Paul L. Caron

Friday, September 16, 2011

IRS Reaps Billions From Amnesty Program for Offshore Accounts

IRS Logo IR-2011-94 (Sept. 15, 2011), IRS Shows Continued Progress on International Tax Evasion:

The IRS continues to make strong progress in combating international tax evasion, with new details announced today showing the recently completed offshore program pushed the total number of voluntary disclosures up to 30,000 since 2009. In all, 12,000 new applications came in from the 2011 offshore program that closed last week.

The IRS also announced today it has collected $2.2 billion so far from people who participated in the 2009 program, reflecting closures of about 80% of the cases from the initial offshore program. On top of that, the IRS has collected an additional $500 million in taxes and interest as down payments for the 2011 program — a figure that will increase because it doesn’t yet include penalties. ...

The combination of efforts helped support the 2011 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative (OVDI), which ended on Sept. 9. The 2011 effort followed the strong response to the 2009 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) that ended on Oct. 15, 2009. The programs gave U.S.taxpayers with undisclosed assets or income offshore a second chance to get compliant with the U.S. tax system, pay their fair share and avoid potential criminal charges.

The 2009 program led to about 15,000 voluntary disclosures and another 3,000 applicants who came in after the deadline, but were allowed to participate in the 2011 initiative. Beyond that, the 2011 program has generated an additional 12,000 voluntary disclosures, with some additional applications still being counted. All together from these efforts, taxpayers came forward and made 30,000 voluntary disclosures.

In new figures announced today from the 2009 offshore program, the IRS has $2.2 billion in hand from taxes, interest and penalties representing about 80% of the 2009 cases that have closed. These cases come from every corner of the world, with bank accounts covering 140 countries.

The IRS is starting to work through the 2011 applications. The $500 million in payments so far from the 2011 program brings the total collected through the offshore programs to $2.7 billion.

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Tracked on Sep 16, 2011 6:32:12 AM


This press release is 99% IRS spin, and TaxProf Blog does everyone a massive disservice by running it without added commentary.

The spin from the IRS completely fails to mention that most of its claimed "success" here was confiscatory penalties taken from people who owed minimal or no tax at all, but had simply failed to file an obscure and to date largely unenforced "information only" form. It also does not state that the vast majority of the people who entered the program were small fry whose lives will be significantly affected by the massive penalties the IRS applies for a paperwork "footfault", that the initiative likely captured less than 5% of non filers, that even where no tax at all is owed the IRS penalties for merely filling out a form wrong can run to 300% of an individuals entire worldwide assets (and likely contravene the US constitution), and that as a direct result of the FBAR jihad the US can look forward to yet another massive increase this year in the number of people renouncing US citizenship purely in order to free themselves from unwanted intrusion into their lives by US bureaucrats. Check out recent Canadian press reports for a more nuanced view of what the IRS has wrought here.

Shame on TaxProf Blog for swallowing the spin. And shame on the US IRS for shoving such a poorly thought out and coercive program down the throat of the other 194 countries on the face of the planet.

Posted by: Anon | Sep 19, 2011 3:12:16 PM

Yep, let's just eliminate taxes totally. Or at least for the rich.

Posted by: GaryD | Sep 17, 2011 8:28:06 AM

Yes, let's put this in perspective: In my impoverished state, that means there are at least 100 taxpayers affected. According to the article the tax paid averages a little over $100,000. We know that plenty of the accounts are small, inherited accounts. So there are maybe 50 taxpayers around here who blatantly skim a few hundred thousand dollars off their businesses and open secret Swiss bank accounts.

These are those fabulous, fabulous, job-creators we keep hearing about. You might think that people who skim money from their businesses in amounts large enough to hide in secret bank accounts would be the gold standard for criminal prosecution. Instead, they received an amnesty. A lot of them missed the deadline, so there was a second amnesty for the tax evaders who missed the first deadline. O.K. We all know the Service is pretty forgiving of those who miss deadlines. Then they had an an amnesty for those fabulous, fabulous job-creators who missed the amnesty and the amnesty for the amnesty. According to the IRS press release, they haven't all paid, even though they received amnesty.

Its a good thing these fabulous, fabulous job creators aren't loud-mouthed African-American tax protestors or steroid-using athletes. Then they would be in real trouble.

Posted by: jim harper | Sep 16, 2011 11:27:10 AM

I agree with the comments above. We'd be way better off without the $2.2 billion in collections.

Posted by: the real anon | Sep 16, 2011 10:22:05 AM

Another 2.2 billion goes to waste in the federal maw.

Posted by: Phil | Sep 16, 2011 5:28:00 AM

Let's put this into perspective. The $2.2 billion is about half a day's federal spending.

Posted by: someguy | Sep 16, 2011 4:53:25 AM