On June 1, 2017, U.S. Ambassador Margaret Ann Uyehara and Montenegrin Finance Minister Darko Radunovic signed an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) to combat offshore tax evasion by implementing the provisions of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). Banks from Montenegro will be able to share information about financial accounts of U.S. citizens with the IRS.
Seven years, 100,000 taxpayers and over $10 billion in taxes, interest, and penalties paid, and the IRS' offshore voluntary compliance efforts are still going strong.
The US Department of Justice recently determined that the Singapore affiliate of UBS (UBS AG) "has complied with an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) summons for bank records" related to a taxpayer whose liabilities are at issue. The international financial institution refused to produce the records when first served the summons. After a petition was filed to enforce the summons formally, UBS and the IRS resolved the matter amicably and the petition was voluntarily dismissed.
The US Department of the Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCen) announced on May 11, 2016, that it is issuing final rules under the Bank Secrecy Act to "clarify and strengthen customer due diligence (CDD) requirements for: Banks; brokers or dealers in securities; mutual funds; and futures commission merchants and introducing brokers in commodities." The final rules, which have been four years in the making, will be effective July 11, 2016. Covered financial institutions must come into compliance by May 11, 2018.
On Friday, October 2, 2015, the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") announced the exchange of financial account information with certain foreign tax administrations, meeting a key Sept. 30 milestone related to FATCA, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.
Once again, the Department of Justice has flexed its muscles and shown dishonest financial professionals that if they help clients hide assets offshore or create sham entities for clients to evade taxes, they will be prosecuted. The tax preparers in this case helped their wealthy clients to conceal millions of dollars of assets and income in secret foreign bank accounts, filed false federal income tax returns, maintained an offshore account in the name of a sham corporation and failed to disclose the account to the IRS. They also failed to file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR). Two of the three tax preparers have been sentenced to 36 and 50 months in prison and ordered to pay fines of nearly $300,000. The third tax preparer is still at large. To learn more, click here.
In the past two weeks, three Swiss banks--Bank Linth LLB AG (Bank Linth), Bank Sparhafen Zurich AG (BSZ), and Ersparniskasse Schaffhausen AG (EKS)-have reached resolutions under the Department of Justice's Swiss Bank Program. The Swiss Bank Program, which was announced on Aug. 29, 2013, provides a path for Swiss banks to resolve potential criminal liabilities in the United States. Swiss banks eligible to enter the program were required to advise the department by Dec. 31, 2013, that they had reason to believe that they had committed tax-related criminal offenses in connection with undeclared U.S.-related accounts. Banks already under criminal investigation related to their Swiss-banking activities and all individuals were expressly excluded from the program.
For those with one or more bank of financial accounts located outside the United States, or those who have signature authority over such accounts, Report 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts is due Tuesday, June 30, 2015. For more information, see the IRS website here.
In a recent edition of TaxTips, the IRS reminds taxpayers of pending deadlines related to foreign income and assets.
In its pledge to seek financial transparency, the Holy See (the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Catholic church) signed on to become the newest member to FATCA, the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, that requires banks and financial information to report certain financial information of U.S. Citizens and permanent residents directly to the United States if the accountholder¹s assets exceed $50,000.