Senate Hearings and Department of Justice/IRS Actions Likely to Drive up Reports of Foreign Banks and Financial Accounts (FBAR)

by Harry Galstian

March 18, 2014

43,000 Taxpayers have disclosed their offshore accounts to IRS as Senate wants numbers to rise. Direct Tax Relief assists clients with FBAR requirements

On February 26, 2014, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations held a hearing on “Offshore Tax Evasion: The Effort to Collect Unpaid Taxes on Billions in Hidden Offshore Accounts” (The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations-Hearings-2/26/14).

During the hearings, U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Cole testified that through the efforts of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the IRS working together over 43,000 taxpayers availed themselves of the FBAR program and reported their foreign bank accounts (DOJ: Statement of James Cole).

“The report shows,” states Direct Tax Relief’s senior enrolled agent Maurice Rosaler who was with the IRS for almost twenty years including an extended detail in the International/Offshore Compliance Division, “that so far the IRS has collected over 6 billion dollars in back taxes and penalties but the senate wants more (The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations-Hearings-2/26/14).”

“During the hearings,” Rosaler, who has been doing tax resolution for 27 years, noted, “the Senate subcommittee pushed the DOJ and the IRS to increase their efforts with the FBAR program and Mr. Cole in his statement (DOJ: Statement of James Cole) made a firm commitment to do so.”

Robert Hoffman, Direct Tax Relief’s senior tax attorney, a graduate of UCLA and Loyola Law School, explained that “FBAR is the act of reporting foreign income and any U.S. citizen with over $10,000.00 overseas is required to report that income through FBAR as outlined in the FBAR statute (31 U.S.C. § 5322).”

Hoffman warned that the failure to report foreign income can incur penalties of 50% of the foreign account balance for every year the account existed up to eight years (Internal Revenue Manual Sections –

“The penalties,” Direct Tax Relief’s senior tax attorney pointed out, “can actually exceed the actual offshore account balance. Say for example you have $50,000 sitting in a foreign bank account for eight or more years; the penalties on that would be $200,000! Then you have to add in the tax owed for all those years as well. You can see how these balances due to the government can become alarmingly large.”

“And,” Hoffman, Direct Tax Relief’s lead tax expert on FBAR, noted, “failure to disclose foreign accounts can lead to criminal persecution and jail time as many past cases have illustrated (United States of America v J. Bryan Williams; Department of Justice 11/2/12 News Release) ”

In his testimony to the senate, DOJ deputy attorney general Cole told the subcommittee that the DOJ was in continued negotiations with Swiss banks including Credit Suisse Group AG, the country’s second-largest bank to turn over the names of U.S. citizens with bank accounts and deposits statements (DOJ: Statement of James Cole).

The report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations charged that Credit Suisse helped 22,000 Americans hide as much as $10 billion from the IRS (The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations-Hearings-2/26/14).

“The pressure is on the Swiss,” said Direct Tax Relief’s Rosaler, “for full disclosure of U.S. citizen bank accounts. As recently as 3/14/2014 a former banker at a Credit Suisse Group AG unit, Andrea Bachmann, pleaded guilty in a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia to helping American clients evade taxes.”

“The best way to avoid the DOJ and the IRS going after you,” said attorney Hoffman, “is being proactive and voluntarily reporting through the FBAR program and the best way to do that is to get professional advice by looking for and retaining a trusted tax relief firm with attorneys and enrolled agents as well as registered tax preparers who specialize in this field of tax resolution and who know the laws and regulations and tax code. The best way is to look for an authentic tax relief firm like DTR which is listed with the BBB with an A rating and zero complaints.”

“No matter if you need to file under FBAR or already filed,” concurred senior enrolled agent Rosaler, “this is much too complicated to handle alone. When the end result can be criminal persecution and prison you need to seek professional help.

“And,” Hoffman, Direct Tax Relief’s lead tax expert on FBAR, noted, “failure to disclose foreign accounts can lead to criminal persecution and jail time as many past cases have illustrated (United States of America v J. Bryan Williams; Department of Justice 11/2/12 News Release) ”

Direct Tax Relief has extensive experience in tax relief resolution company and has represented numerous clients since 2007 providing professional legal tax advice to resolve tax matters including FBAR, Offer in Compromise, levy and garnishment release, appeal penalties, and establishing minimal payment plans to the government.