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Disclose Foreign Assets Now: IRS To Discontinue OVDP

By Josh Wu, Rachael E. Rubenstein / Mar 14, 2018

U.S. individuals and entities are subject to numerous reporting requirements for foreign assets. Failure to comply with such requirements can lead to criminal exposure and significant civil penalties. Over the last ten years, the IRS has created several programs for taxpayers to come forward and voluntarily report previously undisclosed foreign accounts and assets and limit their exposure.

On March 13, 2018, the IRS announced the end to the original program for disclosing unreported offshore accounts and assets. The IRS will close the 2014 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (“OVDP”) on September 28, 2018. The OVDP is one of the few options that offers protection from criminal prosecution. Taxpayers wishing to take advantage of the program before it closes must initiate the process on or before September 28, 2018. Any taxpayer with unreported foreign accounts or assets should immediately examine their options.

Even after the end of the OVDP, certain taxpayers will still have several ways to come into compliance. The IRS stated that it would keep the Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures and delinquent FBAR and information return procedures in place. Unlike the OVDP, taxpayers using the Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures must certify under penalties of perjury that their conduct was non-willful.

Taxpayers with offshore compliance issues should evaluate whether they need to make an OVDP submission before the program expires. For taxpayers with willfulness issues, and potential criminal exposure, OVDP may be the best choice. Given the complex nature of offshore compliance issues, and the amount of money generally at stake, taxpayers should seek competent counsel.