See the IRS web page - New Filing Compliance Procedures for Non-Resident U.S. Taxpayers, here. I include IR-2012-65 below which is a more general statement.
Per the website, more details will be forthcoming.
1. There are lots of open issues (see the comments that are already coming in with those open issues), but the trend is in the right direction. And, in my view many classes of persons outside the current relief provisions are not distinguishable in terms of their U.S. tax compliance / noncompliance. Hopefully, the IRS will give comparable relief to them.
2. The most interesting is that the program is the grading of penalty potential according to compliance risk (emphasis supplied):
Description of proposed new procedure:While more details will be forthcoming, taxpayers utilizing the new procedure will be required to file delinquent tax returns, with appropriate related information returns, for the past three years and to file delinquent FBARs for the past six years. All submissions will be reviewed, but, as discussed below, the intensity of review will vary according to the level of compliance risk presented by the submission. For those taxpayers presenting low compliance risk, the review will be expedited and the IRS will not assert penalties or pursue follow-up actions. Submissions that present higher compliance risk are not eligible for the procedure and will be subject to a more thorough review and possibly a full examination, which in some cases may include more than three years, in a manner similar to opting out of the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program.
Taxpayers who are in a situation where they are concerned about the risk of criminal prosecution should be advised that this new procedure does not provide protection from criminal prosecution if the IRS and Department of Justice determine that the taxpayer’s particular circumstances warrant such prosecution. Taxpayers concerned about criminal prosecution because of their particular circumstances should be aware of and consult their legal advisers about the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP), announced on January 9, 2012, which offers another means by which taxpayers with undisclosed offshore accounts may become compliant. For additional information about the OVDP, see www.irs.gov. It should be noted, however, that once a taxpayer makes a submission under the new procedure described in this document, OVDP is no longer available.
Issue Number: IR-2012-65