Friday, March 18, 2011

Former UBS client pleads guilty to offshore tax evasion

Richard Werdiger, a former client of Zurich-based UBS AG, has pleaded guilty to concealing assets from the IRS in offshore bank accounts.

The 63-year-old is one of 7 former UBS clients believed to have concealed over $100 million from the IRS. Werdiger was accused of hiding $7 million in 3 accounts in Panama and Lichtenstein.

The former UBS client has agreed to pay $3.5 million in civil penalties and faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on June 14. The accusations form part of a larger IRS crackdown on offshore tax evasion, which has previously made UBS a focus of interest.

Friday, March 11, 2011

IRS offers information on offshore tax amnesty program in eight new languages

The IRS has released information on its 2011 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative in several languages, following requests from taxpayers and tax professionals to make the program more accessible to persons who primarily speak non-English languages.

Information on the new amnesty program is now available in Chinese (traditional and simplified), Farsi, German, Hindi, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese. The program creates an incentive for persons owing taxes to the IRS on hidden offshore accounts to come forward and pay their fines, by offering amnesty from some of the harsher penalties that could be applied.

A similar version of this program was offered last year and resulted in thousands of self-disclosures. This current program is less forgiving of tax cheats than the first iteration, but still offers ample motivation for persons guilty of offshore tax fraud to pay their fines and forgo potentially harsher punishment.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Government crackdown on tax attorney fraud continues

The US Justice Department has accused Scott Waage, a tax lawyer in San Diego, of using illegal tax schemes to withhold $10.8 million in clients’ assets that should have been paid to the IRS.

The complaint alleging Waage’s use of fraudulent tax shelters comes on the heels of another complaint filed against attorneys Charles Klink and Caleb Grodsky, who allegedly used an illegal tax scheme designed to help them avoid paying corporate taxes on income generated from the sale of their clients' business assets, according to the National Law Journal (subscription required).

According to the complaint, Waage advertised himself as a “visionary tax attorney.” He started his own law firm, now titled Strategic Law Group, which allegedly promoted illegal tax schemes that Waage used (for his own assets as well as those of his clients) to defraud the government of millions of dollars.