The Internal Revenue Service is proudly announcing that it was able to gather up 7,500 volunteers in its international tax evasion net as a result of an amnesty program that ended earlier this month. U.S. citizens who have been hiding money in offshore accounts and neglecting to pay the appropriate U.S. income taxes on earnings related to that money, were offered the opportunity to turn themselves in and avoid criminal charges and jail time, and were also given a reduction of penalties on the unpaid taxes.
“It’s way too early to say how much money that will bring in,” IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman told a group of CPAs Monday at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ National Tax Conference in Washington, D.C. We have people who came in with accounts as small as $10,000, and we have accounts larger than $100 million that came in through this program.
“The most important thing about this program, is that anybody that came in, it’s not just about paying the taxes, interest, and penalties,” Shulman continued. “It’s about having them in the system for years to come and paying the taxes for years to come.”
Another key aspect of the amnesty program will be mining the information from the people that came forward. Shulman explained that the IRS will be scouring the tax returns and questioning the taxpayers to find the advisors, accountants, and others who helped taxpayers hide assets off shore.
Although the offshore amnesty program ended on October 15, there is speculation that the IRS might extend the program. “In the last day or so there have been some indications that the IRS is considering extending that program,” said Mark Luscombe, JD, CPA, principal tax analyst for Commerce Clearinghouse, Inc., speaking to accounting professionals Tuesday at the CCH User Conference in National Harbor, MD. “If you can get 7,500 people to come involuntarily, that’s much easier than having to track them down.”