International Criminal Tax Investigations can have very serious consequences, including outstanding taxes, liens, levies, penalties, fines and imprisonment.
Criminal Tax Investigations
If you have been contacted by the IRS Special Agents, Department of Justice or District Attorney’s office involving a criminal tax matter, it is important that you do not speak with the investigators and retain an attorney, since anything you say will be used against you!
Criminal Tax Investigations can have very serious repercussions, and you should always be represented by an experienced Criminal Tax Defense Lawyer.
Unlike a civil tax audit in which the only issue a taxpayer has to worry about is whether he or she will be assessed any taxes, penalties, and/or interest…a criminal tax investigation can result in money, fines, and imprisonment.
Some of the most common types of tax crimes are as follows:
- Administrative Criminal Hearings
- IRS Special Agent Investigations
- Tax Evasion
- Tax Fraud
- International Tax Crime
- White Collar Crime Defense
Criminal Tax – Fraud & Evasion
When a person has offshore or foreign accounts, the chances of getting into tax and criminal trouble increase exponentially. Why? Because under new foreign account reporting laws and regulations (FATCA), it is much easier to get caught in the US government’s web, which is designed to catch, investigate and prosecute U.S. Taxpayers (U.S. Citizens, Legal Permanent Residents, Foreign Nationals Subject to U.S. Tax)
Under FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) more than 100 countries and hundreds of thousands of Foreign Financial Institutions (FFIs) have agreed to reciprocate financial information of US taxpayers to the United States Government and vice versa by the IRS to foreign countries.
To give you an idea of how your chances of being caught have significantly increased, all you have to do is refer to the list of banks and foreign financial institutions that have agreed to report taxpayer information to the United States. The list can be found here.
In addition, the United States has already identified upwards of 140+ foreign financial institutions that have been known to assist taxpayers with committing tax fraud. If you happen to bank or maintain accounts with any of these institutions (aka “Bad Banks”) and have unreported accounts, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced offshore tax attorney to assist you with getting into compliance before it is too late. This list is updated often but the current list as of July 2016 can be found by clicking here.
Criminal Tax Investigations
The United States takes tax enforcement very seriously – and the stakes are raised when it involves overseas and foreign income. Each year, the IRS publishes the dirty dozen tax scams that ranks high as in force in priority, and offshore tax is a mainstay.
Further, the Department of Justice has initiated an Offshore Compliance initiative, designed to hunt down and prosecute tax invaders using offshore and overseas institutions to facilitate fraud. A link to information regarding this initiative can be found by clicking here.
What are your options?
If you have already been contacted by the Department of Justice, Department of Treasury, or the Internal Revenue Service, it is absolutely crucial that you do not speak with them directly. Government agencies are known to be sneaky, and they may not tell you that you are the subject of a criminal investigation. As a result, anything you say can and will be used against you.
You may think you are helping your case by trying to talk your way out of a potential criminal investigation, chances are you are digging yourself deeper into a hole. All you have to do is watch any episode of 48 hours or other criminal broadcast to see the benefit of having an attorney assist you during any investigation by a criminal or quasi criminal authority.
Does the IRS Prosecute U.S. Taxpayers?
Yes. The reason why the US government has placed such a priority on international tax enforcement is due to the billions of dollars of lost taxes the US government misses out on due to international tax fraud and tax evasion.
In fact, the U.S. Government has developed specific programs that are specifically designed to combat offshore tax evasion and tax fraud.
Swiss Bank Program
For example, in 2013 the government created the Swiss bank program, which as provided by the DOJ “The Swiss Bank Program, which was announced on August 29, 2013, provides a path for Swiss banks to resolve potential criminal liabilities in the United States. Swiss banks eligible to enter the program were required to advise the department by Dec. 31, 2013, that they had reason to believe that they had committed tax-related criminal offenses in connection with undeclared U.S.-related accounts. Banks already under criminal investigation related to their Swiss-banking activities and all individuals were expressly excluded from the program.
Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes
As the policy development and outreach office for TFI, the Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes (TFFC) works across all elements of the national security community – including the law enforcement, regulatory, policy, diplomatic and intelligence communities – and with the private sector and foreign governments to identify and address the threats presented by all forms of illicit finance to the international financial system.
TFFC advances this mission by developing initiatives and strategies to deploy the full range of financial authorities to combat money laundering, terrorist financing, WMD proliferation, and other criminal and illicit activities both at home and abroad. These include not only systemic initiatives to enhance the transparency of the international financial system, but also threat-specific strategies and initiatives to apply and implement targeted financial measures to the full range of national security threats. Primary examples of these roles in advancing this mission is TFFC’s leadership of the U.S. Government delegation to the Financial Action Task Force, which has developed leading global standards for combating money laundering and terrorist financing and its role in specific efforts to counter threats like proliferation, terrorism and the deceptive financial practices of Iran.
Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)
The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Department of the Treasury administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions based on US foreign policy and national security goals against targeted foreign countries and regimes, terrorists, international narcotics traffickers, those engaged in activities related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and other threats to the national security, foreign policy or economy of the United States. OFAC acts under Presidential national emergency powers, as well as authority granted by specific legislation, to impose controls on transactions and freeze assets under US jurisdiction. Many of the sanctions are based on United Nations and other international mandates, are multilateral in scope, and involve close cooperation with allied governments.
FinCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network)
This statute establishes FinCEN as a bureau within the Treasury Department and describes FinCEN’s duties and powers to include:
- Maintaining a government-wide data access service with a range of financial transactions information
- Analysis and dissemination of information in support of law enforcement investigatory professionals at the Federal, State, Local, and International levels
- Determine emerging trends and methods in money laundering and other financial crimes
- Serve as the Financial Intelligence Unit of the United States
- Carry out other delegated regulatory responsibilities
**Authorities Delegated to FinCEN pursuant to TREASURY ORDER 180-01
This Treasury Order describes FinCEN’s responsibilities to implement, administer, and enforce compliance with the authorities contained in what is commonly known as the “Bank Secrecy Act.”
Consider Being Proactive with Voluntary Disclosure
If you knowingly failed to report your offshore or domestic earnings and Income to the IRS, you should consider entering offshore disclosure.
Golding & Golding, A PLC
We have successfully represented clients in more than 1000 streamlined and voluntary disclosure submissions nationwide, and in over 70-different countries.
We are the “go-to” firm for other Attorneys, CPAs, Enrolled Agents, Accountants, and Financial Professionals across the globe.
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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.
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