The Certification of Non-Willfulness Statement Length
The most important aspect of making a Streamlined Foreign or Domestic Offshore Disclosure submission is the non-willfulness Certification Form. Specifically, the form is referred to as either the Form 14654 (Certification by U.S. Person Residing in the United States for Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures aka (SDOP)) or the Form 14653 (Certification by U.S. Person Residing Outside of the United States for Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures aka SFOP)). One of the biggest and most serious issues for Taxpayers utilizing the streamlined procedures is when they are bamboozled by inexperienced international tax lawyers claiming to have significant experience in these matters, when they do not. These attorneys are easy to spot, since they usually bill clients hourly instead of flat-fee — and puff up their fees with rambling diatribes 20-pages long that put the taxpayers for increased chance of audit.
Certification of Non-Willfulness Length
There is no specific length for the certification of non-willfulness. What Taxpayers (unfortunately) sometimes find out too late into the process, is the reason their attorney (usually hourly firms) want to write a 15-page certification statement is because they want to bill the client excessive hours. In reality, each taxpayer has their own set of facts and circumstances. Just because one person’s statement is lengthy does not mean the next applicant’s submission should be as robust — it depends on the facts. The worst thing the Taxpayer can do is include information that neither important nor responsive to the issue of non-willfulness — as it unnecessarily increases the chance of IRS Audit.
The Length of the Statement will Vary
All too many times, inexperienced counsel will believe that a longer certification of non-willfulness statement is better, when in fact the statement turns out to be incoherent and unclear on the mist important issue — non-willfulness — and counsel simply wanted to puff-up their fees. When it is time to review the statement, the Taxpayer should feel confident that the letter tells a story — and is not long-winded nonsense that is not convincing on the issue of non-willfulness.
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