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International Law

IRS Announces New Amnesty Program for Those Evading Taxes Via Offshore Accounts

Posted Feb 8, 2011 5:12 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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The Internal Revenue Service is giving those who missed their chance to come clean about evading taxes in offshore accounts during a previous amnesty program a second bite at the apple as it simultaneously continues to investigate overseas banks and new reporting requirements loom that could expose more to potential prosecution.

A new amnesty program announced today, while not as generous in its terms as the prior one, nonetheless may make it easier for those with offshore assets to sleep at night by allowing them to avoid potential fines of up to $500,000 and prison time, Bloomberg reports.

The amnesty program also applies to some 3,000 taxpayers who declared their assets after the prior program ended in October 2009, the article says.

It allows taxpayers to declare their assets, pay back taxes, interest and penalties, and ante up 25 percent of the highest annual amount in the account between 2003 and 2010.

“People who waited out the 2009 initiative will not be rewarded for waiting,” said IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman today in a conference call.

However, partner Barbara Kaplan of Greenberg Traurig says she thinks those who didn't bend the knee to the IRS before aren't likely to do so now—unless their specific bank is known to be under investigation.

“Until the pressure is really on and it’s public, people who didn’t opt in before are not going to opt in now,” she predicts.

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