The United States government has strict requirements when it comes to offshore bank accounts. Not only are accountholders required to report and pay all income earned from offshore investments, but accountholders are also required to file an annual Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).
Many accountholders are not even aware of FBAR requirements, and are not fully cognizant of their obligations for offshore funds. The government, however, is aggressively going after accountholders for tax fraud, with Forbes reporting some defendants are facing penalties in excess of account values. The loss of funds may only be the beginning, as 31 U.S.C. Section 5322 reports that penalties for violating reporting requirements could lead to five years imprisonment.
The government is aggressively investigation tax fraud in an effort to collect unpaid taxes, and one of the most important tools they are using is the Swiss Bank Program. The Swiss Bank Program is leading banks to report accountholder information on customers, in exchange for the banks themselves avoiding criminal penalties. Mondovisione recently reported that four more banks have now joined the long list of banks that have agreed to provide information to U.S. authorities that will aid in the investigation of tax crimes. If your bank is one of the financial institutions that provides information to U.S. authorities, you need to speak with a NY federal tax fraud lawyer for assistance as soon as possible in an attempt to limit or avoid serious civil and criminal penalties.
Banks Providing Evidence in Tax Evasion Cases
Swiss banks and offshore financial institutions in other banking havens have long been trusted to maintain customer privacy. However, the Swiss Bank Program is changing this tradition. The Swiss Bank Program was created by the Department of Justice to allow banks and financial institutions to avoid facing criminal prosecution for the institution’s role in tax evasion- just as long as the banks are willing to give up their customer information.
Participation in the Swiss Bank Program requires the banks to voluntarily come forward, report that they helped to facilitate tax evasion, and enter into a settlement agreement with federal authorities. A key part of the Program requires that the banks provide detailed information about accountholders and account balances held in offshore accounts by people with connections to the United States. In other words, the banks are able to save themselves from serious penalties, by putting their customers at risk of criminal and civil prosecution. The banks pay a fine that is equal to a small fraction of criminal penalties that would normally be assessed, and they must promise to cooperate in any investigations and prosecutions brought against customers.
There have been nearly 50 agreements entered into between the Department of Justice and foreign financial institutions. Whenever these agreements are made, it puts all accountholders at risk that they will have their information turned over to authorities. This, in turn, can result in an investigation for tax evasion and could lead to criminal charges.
If you are accused of any type of tax fraud crime, including a failure to file reports of offshore accounts or a failure to pay all required taxes due, you need to understand options for defending yourself. Federal tax cases are very complex and you need an attorney with knowledge and experience of how to negotiate plea agreements or raise defenses to criminal charges. Bukh Law Firm, PLLC is a skilled criminal defense lawyer who represents clients facing all types of criminal charges, including charges related to tax evasion and tax fraud. To learn more about how a NY criminal law firm can advocate for you, call today.