The US Internal Revenue Service has announced an extension of the deadline for special voluntary disclosures by taxpayers with unreported income from offshore accounts.
The extension, announced by the IRS on September 21, gives taxpayers until October 15, 2009, to make a disclosure.
Under special provisions issued in March, taxpayers with undisclosed offshore accounts originally had until September 23, 2009 to come forward. Those taxpayers who do not voluntarily disclose their hidden accounts by the new deadline face much harsher civil penalties and possible criminal prosecution.
Usually if the IRS discovers that a taxpayer has not reported an interest in an offshore account or income on such accounts, the IRS may impose penalties of up to 50% of the balance of each offshore account for each year the account remains undisclosed. The taxpayer will also be liable for additional tax on income earned by the foreign account plus interest on the additional tax. Additional penalties may include a fraud penalty of up to 75% of unpaid taxes and a penalty equal to the greater of $100,000 or 50% of the offshore account balance for willful failure to file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts form for each offshore account.
Making a disclosure under this program, the taxpayer will be liable for a reduced single penalty equal to 20% of the amount of the offshore account for the one day in the past six years in which the account had the highest aggregate value. However, this penalty could be reduced to just 5% under certain circumstances.
The IRS warned that it has no intention of extending the deadline and those who do not voluntarily disclose shall face the fullest of the penalties.