by Brian Mahany
Just seven hours ago I wrote the post Offshore Tax Inquisition. In that story I questioned why government tax officials were so eager to obtain a copy of the stolen email data now in the hands of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. That data is believed to contain offshore account records of over 100,000 people worldwide with offshore financial accounts. Reportedly the data has information on 4000 Americans.
Our earlier post questioned why law enforcement officials are more interested in getting the list instead of going after the people responsible for one of the largest data heists in history. Of the 4000 Americans on the list whose offshore account data was taken, just 30 (less than 1%) are allegedly accused of criminal activity or fraud.
Tonight, the Canada Revenue Ministry said it will use the courts to force the Canadian Broadcasting Company (a member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists) to turn over the list of names. The CBC, of course, is citing freedom of the press concerns as its reason for not doing so. They want to print the names and offshore account data.
With all the clamor, it appears everyone has forgotten about the tens of thousands of people who have done nothing wrong and are the victims of identity theft.
Don’t think that Canada’s tax police are doing this alone. National Revenue Minister Gail Shea claims that Canada has teamed up with the IRS to obtain the data. “We will pursue any legal options that we do have to obtain the list and we are working with the United States and our other international partners to do so,” said Shea.
The mad dash for cash is on and the cash strapped governments of the world are leading the charge. Maintaining a bank or brokerage account in a foreign country is legal. Not reporting offshore accounts, however, can subject you to extremely high penalties and possibly even prison (if the violation is willful.)
Time is running out to come into compliance. The IRS has a variety of amnesty and traditional disclosure options available but to qualify you must come forward quickly. The IRS operates its offshore account amnesty program on a first contact basis meaning you must come to them before they find you.
For more information, contact attorney Bethany Kroes at or by telephone at (414) 223-0464. All inquiries are protected by the attorney – client privilege and kept in strict confidence. We offer a no cost, no obligation initial consultation to help you evaluate your options.
Mahany & Ertl – America’s Tax Lawyers. Offices in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Detroit, Michigan; Portland, Maine; Minneapolis, Minnesota and San Francisco, California. IRS tax services available worldwide.
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