Showing posts with label Offshore. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Offshore. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

California Jury Aquits Banker of Conspiracy to Defraud Using Offshore Bank Accounts

On Halloween day, after just four hours of deliberation, a retired senior vice president at Israeli-based Mizrahi Tefahot Bank Ltd. (MZTF) was acquitted in Los Angeles federal court on charges he helped U.S. customers conceal their assets from the Internal Revenue Service.  

Shokrollah Baravarian, 82, was acquitted of charges of conspiring to defraud the U.S. and helping Mizrahi clients prepare false tax returns. Prosecutors claimed Baravarian helped clients who opened accounts in Israel, didn’t declare them to the IRS and accessed money through loans from the Los Angeles branch.  The jury was not persuaded.  

The U.S. has been campaigning heavily to curtail offshore tax evasion. The IRS, through the US Department of Justice, has charged more than 70 taxpayers and three dozen offshore bankers, lawyers and advisers in offshore tax evasions schemes.  More than 45,000 Americans have avoided criminal prosecution by voluntarily disclosing their offshore accounts to the IRS, paying $6.5 billion in taxes, penalties and interest.   The Baravarian investigation is another blow to the US Government in its war against alleged offshore tax evasion.
 

In January, a U.S. judge in Chicago sentenced H. Ty Warner, the billionaire founder of toymaker Ty Inc. and Ty Warner Hotels & Resorts, to probation. He pleaded guilty to evading almost $5.6 million in taxes on more than $24.4 million in income from accounts with as much as $107 million. Warner faced 46 to 57 months in prison. Prosecutors are appealing.

Last year, a 79-year-old widow, Mary Estelle Curran, who evaded taxes through undeclared Swiss accounts with $43 million was sentenced to less than a minute of probation from a judge who scolded prosecutors.

On November 3, 2014,  after just 90 minutes of deliberation, federal jurors in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, found former UBS AG (UBSN) banker Raoul Weil not guilty of conspiring to help as many as 17,000 U.S. taxpayers hide $20 billion from the IRS.  He was arrested last year in Bologna, Italy, and waived extradition.  Weil faced five years in prison and is now a free man.

The US government is aggressively pursuing individuals and bankers for offshore tax evasion.  If you have offshore bank accounts or have been involved in a offshore vehicle, it is extremely important that you seek competent tax counsel who can help you with these matters.  Competent tax counsel can mean the difference between jail and no jail.    The Wilson Tax Law Group is composed exclusively of former IRS Attorneys and Federal Tax Prosecutors.   Our prosecution and IRS background uniquely situates us in the area of criminal tax defense.  Please contact our Newport Beach Office at 949-397-2292 for a consultation.

 wilsontaxlaw.com

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

IRS Increases the FBAR Penalty for People with Offshore Accounts

In efforts to increase offshore tax compliance, the IRS just made brand new changes to its current offshore disclosure programs. 

The streamlined procedures have been expanded to accommodate a wider group of U.S. taxpayers who have unreported foreign financial accounts.  This is a very good thing because now more people can use the procedures than could have before.

The original streamlined procedures announced in 2012 were available only to non-resident, non-filers. Taxpayer submissions were subject to different degrees of review based on the amount of the tax due and the taxpayer’s response to a “risk” questionnaire.

The expanded streamlined procedures are available to a wider population of U.S. taxpayers living outside the country and, for the first time, to certain U.S. taxpayers residing in the United States. The changes include:

  Eliminating a requirement that the taxpayer have $1,500 or less of unpaid tax per year;

   Eliminating the required risk questionnaire;

   Requiring the taxpayer to certify that previous failures to comply were due to non-willful conduct.

For eligible U.S. taxpayers residing outside the United States, all penalties will be waived. For eligible U.S. taxpayers residing in the United States, the only penalty will be a miscellaneous offshore penalty equal to 5 percent of the foreign financial assets that gave rise to the tax compliance issue.

 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) Modified: The changes announced today also make important modifications to the OVDP. The changes include:
 •  Requiring additional information from taxpayers applying to the program;

 •  Eliminating the existing reduced penalty percentage for certain non-willful taxpayers in light of the expansion of the streamlined procedures;

  •  Requiring taxpayers to submit all account statements and pay the offshore penalty at the time of the OVDP application;

 • Enabling taxpayers to submit voluminous records electronically rather than on paper;

  Increasing the offshore penalty percentage (from 27.5% to 50%) if, before the taxpayer’s OVDP pre-clearance request is submitted, it becomes public that a financial institution where the taxpayer holds an account or another party facilitating the taxpayer’s offshore arrangement is under investigation by the IRS or Department of Justice.

I will add more in a later post.  You can find the news release here.   Please contact the Wilson Tax Law Group if you have questions about offshore bank account disclosures or FBAR matters under the July 1, 2014 or transitional procedures.  We have handled numerous offshore cases.

Update:  The IRS has published FAQ's for the Transition Rules drawing a clear line as to who can qualify for the pre-July 1, 2014 penalty rates.

Q: What if I made a request for OVDP pre-clearance before July 1, 2014, but not a full voluntary disclosure? 

A: A taxpayer will not be considered to be currently participating in OVDP for purposes of receiving transitional treatment unless, as of July 1, 2014, he has mailed to IRS Criminal Investigation his voluntary disclosure letter and attachments as described in OVDP FAQ 24.  Thus, a taxpayer who makes an offshore voluntary disclosure as outlined in FAQ 24 on or after July 1, 2014 will not be eligible for transitional treatment under OVDP, even though he may have made a request for OVDP pre-clearance before July 1, 2014.

These transitional FAQs can be found here.

The FAQ for the effective-July 1, 2014 OVDP can be found here.

 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Welcome to the Wilson Tax Law Blog - a Newport Beach Tax Attorney Blog

The Wilson Tax Law Group is a tax firm serving the Newport Beach and Yorba Linda areas.  This blog is meant to be both a service to our clients, where we can post IRS, California Franchise Tax Board, FBAR, and Orange County property tax news that may be of interest to them.  It will also be a place where we will post on topics that are of interest to us and other tax professionals following hot tax topics of the moment.  Sometimes, those areas will intersect, because we handle cutting edge cases including tax audits and tax planning for marijuana dispensaries (sales tax and income tax) and defending taxpayers in criminal investigations of the FBAR penalties.  This blog will be constantly evolving, so please give us feedback in the comments section if you think of future topics you would like to read more about.

For more information on our firm, read about our Newport Beach and Yorba Linda area tax attorney at wilsontaxlaw.com.