October 2011 Archives

Tax Attorneys , CPAs, IRS Officials Speaking at UCLA Tax Controversy Institute on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2011

October 22, 2011,


The UCLA Tax Controversy Institute is the preeminent conference in the United States dedicated to tax controversy and tax litigation. This year it will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 25th beginning at 8:30 AM. This year IRS speakers include:

• Sandra Brown, Chief, Tax Division, United States Attorney's Office (C.D. Cal.)
• Deborah Butler, Associate Chief Counsel, Procedure and Administration, IRS, Washington, D.C.
• Faris Fink, Commissioner, Small Business / Self-Employed Division, IRS, Washington, D.C.
• Victor Song, Chief, Criminal Investigation, IRS, Washington, D.C.
• Chris Wagner, Chief, National Office of Appeals, IRS, Washington, D.C.

Dennis Brager of Brager Tax Law Group, A PC will be one of the many private practitioners including tax lawyers, CPAs, and Enrolled Agents who will be sharing the platform with IRS officials. Dennis will be speaking on the following panel:

E-Filers Beware

Ongoing examinations of E-Filers are intended to ensure that they are in compliance with all of the E-filing rules. In the event the tax practitioner is determined by the IRS agent to be in non-compliance, the IRS may sanction the tax practitioner which sanctions can run from a written reprimand to suspension to even expulsion.

This panel will discuss the IRS audits of E-Filers, the process of imposing sanctions and what steps practitioners should take to minimize sanctions and avoid them in the future.

For registration information click here.

Brager Tax Law Group, A P.C. is also a sponsor of this year's UCLA Tax Controversy Institute, and Dennis Brager is a member of the planning committee.

Swiss Banks to Turn Over Possible Tax Evaders to IRS

October 11, 2011,

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According to a report in the Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger the Swiss are poised to send the names of thousands of potential tax evaders who have Swiss Bank accounts over to the IRS, and/or the Department of Justice. The data files are, according to the unconfirmed report, due to begin coming over later in October. The report goes on to speculate that the banks on the list include Credit Suisse, Julius Bär, Zürich Cantonal Bank, Basel Cantonal Bank and Wegelin. These names shouldn't come as any great surprise because it appears that the IRS has been actively investigating them for some time.

Whether or not the report turns out to be true is unknown. However, if it is, it leaves very little time for U.S. persons who have offshore bank accounts at these Swiss banks to make a voluntary disclosure to avoid a criminal tax prosecution for FBAR violations, tax fraud, or other crimes.

U.S. persons who have offshore financial accounts are required to file report to the IRS on Form TD F 90-22.1, Report of Foreign Bank Account (FBAR) on an annual basis. Failure to do so can result in jail time, or ruinous civil penalties.

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IRS Touts Progress on International Tax Evasion

October 3, 2011,

The IRS issued a news release on Sept. 15th headlined "IRS Shows Progress on International Tax Evasion." IRS Commissioner Shulman was quoted as saying: "We have pierced international bank secrecy laws, and we are making a serious dent in offshore tax evasion." Shulman noted that the IRS has increased its efforts to prosecute criminal tax cases involving international tax fraud. The release goes on to state that the IRS' Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP), and its recently closed Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative (OVDI) has provided the IRS with "a wealth of information on various banks and advisors assisting people with offshore tax evasion..."

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The key thing here for anyone who has an unreported offshore bank account is that last quote about the information the IRS has gathered about advisors assisting people with offshore tax evasion. It is getting more and more dangerous to own an undisclosed foreign bank account. While the IRS will never be able to find more than a small percentage of the folks who have an unreported income from offshore bank accounts it is clear that for those that do get caught the stakes are very high. Jail time for criminal tax violations, or failure to file Foreign Bank Account Reports, TDF 90-22.1 (FBARs), and ruinous civil penalties including a penalty equal to the greater of $100,000 or of 50% of the balance in the offshore account per year.

While the time for making a voluntary disclosure under the OVDI program has expired it is still possible to make voluntary disclosure and avoid criminal prosecution; it may also be possible to cut a better deal with the IRS on any civil penalties, by coming forward voluntarily. Penalties for non-willful violations may cap out at $10,000 per year, and it is easier to argue that a violation is non-willful if a taxpayer comes forward voluntarily then if he is caught as the result of a foreign bank turning him in to the IRS.

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