OVDP Attorney (How to Retain Effective Offshore Disclosure Counsel)

OVDP Attorney (How to Retain Effective Offshore Disclosure Counsel) - Golding & Golding

OVDP Attorney (How to Retain Effective Offshore Disclosure Counsel) – Golding & Golding

At Golding & Golding, we are passionate about IRS Offshore and Voluntary Disclosure. We specialize exclusively in IRS Offshore/Voluntary Disclosure.

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 Attorney

We are the only State Bar Board Certified Tax Law Firm with Lawyers that specialize exclusively in OVDP/Offshore Voluntary Disclosure, including:

  • OVDP
  • IRM Traditional Voluntary Disclosure
  • Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures
  • Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures
  • Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures
  • Streamlined Voluntary Disclosure
  • Reasonable Cause
  • Fixing Quiet Disclosures
  • Fixing mistakes made by less experienced Attorneys

Voluntary Disclosure is a Specialized Area of Law (Update)

IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure is ALL we do. While our lead partner, Mr. Golding has been practicing for 20 years as an attorney, and has extensive experience in complex, high-stakes Eggshell Audits, Reverse Eggshell Audits, Criminal and Civil Litigation, we limit our practice exclusively to IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure.

We have successfully handled several hundred Voluntary Disclosure cases.

We are the OVDP Attorneys that other CPAs, Attorneys (and even current and former IRS personnel) contact when they need help.

The OVDP “program” was recently updated (11.29.2018). A summary can be found here

And, under the new rules (especially with the updated penalty “structure”), it is even more important that you retain experienced counsel who will effectively negotiate on your behalf, since the penalty structure is not as “firm” as it was under traditional OVDP.

What Type of Attorney Should I Hire?

IRS Voluntary Disclosure is a specialized area of law. An IRS Voluntary Disclosure is a complex undertaking. It requires the coordination of several moving parts, including strategy development, Tax Preparation, Legal Analysis, Negotiation and more.

You should hire a Tax Attorney who has the following credentials:

  • ~20 Years of Private Practice experience representing his/her own clients
  • Experienced in Criminal and Civil Litigation
  • Experienced representing clients in Eggshell and Reverse Eggshell Audits
  • Advanced Tax Degree (LL.M.)
  • EA (Enrolled Agent) or CPA (Certified Public Accountant)
  • Preferably a Board Certified Tax Law Specialist

The following is a summary of the different type of credentials a Tax Lawyer should have:

1. Board Certified Tax Law Specialist

Becoming a Board Certified Tax Specialist is a tough feat.

Becoming a California (Board Certified) Tax Specialist

 The specialist exam for Tax specifically, is known for being extremely difficult.

There are more than 200,000 attorneys in California, and tens of thousands of them practice in some area of tax.

Whether they are full time tax attorneys or they practice tax law as part of a bigger practice such as estate planning, real estate, divorce, corporate and business law, or acting as outside counsel — tax law is everywhere.

Less Than 350 Board Certified Tax Law Specialists in California

In California alone, there are less than 400 Board-Certified Tax Specialists. Why? Because the test is brutal.

It covers many different areas of tax, oftentimes areas which are not even included in the practitioner’s daily area of practice. Tax Specialist Exam study materials are scarce at best, and basically the practitioner has to rely upon is his or her experience to complete the full day exam. 

And, in order for a person to be Board Certified — the applicant must also meet rigorous ethical and experience requirements as well.

Less than 1% of Tax Attorneys Nationwide Are Certified Tax Law Specialists

Sean M. Golding is one of less than 350 Attorneys (out of more than 200,000 practicing California Attorneys) to earn the Certified Tax Law Specialist credential. The credential is awarded to less than 1% of Attorneys.

The exam is widely regarded as one of (if not) the hardest tax exam given in the United States for practicing Attorneys. 

2. Master’s in Tax Law (LL.M.)

A Master’s in Tax Law is the highest legal degree earned by practicing Attorneys. It is a Master’s degree in Tax Law, and requires 15-20, upper-level graduate tax classes.

3. Enrolled Agent (Highest IRS Credential)

Many people attempt the Enrolled Agent exam, only to fail. Instead of getting back on the horse and trying again-they give up.

This is unfortunate, because anyone who sits for the exam is obviously someone who takes tax representation very seriously.

As provided by the IRS:

An enrolled agent is a person who has earned the privilege of representing taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service by either passing a three-part comprehensive IRS test covering individual and business tax returns, or through experience as a former IRS employee.


Enrolled agent status is the highest credential the IRS awards. Individuals who obtain this elite status must adhere to ethical standards and complete 72 hours of continuing education courses every three years.


Enrolled agents, like attorneys and certified public accountants (CPAs), have unlimited practice rights. This means they are unrestricted as to which taxpayers they can represent, what types of tax matters they can handle, and which IRS offices they can represent clients before. 

4. 20 Years of Legal Experience

Our Managing Partner, Sean M. Golding, JD, LLM, EA  is a Board Certified Tax Law Specialist earned an LL.M. (Master’s in Tax Law) from the University of Denver and is also an Enrolled Agent (the highest credential awarded by the IRS, and authorizes him to represent clients nationwide.)

Sean has served as a contributing author to the NOLO legal book series on issues involving U.S. and International IRS and State Tax matters for individuals and businesses.

He is frequently called upon to lecture and write on issues involving IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure.

*Click here to learn the benefits of retaining a Board Certified Tax Law Specialist with advanced tax credentials.

Golding & Golding - Competitors REALLY Like our International Tax Blog and Case Examples

Golding & Golding – Competitors REALLY Like our International Tax Blog and Case Examples

Beware of Copycat Law Firms

Unlike other attorneys who call themselves specialists or experts in Voluntary Disclosure but are not “Board Certified,” handle 5-10 different areas of tax law, purchase multiple keyword specific domain names, and even practice outside of tax, we are absolutely dedicated to Offshore & Voluntary Disclosure.

We Specialize in Safely Disclosing Foreign Money

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

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.

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.

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.

Be Careful of the IRS

With the introduction and enforcement of FATCA for both Civil and Criminal Penalties, renewed interest in the IRS issuing FBAR Penalties, crackdown on Cryptocurrency (and IRS joining J5), the termination of OVDP, and recent foreign bank settlements with the IRS…there are not many places left to hide.

4 Types of IRS Voluntary Disclosure Programs

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

Contact Us Today; Let us Help You.