The IRS issued press release IR-2011-14 (Feb. 8, 2011) which announces the opening of a new program for the voluntary disclosure of foreign bank accounts with filing of back taxes and delinquent foreign bank account reports for the past eight years. The press release summarizes the highlights of the program and also links to a more detailed Q&A. The press release can be found here and the Q&A could be found here. As suggested by the IRS previously, the new program has stiffer penalty rules. OVDI requires individuals to pay a penalty of 25% of the amount in the foreign bank accounts in the year with the highest aggregate account balance covering the 2003 to 2010 time period. There are reduced penalties for some eligible taxpayer of 5 or 12.5%. Taxpayers will also have to pay back-taxes and interest for up to 8 years. All of this is obviously more stringent compared to the 2009 program’s 20% penalty and 6 year look-back (2003-2008). Taxpayers will have to enroll in the program by August 31st in order to be able to benefit from the potential avoidance of criminal liability and higher civil penalties. U.S. resident taxpayers with assets in Italy or other foreign countries, and U.S. citizens residing abroad and in Italy should pay attention to the new program, which may offer opportunities to rectify previous mistakes or omissions and be back in compliance with substantially reduced penalties.
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