In 2014, the IRS made major changes to the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program and the Streamlined Voluntary Disclosure.
Note: Such programs are not available to a taxpayer who is already under an IRS audit that has been transferred to the IRS Criminal Investigations unit or whose non-compliance has been identified already brought forth by the IRS.
The new IRS 2014 offshore compliance programs offer taxpayers in a variety of circumstances the opportunity to disclose and fix prior tax non-compliance. The IRS offers three options:
- (1) the delinquent information return program,
- (2) the new Streamlined Disclosure Program (SDP) for US resident and non-resident taxpayers whose conduct is non-willful and
- (3) the 2014 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) for those who knowingly violated the law.
A taxpayer’s individual facts and circumstances will determine which of the three options should be selected. It is important to discuss these in honesty and detail at your consultation.
FATCA was enacted in 2010 by Congress to target non-compliance by U.S. taxpayers using foreign accounts. FATCA requires foreign financial institutions (FFIs) to report to the IRS information about financial accounts held by U.S. taxpayers, or by foreign entities in which U.S. taxpayers hold a substantial ownership interest. FFIs are encouraged to either directly register with the IRS to comply with the FATCA regulations (and FFI agreement, if applicable) or comply with the FATCA Intergovernmental Agreements (IGA) treated as in effect in their jurisdictions.
Under FATCA, to avoid being withheld upon, foreign financial institutions (FFIs) may register with the IRS and agree to report to the IRS certain information about their U.S. accounts, including accounts of certain foreign entities with substantial U.S. owners
FFIs that enter into an agreement with the IRS to report on their account holders may be required to withhold 30% on certain payments to foreign payees if such payees do not comply with FATCA
The FATCA regulations exempt many categories of FFIs from the requirement to register and report, including
Most governmental entities
Most non-profit organizations
Certain small, local financial institutions
Certain retirement entities
FFIs include, but are not limited to:
Depository institutions (for example, banks)
Custodial institutions (for example, mutual funds)
Investment entities (for example, hedge funds or private equity funds)
Certain types of insurance companies that have cash value products or annuities
Unless otherwise exempt, FFIs that do not both register and agree to report face a 30% withholding tax on certain U.S.-source payments made to them.
An FFI that registers on the “FATCA Registration Website” (“Website”), upon approval, will receive a Global Intermediary Identification Number (GIIN) from the IRS, unless the FFI is treated as a Limited FFI.
An FFI may also register on paper, but this is not recommended