El Conquistqdor Francisco de Orellana

El Conquistqdor Francisco de Orellana
The Conquistador who put the Amazaon baisn "on the map"....Francisco Orellana

Monday, January 16, 2012

Beware the IRS Amnesty

Imagine this very real and somewhat disturbing scenario…

You open your front door to an official looking gentleman, briefcase in hand, who says: “I’m from the IRS and I’m here to help you.”

Well, your natural reaction may be fear, then perhaps concern, then disbelief – the last because you know your visitor’s statement ranks with other classic assurances such as, “The check is in the mail,” and the dentist’s “This won’t hurt.”

Well, it’s back…
To the surprise of some tax experts with whom I talked, U.S. Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Douglas Shulman a few days ago “reopened the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) to help people hiding offshore accounts get current with their taxes,” as he so artfully phrased it.

The real reason behind reopening the OVDP may be Shulman’s questionable claim that the IRS has collected more than $4.4 billion so far from the two previous tax amnesty programs in 2009 and 2011.

Now they want more.

Of course, the dutiful American “news” media swallows all this IRS numbers baloney without question. For them, it’s a lot easier than thinking and checking accuracy.

Nothing but a Numbers Game

But that’s a little beside the point. Even if the IRS really did collect $4.4 billion owed in its two most recent amnesty programs, let’s compare that amount to the total tax collected by the IRS in 2009, the latest year for which the always-behind-the-times IRS has numbers.

The total tax collected in 2009 was around $2.7 trillion. So the $4.4 billion collected in late offshore taxes figures out to be 0.16% of the total.

Gasp! Wow! And how many millions did the IRS spend collecting this magnificent sum that might finance the running of the U.S. government for a few hours at best?

Anyway, few tax experts believe that Shulman’s numbers are reliable. (If you want a refresher course on that last 2011 IRS tax “amnesty,” which was more tax than amnesty, check out the expert opinion of my colleague, Mark Nestmann).

The total number of 2011 amnesty filers was “more than I expected,” said Mark Matthews, a Washington, DC-based tax attorney and a former IRS deputy commissioner. But those who came forward, Matthews said, are “still only a fraction of the people who have these (offshore) accounts.”

A Regime of Perpetual Punishment

And so now a new continuous and possibly unending IRS collection program of offshore back taxes takes its place alongside other IRS collection programs, only the penalties are far worse.

The new program, according to the IRS press release, has “…no set deadline for people to apply. However, the terms of the program could change at any time going forward” and “the IRS may increase penalties in the program for all or some taxpayers or defined classes of taxpayers – or decide to end the program entirely at any point.” (A calculated scary threat!)

I believe this latest IRS tax “open door for sinners” is based on a manufactured myth.

The IRS and a flock of big spending leftist U.S. politicians, Obama included, has perpetrated the myth that almost all American engaged in offshore banking or other financial activity are probably tax evaders.
That big lie fits nicely with Obama’s 2012 re-election class warfare campaign to convince the 50% of Americans who pay no taxes that he won’t let them bear the burden of the other half who he claims aren’t paying their fair share.

When the HIRE Act legislation created the inane Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act in 2010, the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that the new law would raise only $8.7 billion over 10 years, not the $100 billion that Obama claimed could be collected every single year!

Be Very Careful

As with past IRS amnesties, this latest program will require delinquent taxpayers to give full details of past arrangements, identify banks and promoters and pay all back taxes plus interest. Any binding IRS guarantee that criminal charges won’t be filed is unlikely.

Evaluations will be on a case-by-case basis, depending on whether the taxpayer fully cooperates in the investigation.

The publicity generated by the successful efforts of the IRS to pry information out of Swiss banking giant UBS and pending investigations of a number of other offshore banks has led to many “quiet disclosures” by U.S. taxpayers.

This occurs when a taxpayer simply files amended returns and forms, and pays all back taxes and interest, plus penalties. That route may be available to some under the new program.

The question is: Should you participate?

The answer is “maybe,” but only after you consult with a qualified tax attorney (not an accountant). This arrangement provides attorney-client privilege for your discussions. The attorney can retain an accountant to prepare the necessary returns if you decide you should participate in the program. Never contact the IRS on your own!

For our members, the Sovereign Society has available three leading U.S. tax attorneys who serve on our Council of Experts, located in New York City, south Florida and California. They can recommend others in your area, domestic and foreign. Contact us for information.

Last Word

As much as I deplore the Leviathan State, I also respect the rule of law. I have no sympathy for Americans who willfully cheat on their taxes at home or abroad.

I certainly hope that honest, taxpaying Americans and others who desire real financial privacy, true asset protection and expert investment advice will continue to employ qualified offshore banks, attorneys, investment advisers, insurance and annuity specialists.

Don’t be frightened from using qualified professionals and the very real benefits offered by some the world's leading offshore financial centers with which the Sovereign Society has worked for 14 years now. We can help you “go offshore” legally

Faithfully yours,
Bob Bauman, JD

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