In Uncategorized on 07/22/2011 at 16:05

Their Cause and Cure

Sitting in the lovely Mohonk Mountain House, awaiting the start of the New York State Bar Association Tax Section’s Summer Meeting, I am lamenting the paucity of recent meaty Tax Court decisions. The summer doldrums seem to have overtaken litigants and judges.

So I turn my attention to the recent spate of blogs and chatter about the FAQs issued by IRS anent the latest iteration of OVDI–the Overseas Voluntary Disclosure Initiative, IRS’ latest appeal to the unrepentant to confess their nonreporting and nonpayments of tax in respect of their offshore cookie jars, and come over to the side of the Lord–or at least Doug Shulman and Co.

One LinkedIn discussion, to which I contributed, speaks to the “reasonable cause for delay” discussion in FAQ 25.1. The Executive Committee of the NYSBA Tax Section is to discuss a lengthy request, to be sent in letter form, to IRS, requesting an exegisis of the latest go-round of multiple FAQs, with suggestions for clarification.

All this is laudable, of course, as, while these three abide, faith, hope and clarity, the greatest of these is still clarity. I am entirely in favor of finding out whether the lion will bite, otherwise than by sticking one’s arm in the lion’s mouth.

I was discussing these initiatives with a tax expert at a well-known accounting firm. She remarked that it was all very well that IRS was issuing fresh guidance, but hasn’t the IRS’ offshore treasure hunt been going on since 2007?  And what part of “you must tell IRS about any offshore account you have with more than $10,000 in it, and pay any tax you owe” did anyone not understand? And would not IRS do better to catch some offshore procrastinators and nail them hard, pour encourager les autres, rather than expend energies on yet another round of FAQs that no one but tax lawyers will read?

I really could not answer those questions.

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