped. We have also handled many complex Audits, including Eggshell audits and Reverse Eggshell Audits, without a single client being referred to prosecution.
This experience helps up to best represent our clients. Unfortunately, without this type of experience, many newer attorneys or attorneys without any litigation experience are lost (along with you) when the IRS decides to push back.
If I was Only Willful for a Few Years, Do I Need OVDP?
The IRS is clear: If you were willful at all, then you cannot qualify for the IRS Streamlined Program. There are no exceptions for people who were only willful for a year or two, and no exceptions for people who only failed to report “small” amounts of income. We find it abhorrent that there are other attorneys putting potential clients in serious financial risk, as well as harm’s way for a potential IRS Criminal Investigation, by pushing them into Streamlined when they know the client was willful.
On multiple occasions, we have had clients come to us after retaining one of these dreadful firms, who were now terrified because they realized that they paid an inexperienced Offshore Disclosure Attorney a “small fee” to go streamlined, when they admitted to the Attorney they were willful. Click Here for a Case Study Example of what can occur when you go Streamlined when you were willful.
Once you submit to the Streamlined Program, you can not thereafter submit to OVDP.
If a person is willful, they do not qualify for Streamlined or Reasonable Cause. It doesn’t matter whether it was 1-year, 5-years or 10-years worth of non-compliance.
**While the extent of the willfulness penalties might be mitigated through an OVDP Opt-Out, you should never submit a reasonable cause letter or streamlined submission if you were willful. This is especially true, since the IRS has begun auditing Streamlined Submissions.
Tip: The reason these firms push you into Streamlined when they know you were willful is to make a quick buck from you. Obviously a person would prefer to go Streamlined and pay a reduced penalty, and these Attorneys prey upon that feeling — at a time when you may be vulnerable. They need your business and need your money, and will throw ethics out the window to get it. Remember, you only get one bite at the Apple.
It is not their money or their freedom on the line – it is yours, so be careful…
OVDP Attorney Fees – How Much?
If you receive an OVDP Fee Quote from a CPA or Attorney that seems too Low…you should be careful.
That is not to say you should resign yourself to mortgaging your house for representation, but there are many CPAs and Attorneys who see a frightened human being as little more than a “Mark” or “Target.”
Golding & Golding, A PLC
At Golding & Golding, we have successfully handled numerous OVDP (Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program) and IRS Streamlined Program applications for individuals and businesses around the globe with outstanding unreported foreign accounts ranging from $50,000.00 to nearly $40,000,000.00 in a single disclosure.
We Take OVDP Representation Very Seriously
We are passionate about representing individuals in offshore voluntary disclosure matters, and feel horrible when a client calls us after having hired an inexperienced Attorney or CPA who either did a sloppy job, charged them more money than they agreed upon, and/or is overall not providing the level of representation a person deserves.
We Can Help You.