Sunday, March 29, 2009

IRS Announces New Voluntary Disclosure Terms for Offshore Account Holders, Sets Six-Month Deadlines

The IRS has announced new steps to coax U.S. taxpayers with undisclosed foreign bank accounts to come forward. In return for paying back taxes for the past six years, plus interest and a set of stiff penalties, the IRS will promise not to bring criminal charges or the 75-percent fraud penalty. IRS Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman announced this policy shift and clarification at a press briefing from his Washington, D.C. offices on March 26, at which he also released internal IRS documents that put the plan into motion.

"We believe the guidance represents a firm, but fair, resolution of these cases and will provide consistent treatment for taxpayers," Shulman explained. "The goal is to have a predictable set of outcomes to encourage people to come forward and take advantage of our voluntary disclosure practice while they still can." He set a deadline of six months for disclosures under the terms of the guidance, at which time the program will be re-evaluated.

The IRS has issued a series of three memoranda, and has revised the Internal Revenue Manual (IRM), to reflect updated policies concerning voluntary disclosure, primarily in connection with offshore transactions. Voluntary disclosure occurs when a taxpayer timely discloses information necessary to determine or correct the taxpayer's liability. The IRM continues to provide that its voluntary disclosure practices do not create any substantive or procedural rights for taxpayers, but are a matter of internal IRS practice.

Voluntary Disclosure Terms
Shulman emphasized that the terms being offered for the disclosure of offshore accounts are an outgrowth of current policy and carry penalties at a level consistent with voluntary disclosure programs in the past. Within this framework, Shulman enumerated the amounts that would need to be paid by taxpayers with heretofore undisclosed offshore accounts who "come clean" under the program:

--Back taxes due on newly disclosed assets for the last six years;

--Interest due on these back taxes for the last six years;

--A 20-percent accuracy-related under Code Sec. 6662 or a 25-percent delinquency penalty under Code Sec. 6651 for each tax year at issue; and

Looking to the past six years, a 20-percent penalty on the total balance of all the taxpayer's foreign bank accounts or assets during the year among the past six in which the accounts had their highest aggregate value.

CCH Comment. This latter penalty is reduced to 5 percent for passive investors in certain transactions.

While Shulman observed that the penalties demanded under the program are not insubstantial, he pointed to several advantages to participating taxpayers regarding what the IRS will not do:

--The IRS will not pursue charges of criminal tax evasion against taxpayers who voluntarily disclose their offshore assets under this new policy; and

--The IRS will not pursue other penalties against participating taxpayers, such as the Code Sec. 6663 fraud penalties (75-percent of the unpaid tax) or the statutory penalty for willful failure to file a TD F 90-22.1, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts Report, (FBAR) (the greater of $100,000 or 50-percent of the foreign account balance) that both annually apply to undisclosed accounts and assets during the relevant tax years.

Shulman also touted the advantage to offshore account holders of "getting the matter behind them" and giving them certainty as to their tax liability.

In a follow-up comment, an IRS spokesman emphasized that "it is too late for any taxpayer who is under criminal investigation to make a voluntary disclosure. The IRS cannot discuss specific situations, but the voluntary disclosure process does not apply when the IRS has information related to a specific taxpayer from a criminal enforcement action."

CCH Comment. The issue apparently remains unclear as to whether taxpayers recently disclosed by the Swiss Bank, UBS, as holding undisclosed bank accounts in Switzerland may successfully participate in this initiative. The IRS provided reporters during the March 26 briefing a copy of Section 9.5.11.9 of the Internal Revenue Manual that holds taxpayers to have timely participated in the voluntary disclosure program if they disclose before the IRS has initiated a civil or criminal examination or notified the taxpayer of such an investigation. Their failure to disclose their accounts/assets before the IRS received notice under the UBS deferred prosecution agreement may, therefore, be irrelevant.

Other Documents Provided
In addition to the announcement of its penalty framework for voluntary disclosures of offshore accounts, the IRS also provided reporters with the following documents:

Offshore Case Development. An SBSE memorandum provides that field personnel should give priority treatment to offshore transactions and entities during examinations, with a special emphasis on detecting unreported income. Examiners are instructed to use all tools, including interviewing taxpayers, making third party contacts, and timely issuing summonses in order to gather information and make determinations about applicable penalties. Managers are asked to ensure that income and penalty considerations are fully developed and documented. The memorandum also advises that as of March 23, 2009, taxpayers will no longer be permitted to minimize penalties through the Last Chance Compliance Initiative (LCCI). Relevant portions of the IRM addressing the LCCI are in the process of being obsoleted. Taxpayers in open examinations where LCCI terms have been offered will be able to resolve their cases under LCCI if they respond to the examiner within 15 days of their prior notification.

Voluntary Disclosure. Another SBSE memorandum addresses a change in the processing of voluntary disclosure requests containing offshore issues. Such requests will continue to be initially screened by Criminal Investigation (CI) to determine eligibility for voluntary disclosure and, if involving only domestic issues, will be forwarded to Area Planning and Special Programs for civil processing. Voluntary disclosure eligibility for offshore issues, including those in current inventory, will be initially screened by CI, and forwarded to the Philadelphia Offshore Identification Unit (POIU) for processing.

For submitted, but as yet unresolved, disclosure requests forwarded to the POIU, an internal LMSB memorandum sets forth a liability and penalty framework to be used for processing such cases during the next six months. POIU is authorized to assess all taxes and interest going back six years, or the period of existence of an account/entity if shorter, require the taxpayer to file or amend all returns, and impose an applicable penalty as set forth in the memorandum.

Finally, the Internal Revenue Manual (IRM) has been updated to reflect the initial evaluation of voluntary disclosure requests by CI. Minor revisions to the examples of what constitutes voluntary and not voluntary disclosures have also been made.
IRS Large and Mid-Size Business Division Memorandum for IRS Small Business/Self-Employed Division Commissioner, Large and Mid Size Business Division Commissioner from Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement on Authorization to Apply Penalty Framework to Voluntary Disclosure Requests Regarding Unreported Offshore Accounts and Entities

March 27, 2009

Tax crimes : Voluntary disclosure : Updated practices .

DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY

INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE

WASHINGTON. D.C. 20224

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER

March 23, 2009

MEMORANDUM FOR COMMISSIONER, LARGE AND MID-SIZE BUSINESS DIVISION
COMMISSIONER, SMALL BUSINESS/SELF-EMPLOYED DIVISION

FROM: Linda E. Stiff
Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement

SUBJECT: Authorization to Apply Penalty Framework to Voluntary Disclosure Requests Regarding Unreported Offshore Accounts and Entities

The purpose of this memorandum is to set forth a penalty framework to be applied to voluntary disclosure requests containing offshore issues. The outlined framework will be applied to all such requests that have been submitted to the IRS and are not yet resolved, and will remain in effect for six months from the date of this memorandum. All voluntary disclosure requests are mandatory work.

As Criminal Investigation (CI) makes preliminary determinations that taxpayers are eligible to make voluntary disclosures, it will forward voluntary disclosure requests with offshore implications to the Philadelphia Offshore Identification Unit (POIU) for civil processing. Those requests will be distributed to and worked by examiners who specialize in offshore examinations. All resulting closing agreements will be reviewed and executed as prescribed by existing delegation orders.

Effective as of the date of this memorandum, you are authorized to execute agreements to resolve the tax liabilities related to offshore issues of taxpayers who make voluntary disclosure requests in the following manner:
(1) Assess all taxes and interest due going back six years (exception: where an account/entity was formed or acquired within the six year look back period, taxes and interest will be assessed starting with the earliest year in which an account was opened/acquired or entity formed). Require the taxpayer to file or amend all returns, including information returns and Form TD F 90-22.1, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts. commonly known as an "FBAR".

(2) Assess either an accuracy or delinquency penalty on all years (no reasonable cause exception may be applied). and

(3) In lieu of all other penalties that may apply, including FBAR and information return penalties, assess a penalty equal to 20% of the amount in foreign bank accounts/entities in the year with the highest aggregate account/asset value.

If, (a) the taxpayer did not open or cause any accounts to be opened or entities formed, (b) there has been no activity in any account or entity (no deposits. withdrawals, etc.) during the period the account/entity was controlled by the taxpayer, and (c) all applicable U.S. taxes have been paid on the funds in the accounts/entities (where only account/entity earnings have escaped U.S. taxation). then the penalty in (3) is reduced to 5%.

The terms outlined herein are only applicable to taxpayers that make voluntary disclosure requests, and who fully cooperate with the IRS. both civilly and criminally.

cc: Acting Chief Counsel
Senior Advisor to the Commissioner

Commissioner, Tax Exempt and Govemment Entities

Chief, Criminal Investigation
IRS Small Business/Self-Employed Division, Large and Mid Size Business Division Memorandum on Emphasis on and Proper Development of Offshore Examination Cases, Managerial Review, and Revocation of Last Chance Compliance Initiative

March 27, 2009

Examination of offshore transactions : Updated practices : Revocation of Last Chance Compliance Initiative .

DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY

INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE

Washington, D.C. 20224

Small Business/Self-Employed Division

Large and Mid-Size Business Division

March 23, 2009

MEMORANDUM FOR SBSE EXAMINATION AREA DIRECTORS LMSB INDUSTRY DIRECTORS

FROM: Faris R. Fink
Deputy Commissioner, SBSE

Barry B. Shott

Deputy Commissioner, LMSB International

SUBJECT: Emphasis on and Proper Development of Offshore Examination
Cases, Managerial Review, and Revocation of Last Chance Compliance Initiative

The purpose of this memorandum is to ensure examinations with offshore transactions and/or entities continue to be emphasized and receive priority treatment during the examination process. This memorandum also provides for managerial oversight of offshore cases, and revokes the Last Chance Compliance Initiative.



Offshore Case Development

The IRS Strategic Plan for 2009-2013 outlines the Service's commitment to meet the challenges of international tax administration and of allocating compliance resources to target existing and emerging high-risk areas. Similarly, both the SBSE Examination Program Letter and the Servicewide Approach to International Tax Administration documents address our continuing commitment to prioritize and investigate abusive offshore transactions designed to defeat our tax system.

Offshore cases sent to the field are work of the highest priority. Examiners should utilize the full range of information gathering tools in properly developing offshore issues, with special emphasis on detecting unreported income. This includes interviewing taxpayers, making third party contacts, and timely issuing summonses to taxpayers and third parties. Inparticular, examiners should request foreign-based information through exchange of information under applicable treaties and tax information exchange agreements (TIEAs) in any cases where the taxpayers have accounts or transactions in countries with such agreements. Examiners should be alert to the badges of fraud and consult with Fraud Technical Advisors in developing cases for criminal referrals or the assertion of the civil fraud penalty. Counsel is available to assist SBSE and LMSB personnel as needed. Attachment 1 contains a brief summary of potential foreign information reporting requirements and civil penalties that could apply to a taxpayer depending on his/her particular facts and circumstances.



Managerial Oversight

Managers should ensure that income and penalty considerations are sufficiently developed and documented during both unagreed and Embedded Quality reviews. Cases should be discussed with employees regarding the need for additional income probes, use of indirect methods of proof to reconstruct income, penalty development and/or other considerations as necessary.



Revocation of Last Chance Compliance Initiative

Effective as of the date of this memorandum, the Service will no longer afford taxpayers the opportunity to minimize their exposure to penalties through the terms of the Last Chance Compliance Initiative (LCCI). All notices and letters with respect to the LCCI and relevant portions of IRM sections 4.26.16, 4.26.17 and 25.6.23 are in the process of being obsoleted. On any currently open examinations where the LCCI terms have already been offered, taxpayers will be afforded the opportunity to resolve their cases under LCCI if they respond to the examiner within 15 days of their prior notification.

If you have questions, members of your staff may contact Karen Warfel, SBSE Offshore Program Manager at *****, Frank Bucci, SBSE Offshore Technical Advisor ***** or Lori Nichols, LMSB Director, International Compliance Strategy and Policy at

Attachment


Attachment 1


The following summary of potential reporting requirements and civil penalties is not necessarily all encompassing, and it is unlikely that any one taxpayer would be subject to all of the reporting obligations or penalties listed below.



(1) Penalties for failure to comply with the Bank Secrecy Act requirement that United States persons report their financial interest in, or authority over, financial accounts located in a foreign country.

U.S. citizens, residents, and certain other persons, must annually report their financial interest in, or signature authority (or other authority that is comparable to signature authority) over, a financial account (such as a bank or investment account) that is maintained with a financial institution located in a foreign country if, for any calendar year, the aggregate value of all foreign accounts exceeded $10,000 at any time during the year. This reporting requirement is met by filing Form TD F 90-22.1 (Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, commonly known as an "FBAR"). FBARs are filed with a Department of the Treasury facility located in Detroit and are not to be filed with tax returns; the filing date for FBARs is June 30th. The requirement to file FBARs is in the regulations under 31 U.S.C. ยง 5314 (which is a provision of the Bank Secrecy Act). Generally, the civil penalty for willfully failing to file an FBAR can be as high as the greater of $100,000 or 50 percent of the total balance of the foreign account. Criminal penalties may also apply. Refer to IRM 4.26. 16.4 for additional FBAR penalty considerations.



(2) Fraud Penalties (Sections 6651(f) and 6663):

Where an underpayment of tax, or a failure to file a tax return, is due to fraud, the taxpayer is liable for penalties that, although calculated differently, essentially amount to 75 percent of the unpaid tax.



(3) Failure to File Tax Return (Section 6651):

When a taxpayer is required to file a tax return and does not do so on or before the due date of the return, Section 6651(a)(1) imposes a penalty of 5 percent of the net tax amount required to be shown on the tax return for each month (or fraction of a month) that the return is late. The maximum penalty is 25 percent. This penalty is increased to 15%, with a maximum of 75%, if the taxpayer's failure to file is fraudulent.



(4) Failure to Pay Tax Penalties (Sections 6651(a)(2) and 6651(a)(3)):

When a taxpayer fails to timely pay the amount of tax shown on the return, Section 6651(a)(2) imposes a late payment penalty equal to .5 percent of the late payment for each month (or part of a month) that the payment is late. The maximum penalty is 25 percent.

When a taxpayer fails to pay a tax that is required to be (but was not) shown on a return within 21 days after the date of the Service's notice and demand for that tax, Section 6651(a)(3) imposes a penalty of .5 percent for each month (or part thereof) that the assessment remains unpaid. The maximum penalty is 25 percent.



(5) Accuracy- Related Penalty (Section 6662):

The accuracy-related penalty for underpayments is imposed at the rate of 20 percent on the portion of any underpayment of tax required to be shown on a return attributable to negligence, a substantial understatement of tax, a substantial overstatement of pension liabilities or a substantial estate or gift tax valuation understatement. The accuracy-related penalty with respect to a substantial valuation misstatement can be as high as 40 percent.



(6) Penalties for failure to file certain information returns (Sections 6035, 6038, 6038A, 6038B, 6038C, 6039F, 6046, 6046A, and 6048):

Form 5471 , Information Return of U.S. Persons With Respect To Certain Foreign Corporations. U.S. persons who are officers, directors, or shareholders in certain foreign corporations (including, for example, an International Business Corporation used in an offshore scheme) report information required by Sections 6035, 6038, and 6046 , and compute income from controlled foreign corporations under Sections 951-964. The penalty for failing to file each one of these information returns is $10,000, with an additional $10,000 added for each month the failure continues beginning 90 days after the taxpayer is notified of the delinquency, up to a maximum of $50,000 per return.

Form 5472 , Information Return of a 25% Foreign-Owned U.S. Corporation or a Foreign Corporation Engaged in a U.S. Trade or Business. Reports transactions between a 25% foreign-owned domestic corporation or a foreign corporation engaged in a trade or business in the United States and a related party as required by Sections 6038A and 6038C . The penalty for failing to file each one of these information returns, or to keep certain records regarding reportable transactions, is $10,000, with an additional $10,000 added for each month the failure continues beginning 90 days after the taxpayer is notified of the delinquency, up to a maximum of $50,000 per return.

Form 926 , Return by a U.S. Transferor of Property to a Foreign Corporation. Reports transfers of property to a foreign corporation and to report information under Section 6038B . The penalty for failing to file each one of these information returns is ten percent of the value of the property transferred, up to a maximum of $100,000 per return, with no limit if the failure to report the transfer was intentional.

Form 3520 , Annual Return to Report Transactions with Foreign Trusts and Receipt of Certain Foreign Gifts. Reports varlous transactions involving foreign trusts, including creation of a foreign trust by a U.S. person, transfers of property from a U.S. person to a foreign trust, and receipt of distributions from foreign trusts under Section 6048 . This return also reports the receipt of gifts from foreign entities under Section 6039F . The penalty for failing to file each one of these information returns, or for filing an incomplete return, is 35 percent of the gross reportable amount, except for returns reporting gifts, where the penalty is five percent of the gift per month, up to a maximum penalty of 25 percent of the gift.

Form 3520-A , Annual Information Return of Foreign Trust with a U.S. Owner. Reports ownership interests in foreign trusts, by U.S. persons with various interests in and powers over such trusts under Section 6048(b) . The penalty for failing to file each one of these information returns, or for filing an incomplete return, is five percent of the gross value of trust assets determined to be owned by the U.S. person.

Form 8865 , Return of U.S. Persons With Respect to Certain Foreign Partnerships, U.S. persons with certain interests in foreign partnerships use this form to report interests in and transactions of the foreign partnerships, transfers of property to the foreign partnerships, and acquisitions, dispositions, and changes in foreign partnership interests under Sections 6038, 6038B, and 6046A . Penalties include $10,000 for failure to file each return, with an additional $10,000 added for each month the failure continues beginning 90 days after the taxpayer is notified of the delinquency, up to a maximum of $50,000 per return, and ten percent of the value of any transferred property that is not reported, subject to a $100,000 limit.

IRS Voluntary Disclosure Practice

March 27, 2009

Tax crimes : Voluntary disclosure : Updated practices .



IRS Voluntary Disclosure Practice



TAX CRIMES - GENERAL



IRM 9.5.11.9



Voluntary Disclosure Practice

(1) It is currently the practice of the IRS that a voluntary disclosure will be considered along with all other factors in the investigation in determining whether criminal prosecution will be recommended. This voluntary disclosure practice creates no substantive or procedural rights for taxpayers, but rather is a matter of internal IRS practice, provided solely for guidance to IRS personnel. Taxpayers cannot rely on the fact that other similarly situated taxpayers may not have been recommended for criminal prosecution.

(2) A voluntary disclosure will not automatically guarantee immunity from prosecution; however, a voluntary disclosure may result in prosecution not being recommended. This practice does not apply to taxpayers with illegal source income.

(3) A voluntary disclosure occurs when the communication is truthful, timely, complete, and when:

a. the taxpayer shows a willingness to cooperate (and does in fact cooperate) with the IRS in determining his or her correct tax liability; and

b. the taxpayer makes good faith arrangements with the IRS to pay in full, the tax, interest, and any penalties determined by the IRS to be applicable.

(4) A disclosure is timely if it is received before:

a. the IRS has initiated a civil examination or criminal investigation of the taxpayer, or has notified the taxpayer that it intends to commence such an examination or investigation;

b. the IRS has received information from a third party (e.g., informant, other governmental agency, or the media) alerting the IRS to the specific taxpayer's noncompliance;

c. the IRS has initiated a civil examination or criminal investigation which is directly related to the specific liability of the taxpayer; or

d. the IRS has acquired information directly related to the specific liability of the taxpayer from a criminal enforcement action (e.g., search warrant, grand jury subpoena).

(5) Any taxpayer who contacts the IRS in person or through a representative regarding voluntary disclosure will be directed to Criminal Investigation for evaluation of the disclosure. Special agents are encouraged to consult Area Counsel, Criminal Tax on voluntary disclosure issues.

(6) Examples of voluntary disclosures include:

a. a letter from an attorney which encloses amended returns from a client which are complete and accurate (reporting legal source income omitted from the original returns), which offers to pay the tax, interest, and any penalties determined by the IRS to be applicable in full and which meets the timeliness standard set forth above. This is a voluntary disclosure because all elements of (3), above are met.

b. a disclosure made by a taxpayer of omitted income facilitated through a barter exchange after the IRS has announced that it has begun a civil compliance project targeting barter exchanges; however the IRS has not yet commenced an examination or investigation of the taxpayer or notified the taxpayer of its intention to do so. In addition, the taxpayer files complete and accurate amended returns and makes arrangements with the IRS to pay in full, the tax, interest, and any penalties determined by the IRS to be applicable. This is a voluntary disclosure because the civil compliance project involving barter exchanges does not yet directly relate to the specific liability of the taxpayer and because all other elements of (3), above are met

c. a disclosure made by a taxpayer of omitted income facilitated through a widely promoted scheme regarding which the IRS has begun a civil compliance project and already obtained information which might lead to an examination of the taxpayer; however, the IRS has not yet commenced an examination or investigation of the taxpayer or notified the taxpayer of its intent to do so. In addition, the taxpayer files complete and accurate returns and makes arrangements with the IRS to pay in full, the tax, interest, and any penalties determined by the IRS to be applicable. This is a voluntary disclosure because the civil compliance project involving the scheme does not yet directly relate to the specific liability of the taxpayer and because all other elements of (3), above are met.

d. A disclosure made by an individual who has not filed tax returns after the individual has received a notice stating that the IRS has no record of receiving a return for a particular year and inquiring into whether the taxpayer filed a return for that year. The individual files complete and accurate returns and makes arrangements with the IRS to pay the tax, interest, and any penalties determined by the IRS to be applicable in full. This is a voluntary disclosure because the IRS has not yet commenced an examination or investigation of the taxpayer or notified the taxpayer of its intent to do so and because all other elements of (3), above, are met.

(7) Examples of what are not voluntary disclosures include:

a. a letter from an attorney stating his or her client, who wishes to remain anonymous, wants to resolve his or her tax liability. This is not a voluntary disclosure until the identity of the taxpayer is disclosed and all other elements of (3) above have been met.

b. a disclosure made by a taxpayer who is under grand jury investigation. This is not a voluntary disclosure because the taxpayer is already under criminal investigation. The conclusion would be the same whether or not the taxpayer knew of the grand jury investigation.

c. a disclosure made by a taxpayer, who is not currently under examination or investigation, of omitted gross receipts from a partnership, but whose partner is already under investigation for omitted income skimmed from the partnership. This is not a voluntary disclosure because the IRS has already initiated an investigation which is directly related to the specific liability of this taxpayer. The conclusion would be the same whether or not the taxpayer knew of the ongoing investigation.

d. a disclosure made by a taxpayer, who is not currently under examination or investigation, of omitted constructive dividends received from a corporation which is currently under examination. This is not a voluntary disclosure because the IRS has already initiated an examination which is directly related to the specific liability of this taxpayer. The conclusion would be the same whether or not the taxpayer knew of the ongoing examination.

e. a disclosure made by a taxpayer after an employee has contacted the IRS regarding the taxpayer's double set of books. This is not a voluntary disclosure even if no examination or investigation has yet commenced because the IRS has already been informed by the third party of the specific taxpayer's noncompliance. The conclusion would be the same whether or not the taxpayer knew of the informant's contact with the IRS.

Statement from IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman on Offshore Income

March 27, 2009

Internal Revenue Service : Statement from IRS Commissioner Shulman : Offshore income .


Statement from IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman



On Offshore Income



March 26, 2009


My goal has always been clear --to get those taxpayers hiding assets offshore back into the system. We recently provided guidance to our examination personnel who are addressing voluntary disclosure requests involving unreported offshore income. We believe the guidance represents a firm but fair resolution of these cases and will provide consistent treatment for taxpayers. The goal is to have a predictable set of outcomes to encourage people to come forward and take advantage of our voluntary disclosure practice while they still can.

In the guidance to our people, we draw a clear line between those individual taxpayers with offshore accounts who voluntarily come forward to get right with the government and those who continue to fail to meet their tax obligations. People who come in voluntarily will get a fair settlement. We set up a penalty framework that makes sense for them - they need to pay back-taxes and interest for six years, and pay either an accuracy or delinquency penalty on all six years. They will also pay a penalty of 20% of the amount in the foreign bank accounts in the year with the highest aggregate account or asset value. Just to be clear, this is 20% of the highest asset value of an account anytime in the past six years. This gives taxpayers - and tax practitioners - certainty and consistency in how their case will be handled.

We have instructed our agents to resolve these taxpayers' cases in a uniform, consistent manner. Those who truly come in voluntarily will pay back taxes, interest and a significant penalty, but can avoid criminal prosecution.

At the same time, we have also provided guidance to our agents who have cases of unreported offshore income when the taxpayer did not come in through our voluntary disclosure practice. In these cases, we are instructing our agents to fully develop these cases, pursuing both civil and criminal avenues, and consider all available penalties including the maximum penalty for the willful failure to file the FBAR report and the fraud penalty.

We believe this is a firm, but fair resolution of these cases. It will make sure that those who hid money offshore pay a significant price, but also allow them to avoid criminal prosecution if they come in voluntarily. As we continue to step up our international enforcement efforts, this is a chance for people to come clean on their own. Our guidance to the field is for the next six months only, after which we will re-evaluate our options.

For taxpayers who continue to hide their head in the sand, the situation will only become more dire. They should come forward now under our voluntary disclosure practice and get right with the government

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