IRS Liberalizes Offshore Compliance Programs

Among other things, changes announced last week by IRS streamline existing procedures to accommodate a larger group of U.S. taxpayers with previously unreported foreign financial accounts.

The expanded, streamlined procedures will be available to a larger population of U.S. taxpayers living outside the U.S. and, for the first time, to certain U.S. taxpayers residing in the U.S.  The changes include:

  • Eliminating a requirement that the taxpayer have $1,500 or less of unpaid tax per year;
  • Eliminating the required risk questionnaire; and
  • Requiring the taxpayer to certify that previous failures to comply were due to non-willful conduct.

Notably, for eligible U.S. taxpayers residing outside the U.S., all penalties will be waived, and for eligible U.S. taxpayers residing within the U.S., the only penalty will be a charge equal to 5% of the foreign financial assets which gave rise to the compliance issue in the first place.

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