The Right Way to Raise Revenue: IRS Gets $2.7 Billion from Offshore Amnesty Program

The Right Way to Raise Revenue: IRS Gets $2.7 Billion from Offshore Amnesty Program

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It is unfair for the government to demand that those who have followed the law and paid their taxes pay more taxes simply because federal bureaucrats are too lazy or too inc0mpetent to enforce the current laws.

Here is how you raise revenues:

Per IR-2011-94 (Sept. 15, 2011) IRS Shows Continued Progress on International Tax Evasion:

The IRS continues to make strong progress in combating international tax evasion, with new details announced today showing the recently completed offshore program pushed the total number of voluntary disclosures up to 30,000 since 2009. In all, 12,000 new applications came in from the 2011 offshore program that closed last week.

The IRS also announced today it has collected $2.2 billion so far from people who participated in the 2009 program, reflecting closures of about 80% of the cases from the initial offshore program. On top of that, the IRS has collected an additional $500 million in taxes and interest as down payments for the 2011 program — a figure that will increase because it doesn’t yet include penalties. …

The combination of efforts helped support the 2011 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative (OVDI), which ended on Sept. 9. The 2011 effort followed the strong response to the 2009 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) that ended on Oct. 15, 2009. The programs gave U.S.taxpayers with undisclosed assets or income offshore a second chance to get compliant with the U.S. tax system, pay their fair share and avoid potential criminal charges.

The 2009 program led to about 15,000 voluntary disclosures and another 3,000 applicants who came in after the deadline, but were allowed to participate in the 2011 initiative. Beyond that, the 2011 program has generated an additional 12,000 voluntary disclosures, with some additional applications still being counted. All together from these efforts, taxpayers came forward and made 30,000 voluntary disclosures.

In new figures announced today from the 2009 offshore program, the IRS has $2.2 billion in hand from taxes, interest and penalties representing about 80% of the 2009 cases that have closed. These cases come from every corner of the world, with bank accounts covering 140 countries.

The IRS is starting to work through the 2011 applications. The $500 million in payments so far from the 2011 program brings the total collected through the offshore programs to $2.7 billion. 

Mr. Obama, congressional Democrats, please close the tax gap before you ask for more money from the law-abiding taxpayers.

(Hat Tip: Paul Caron)

About Peter Pappas

Peter is a tax attorney and certified public acccountant with over 20 years experience helping taxpayers resolve their IRS and state tax problems.

He has represented thousands of taxpayers who have been experiencing difficulty dealing with the Internal Revenue Service or State tax officials.

He is a member of the American Association of Attorney-Certified Public Accountants, the Florida Bar Association and The Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants and is admitted to practice before the United States Tax Court, the United States Supreme Court, U.S. District Courts - Middle District of Florida


  1. Peter,

    Insofar as your point pertains generically to tax enforcement being a good thing, and to the fact that we should collect the taxes already on the books before we enact new ones, I do of course agree.

    But with respect to the offshore voluntary disclosure programs, in particular, I don’t think revenue is being raised the right way. A great many people are paying absurdly high penalties for having failed to file an obscure form (FBAR) that the IRS has never made any meaningful attempt to make people aware of. Sorry, a question at the bottom of Schedule B doesn’t cut it. I respectfully submit that the IRS’s behavior in this particular enforcement arena is shameful and that extracting huge percentages of people’s lifetime savings, for the failure to file an obscure form they understandably never heard of, is exactly the wrong way to raise revenue.

  2. Mike,

    I don’t think the penalty regime is fair and have written about it on these pages.

    But as far as collecting delinquent taxes and interest, I think it beats raising taxes on the law abiders.

  3. Peter,

    Point well taken, but I bet the vast majority of the revenue raised from the VDP and OVDI is from the penalties, not taxes and interest.

  4. Mike,

    Good point. I would like to see a breakdown of the OVDI collections.