Offshore Voluntary Compliance Program to End Sept. 28
The Internal Revenue Service is reminding taxpayers they have until Sept. 28 to apply for the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP).
Since the OVDP’s initial launch in 2009, more than 56,000 taxpayers have used the various terms of the program to comply voluntarily with U.S. tax laws. These taxpayers with undisclosed offshore accounts have paid a total of $11.1 billion in back taxes, interest and penalties. The planned end of the current OVDP also reflects advances in third-party reporting and increased awareness of U.S. taxpayers of their offshore tax and reporting obligations.
In March, the IRS announced the program would end on Sept. 28, 2018. The IRS will continue to hold taxpayers with undisclosed offshore accounts accountable after the program closes.
The number of taxpayer disclosures under the OVDP peaked in 2011, when about 18,000 people came forward. The number steadily declined through the years, falling to only 600 disclosures in 2017.
Since the announcement, the IRS has not received any public comments addressing a continued need for the OVDP. The IRS will maintain a pathway for taxpayers who may have committed criminal acts to voluntarily disclose their past actions and come into compliance with the tax system. Updated procedures will be announced soon.
Separately, the IRS continues to combat offshore tax avoidance and evasion using whistleblower leads, civil examination and criminal prosecution. Since 2009, 1,545 taxpayers have been indicted related to international activities through the work of IRS Criminal Investigation.
A separate program, the Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures, for taxpayers who may have been unaware of their filing obligations, has helped about 65,000 additional taxpayers come into compliance. These streamlined procedures will continue to be available for now, but as with OVDP, the IRS has said it may end this program too at some point.
The implementation of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and the ongoing efforts of the IRS and the Department of Justice to ensure compliance by those with U.S. tax obligations have raised awareness of U.S. tax and information reporting obligations related to undisclosed foreign financial assets. Taxpayers who made non-willful mistakes or omissions on their tax returns should file amended returns or delinquent returns as soon as possible.
Full details of the options available for U.S. taxpayers with undisclosed foreign financial assets can be found on IRS.gov.