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I am quoted in the
Globe and Mail on this topic.
It may not happen all the time, but every now and then a governmental agency outperforms. As readers of my
June 4 blog know, The IRS promised a better Streamlined Program. The Streamlined Program is a voluntary disclosure for Americans who have not filed U.S. tax returns or reported their foreign assets.
The IRS has received many Streamlined Program submissions. It doesn’t have the manpower or budget to apply its risk assessment procedures to each of them, so many have sat unattended. It doesn’t make sense for the IRS to spend a lot of money on these submissions, because there’s rarely much tax involved, if any.
At the same time, practitioners and taxpayers have pleaded with the IRS to come up with a simpler, easier, better program.
The details were supposed to be out in the last week of June or the first week of July, but today, June 18,
here they are. And overall, the changes are very good:
The piece I was hoping for – a reduction in the paperwork – has not materialized. The IRS did away with
the risk questionnaire – a good thing, because several questions were difficult or ambiguous – but that’s not really a big deal. Taxpayers still have to file three years’ returns & six years’ FBARs. That means getting into the system is still expensive. We charge at least $8,000 for simple disclosures. More complicated disclosures can cost in the tens of thousands of dollars. No matter whether you’re of modest income or wealthy, it costs too much, because there's too much to file.
Returns submitted under the Streamlined Program may be selected for audit, but they will be treated like any other return.
Taxpayers whose returns are accepted will have the same communication as those for any other taxpayer. If there is no change to the return and no tax or refund owing, there will be no communication (no news is good news).
Related Topics:U.S. Tax; IRS; Personal Tax
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