Monday, April 11, 2011

IRS to focus on tax evasion schemes in India

The IRS is now considering India among the countries believed to be facilitating major off-shore tax evasion for wealthy Americans, as indicated by the Justice Department’s efforts to acquire the names Indian-American HSBC clients suspected of evading taxes through offshore banking in India.

The request for permission from a federal Judge by the Justice Department to demand those names comes on the heels of a protracted legal engagement with UBS in Switzerland. That action began in 2008 and ended last August with the agreement by UBS to provide information on 4,500 American clients. The IRS is now expanding its anti-fraud efforts to India, a region not previously considered a hotbed for offshore evasion.

According to the New York Times, sources close to the matter indicate that HSBC’s N.R.I. program (Non-Resident Indian), which sought out Indian-Americans for banking in India, may be related to the current legal effort. HSBC has indicated that it does not condone tax evasion, and will cooperate with US requests “while complying with the law in all jurisdictions in which it operates, including India.”