Monday, March 30, 2009

Ouster of UBS executive may indicate cooperation with IRS

Swiss bank UBS has removed the top executive who was in charge of secret offshore accounts for wealthy Americans, The New York Times reported.

UBS's decision to place banker Martin Liechti on paid leave "raises questions about what kind of client information UBS may be preparing to provide to federal authorities, who are widening their scrutiny of American clients suspected of tax evasion and seeking to force the bank to turn over the names of 52,000 clients," the Times said.

Friday, March 27, 2009

IRS will trade leniency for information

Citizens who voluntarily pay taxes owed on offshore assets could escape criminal prosecution if they provide the Internal Revenue Service with information about the bankers who helped them hide their assets, according to The Wall Street Journal.

"A key part of the program, IRS officials said, is 'developing intelligence' on bankers, lawyers, accountants and others who help the rich hide assets from tax authorities," the Journal reported.

The Journal has posted the IRS guidelines on its website.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

IRS tightens reporting requirements on offshore accounts

In another effort to hinder efforts to evade taxes on offshore accounts, the Internal Revenue Service is tightening certain reporting requirements.

The changes include requiring taxpayers to specify on the Foreign Bank Account Report the exact amount in offshore accounts. The Wall Street Journal reports that the IRS also is considering whether to implement changes to its "qualified intermediary" program with foreign banks that would better enable the IRS to ferret out accounts held by U.S. tax evaders.

White House task force formed to examine tax system

The Obama administration is looking for ways to reform the U.S. tax system and to aggressively reduce the tax gap, such as by attacking tax evasion.

Administration officials announced March 25 that a task force headed by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker will study options and make recommendations to the President by Dec. 4. Volcker is now head of Obama's new Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

For comments by Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag about the tax reform task force, see Reuters' story, Volcker panel to study tax reform, report to Obama.