On March 1, 2011, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced a "penalty framework" to be applied to voluntary disclosure requests containing "offshore issues." This "penalty framework" applies to all participants in the 2011 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative (2011 OVDI). Duane Morris provides a detailed explanation of the program in the February 9, 2011, Alert, "IRS Announces New Voluntary Disclosure Program." In another recent Alert, Duane Morris provides translations of the program in Chinese, German, Korean, Spanish, Farsi, Hindi, Russian and Vietnamese.
Is Voluntary Disclosure Right for You?
The factors that go into determining whether a taxpayer should make a voluntary disclosure are numerous and complex. A taxpayer considering making a voluntary disclosure may want to discuss the matter with an experienced attorney. That discussion would be protected from disclosure by attorney-client privilege, which is vital particularly in instances where the taxpayer ultimately decides not to make the disclosure. However, a consultation regarding the voluntary disclosure program with a taxpayer's accountant is not a privileged communication. If the decision were made not to enter the OVDI, and the IRS discovers the foreign financial account, the taxpayer's accountant could become a witness for the IRS against the taxpayer. This would not be the case if an attorney, rather than an accountant, had been consulted.
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