by Brian Mahany
Earlier this month we reported that the Department of Justice Tax Division and the IRS appear to be targeting people in the U.S. that maintain unreported bank accounts in Israel and India. In recent weeks, the government announced the prosecution of Vaibhav Dahake, a U.S. citizen who was born in India. This week it seems the government has charged another person of Indian decent with hiding money in an offshore account.
Online sources say Josephine Bhasin was charged in federal court with hiding $8.3 million in HSBC India. A check of federal records show a charge is indeed being filed in a Long Island federal court against Bhasin. In a rather bizarre twist, the clerk’s office reports that records will not be available until July. (Normally criminal complaints are available online immediately.)
Although most folks born in the U.S. understand that hiding money in a Swiss or Caymans account is illegal, many foreign born citizens and residents do not realize that sending money “home” requires notice to the government.
Transferring money or opening a foreign account is legal. Failing to make proper disclosures is the problem.
Tax lawyers worry that many foreign-born residents do not know they are committing a crime. In addition to possible prison, these same people may have to forfeit 50% of the highest value of the foreign account.
There is an amnesty program (IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative) that runs through August 31st. Participation can help one avoid prosecution and huge civil penalties but time is running out. All amnesty paperwork and payments must be complete before the program ends.
If you have a tax problem – including unreported foreign income or offshore accounts – call us. We can help with a wide range of tax problems including amnesty applications, U.S. tax court litigation, collections, audit defense, welfare benefit plans and criminal tax defense (failure to file returns, evasion, etc.). We help people with tax problems anywhere in the U.S.