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Fort Worth Tax Law Blog

What is FinCEN?

FinCEN. It sounds like something out of a Hollywood plot line about a secret government agency running clandestine missions that are kept out of the purview of the general public.

Is the truth that far from reality? FinCEN is not an unknown entity. United States taxpayers with foreign accounts are likely familiar with FinCEN as the agency responsible for Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) filings.

Although this federal agency is not a secret, many taxpayers are not aware of the extent of operations that fall within FinCEN's purview.

Swiss Bank Program closes: What is next?

As 2016 came to an end, you may have missed an announcement from the US Department of Justice. The Swiss Bank Program that started in the summer of 2013 has officially been completed.

The Program provided an opportunity for Swiss banks to work with the DOJ to limit their exposure to civil and criminal charges. The banks had to agree to disclose information and cooperate in investigations related to the use of foreign bank accounts to avoid US taxes. In exchange, the banks received non-prosecution agreements and paid penalties. In this post, we will discuss how the program worked and what happens next?

Taxes for military personnel: a Q & A

When active duty and reserve personnel are added together, Texas has more than 173,000 military personnel. This is the second most of any state, behind only California.

There are of course also many veterans in Texas.

If you are a service member or former service member, or are from a military family, there are some specific rules and benefits that apply to your taxes. Here is a Q & A on some useful things to know.

2017 brings new filing deadline for offshore-account holders

A New Year's resolution can be a way to finally focus on and tackle a problem that has been nagging at you. If you are a U.S. citizen or resident with financial interests in offshore bank accounts or other overseas assets, make 2017 the year you talk to an attorney to get a handle on your U.S. government reporting obligations related to those assets.

The FBAR

The main form that must be filed annually to report most offshore-account situations is the FBAR - the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, also known as FinCEN form 114, usually filed electronically. FinCEN is the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, part of the U.S. Treasury Department.

Failure to file: What if it is 'willful'?

The monetary penalty for failure to file an income tax return is a maximum of 25 percent of the unpaid taxes.

Criminal prosecution is also possible, however, if tax authorities believe the failure to file was a willful attempt to evade taxes or commit tax fraud.

In this post, we will take note of a recent case in which a partner at an accounting firm was arrested on tax fraud charges after allegedly failing to file for three consecutive years.

Tax extenders: What happened with them this year?

In recent years, it's almost become an annual ritual, waiting to find out at the end of the year whether Congress will continue various temporary tax breaks known as "tax extenders."

It happened last year and the year before that. This year, however, things are a bit different. Congress adjourned its lame-duck session after the election without passing an extender package.

In this post, we will use a Q & A format to update you on what this means.

Is your business ready for online sales tax collection in 2017?

The internet - and the burgeoning digital marketplace it has created - has broadened horizons and opened doors that wouldn't have been imagined just a generation ago. With just a few clicks of a mouse, you can do business with companies across town or across the globe. This brave new world of e-commerce had originally created difficulties for brick and mortar businesses and for taxing authorities alike.

The problem was this: if people don't have to pay sales tax during online transactions, are you unfairly and disproportionately prejudicing businesses in the real world? As a corollary to that, how could governments make up the revenue shortfalls created when sales tax revenues suddenly and dramatically decrease due to skyrocketing use of web-only retailers?

Tax compliance, by any other name

"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet," goes Shakespeare's famous line from Romeo and Juliet. The idea is the essence of thing is what matters, apart from the name it is given.

Still, names for things do contain important distinctions. In this post, let's consider the distinction between "tax evasion" and "tax avoidance."

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