The separation of powers is often on full display when there are key Congressional hearings focused on the work (or lack thereof) undertaken by the key executive branch agencies responsible for tax enforcement:
1. Treasury/IRS, and
2. Justice Department.
There is an important reason why every day taxpayers should be interested in these hearings; particularly those who are considering renouncing United States Citizenship.
The actions and reactions of the IRS and Justice Department are often in response to Congressional hearings. This is very much the case with individual taxpayers with assets throughout the world.
A brief timeline of various hearings, and actions taken by the IRS and Justice Department (largely in response to such criticism) can be followed to demonstrate the influence of these hearings:
- Year 2006
U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, published their report on August 1, 2006, entitled Tax Haven Abuses: The Enablers, The Tools & Secrecy.
Little direct action was taken by the IRS or Justice Department in this year. It was the year 2008, where the direct hearings lead to more direct action taken.
- Year 2008
U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, headed by Chairman Carl Levin, published their report on July 16, 2008, entitled Tax Haven Banks and U.S. Tax Compliance –
November 2008, a U.S. federal grand jury indicted the Chairman and CEO of UBS Global Wealth Management and Business Banking.
- Year 2009
U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, headed by Chairman Carl Levin, published their report on March 4, 2009 Tax Haven Banks and U. S. Tax Compliance – Obtaining the Names of U.S. Clients with Swiss Accounts
UBS agrees in February 2009 to pay a US$780M fine to the U.S. government and enter into a deferred prosecution agreement on charges of conspiring to defraud the United States by impeding the Internal Revenue Service.
IRS Implements first Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (“OVDP”) on March 26, 2009
- Year 2010
Numerous taxpayers and several Swiss bankers were indicted and/or plead guilty to various tax crimes charges; mostly directly related to UBS. See, website of U.S. Department of Justice – Offshore Compliance Initiative.
Congress passes and the President signs into law, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”) in 2010 as part of the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act.
- Year 2011
IRS Implements its second Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative (“OVDI”) in 2011.
Numerous taxpayers and several Swiss financial advisors were indicted; and a HSBC Indian client was also indicted or plead guilty to various tax crimes charges; mostly directly related to UBS. See, website of U.S. Department of Justice – Offshore Compliance Initiative.
- Year 2012
IRS creates an open ended OVDP program in 2012 that continues; with modifications made in 2014.
Several taxpayers were indicted; including those implicating an Israeli bank for various tax crimes charges. . See, website of U.S. Department of Justice – Offshore Compliance Initiative.
The Treasury Department obtains commitments from various countries to sign various FATCA, intergovernmental Agreements (“IGAs”) for automatic exchange of financial information; France, Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, Denmark and Mexico.
- Year 2013
In January 2013, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York secured the guilty plea of Wegelin Bank, the oldest private bank in Switzerland and the first foreign bank to plead guilty to felony tax charges.
In August, 2013, the United States and Switzerland Issue Joint Statement Regarding Tax Evasion Investigations and ability of Swiss banks to enter into deferred prosecution agreements.
Several taxpayers were indicted and advisors; including multiple financial institutions outside of Switzerland for various tax crimes charges. See, website of U.S. Department of Justice – Offshore Compliance Initiative.
The Treasury Department obtains more commitments for signed FATCA IGAs with various countries for the automatic exchange of financial information;.
- Year 2014
U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, headed by Chairman Carl Levin, published their report on February 26, 2014 Offshore Tax Evasion: The Effort to Collect Unpaid Taxes on Billions in Hidden Offshore Accounts
IRS announces on June 18, 2014, IRS Makes Changes to Offshore Programs; Revisions Ease Burden and Help More Taxpayers Come into Compliance
The Treasury Department obtains numerous commitments for signed FATCA IGAs with various countries for the automatic exchange of financial information. See, HUGE NEWS – China has “Reached an Agreement in Substance” for a FATCA Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) – its Affect on USCs and LPRs Living in China and Hong Kong