An estimated $5 to $7 trillion dollars are held in offshore tax havens according to Secretary General Angel Gurría of the Organization Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) headquartered in Paris Click Here OECD. Why is this important? The IRS is gearing up to increase enforcement against US taxpayers hiding money in offshore tax havens. The OECD is an international organization, based in Paris, with over 30 countries making up its membership. The US is a member of the OECD. The OECD has called for offshore tax havens to enter into agreements with countries to provide business, banking and financial information for tax purposes.
For many years the US and OECD member countries have targeted offshore tax havens to provide more information for tax purposes. Many countries entered into Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs)with the US and other OECD member countries. The US has TIEAs with many of the offshore tax haven countries. The OECD recently determined that the exchange of information programs for tax purposes are not fully successful Click OECD.
This brings our own IRS into the scene. The IRS has studied our international tax gap, meaning some US citizens may not be reporting offshore income that is taxable. IRS Study In fact, the IRS is planning more international tax enforcement. IRS International
Recently, the IRS has gotten names of US citizens having secret bank accounts in Switzerland. You can be sure that the IRS will be contacting these account owners to question them about the money in those accounts and whether any tax is due. See NY Times Article
When you or your client gets that visit from the IRS regarding the secret bank account in Switzerland, make sure you are prepared to smartly respond to the IRS. If you need more information, contact me.