Zwerner Answers DoJ Efforts to Collect Multiple 50 Percent Civil FBAR Penalties

“The Internal Revenue Manual suggests that “willfulness may be attributed to a person who has made a conscious effort to avoid learning about the FBAR reporting and recordkeeping requirements.” However, the willfulness determination should be based on the actual facts and the context in which statements are made (or not) rather than assertions in a legal pleading.”

TAXLITIGATOR - Tax Controversy (Civil & Criminal) Report

U.S. taxpayers with previously undisclosed interests in foreign financial accounts and assets continue to analyze and seek advice regarding the most appropriate methods of coming into compliance with their U.S. filing and reporting obligations. Many are pursuing participation in the current IRS offshore voluntary disclosure program (the OVDP which began in 2012), modeled after similar programs in 2009 and 2011. Taxpayers participating in the ongoing 2012 OVDP generally agree to file amended returns and file FBARs for eight tax years, pay the appropriate taxes and interest together with an accuracy related penalty equivalent to 20 percent of any income tax deficiency and an “FBAR-related” penalty (in lieu of all other potentially applicable penalties associated with a foreign financial account or entity) of 27.5 percent of the highest account value that existed at any time during the prior eight tax years.

Under the 2009 OVDP, the FBAR-related penalty was 20 percent…

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