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.
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.
Have you recently moved from China or India to the United States for a new career opportunity? Are you an American living abroad? You need to report all foreign bank accounts, if at any point in the 2015 the aggregate value of your accounts exceeded $10,000.
The best answer we can provide is probably not.
The IRS has added four more foreign financial institutions to its list of "Foreign Financial Institutions or Facilitators." Those who had accounts at one or more of these institutions are required to pay an increased penalty of 50% if they wish to participate in the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP). The list is expected to continue to grow as the U.S. government continues its ongoing investigations of offshore tax evasion.
The Internal Revenue Service has released a draft version of the form that will be used by foreign financial institutions (FFIs) to report information about U.S. accounts under the terms of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). Passed into law in 2010, FATCA requires foreign financial institutions to report information about U.S. account holders on an annual basis. The Treasury Department has since negotiated Intergovernmental Agreements (IGAs) with more than 100 countries to implement the provisions of FATCA, including most of the world's top tax havens.
Senator Rand Paul and a group of American expatriates suffered a huge setback in their attempt to overturn the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), as the judge denied their motion for preliminary injunction, saying that they lack standing for the suit and are unlikely to succeed on the merits.
Over the summer, the IRS continued its fight against offshore tax evasion by reaching nonprosecution agreements with dozens of Swiss banks, bringing the total list of "facilitators" to nearly fifty. This list should continue to grow over the next few months. As part of the new reforms made to the ongoing Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP), individuals with one or more accounts at a bank included on this list must pay an increased offshore penalty of 50%, rather than the usual 27.5% that has been required since 2012.
On July 31, 2015, the President signed into law H.R. 3236, the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015. Buried in the bill are some important changes to due dates for returns, including FinCen Report 114 (FBAR).
As the U.S. government's much publicized crackdown on Swiss banks continues, they may be turning their focus to Southeast Asia, where a Singaporean asset-management firm has fallen under criminal investigation. The firm is suspected of accepting transfers from U.S. taxpayers who were forced to shut down their undeclared Swiss accounts when those Swiss banks came under criminal investigation.