Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Lawyers for OVDP, FBAR & FATCA

Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Lawyers for OVDP, FBAR & FATCA

Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Lawyers

In 2018, the United States government terminated the OVDP/OVDI Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program. The offshore voluntary disclosure program was an offshoot of the traditional Voluntary Disclosure Program (VDP). The purpose of the voluntary disclosure program is to assist US taxpayers to safely get into offshore tax and reporting compliance for prior years’ noncompliance on matters involving FBAR, FATCA, and more. When a Taxpayer is unable to certify under penalty of perjury that they are non-willful –- they are ineligible for the Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures; FBAR Reasonable Cause — or Delinquency Procedures. Unfortunately, the internet is littered with fear-mongering websites and incorrect information about how the new OVDP program works; who is eligible for offshore voluntary disclosure — and what impact it will have on your immigration status. Let’s review five key facts about the new OVDP Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program:

Does an Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Submission Willful Mean You are Criminal?

No. The idea behind the offshore voluntary disclosure program is that by submitting to the program you will avoid any potential inquiry by the IRS or Special Agents that can otherwise lead to a criminal investigation. When a person is willful in the “civil” arena that is not the same as being criminally willful. When it comes to civil willfulness, all the US government has to prove is that Taxpayer acted with reckless disregard or willful blindness — and by merely a preponderance of the evidence —  that is not the same standard the US government must prove in a criminal case.

Is Your OVDP Lawyer Entering You into a Plea Agreement?

No. The voluntary disclosure program is not a criminal proceeding. A person enters into the voluntary disclosure program because they do not qualify for one of the non-willful offshore voluntary disclosure programs such as the IRS Streamlined Procedures or Reasonable Cause. The voluntary disclosure program is a procedure used to get into compliance. And while the program presumes the Taxpayer was willful (which distinguishes it from the prior OVDP) – it is not a criminal procedure and there is no plea agreement.

Is Your Immigration Status Impacted by Offshore Voluntary Disclosure?

To date, and out of all the offshore disclosure cases we have handled for both willful and non-willful taxpayers, we have never had a situation in which a taxpayer lost their immigration status by submitting to any offshore disclosure program. Presumably, if a taxpayer enters into the voluntary disclosure program and it is later learned that the Taxpayer had committed some dastardly deeds — presumably the US government may seek to criminally prosecute and deport them or remove them from the United States — but the chances are slim.

Will an OVDP Lawyer help You Avoid Criminal Prosecution?

By entering the voluntary program, taxpayers will nearly always avoid criminal prosecution. The reason why is because the purpose of the program is to entice taxpayers to voluntarily come forward and pay a relatively large penalty — to avoid any potential criminal headaches in the future. If the US government began prosecuting each person that submitted to the program, then no one would submit to the program. Thus, the chance of the IRS pursuing criminal prosecution against taxpayers who submit to voluntary disclosure is also slim.

Can I Submit to Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Myself or with a CPA?

Technically, a Taxpayer could submit to the program by themselves or with a non-attorney professional — but the problem is unless the taxpayer returns an attorney, there would be no Attorney-Client Privilege. In addition, Taxpayers, in general, should be cautious making any proactive submission about willfulness to the US government unless they are represented by an attorney — but that is not to say that the tax pair absolutely requires an attorney to make the submission.

Golding & Golding: About our International Tax Law Firm

Golding & Golding specializes exclusively in international tax, and specifically IRS offshore disclosure

Contact our firm today for assistance.

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Meet the Partners

Sean M. Golding


Jenny Kay Golding