Willful failure to file a Form TD F 90-22.1, or Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts Report, more commonly known as an FBAR is a criminal violation of the Bank Secrecy Act. Luis A. Quintero, a former UBS Client, found that out first hand when he was sentenced recently to four months imprisonment.
In 2004, Quintero formed two corporations, each with an offshore bank account opened at UBS AG of Switzerland. By the end of 2006, the total aggregate balance in the two accounts was over $4 million. He then transferred approximately $2.4 million from the accounts to the accounts of U.S. corporations he controlled. Although Quintero knew he had to file an FBAR and had previously filed the Form TD F 90-22.1 relating to bank accounts in Mexico in the name of one of his U.S. companies, he decided against filing it.
As part of an agreement and in order to avoid prosecution for helping taxpayers commit tax fraud, UBS provided the American government with the identities of certain U.S. customers. It is not clear from the Department of Justice press release whether Quintero was one of the UBS customers whose names was turned over to the IRS.
The IRS requires a U.S. citizen with an offshore bank account containing an aggregate value of more than $ 10,000 to file the FBAR. Those who have not filed the Form TD F 90-22.1 in the past, but wish to do so to comply with tax laws may be eligible to participate in the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP). By voluntarily disclosing Swiss or other foreign bank accounts, participants may be subject to lower penalties rather than all possible penalties were imposed after a tax audit by the IRS. On the other hand depending upon the situation many taxpayers may wish to take the risk of an IRS audit because the penalties could, with proper representation by a tax attorney, turn out to be lower than under OVDI.
In addition to the four months in prison, the court sentenced Quintero to three years of probation with 250 hours of community service and a $20,000 criminal fine. Quintero also paid $2 million in civil penalties for failing to file the FBAR. The penalty appears to be equal to 50% of the balance in his offshore accounts.
Contact our experienced tax attorneys at 800 Tax-Litigator for a confidential consultation to discuss available options for curing the failure to file FBARs and/or report offshore income.