Forced to Disclose Foreign Accounts, Assets or Income to the IRS?
In a perfect world, everyone would have the chance to submit to IRS Voluntary Disclosure, apply for a penalty waiver, and avoid any consequences for reporting non-compliance of prior year accounts, assets, income and investments.
Unfortunately, some people miss their shot at disclosing foreign money and assets on their own terms.
Common questions and situations we handle:
- I am already under audit?
- My spouse is threatening to go to the IRS.
- A competitor already reported me to the IRS.
- I lied to my CPA.
- Special Agents visited me at home.
- I think the IRS is Criminally Investigating me?
- I lied to my Foreign Bank about having a Green Card.
Sometimes the IRS Beats You to the Punch
Like you learned (sadly) in elementary school, not everything in life is fair. The same goes for the IRS and Voluntary Disclosure.
There are typically 3 reasons why you lose the opportunity to get into compliance and are otherwise forced out of a voluntary disclosure:
- The IRS already has your information from FATCA or other Reporting
- The IRS already has your information from a Whistleblower
- You are already under IRS investigation (Civil or Criminal)
Common Examples of How People are Forced Out of the Shadows
We represent hundreds of clients each year, and many times we are referred complex matters for people who missed their shot at voluntary disclosure, and must find a safe alternative to IRS Voluntary Disclosure.
Here are some examples of how people tend to get the thrusted into the IRS spotlight (not as much fun as the Hollywood spotlight).
Divorce Proceedings (Your Ex-Spouse is Bitter)
Recent example: Our client “Michelle,” had a bitter spouse. It was all fun and games when he was doing the cheating, but once Michelle moved, he was not happy about it. Michelle could care less, aside from the fact that Michelle did have significant money overseas that her bitter spouse knew about (and was fine with), until the kids met the new husband. He threatens to go to the IRS, and refuses to participate in IRS Voluntary Disclosure.
Eggshell Audit (Luck of the Draw)
Recent example: Our client “Matthew” is a successful entrepreneur. He had been under investigation for many years prior due to some stock basis issues. In recent years, he sold his business and made a windfall. The IRS audited him, primarily on issues involving 83(b). Matthew had come to us at the time of his audit, because he also had several million in undisclosed accounts. Since he is under audit, he is no longer eligible to disclose (even though he was non-willful)
Reverse Eggshell Audit (You Have to be Careful)
It is more common than you may think. Unfortunately, these are very serious. In this situation, the IRS already has your information and when you are audited it, they use it to ask indirect questions to determine where you fall on the “truth spectrum.” When a client contacts us as a result of this type of audit, it is usually after they have bee visited by the Special Agents.
IRS Special Agent Investigation (Be Very Careful)
Less common, but it makes clients very fearful. The IRS Special Agents are the ladies and gentlemen who investigate you when it is time to determine whether your matter is criminal, and whether or not it should be referred to the DOJ for criminal prosecution. If you have been contacted by IRS Special Agents, it is time to Lawyer-up.
DOJ Criminal Prosecution (Get Counsel Immediately)
If you are under investigation or indictment by the DOJ, you are facing a criminal prosecution and may be fined or sent to prison. A DOJ prosecution is a very serious matter, with more than just money on the line, You Need Counsel.
How to Beat the IRS to the Punch
If you have undisclosed foreign income, assets, accounts, or investments that you have not reported to the IRS, the safest and most prudent thing you can do is work to safely get into compliance, using one of the approved IRS Voluntary Disclosure procedures.
What Can You Do?
Presuming the money was from legal sources, your best options are either the Traditional IRS Voluntary Disclosure Program, or one of the Streamlined Offshore Disclosure Program. If not, then it is very important to retain experienced counsel and beware of scaremongering and inexperienced attorneys trying to compete in the marketplace by manipulating their experience (Former IRS whatever….)
We Specialize in Safely Disclosing Foreign Money
We have successfully handled a diverse range of IRS Voluntary Disclosure and International Tax Investigation/Examination cases involving FBAR, FATCA, and high-stakes matters for clients around the globe (In over 65 countries!)
Whether it is a simple or complex case, safely getting clients into compliance is our passion, and we take it very seriously.
Examples of areas of tax we handle
- Unfiled Tax Returns
- Unreported Income Penalties
- International Tax Investigations (FATCA and more)
- FBAR Investigations
- International Tax Evasion
- Structuring Investigations
- Eggshell and Reverse Eggshell Audits
- Divorce and Offshore Accounts
- Foreign Mutual Funds
- Foreign Life Insurance
- Fixing Quiet Disclosure
- Foreign Real Estate Income
- Foreign Real Estate Sales
- Foreign Earned Income Exclusion
- Subpart F Income
- Foreign Inheritance
- Foreign Pension
- Form 3520
- Form 5471
- Form 8621
- Form 8865
- Form 8938 (FATCA)
Who Decides to Disclose Unreported Money?
What Types of Clients Do we Represent?
We represent Attorneys, CPAs, Doctors, Investors, Engineers, Business Owners, Entrepreneurs, Professors, Athletes, Actors, Entry-Level staff, Students, Former/Current IRS Agents and more.
You are not alone, and you are not the only one to find himself or herself in this situation.
What Should You Do?
Everyone makes mistakes. If at some point you discover 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 programs.
Contact us today; we can help.
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.