The 2014 IRS Voluntary Disclosure Program for Offshore Accounts: More Expansive, Cheaper Relief for Non-Willful Taxpayers

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On June 18, 2014, the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") announced major changes to its offshore account voluntary disclosure programs, which is intended to significantly increase the number of U.S. taxpayers coming forward to report their undisclosed foreign accounts. The changes will impact those U.S. taxpayers whose failure to comply with U.S. tax reporting and payment obligations is considered willful in nature as well as those U.S. taxpayers, both resident in the United States and abroad, whose non-compliance with their U.S. tax obligations is not considered willful.

The announcement's changes will overhaul the January 12, 2012 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program, by reshaping the terms of that program for taxpayers seeking certainty and relief from criminal prosecution, and expanding the ancillary August 31, 2012 Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures for Non-Resident, Non-Filer U.S. Taxpayers, to continue to include non-resident taxpayers and expanding the program to now include resident taxpayers whose non-compliance is not willful.

The new IRS initiatives must be viewed in the context of the U.S. government's ongoing efforts to combat offshore tax evasion, as reflected in the ongoing investigations and programs of the U.S. Department as well as the imminent implementation of FATCA, which will require third-party reporting by foreign financial institutions of U.S. account holders. All of these efforts are intended to encourage compliance now and send a strong message to non-compliant taxpayers that if they are discovered, significant civil penalties and criminal sanctions could ensue.

In 90 minutes the speakers will:
• Review the changes made to the OVDP, including the more comprehensive submission of information, the submission of account statements at the time of application to the program, the up-front payment of penalties, and the potential for greater penalties;
• Discuss the meaning of the term US "abode," which is a key term for application of the non-resident streamlined program;
• Review the transitional rules applicable to certain former and current offshore voluntary disclosure program participants;
• Examine when a U.S. taxpayer's actions or omissions are "willful" or "non-willful" as that in significant part will determine eligibility for the streamlined program;
• Offer practical suggestions as to when and how a taxpayer should proceed in the new voluntary disclosure environment;
• Discuss the new programs in the context of the ongoing government efforts to combat offshore tax evasion, to include the DOJ's Voluntary Disclosure Program for Swiss Banks, FATCA and IGA and the Common Reporting Standard.

Educational Objectives:
• Navigate through the changes made to the OVDP program including a more comprehensive submission of information and account statements
• Evaluate the new streamlined procedures and when taxpayers may use them
• Apply the transitional rules
• Advise clients when and how a taxpayer should proceed in the new OVDP/delinquent return environment.



Alan Winston Granwell, moderator, is of counsel to Sharp Partners PA, resident in their Washington, DC office, but also works from their Zürich office. Mr. Granwell, a former U.S. Treasury Department International Tax Counsel, has been a practicing international tax lawyer for over 40 years.  His practice encompasses representing multinational corporations and high net-worth individuals on cross border planning and tax controversy. 

More recently, Mr. Granwell has become active in advising foreign financial institutions and their clients on international tax enforcement initiatives, with special emphasis on FATCA.  He also has become heavily involved in representing banks under the U.S. Department of Justice Program for Non-Prosecution Agreements or Non-Target Letters for Swiss Banks.


Jeffrey Neiman, founding member of Marcus, Neiman & Rashbaum LLP, is an experienced trial lawyer who regularly defends individuals and corporations in white collar criminal litigation, matters involving tax controversies, government regulatory enforcement matters, internal investigations, compliance counseling, and complex civil litigation. Jeff has tried more than a dozen white collar matters in federal court. Having worked at the forefront of the United States government’s offshore tax enforcement efforts, Jeff has vast experience assisting clients who find themselves with unreported or undeclared bank accounts outside of the United States. Jeff advises clients regarding the Internal Revenue Service’s Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program as well as clients who face civil and criminal penalties for failing to file Foreign Bank Account Reports (“FBARs”). 

Jeff began his career working for the Department of Justice Tax Division and then the Criminal Division, Fraud Section in Washington, D.C. He then served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, where he received national recognition for handling complex, high profile matters including the ground-breaking and historic prosecution of Switzerland’s largest bank, UBS AG, for aiding American citizens to commit tax fraud. For his efforts on the UBS investigation, Jeff was awarded the Attorney General’s John Marshall Award for Outstanding Legal Achievement and the Internal Revenue Service Commissioner’s Award, the highest recognition a prosecutor can receive.


Bruce Zagaris, a partner with the law firm of Berliner Corcoran & Rowe in Washington DC, has advised individuals, entities and governments on international business, especially the regulatory and enforcement aspects.

Mr. Zagaris has worked on tax controversy matters, including representing individuals on voluntary disclosures, audits, and litigation, as well as consulting and serving as an expert witness in criminal trials for defendants and the U.S. government. Since 1981, he has also represented foreign governments in international tax and financial services, including advising and helping negotiate income tax, tax information exchange agreements, and bilateral investment treaties.