IRS Launches Second Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative After Successful Prosecution

After a successful indictment of a New Jersey man with HSBC Bank accounts in India, the IRS introduced a new Voluntary Disclosure Program on February 8, 2011 for U.S. taxpayers with undisclosed offshore accounts.

Last week, according to an indictment and people familiar with the matter, HSBC Bank’s NRI Services division helped a business man in New Jersey to hide his bank accounts in India from the IRS.

According to the indictment on Wednesday in federal court in Newark, NJ, Vaibhav Dahake reported that he had conspired with five bankers allegedly from HSBC Bank. Dahake, of Somerset, NJ, is among the first taxpayer who is charged with the conspiracy, on whether HSBC is helping clients to hide their assets from IRS. Dhake will face as imprisonment for five years.  The IRS may issue a summons to HSBC Bank to disclose its customers with foreign bank accounts.

The IRS’ 2011 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative (OVDI) is based on the previous disclosure program that ran through October of 2009. The original program helped generate over 15,000 Voluntary Disclosures from U.S. citizens who failed to report the existence of and taxes due from offshore accounts, and then produced another 3,000 disclosures after the program’s time period had expired.

Parag Patel of Patel Law Offices, a law firm that represents many taxpayers throughout the U.S. and around the world with undisclosed offshore accounts and financial interests, states, “the new amnesty program is a second-in-a-lifetime opportunity and all taxpayers with undisclosed offshore accounts should participate to avoid criminal exposure.”

IRS commissioner Doug Shulman IRS re-affirmed the IRS’s commitment towards bringing U.S. taxpayers into compliance. “Combating international tax evasion is a top priority for the IRS. We have additional cases and banks under review. The situation will just get worse in months ahead for those hiding assets and income offshore. The new disclosure initiative is the last, best chance for people to get back into the system,” said Commissioner Shulman.

The 2011 OVDI is based on the first amnesty program issued in 2009, but the most significant differences are a higher penalty structure and 8 year look-back period. The general 2011 OVDI terms include:

1. A 25% penalty on the taxpayers’ undisclosed offshore accounts with the highest aggregate account balance over an 8 year period, 2003 through 2010.  A reduced 12.5% penalty may apply to qualified small account holders.

2. Participants must file all original and amended tax returns for up to 8 years and include payments for taxes, interest and accuracy related penalties.

Patel believes “the new Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative is a great opportunity for those with undisclosed offshore accounts who may have missed the first program. This new program should not be overlooked by those who have not come into compliance yet. If they enter the program, substantial civil and criminal penalties could be avoided.”

As Commissioner Shulman and other government officials make clear, the IRS is looking at and obtaining information about offshore accounts from many banks. Shulman warns that “For those hiding cash or assets offshore, the time to come in is now.”

Parag Patel emphasizes that the risk of being found by the IRS increases every day. The consequences for failure to comply with the proper disclosure requirements and filing requirements may lead to audits, severe financial penalties, and in some cases, criminal prosecution. The U.S. government is committed to bringing all U.S. taxpayers with undisclosed offshore accounts into compliance. This is a second opportunity for those U.S. taxpayers who have not already disclosed their foreign bank accounts are encouraged to take advantage of this rare second chance to come forward and minimize both civil and criminal penalties.

For additional information contact Parag Patel of Patel Law Offices at 732-623-9800 or visit us at  Patel Law Offices is a law firm dedicated to helping clients resolve complicated tax, criminal tax, and international tax problems.

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