The United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is again starting a ‘voluntary disclosure program’ intended to reveal hidden offshore bank accounts and assets. Those who chose to participate in the program will be asked to pay as much as 27.5% in taxes. Interesting that the tax rate has increased from 22.5% in 2009 to 25% in 2011 and now the 27.5%.
On the previous occasions, the program yielded US$3.9 billion and US$1 billion, respectively, with more than 33,000 disclosures being made.
The program is part of the IRS’s ongoing efforts to reduce and prevent tax evasion. The government agency has also prosecuted clients of banks and financial institutions such as UBS and HSBC, and charged bankers and advisors who helped clients conceal their assets.
This program of fighting tax evasion is not new and is also a goal of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The OECD promotes policies aimed at being universally recognized and implemented globally and hence contribute to improvements in fairness and social wellbeing of people around the world.
One such policy is related to the disclosure of financial and bank account information. The OECD has been successful in encouraging jurisdictions around the world to agree to implement the internationally recognized guidelines for disclosure of information related to financial accounts. Due to their efforts, there are now no jurisdictions on the OECD ‘black list’ that once included a number of traditional tax haven markets.
Despite the publicity gained through such initiatives by the OECD and the US government, illegal activity via the use of offshore banking and offshore companies is few and far between. The practice of setting up offshore bank accounts and offshore company registration is not illegal. If structured properly and all laws of the home jurisdiction as well as the jurisdiction where the account/company is set up are followed, offshore investment strategies can be an effective way to grow personal assets and expand business operations.
More information about offshore incorporation and offshore banking can be found on Healy Consultants Group PLC website. Or send us an email with some details about your business and investments to see how our firm can assist.