Lawyer Fees for (New) IRS Voluntary Disclosure Representation 2019 (Golding & Golding)

Lawyer Fees for (New) IRS Voluntary Disclosure Representation 2019 (Golding & Golding)

Lawyer Fees for (New) IRS Voluntary Disclosure Representation 2019

When it comes to making a decision about hiring representation in IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure matters, it is important to understand your different options.

Golding & Golding (Board Certified Tax Specialist) explains why it is crucial your representation is Dually-Licensed, with advanced Credentials & Experience.

Lawyer Fees for (New) IRS Voluntary Disclosure Representation 2019

How to decide which OVDP or Streamlined Attorney to retain:

OVDP & Board Certified Tax Law Specialists

The Board-Certified Tax Law Specialists that you spoke with give you real advice, based on many years of experience.

These attorneys will usually have advanced degrees, such as a Master’s in Tax (LL.M.) and dual status as an Enrolled Agent or CPA.

They explain the process, and while their fees may be higher compared to less-experienced counsel, some firms (such as Golding & Golding) offer a flat-fee, full-service package (tax, legal and audit defense) wrapped into one bundle.

Accountants and CPAs

The Accountant you have been using for the past few years tells you not to worry about it, but your Spidey Sense is telling you to check out what other professionals think.

You reach out other CPAs, EAs or Accountants, and they all tell you to speak with a Specialist.

Lesser Experienced Attorneys & More “General Practice” Firms

You contact a few newer private practice tax lawyers since their consultation fees are very small, or even free.  They spend some of the time quoting information they found on our website (and other experienced law firm websites), and the rest of the time, they:

  • Downplay the advanced credentials and certifications they don’t have
  • Explain why you don’t need a specialist or a Dually-Licensed Attorney (Attorney/EA or Attorney/CPA)
  • Mischaracterize what a Kovel Letter is, it’s inherent limitations, and what happens if the court rejects Kovel.

We know, because sooner or later, those cases usually end up on our door-step.  Examples of recent cases we had to takeover from less experienced Attorneys can be found by Clicking Here (Case 1) and Clicking Here (Case 2)

Common Questions we Receive About Attorney’s Fees

Here some more of the common questions we receive:

Why Use a Dually-Licensed Attorney Specialist & Enrolled Agent?

Because the most effective representation you can have in IRS Offshore Disclosure matters is with a dually-licensed International Tax Attorney and Enrolled Agent team that handles the entire disclosure in-house, from beginning-to-end.

Who Handles the Tax Portion of  an Offshore Disclosure?

If you are using an experienced Attorney, the firm will specialize exclusively in this area of law. It will be the Attorney and his or her internal team that handles the entire submission.

Experienced Offshore Disclosure Attorneys do not risk client-confidentiality with a Kovel Letter, since the Kovel Letter can be rejected.

Who Handles the Legal Portion of the Disclosure?

You should always utilize an attorney, in order to protect the Attorney-Client Privilege.

Benefits of Using a Dually Licensed Attorney and Enrolled Agent

Board Certified Tax Law Specialists comprise less than 1% of attorneys nationwide.

An Enrolled Agent is highest certification a Tax Counselor can achieve.

Together, it is a highly-effective combination for IRS Offshore Disclosure submissions – and protects your attorney-client privilege.

How do Combined Legal and Tax Fees Benefit the Client?

When you use a dually-licensed Tax Attorney/Enrolled Agent or Tax attorney/CPA — you are getting the best of both worlds in IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure.

Why?

Because the Professional uses both tax and legal skills to evaluate the case — and quote you a flat fee to handle your project.

It does not mean you are paying legal fees for accounting work, or vice versa. It just means the Tax Attorney/Enrolled Agent or Tax attorney/CPA is experienced enough to quote you a flat-fee that encompasses all the work involved in cost-effectively representing you.

A win-win.

Estimating the Length of Time Spent on the Streamlined Disclosure

A few copycat firms (with less experienced Attorneys) have popped-up over the past few years, trying to turn Streamlined Disclosure submissions into an assembly-line procedure as part of their general tax practice.

They do not handle the tax portion of your submission, and that puts your confidentiality severely at risk.

These firms will quote you estimated amounts of time they spend on cases, but all they are really doing is telling you the maximum amount of time they will spend on your case, no matter how much time it would actually take for the case to be handled properly (because that is all the time they can afford to spend on it) — whether they charge you flat-fee or hourly. 

To them, Offshore Disclosure is just another area of tax law they handle, such as general audits, collections, OIC and other non-disclosure matters.

At Golding & Golding, each case, and each client is unique — and each case is different; it is our passion.

A general “one-size fits all” time-estimate means nothing. It is impossible to estimate the amount of time it will take to prepare the submission.

Your dually-Licensed Tax Attorney/EA or Attorney/CPA should evaluate the case, propose a flat-fee amount for Tax and Legal (based on many years’ experience handling these cases) — and spend as much time as necessary to make sure the submission is done correctly. 

Most of the complicated issues are hidden deep in the analysis, and spending 5-10 hours on your submission will not reveal many of the issues (until after you submitted, and it is already too late.)

Learn more about these Streamlined Disclosure Lawyer Scams.

Learn about some of our many case accomplishments.

What is a Kovel Letter?

It is used primarily by non-tax attorneys who are not tax professionals.  They are severely limited in scope, and can be rejected by the courts. In that case, any legal discussions with your CPA or accountant are not protected, and not confidential.

Even with a Kovel, you only receive  a very-limited privilege. If you speak with the CPA about your Offshore Disclosure case outside of the very specific issue, those communications are not covered — if Kovel was even to attach.

By retaining a Dually Licensed Attorney and Enrolled Agent, you avoid discussing non-legal issues with a non-attorney (and unnecessarily putting your attorney-client privilege at risk).

People Can be Whomever They Want to be Online

And that is the problem.

In recent years, we have had many clients come to us after being horribly represented by inexperienced tax counsel. While we are sure it is a problem in many fields, it seems to run rampant in IRS offshore voluntary disclosure.

These Attorneys ‘manipulate’ their past legal experiences, such as working for the IRS —  to make themselves sound more experienced than they are. You later find that they never worked as an attorney for the IRS, or even in the offshore disclosure department.  

The IRS has nearly 100,000 employees, and just being one of them does not make an attorney qualified to be an effective and experienced offshore voluntary disclosure tax attorney specialist.

IRS Offshore Disclosure is complex enough for experienced practitioners who focus exclusively in the area of law, never mind relative newcomers who are trying to handle more than just offshore voluntary disclosure as part of their everyday tax practice.

We know, because those cases usually end up on our door-step.  Examples of recent cases we had to takeover from less experienced Attorneys can be found by Clicking Here (Case 1) and Clicking Here (Case 2).

Understanding How Offshore Disclosure Fees Work

Each case is different, and the fees will vary based on each case. Any firm that offers a one-size fits all should be avoided.

I mean, do you and your toddler wear the same-sized shirt?

Some cases are more complex, and other are less complex. Some involve detailed analyses involving PFIC and CFC/GILTI — and others are less complex (but still difficult).

3 Main Options for Offshore Disclosure Lawyers

It’s all about perspective.

Hiring a Board Certified Tax Law Specialist Team that Specializes in Offshore Disclosure

Offshore Disclosures are never easy, BUT they should ALWAYS be Flat-Fee. There are many tax and legal facets to the disclosure, and many pitfalls to be aware of.

As far as fees go, our fees range in the middle (in comparison to other highly experienced firms with advanced degrees), and we are known for exceptional client-servicing, with clients in over 70-countries.

At Golding & Golding, Voluntary Disclosure (Post-OVDP), Streamlined and Reasonable Cause is ALL WE DO.

Our team has handled more than 1000 offshore disclosures.

The team is led by Mr. Sean M. Golding, JD, LL.M., EA a Board Certified Tax Law Specialist with a Master’s in Tax Law . All work is done in-house, on-site by an Enrolled Agent and supporting team members.

We stand by our work, and provide audit defense on the back-end.

We designed the model.

There are a few, lesser experienced copycat firms, but we are the original — and still the best.

Hiring a Large Firm

Some firms are large, and have departments dedicated to Offshore Tax. We get referred to these firms to act as a consultant on highly-complex cases – and some of the firms handle their own cases in-house as well.

These firms can be very effective.

They tend to cost more, but the quality of work is usually good. 

Small, Less-Experienced and More General Practice Tax Firms

A sole practitioner or small more “generalized firm” that handles more than just Offshore Voluntary Disclosure, is not “Board Certified,” does not have a “Master’s in Tax Law (LL.M.), and is not an Enrolled Agent or CPA is going to charge less — because they have less experience.

Working with these firms on a Streamlined Disclosure is like riding shotgun next to a driver who looks like a deer in headlights.

Concerns we have seen from cases referred to us after testing out the less-experienced, “cheaper” option

  • Sub-par work by the Attorney and CPA
  • The Attorneys cannot answer tax questions
  • You are at the mercy of whichever CPA they send you to
  • The CPAs do not specialize exclusively in Offshore Disclosure

Oftentimes, we are called on to fix these cases. 

What if I am Out of FBAR, FATCA & Offshore Compliance?

If you are out of FBAR compliance, the penalties can be severe. Therefore, you may consider entering the IRS offshore voluntary disclosure/tax amnesty, before it is too late.

What Should You Do?

Everyone makes mistakes. If at some point that you should have been reporting your foreign income, accounts, assets or investments the prudent and least costly (but most effective) method for getting compliance is through one of the approved IRS offshore voluntary disclosure program.

IRS Penalty List

The following is a list of potential IRS penalties for unreported and undisclosed foreign accounts and assets:

Failure to File

If you do not file by the deadline, you might face a failure-to-file penalty. If you do not pay by the due date, you could face a failure-to-pay penalty. The failure-to-file penalty is generally more than the failure-to-pay penalty.

The penalty for filing late is usually 5 percent of the unpaid taxes for each month or part of a month that a return is late. This penalty will not exceed 25 percent of your unpaid taxes. If you file your return more than 60 days after the due date or extended due date, the minimum penalty is the smaller of $135 or 100 percent of the unpaid tax.

Failure to Pay

f you do not pay your taxes by the due date, you will generally have to pay a failure-to-pay penalty of ½ of 1 percent of your unpaid taxes for each month or part of a month after the due date that the taxes are not paid. This penalty can be as much as 25 percent of your unpaid taxes. If both the failure-to-file penalty and the failure-to-pay penalty apply in any month, the 5 percent failure-to-file penalty is reduced by the failure-to-pay penalty.

However, if you file your return more than 60 days after the due date or extended due date, the minimum penalty is the smaller of $135 or 100 percent of the unpaid tax. You will not have to pay a failure-to-file or failure-to-pay penalty if you can show that you failed to file or pay on time because of reasonable cause and not because of willful neglect.

Civil Tax Fraud

If any part of any underpayment of tax required to be shown on a return is due to fraud, there shall be added to the tax an amount equal to 75 percent of the portion of the underpayment which is attributable to fraud.

A Penalty for failing to file FBARs

The civil penalty for willfully failing to file an FBAR can be as high as the greater of $100,000 or 50 percent of the total balance of the foreign financial account per violation. See 31 U.S.C. § 5321(a)(5). Non-willful violations that the IRS determines were not due to reasonable cause are subject to a $10,000 penalty per violation.

A Penalty for failing to file Form 8938

The penalty for failing to file each one of these information returns is $10,000, with an additional $10,000 added for each month the failure continues beginning 90 days after the taxpayer is notified of the delinquency, up to a maximum of $50,000 per return.

A Penalty for failing to file Form 3520

The penalty for failing to file each one of these information returns, or for filing an incomplete return, is the greater of $10,000 or 35 percent of the gross reportable amount, except for returns reporting gifts, where the penalty is five percent of the gift per month, up to a maximum penalty of 25 percent of the gift.

A Penalty for failing to file Form 3520-A

The penalty for failing to file each one of these information returns or for filing an incomplete return, is the greater of $10,000 or 5 percent of the gross value of trust assets determined to be owned by the United States person.

A Penalty for failing to file Form 5471

The penalty for failing to file each one of these information returns is $10,000, with an additional $10,000 added for each month the failure continues beginning 90 days after the taxpayer is notified of the delinquency, up to a maximum of $50,000 per return.

A Penalty for failing to file Form 5472

The penalty for failing to file each one of these information returns, or to keep certain records regarding reportable transactions, is $10,000, with an additional $10,000 added for each month the failure continues beginning 90 days after the taxpayer is notified of the delinquency.

A Penalty for failing to file Form 926

The penalty for failing to file each one of these information returns is ten percent of the value of the property transferred, up to a maximum of $100,000 per return, with no limit if the failure to report the transfer was intentional.

A Penalty for failing to file Form 8865

Penalties include $10,000 for failure to file each return, with an additional $10,000 added for each month the failure continues beginning 90 days after the taxpayer is notified of the delinquency, up to a maximum of $50,000 per return, and ten percent of the value of any transferred property that is not reported, subject to a $100,000 limit.

Fraud penalties imposed under IRC §§ 6651(f) or 6663

Where an underpayment of tax, or a failure to file a tax return, is due to fraud, the taxpayer is liable for penalties that, although calculated differently, essentially amount to 75 percent of the unpaid tax.

A Penalty for failing to file a tax return imposed under IRC § 6651(a)(1)

Generally, taxpayers are required to file income tax returns. If a taxpayer fails to do so, a penalty of 5 percent of the balance due, plus an additional 5 percent for each month or fraction thereof during which the failure continues may be imposed. The penalty shall not exceed 25 percent.

A Penalty for failing to pay the amount of tax shown on the return under IRC § 6651(a)(2)

If a taxpayer fails to pay the amount of tax shown on the return, he or she may be liable for a penalty of .5 percent of the amount of tax shown on the return, plus an additional .5 percent for each additional month or fraction thereof that the amount remains unpaid, not exceeding 25 percent.

An Accuracy-Related Penalty on underpayments imposed under IRC § 6662

Depending upon which component of the accuracy-related penalty is applicable, a taxpayer may be liable for a 20 percent or 40 percent penalty

Possible Criminal Charges related to tax matters include tax evasion (IRC § 7201)

Filing a false return (IRC § 7206(1)) and failure to file an income tax return (IRC § 7203). Willfully failing to file an FBAR and willfully filing a false FBAR are both violations that are subject to criminal penalties under 31 U.S.C. § 5322.  Additional possible criminal charges include conspiracy to defraud the government with respect to claims (18 U.S.C. § 286) and conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud the United States (18 U.S.C. § 371).

A person convicted of tax evasion

Filing a false return subjects a person to a prison term of up to three years and a fine of up to $250,000. A person who fails to file a tax return is subject to a prison term of up to one year and a fine of up to $100,000. Failing to file an FBAR subjects a person to a prison term of up to ten years and criminal penalties of up to $500,000.  A person convicted of conspiracy to defraud the government with respect to claims is subject to a prison term of up to not more than 10 years or a fine of up to $250,000.  A person convicted of conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud the United States is subject to a prison term of not more than five years and a fine of up to $250,000.

4 Types of IRS Voluntary Disclosure Programs

There are typically four types of IRS Voluntary Disclosure programs, and they include:

Schedule a Reduced-Fee Consultation to Offshore Disclosure

We have handled more than 1000 disclosures, and have spoken with thousands more people regarding reporting foreign assets, accounts, investments and income to the IRS (OVDP, Traditional Voluntary Disclosure, Streamlined and Reasonable Cause).

Scheduling a reduced-fee consultation with our team is a highly-effective way for you to determine what your potential liability, strengths, and weaknesses will be when you decide to move forward with a streamlined disclosure to the IRS.

In addition, we help you weed out the online marketing scams, false advertising, and unnecessary fear mongering and scare mongering.

Need a Second Opinion about Disclosing Foreign Assets?

Lately, with rumblings of the Streamlined Disclosure Program, aka Streamlined Voluntary Disclosure aka Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures coming to an end, some younger and inexperienced attorneys are in disarray — and handing out terrible advice to make a quick buck — and putting clients at risk. 

We know how the bad the information is you are receiving.

Why?

Because those cases usually end up on our door-step, and it is getting worse than ever.

Examples of recent cases we had to takeover from less experienced Attorneys can be found by Clicking Here (Case 1) and Clicking Here (Case 2).

Contact Golding & Golding Today, We Can Help You

International Tax Lawyers - Golding & Golding, A PLC

International Tax Lawyers - Golding & Golding, A PLC

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, JD, LL.M., EA and his team have represented thousands of clients in all aspects of IRS offshore disclosure and compliance during his 20-year career as an Attorney. Mr. Golding's articles have been referenced in such publications as the Washington Post, Forbes, Nolo and various Law Journals nationwide.

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, and has also earned the prestigious Enrolled Agent credential. Mr. Golding is also a Board Certified Tax Law Specialist Attorney (A designation earned by Less than 1% of Attorneys nationwide.)
International Tax Lawyers - Golding & Golding, A PLC