A PR Newswire loudly [loudly is my web euphemism for hyperbolically] announced the following: New Website to Assist Millions of Taxpayers with Undisclosed, Offshore Accounts (3/20/14), here. I think this is an advertisement to attract those alleged millions and their resources to his coffers. (I hope he has a good database and staff skills to handle the influx.) The announcement includes the following:
For those US taxpayers in this precarious position they need expert advice and decisive action to pre-empt imposition of civil tax fraud and criminal tax evasion civil and criminal penalties, which may include: wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering, failure to file FBAR forms (now known as FinCen Form 1114). Total penalties may be millions of dollars with jail sentences imposed for a maximum of over 80 years for all tax-related felonies.This is, of course, fear mongering. The real world is different. Check out the spreadsheet here which indicates far less -- even minuscule sentences -- in the real world compared to this promo piece. That does not mean that taxpayer do not face substantial downsides from the behavior, of course.
A Wall Street Journal article addresses the expat issue: Nearly One-Third of Expats Confused by U.S. Tax Filing Requirements, here.
I don't subscribe to the WSJ because it is a business iteration of Fox News Network (which I like because of the blondes but I won't pay for that anymore because of the WSJ/blonde biases do not match my biases). So, if you want to read that article, you will have to be a subscriber. But, if I can speculate about the contents, are they really saying the 2/3's + of expats are not confused and that, therefore, they commit tax fraud when they don't report foreign income (including financial account income) and file FBARs. WSJ being a Republican rag, I doubt that they intended to infer that because, I suspect, that data set includes a significant number in the "base" to which WSJ pitches its goods. Really, what they might want to rag on is the IRS and Obama as being responsible for anything inappropriate by anybody anywhere, including expats.
John Letzing, U.S. Lawmakers Highlight Swiss Disconnect (WSJ Moneybeat 3/19/14), here, which apparently can be tapped into without a WSJ subscription. This is pretty good (pretty is a bit of a fuzz word), so rather than summarize, I quote a large block:
The dozens of Swiss bankers and advisers indicted so far in the U.S. for allegedly aiding American tax evasion, who haven’t responded to the charges, do suffer from limitations on their travel abroad. They also risk damage to their professional reputation. But they’re not prevented from pursuing professional interests and living “openly in Switzerland,” as the senators put it with some distaste on Tuesday. And there isn’t necessarily a reason they should be, because they aren’t accused of doing anything wrong here.
Take Emanuele Agustoni, for example. The one-time Credit SuisseCSGN.VX +1.46% banker was indicted alongside a handful of others tied to the Zurich-based bank in 2011, for allegedly helping American clients evade taxes. Mr. Agustoni hasn’t formally responded to the charges, but his legal status didn’t prevent him from being granted approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission last November to become a registered investment adviser in the U.S. Mr. Agustoni disclosed the indictment in his SEC application, according to public filings.
Mr. Agustoni was also not prevented from winning reelection last month as president of the audit commission in Urdorf, a small town near Zurich. The commission keeps tabs on the town’s finances and reviews investments such as public swimming pools. Mr. Agustoni runs an asset management firm called Golden Eagle Services in a Zurich suburb.
Andreas Bachmann, another former Credit Suisse banker who was indicted alongside Mr. Agustoni about three years ago, has been running asset management firm EVT Partners in Zurich. Mr. Bachmann pleaded guilty last week in a Virginia court to helping Americans hide money in Switzerland. He was released on bond and is allowed to travel back to Switzerland. Mr. Bachmann could not be reached for comment.
Raoul Weil, the former top UBSUBSN.VX +1.99% executive indicted for allegedly aiding tax evasion in 2008 and expected to go on trial in Florida in October, was serving as CEO of asset management firm Reuss Private Group in a Zurich suburb until he was arrested in Italy last October and subsequently extradited to the U.S. Mr. Weil’s U.S.-based attorney has said he expects Mr. Weil to be “fully vindicated.”
There is an extradition treaty between the U.S. and Switzerland, but Swiss officials aren’t obligated to honor extradition requests related to U.S. tax evasion. Indicted bankers here are therefore advised by their attorneys to not go abroad, or risk being ensnared by authorities in a country more inclined to extradite them. Mr. Weil, for example, was arrested during a vacation in Italy. His decision to go abroad left many in the Zurich financial center confused. However, a certain sense of detachment is understandable: People familiar with the matter say the indicted here in Switzerland only become aware of the charges against them after they’ve read about them in the news, and have seen copies of their indictments posted online.Of course, as recent events show, the jury may be still out on Bachmann. See Credit Suisse Banker Pleads Guilty to Tax Conspiracy (Federal Tax Crimes Blog 3/12/14; 3/13/14), here.
Finally, this item that if pretty good people who follow this area without too many confirmation biases: Jeffrey Benzing, Tax Investigations More Extensive Than Appear, DOJ's Keneally Says (Main Justice 3/19/14), here. Actually this is the best of the lot (an assessment consistent with my confirmation biases.) I won't attempt to summarize it, because I highly recommend that readers read the actual blog entry, and do as much of a reality check as their confirmation biases allow.
I really think I can be more useful to humanity by spending less time on these snippet items that I throw out without adequate deliberation. I will try to behave in the future.