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IRS Re-Reopens Its Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program


January 23, 2012
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The IRS announced that it would reopen its Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) for a third time.  The announcement was made in IR-2012-5, an Information Release published on January 9, 2012.  It is significant to note that the first round OVDP in 2009 imposed lower penalties than the second round in 2010.  The third round imposes slightly higher penalties at a 27.5% rate as opposed to the previous 25% upon the highest balance held in the account. What is significant is that the IRS has collected $4.4 billion and a wealth of information from 33,000 prior disclosures. Taxpayers who have completed a disclosure know that IRS asks for the name and contact information for person or entity soliciting the foreign account or helping establish it. It is very interested in how certain programs are marketed to US persons and asks for disclosure of affiliates, related parties and the like. This is not accidental. At some point, the IRS will use the information and identify certain targets for investigation.  The question for each taxpayer who has elected to disclose is whether the information developed from other taxpayers will lead IRS to you.  Unless your account is buried in a treasure chest offshore, it is more likely than not that some other US taxpayer has disclosed his account in the same foreign financial institution as yours or has disclosed the name of the same service provider that has assisted you.  This comment, although not meant to scare taxpayers, injects a bit of reality into the deliberation.