Key Take Aways from Senate Investigations re: Foreign Banks and “Offshore Tax Evasion”: U.S. Citizens Residing Overseas have Become a Focus of the Government.
Instead of the government finding U.S. citizens living outside of the United States, as a low priority, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations focused extensively on Swiss accounts opened by these individuals. The full report can be read REPORT: Offshore Tax Evasion:The Effort to Collect Unpaid Taxes on Billions in Hidden Offshore Accounts (February 26, 2014)
Some key excerpts of that report are as follows (at page 4):
. . . focused primarily on Swiss accounts held by U.S. residents, ignoring the over 6,000 accounts opened by U.S. nationals living outside of the United States. . . . It was not until 2012, that the bank expanded the Exit Projects to include a review of the thousands of Swiss accounts opened by U.S. nationals living outside of the United States.. . .
Instead of concluding that the complex U.S. laws are leading to non-compliance by U.S. citizens residing outside the U.S. (per the Taxpayer’s Advocate Report), it seems to conclude to the contrary and the report highlights the virtues of the OVD program in non-compliance as generally willful with millions of U.S. citizens living outside the U.S. who are not in compliance, per the following statement (at page 22):
“The OVDP continues to provide valuable information for the United States in its efforts
to combat offshore tax abuse, although it is far from clear that effective use is being made of the
information generated. For taxpayers, it continues to offer a useful alternative to report
undeclared offshore accounts that, potentially, number in the millions. According to the Taxpayer Advocate, “While 7.6 million U.S. citizens reside abroad and many more U.S. residents have FBAR filing requirements, the IRS received only 807,040 FBAR submissions in 2012,” signaling “significant information reporting noncompliance.”69 2013 Annual Report to Congress — Volume One, Taxpayer Advocate Service, “OFFSHORE VOLUNTARY DISCLOSURE: The IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program Disproportionately Burdens Those Who Made Honest Mistakes,” at 229.
This report seems to get off track by not distinguishing between normal U.S. citizens who are living out their lives in their country of residence, as opposed to U.S. nationals who are intentionally attempting to evade taxes, filing false documents, not filing returns, or otherwise intentionally violating U.S. law. All of these 7.6 million U.S. nationals living around the world are being lumped together by the government with U.S. resident citizens, irrespective of the facts of each individual and family.