American authorities at the Department of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service are continuing their ongoing investigation into Swiss banks to determine compliance with the regulations set forth by the Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). Their investigation has now branched out to include Swiss insurance companies.
A collective of American expats living abroad filed suit back in 2015 to challenge imposition of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) as it applies to their international financial accounts. The group, with the self-imposed name of "Republicans Overseas," engaged in a silent protest against FATCA prior to filing their legal claims: they each, to ensure that their funds were not subject to FATCA disclosure and taxation, drained foreign bank accounts below the mandatory reporting amount.
The federal government is ramping up its efforts to find and collect taxes on offshore accounts held by American citizens. For years, many people have placed funds in accounts abroad to take advantage of more lenient banking rules and more attractive incentives (like higher rates of return and shielding from discovery). While some have declared these accounts as legitimate assets to state and federal tax authorities, others have neglected to do so.
President Donald Trump ran on the platform of "making America great again." Part of that platform involved moving forward with tax reform that would help achieve this goal. In an attempt to make this promise a reality, lawmakers are proposing various pieces of legislation that would impact current tax law. One such proposal deals specifically with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).
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.
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.
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.
Willfulness is usually required to support criminal charges. Assigning signature authority to someone else to conceal account ownership could show willful conduct. Filing a document, such as a Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts/FinCEN Report 114 (FBAR) with false information is another.
While it's not against the law to own a foreign bank account, the tax code requires that you disclose it and pay tax on income. Since 2009, the IRS has devoted significant resources to offshore account compliance.
The IRS is very diligent when it comes to enforcing tax laws. It is particularly concerned that all earnings are reported, and that federal income taxes be paid on all earnings - even money earned outside of the United States. Failing to report international income can result in fines and penalties, as well as criminal charges.