Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Tax Notes today Article on ALI Webcast on Offshore Account Issues (8/18/15)

Tax Notes Today has an article reporting on certain offshore account issues discussed at an ALI CLE webcast.  Nathan J. Richman and Andrew Velarde, IRS May Be Returning to Credit Card Initiative, 2015 TNT 159-3 (8/18/15), no link available.  The following are the key points:

1.  John McDougal, a major IRS player in the offshore account juggernaut, indicated that the IRS might use a summons (presumably John Doe Summons) to obtain offshore credit card information to track and identify U.S. offshore account depositors through correspondent banks.  (It is not clear to me exactly how this works and the report is that the IRS may use it, but there were sufficient specifics to indicate that this is an initiative in process.)

2.  Mr. McDougal indicated that reinstitute a broker initiative to issues summons to brokers to identify U.S. beneficial owners of foreign corporations with U.S. brokerage accounts.

3.  Mark Matthews, a practitioner who was head of CI during the earlier offshore credit card initiative, said the initiative was much more resource intensive and not as productive as had been hoped.  To which, Mr. McDougal said that the IRS had a JDS initiative going through and would be made public shortly.

4.  Mr. Matthews said that U.S. DOJ Swiss Bank Program had been productive but required more resources than anticipated.  For that reason, "he does not expect another version of the program in the future."  It is unclear whether he was saying that he did not expect a version of the program for other countries.  The truth is that there are way more bad foreign banks than can be prosecuted or even investigated civilly without massive resources.  So, I would be surprised if there were not some type of initiative to draw those banks into compliance and subject them to some level of penalties.

5.  Mr. Matthews said that the DOJ and IRS are particularly interested in the Swiss bank leaver lists, identifying U.S. depositors that left a Swiss bank and went to another bank (Swiss or otherwise).  In many instances that pattern would subject the U.S. leaver to extra scrutiny.  He is quoted as saying:   "If there seems to be a special place in hell, in the Justice Department's mind, for people, it is for people who moved banks."

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