Thursday, June 5, 2014
Commissioner of Internal Revenue Service talks of amending the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (“OVDP”)
Commissioner of Internal Revenue Service talks of amending the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (“OVDP”) IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has stated that the Internal Revenue Service "has also sought to encourage taxpayers to come into compliance voluntarily." Koskinen stated that the various OVDPs, ranging from the 2009 version and then the 2011 and now the current 2012 version have led to more than 43,000 voluntary disclosures from person paying over $6 billion in a combination of back taxes, interest, and penalties. Koskinen urged though that, while these three programs have been very successful, the IRS may amend the program "to accomplish even more." He said that the agency is "considering whether our voluntary programs have been too focused on those willfully evading their tax obligations and are not accommodating enough to others who don't necessarily need protection from criminal prosecution because their compliance failures have been of the non-willful variety." Those who have lived abroad for many years may be distinguished from U.S. resident taxpayers who were willfully hiding their investments overseas and stated that "[w]e expect we will have much more to say on these program enhancements in the very near future." The National Taxpayer Advocate has previously criticized the three OVDPs as prescribing a "one-size-fits-all" approach. The NTA states that the stiff penalty may be unfair since it fails to draw any distinction between those who willfully vs. inadvertently fail to report foreign accounts. Stay tuned for further developments when they occur.