In prior months, we have mentioned that the Internal Revenue Service's use of debit cards to issue income tax refunds has made it easier for people to become the victims of tax refund theft, particularly here in Florida. But according to a recently-released report by the Taxpayer Advocate Service, the cards are just one cause contributing to an overall surge in reported tax fraud.
As the Internal Revenue Service's Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program continues in its third iteration, the agency is reporting that approximately 34,500 taxpayers have come forward and revealed their overseas accounts so far. Through those voluntary disclosures, the IRS has captured in excess of $5 billion in revenue, which includes previously unpaid taxes as well as penalties and interest on those past due tax liabilities.
Last week, Miami residents may have read about the Internal Revenue Service's investigation into offshore accounts in the tiny European nation of Liechtenstein. This week, the IRS's gaze turns to Israel. According to a grand jury indictment, three men have been charged with conspiring to help Americans evade taxes through a multi-layered scheme crafted to conceal the clients' identities from the IRS.
According to the Internal Revenue Service, each year approximately $385 billion in tax revenue goes uncollected. Some taxpayers, whether businesses or individuals, may improperly claim credits and deductions, omit income or engage in other tax evasion measures. But because of reduced staff levels at the agency, the IRS simply does not have enough resources to enforce absolute compliance.
The Internal Revenue Service is expanding its search for offshore tax evaders to Liechtenstein, a tiny European nation that borders Switzerland. The expansion is in line with the agency's recently announced goal of creating agreements with other countries that would require their governments to disclose foreign bank account information on U.S. taxpayers.
In late 2010, federal law enforcement officials began the Securities and Investment Fraud Initiative, a measure designed to uncover financial fraud in Florida. Since that time, the program has yielded 85 arrests, with 15 more taken into custody just last week.
In a number of prior posts covering the Internal Revenue Service's crackdown on overseas tax evasion, we have focused on charges leveled against Swiss banks and agreements reached between governments to increase disclosure of clients' accounts. But the IRS is also pursuing cases against individual taxpayers it believes failed to comply with reporting requirements and avoided paying taxes on income placed in offshore accounts.
A number of prior posts on this blog have discussed the Internal Revenue Service's pursuit of undisclosed income and assets primarily in conjunction with offshore accounts held in Swiss banks. But a potential new agreement with five European countries signals the federal government's aim to uncover tax evasion by expanding its scrutiny of Americans' foreign accounts beyond those in Switzerland.
Florida residents know that times are tough for state governments as well as for individuals. To make expenses match revenues, some states have cut services. Others have sought to boost coffers by capturing previously uncollected taxes. And initial results from a few states suggest that increasing aggressive tax collection actions has improved their bottom lines and mitigated budget shortfalls.